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Act 55 Kaua‘i joins statewide rally against Act 55

Community gathers at Lihu‘e Historic District to ask Abercrombie to repeal law that created PLDC

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Posted: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 1:00 am

LIHU‘E — For a few hours Monday afternoon, the entire state connected through simultaneous events linked by one moving force: Repeal Act 55. Community members on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu and Big Island got together from 2 to 4 p.m., and on Maui from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., to protest against the controversial act.

“We gotta bring the aloha back,” Keoni Kealoha told a crowd of approximately 100 people, most wearing red shirts, who came to the lawn fronting the Historic County Building in Lihu‘e Historic District on a show of support for a statewide rally to repeal Act 55.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Act 55 on May 20, 2011, following the state Legislature’s approval of Senate Bill 1555. Act 55 created the Public Land Development Corporation and gave its five board members broad powers to allow commercial development on public lands — including 1.8 million acres of ceded lands — while circumventing county zoning laws.

Kealoha was the emcee at the Kaua‘i event, which attracted a string of community leaders who spoke against Act 55.

“Is it in the best interest of our community to give away our power?” said Kealoha, explaining that Act 55 takes the power of controlling public lands away from the community and rests it in the hands of five appointed board members.

“This five-men board has been given so much power, it’s totally insane,” said Rich Hoeppner, who was one of the community leaders who was instrumental in building opposition to the now-defunct Superferry a few years ago.

Councilman KipuKai Kuali‘i said PLDC’s action would bring irreparable harm to Hawai‘i’s “extremely limited resources.” He recently crafted a resolution — unanimously approved by the council — urging Abercrombie and the Legislature to repeal Act 55. Big Island’s County Council has also approved a similar resolution, and Maui is halfway through approving a comparable measure.

Felicia Cowden, who was instrumental in putting the event together, brought Hawaiian activist and Moloka‘i native Walter Ritte to Kaua‘i.

Ritte has decades of successful activism for Hawaiian rights, including pushing for a moratorium on research for GMO kalo and being part of a select group of Moloka‘i natives who pressured the Navy in the 1990s to stop bombing Kaho‘olawe.

From the get-go, Ritte praised Kaua‘i for being famous across the state as a people who fight for their ideals. When Abercrombie visited the island two weeks ago, the people of Kaua‘i told him “Hi, Mr. Governor. Bye, Mr. Governor,” Ritte said.

Everything the government could have done wrong, they did with Act 55, said Ritte, asking the people not to fall for a trap to change PLDC rules. No input has been taken from the community in crafting the law, and this is the people’s opportunity to kick back at the government, he said.

“Stick for this issue, fight for this issue: Repeal Act 55,” said Ritte, causing a loud ovation from the crowd.

Each speaker, one by one, asked for a repeal.

Former state Sen. Gary Hooser, who was appointed by Abercrombie to head the state Office of Environmental Quality Control, said “repeal the bill, start over.”

Hooser said he believes the intent of the bill was to make good things happen, but this is not about the intent, it’s about the law.

Hoeppner asked the people to start a public fund to take the case to Hawai‘i Supreme Court.

Bill Georgi, running to represent Kaua‘i as a state Senator under the Republican ticket, said he wasn’t questioning the intent of Act 55, but questioned its consequences.

“If I wanted to write a bill to defraud the state of Hawai‘i, I’m not sure I could write a better bill than this one,” said Georgi, adding that the community should start talking neighbor islands legislators to begin building a majority needed at the Legislature to repeal Act 55.

Councilman Mel Rapozo said he initially wanted to craft a resolution asking the Legislature to amend the act. But after talking with Abercrombie at a community meeting on Kaua‘i on Sept. 19, he said he realized the governor wasn’t interested in hearing from the people. It was then that he threw out his resolution and supported Kuali‘i’s resolution asking for a straight ban.

The Local 5 workers union endorsed Abercrombie on his 2010 successful gubernatorial bid. Angela Prigge, from Local 5, said unions usually support development, but on this instance they are against PLDC.

“Our lands are for our future generations,” Prigge said.

James Alalem said Abercrombie lied to the people, and called for the governor’s impeachment. A similar call had already been made at a public PLDC meeting Aug. 31.

Jerry DiPietro talked about past mistakes, but asked to move forward starting Monday.

“There is nothing more powerful than aloha,” she said.

The event began with music from John Cruz and Sean Carillo. Kaimi Hermosura began to wrap up with afternoon talking about the simple rule of malama ‘aina, taking care of the land, that Hawaiians live by.

“I believe this thing is going to get squashed,” he said of Act 55, before strumming his six-string ‘ukulele and leading the crowd to the tunes of Hawai‘i Aloha, with everyone holding hands and forming a giant circle on the lawn of the Lihu‘e Historic District.

A pule, prayer in Hawaiian language, sealed the event.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or lazambuja@ thegardenisland.com.

© 2016 Thegardenisland.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • mrb posted at 4:31 pm on Tue, Oct 9, 2012.

    mrb Posts: 153

    Those of you commenting in response to this specific article regarding perspectives focusing on a statewide-concern to Repeal Act 55, please remember that this has to do with the law passed to allow for a Public Lands Development Corporation (PLDC) being established to have the power and authority to determine and decide what can be done with so-called "ceded lands" presumably held in public trust by the State of Hawaii. There are too many historical aspects of cultural and legal propensities which are being overlooked in the process. That is why there is such a hue and cry of resistance and protestation on this matter. That is why clarity, transparency, and accountability on how and why this was done needs to surface. This is why the call for the Repeal of Act 55 has been made.

  • Richard Godbehere Jr posted at 3:19 pm on Tue, Oct 9, 2012.

    Richard Godbehere Jr Posts: 1

    Where's the Beer Vendor at?... This is making me wanting a drink...

  • John_Brown posted at 11:29 am on Tue, Oct 9, 2012.

    John_Brown Posts: 752

    You're a little confused (as usual) as to who the real 'commie' is... Pontificating about things you are so absolutely clueless about really makes me question whatever 'education' you did receive but I will chalk up to the constant dribble of lies you get from the teat of FOX news... They're another large group of white guys that like to confuse 'low information' voters with political theories and history (that you are also so oblivious about)...

    When you GIVE something to CORPORATIONS, it's NOT COMMUNISM, moron... It's FASCISM... Here's a novel concept... LOOK IT UP instead of reading the FAUX 'news' ticker...

    And Obama did raise a lot of money but this is EASILY offset by the BILLIONS that a small number of billionaires are giving to GOP PACs run by Karl Rove and the Koch brothers. That's who's TRYING to buy the election. Oh, and the GOP lopsided court that gave us Citizens United... That was a dem ploy? WRONG AGAIN... TOTAL GOP on that one... LOL

  • interesting posted at 11:26 am on Tue, Oct 9, 2012.

    interesting Posts: 1931

    well the bulk of the donations direct to obama are under $200, which, if you follow these things, are typically not the amounts that corporations give - it's what regular folks give. Corps give at the $2500 max and give to the superPACs more (2 areas where romney/the GOP do well)


    guess my question would be: why do you have the impression that obama is getting the "majority of huge corporate donations"...? what number or whatever are you seeing that leads you to believe that? none of the mandated reporting suggests/shows this

  • Happy Accident posted at 9:58 am on Tue, Oct 9, 2012.

    Happy Accident Posts: 473

    Oh ya...and I'd love to see your evidence that disproves that Obama is getting the majority of huge corporate donations. No, you "Hawaii home boy" is bought and sold by the corporations just as are all politicians from both parties. Munch on that a while.

  • Happy Accident posted at 9:55 am on Tue, Oct 9, 2012.

    Happy Accident Posts: 473

    Ah, yes...Commie John Brown. You are so in denial about your leftist doctrine, hisotry and Hawaii's state of affairs. This is exactly where we are: "In Marxist socio-political thought, the dictatorship of the proletariat refers to a socialist state in which the proletariat, or the working class, has control of political power." Yes, Hawaii's Democrats continue to clearly demonstrate their dictatorship which is growing by the day.

  • John_Brown posted at 8:01 am on Tue, Oct 9, 2012.

    John_Brown Posts: 752

    Yo HA,

    If this was brought to us by the Democratic Party (hard to tell when a repub isn't lying now since they don't care about facts any longer), it only speaks to the fact that BOTH parties have been bought and paid for. Since the GOP is solely supported by your local Chamber of Commerce, then maybe these two are DINOs (Democrats In Name Only - like a Zell Miller). And there is only 10 politicians in the local state congress who are republican? No republicans voted for it? Highly doubtful... They are ALL in it for the money... PERIOD... But your side does WAY more of their bidding. Here, it appears you just have to 'grease' the dems to get something passed. If sure if the GOP was in charge, they would have done it for FREE because they are all about FREEDOM.

    And get your theories right. If it was the People's Republic (denoting communism), the land would be given to the 'people' or the 'collective'. Under FASCISM, it's given to the corporations (you know, the GOPs mantra).

  • John_Brown posted at 7:42 am on Tue, Oct 9, 2012.

    John_Brown Posts: 752

    What's the point in even having county zoning boards if some politburo somewhere can overrule it?

    And it's 'legal' because some bought politicians on another island live in a rats nest of asphalt, body odor, and power lines? That's their choice but now they get the right to sell out the few remaining pristine places because ... they watched 'The Descendants'?!

    Can't mess with those 'job creators'!!! LOL

    This is BS and if they don't like the response they are getting NOW, just wait till they 'overrule' some local county's decision. It will be 'grab a torch and let's all meet at the castle'! LOL

  • Happy Accident posted at 7:25 am on Tue, Oct 9, 2012.

    Happy Accident Posts: 473

    ACT 55! Brought to you by Hawaii's Democratic Party! Looking out for your rights because we know what's best for you! Authored and pushed by Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz and Malama Solomon. Only one senator and nine House representatives voted against its creation. Welcome to the People's Republic Of Hawaii!


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