Everything was white and silver and gray, except the driftwood-littered tawny beach, when Koko, Paele and I went walking this morning. The trades were brisk, leaning heavily on the wind-stunted ironwoods and whipping the sea into disorganized waves that broke every which way.
The sun itself was obscured by clouds, but still, its light shone through through a pukalani, beaming broad gray shafts into the place where the horizon meets the shimmery sea.
As Gov. Abercrombie meets opposition to his attempts to wield more power and push development throughout the state, he's begun to display an ugly arrogance, attacking the environmental and Native Hawaiian constituency that helped him get elected.
In recent days, the guv has come out swinging against the two groups. At a Thursday meeting of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, he derided kanaka maoli who are exercising their rights under federal law to consult on the Big Island's Queen Kaahumanu highway project:
“It’s being delayed by what I’m told are Native Hawaiian organizations,” he said, adding he asked which organizations. “It’s somebody self-designating and getting some standing. That’s something we’ve got to move past.”
Such “self-designating” organizations, he said, grab on to cultural protections and environmental protections and seek standing to prevent action in areas they decided they needed cultural activities “discovered six minutes ago.” Those people shouldn’t get standing and should be thrown out of court, he added.
Wow. So much for cultural sensitivity and encouraging public participation. Guess the guv wants the kanaka to sit down, shut up and join his version of state-sponsored self-determination, as outlined by the Hawaiian Roll Commission he appointed.
He was similarly dismissive of environmentalists, denigrating those who are opposed to SB 755 as “professional naysayers” with a “tendency for apocalyptic statements.”
I think those of us committed to the concept of malama aina have good reason to be concerned about a bill that would allow the guv to exempt state projects from any environmental review. It would also immunize him from judicial challenges from the public and allow DLNR and airport projects to be exempt from coastal regulations.
Unfortunately, all of our elected representatives — Sen. Ron Kouchi and Reps. Derek Kawakami, Dee Morikawa and Jimmy Tokioka — voted for the bill. In other words, they're willing to throw environmental and cultural concerns under the bus and bypass public review in order to suck up to the guv and green-light development. Way to go, guys!
We already saw what happened when Linda Lingle illegally assumed such power and exempted the Superferry from environmental review. Amazingly, she's still trying to make like what she did was right. On her Senate campaign web site, she claims:
The Hawaii Supreme Court’s Superferry decision was a major departure from well-established law that Governor Lingle and the Legislature relied upon in funding and carrying out infrastructure upgrades for the Superferry’s operation.
It's really amazing to read her positive spin on what is undoubtably the biggest boondoggle of her tenure, costing the state millions of dollars and fomenting considerable public strife.
But then, politicians never really do see their actions clearly, which is why they continue to sell the wai, kai, aina and people down the river while claiming they're serving the public good. And in Abercrombie's case, getting downright nasty in the process.