Though the meeting is technically about approving the rules that will govern the new agency, which has tremendous power to circumvent existing regulatory processes, people are taking advantage of the meeting to express disapproval of the entire concept.
One group is circulating a petition asking Gov. Abercrombie and the state Legislature to repeal Act 55, which created the agency.
A lot of folks seem unclear about what the PLDC is, and what these statewide meetings are about. If you're looking for some background, here's a link to an article I did last year, as the agency was becoming established:
Donna Wong, director of Hawaii's Thousand Friends: [I]t’s clear the intent of Act 55 is to cut through all red tape.”
And that includes exempting private developments pursued under the PLDC from state and county land use designations, zoning ordinances and building codes, including the need for general contractors.
[Arnie] Saiki and others are also concerned about how PLDC activities might affect the so-called “ceded” lands–thousands of acres transferred into US control following the 1893 illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.
“Land that the [Hawaii] Supreme Court said cannot be sold will be up for these long-term leases and sweetheart deals,” Townsend says. “That seems really immoral to me.”
As I blogged last year:
The bill passed with very little public attention, but I wasn't concerned until I watched the video of the legislative briefing held by Sens. Malama Solomon and Donovan Dela Cruz, who spearheaded the bill. They were pretty much licking their chops as they spoke about using the PLDC to create density around high-speed rail stations and spark the development of state harbors, rural areas and geothermal energy. It became clear that they, and likely other lawmakers and their developer cronies, have their pet projects that will be pushed right through.
And here's a link to a piece I wrote last week for Honolulu Weekly on the current round of public meetings about PLDC rules (click on the links to draft rule documents):
Under the draft rules, the PLDC would be allowed to “optimize and develop projects” either on its own, or with a private developer. Eligible projects include those that “make optimal use of public land,” generating “a consistent and sustainable source of revenue for the State.”
Counties may be required to pay for infrastructure associated with PLDC projects, under the rules.
In other news, The Garden Island today has a story on Erin Wilson's EEOC settlement from the county, which includes Jake Delaplane, first deputy prosecutor, claiming that Erin's press release “contained inaccuracies and lies.”
Jake then goes on to reiterate the same statement that his boss, Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, told Civil Beat: “Despite our numerous requests, the County Attorney’s Office has failed to provide the OPA with any information regarding monetary settlements,” he said.
Both Shay and Jake also claimed the first they'd heard of the settlement totals was when Justin Kollar mentioned them during last week's debate.
So I asked County spokeswoman Beth Tokioka whether that was true, and got this response:
Department Heads are notified of EEOC complaints, any investigations, and ultimately if and when a settlement is reached. The departments are then notified of the terms and conditions of any settlements once they are finalized, and any corrective or remedial actions required of the department(s). Please note that not all pending EEOC settlements against the Prosecutor’s Office have been finalized.
Erin's settlement is finalized, so Shay and Jake were told about it, even though they are claiming they were not. They also were told of the settlements given to two other women in their office. Another EEOC complaint against OPA involving racial discrimination has not been finalized, although the settlement amount has been determined.
I also asked Beth just how many EEOC complaints have been made against the county in the past four years and how much they have cost the county.
I learned there have been a total of six complaints made in that time period, for a settlement total of $548,000. The settlements were paid from the general fund, not insurance, so the county's premiums were not affected.
We already know four of the complaints involved the Office of Prosecuting Attorney (OPA), for a total of $223,000. Though Beth said terms of the settlements precluded her from revealing more information, I previously learned the other two settlements involved the Planning Department and County Clerk/Council Services, for a total of $325,000.
So of the 19 county agencies, 16 have managed to avoid any EEOC complaints, two have gotten one each and the OPA — has gotten four. All of the complaints were filed by women.
I also asked for comment on the Jake/Shay statement that the county is settling these claims to make OPA look bad instead of taking them to court, and got this statement from Beth:
Each complaint is reviewed and assessed on a case by case basis, with the appropriate action taken given the particular set of facts and circumstances. EEOC complaints are not law suits, and as such are not resolved in the courts.