Abercrombie on Kauai for PLDC

SUBHEAD: The Governor of Hawaii will be on Kauai to host a public meeting on the Public Lands Development Corporation.

By Ken Taylor on 13 September 2012 in Island Breath -

Image above:Neil Abercrombie grins at his audience.  From (http://www.glaad.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Governor-Neil-Abercrombie.jpg).

Governor Neil Abercrombie has selected Kauai for his first “Governor’s Cabinet in Your Community” event, an opportunity for his administration to hear from the community. The public event will take place -
Wednesday, September 19, 2012, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School in Lihue. From main highway coming from Lihue, turn left at light in front of entrance to Kilohana Plantation. School is 1/4 mile on right.

The Governor’s Cabinet in Your Community will feature members of the administration who will share updates on projects and issues that communities face. It is also an opportunity for the public to ask questions and share concerns.
“Much of the official business that goes on takes place in Honolulu, but I assure you that this administration is not O'ahu-centric,” said Governor Abercrombie. “We serve all the people of Hawai'i and we want to be sure that we keep an open dialogue with various communities across the state.”

This is the first in a series of statwide Governor’s Cabinet in Your Community events that will be incorporated into Governor Abercrombie’s schedule. The Office of the Governor keeps track of the various issues of concern in the state but every community is different.

For this first event on Kauai, the following departments will be represented: Human Services, Land and Natural Resources, Agriculture, Health, and Transportation.

For more information contact:
Donalyn Dela Cruz, Deputy Director of Communications, (808) 586-0012

Abolish the PLDC

By Laura Thielen on 13 September 2012 for Island Voices -

Image above: Local 5 union members representing hotel workers protest PLDC.  From (http://www.civilbeat.com/reg/articles/2012/08/29/16978-oahu-shows-no-love-for-hawaiis-public-land-corp/).

The recent university of hawaii debacle taught us that it's a bad idea for amateurs to invest state money.
We paid $200,000 for that mistake.

How would you feel if we pay millions or lose public trust lands for the next mistake?

Critics of the Public Land Development Corp. (PLDC) have focused on its superpowers to bypass land-use regulations when developing state land. This is valid criticism. But it overlooks another PLDC superpower: the ability to invest state funds and use public trust lands to secure development deals.

The PLDC is authorized to make speculative investments even when no professional investor is involved. The only statutory standard is that the PLDC have a "reasonable possibility that (it) will recoup at least its initial investment."

So the goal is to invest state money in order to maybe break even? Does any trust hold its board members to such low standards?

To further complicate matters, the PLDC can invest in the private companies it contracts with to develop state land. We're not talking about building a snack shop in a state park. The PLDC is authorized to develop hotels and industrial projects. These are multimillion-dollar developments.

How does the PLDC hold a developer accountable for meeting contractual obligations, when it is a part-owner of that company? If state land secures a failed development, do we lose control over the land? Is there anything that assures us that the PLDC will enter into such agreements with only the public interest in mind?

We've learned the hard way that land is power in Hawaii. Over time we adopted strict standards to prevent abuse by state agencies.

For example, all seven members of the Board of Land and Natural Resources must disclose all direct and indirect interests in any organization doing business with the department; must disqualify themselves from any decision affecting such interests; no more than three members may be from the same political party; and any proposed sale of land must go through the state Legislature.

None of these safeguards apply to the PLDC.

The PLDC board consists of five members: three department heads who serve at the governor's pleasure; and one each appointed by the Senate president and speaker of the House. There are no strict qualifications relating to investment or development expertise. No strict standards for disclosure or disqualification to prevent self-dealing.

No express requirement that a PLDC sale of state land go through the state Legislature.

The Star-Advertiser's recent PLDC editorial recognized concerns, but implied that we ought to give it a chance to see what it can do ("Public land entity's power is worrisome," Star-Advertiser, Our View, Sept. 2).

Then this paper criticized the state agency responsible for developing Kakaako — the Hawaii Community Development Authority — for being too secretive and shutting the public out of discussion over the development of a proposed 650-foot highrise ("Kakaako agency too secretive," Star-Advertiser, Our View, Sept. 5).

Ironically, it is HCDA's authority to bypass virtually all land-use processes that allows it to be secretive. The land-use processes are the checks and balances created to provide public access to information during the development process.

If you find HCDA's secretiveness worrisome, just wait. HCDA's powers are limited to a small geographic area in urban Honolulu. PLDC's superpowers apply to more than one-quarter of all the land in the state and all submerged lands.

Personally, I'd prefer we learn from the recent UH debacle. Let's repeal Act 55 and the PLDC before the public has to pay a far higher cost for a much more painful lesson.

• Laura Thielen is the former chairperson of the DLNR (of which the PLDC is a part).


1 comment :

polli Oliver said...

I do not know what it will take, or how long it will take, but one think I know, is that Act 55 absolutely MUST be repealed. I am encouraged that the people of Hawaii will NOT be hoodwinked by slick talk from The Governor or anyone else, by their blatant arrogance and inflated sense of power. This is truly a call to arms! We must all stand up and be counted and not rest until this atrocity is resolved.

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