Gov's Kauai Meeting Clouded by PLDC Outrage

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

LIHUE, KAUAI — Gov. Neil Abercrombie brought his Cabinet to the Garden Isle on Wednesday for a listening session.

What he heard was loud and insistent: Repeal Act 55, the legislation that created the Public Land Development Corporation.

Protesters at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School in Lihue frequently, and rudely, interrupted the Hawaii governor and his directors to shout things like "Stop the PLDC!" "We don't trust you!" "No GMOs!" and "It's all about land and assets!"

"When you combine government and corporations, you get fascism!" a man named Rich said into a speaker's microphone. "You have given a five-member appointed board complete control over public lands. That's the concern people have."

The governor insisted, as he has several times this week, that people should consider the positive aspects a PLDC might bring to the state. Land Director William Aila said the PLDC would not have the power to interfere with water rights, decide the fate of ceded lands or evade the state statute on environmental review.

But the protesters were not the least bit mollified. If the PLDC does not actually end up allowing for the building of a hotel in pristine Kokee, as some warned, Kauai residents remain very wary of the agency's potential reach.

Kauai County Council member Mel Rapozo, who supports Act 55, told the governor that the council would consider a measure asking lawmakers to reconsider the PLDC's exemption from county zoning and permitting rules.

"That is the problem," Rapozo told the governor in front of a packed audience. "The five-member board doesn't know Kauai — these people know Kauai."

By the time the 90-minute community meeting concluded and Abercrombie was whisked by his security to his awaiting vehicle, one wondered if he was reconsidering his long-held view that Kauai is the most beautiful place in the world.

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