Abercrombie PLDC strategy

SOURCE:Brad Parsons (mauibrad@hotmail.com)
SUBHEAD: Top Abercrombie adviser enlisted to help beleaguered PLDC rejected by public.

By Sophe Cocke on 18 October 2012 for Civil Beat - http://www.civilbeat.com/articles/2012/10/18/17404-top-abercrombie-aid-heads-strategy-group-to-protect-pldc/

Image above: Mashup by Juan WIlson. From (http://fineartamerica.com/featured/private-property-no-trespassing-sign-david-buffington.html and http://www.fritzmuellerphoto.com/index.php#mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=31&p=2&a=0&at=0). Click to enlarge.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has asked one of his closest political advisors to head a working group created to fend off attacks on the controversial Public Land Development Corporation.

William Kaneko, Abercrombie's former campaign manager, has been leading the group, according to Sen. Malama Solomon, a PLDC supporter who has been helping the governor devise a strategy to appease mounting public antagonism toward the new state agency.

The fledgling government division is supposed to enlist private companies to develop public lands and shore up dilapidated state facilities. But it's become a political lightning rod. A growing chorus of lawmakers, including Senate President Shan Tsutsui, are calling for its repeal or at least a sharp curtailment of its powers.

The PLDC was created last year but has been widely criticized by groups such as the Sierra Club, the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation and The Outdoor Circle, who say it bypasses important environmental protections. Native Hawaiian groups have also opposed fast-tracking development on lands supposed to be held in trust for Hawaiians.

In August, nearly 700 people showed up at a series of contentious public meetings throughout the islands to register their opposition to the PLDC. And the Kauai County Council and the Hawaii County Council have unanimously passed resolutions calling for the PLDC to be abolished.

Abercrombie has been unflinching in his support of the PLDC despite public animosity aimed at him. He was booed at a public meeting on Kauai when he tried to talk about the PLDC. But in recent weeks, he’s pushed back critics, calling them the “usual suspects” and accusing them of creating a climate of hysteria.

After so many people opposed the PLDC at the public meetings, Abercrombie and Solomon last month announced a strategic plan aimed at calming concerns.

The working group appears to be a continuation of that plan to make it an easier sell to the public.

Kaneko didn't respond to a call from Civil Beat.

But Solomon, who is vice chair of the Senate Committee on Water, Land, and Housing, said she was invited to brief the group at a meeting last week.

She said the governor’s office had tasked Kaneko with organizing the group, but didn’t know the identities of everyone involved.

PLDC executive director Lloyd Haraguchi said that there had been meetings with Kaneko, lawmakers and staff, but he didn’t view it as a working group. Haraguchi said there had been about three meetings in recent weeks involving Kaneko, who is CEO of the Hawaii Institute of Public Affairs. He said Kaneko was interested in working with the PLDC on projects to improve aging school facilities.

Rep. Sharon Har attended one of the meetings but doesn't necessarily consider herself to be a member of the group.

“There were discussions about all the misinformation regarding the PLDC," Har said. "And they are just trying to set the record straight.”

The PLDC has had a rough time since it began meeting more than a year ago. It has yet to finalize rules governing the agency or develop any projects. Earlier this month, the board did approve the strategic plan and a revised set of rules.

A previous version of the draft rules was sharply criticized during public hearings, prompting revisions. Now the PLDC staff is seeking public comment on the new rules, but there is only one meeting, scheduled for November 13 at 10:30 a.m. in Honolulu

Haraguchi said he would not be traveling to the neighbor islands like last time because of budget constraints.

The meeting is scheduled for a board room in DLNR's Kalanimoku building, the same room that critics said was too small for the last public hearing. The room couldn't accommodate the dozens of people who had come out to testify and a television monitor was setup outside for the overflow.

Haraguchi says he is considering moving this hearing to the auditorium of the State Capitol and allowing a live video feed for the neighbor islands.

The morning schedule will likely limit public attendance. But Haraguchi hopes it will allow PLDC board members to attend. Last time, the only board member who showed up was William Aila, chair of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Birth of the PLDC 10/10/12
Ea O Ka Aina: PLDC seeking Chinese Bubble 10/7/12
Ea O Ka Aina: PLDC New Rules 10/4/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Actions to overturn PLDC 9/26/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai Council to vote PLDC 9/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Abercrombie Booed 9/20/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Abercrombie on Kauai PLDC 9/13/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Ex DLNR Chair against PLDC 8/29/12
Ea O Ka Aina: PLDC ceded Land Finale 8/29/123  
Ea O Ka Aina: PLDC Rejected by Public 8/22/12 
Ea O Ka Aina: Cold Water in the Face 8/20/12  
Ea O Ka Aina: Public Land Development Corporation 8/18/12 
Ea O Ka Aina: Hawaii Legislative Subterfuge 5/1/12  
Ea O Ka Aina: From the Inside Out 9/23/11  
Ea O Ka Aina: Abercrombie Land Grab 9/13/11  
Ea O Ka Aina: Privitizing Public Land 6/2/11

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