Abercrombie squirms on PLDC

SUBHEAD: The almost universal condemnation of Gov. Abercrombie's attempt to privatize public lands is working.

By Neil Abercrombie on 9 December 2012 for Garden Island News -

Image above: Neil Abercrombie demonstrating his hands are tied. From (http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2009/12/11/Hawaii-Congressman-Abercrombie-quits/UPI-35291260567826/).

The debate surrounding the Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC) demonstrates without question that the stewardship of our public lands remains of utmost importance to the people of Hawai‘i.

Since the state Legislature established the PLDC in 2011, my administration has worked in good-faith to fulfill the intent of that legislation. The PLDC’s purpose is to create and facilitate partnerships between state and county agencies, businesses, nonprofits and organizations to improve Hawai‘i’s communities, create jobs and expand public benefit through stewardship and responsible use of land resources.

As required by law, the PLDC set out to hold public hearings across the state to accept comment on its draft administration rules, which will govern its future actions and policies. Concerns were immediately heard from the public and community groups following the initial passage of the law.

Clearly concerns remain, and I have asked the PLDC Board of Directors to temporarily defer action on pending rules while public concerns are fully considered.

Since the PLDC is administratively attached to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, I have also directed DLNR Chairperson William Aila to meet with stakeholders to address the PLDC’s administrative rules and the rule-making process before moving forward.

Chair Aila will spearhead this effort with full accountability and transparency, and with the understanding that if public concerns cannot be adequately addressed, then a legislative process may be appropriate.

During the public comment period on the draft rules, calls to abolish the PLDC were quite literally directed at the wrong place. Neither I nor PLDC staff have the power to repeal law; that power rests with the Legislature.

When asked if I would veto a repeal of the PLDC, I answered yes at that time because those members of the community participating in the public comment process deserved an opportunity to see it through. Calls for repeal were premature and unfair, and often based on incorrect assumptions that the PLDC had special powers to sell public lands, or that it was exempt from Environmental Impact Statements and historic preservation law.

Unfortunately, personal attacks on staff also characterized some of the initial testimony; these were misdirected and unproductive. Personnel had nothing to do with the passing of the original legislation and they are performing their duty to administer the process.

We now need to focus on productive dialogue with stakeholders before proceeding.

The state faces decades of deferred maintenance. Proper stewardship of public land does not mean simply leaving land untouched. Lacking maintenance and caretakers, many of our state parks and facilities have become blights or potential hazards to health and safety, and forest areas are being choked by overgrowth and invasive species.

I continue to believe that the PLDC has the potential to help tackle this backlog, as well as help renew and upgrade recreational facilities and even public schools by using public lands for public purposes that otherwise may not have had sufficient funding.

As I have previously stated, I do not want the potential for what the PLDC can do to accomplish public good to be lost because of a failure to account for reservations about either the process or the outcome.

But in the end, the PLDC is the creation of the Legislature, and lawmakers may ultimately be the ones to decide its future.

I remain committed to working closely with the Legislature and all interested parties involved to do what is in the best interest of the people of Hawai‘i and the public lands.


Anonymous said...

who said that?

Dharma Sanctuary said...

make the man squirm...make all of them squirm and know the public wrath..

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