Secret Suspension of Hawaii County Highways Chief?
Dear Editor, July 21, 2021
I'm dismayed that Hawaii County Highways Division chief Neil Azevedo has been placed on leave for 30 days.
Neil is one of the hardest working county employees with a lot of irreplaceable institutional knowledge. Yes, he is still supposedly employed, but this whole thing has been mishandled by Mayor Roth's administration.
I've heard two different stories as to what happened. One of the stories stated that a family emergency necessitated that he temporarily step away. The other story I heard is what was published in the paper, which stated that he was suspended for 30 days.
There are two aspects that I find troubling.
--This is the second high profile personnel issue that has cropped up since the new administration has taken over.
--The other aspect I find troubling is "a source" reportedly stated he was suspended - even though there is no concrete proof this occurred.
I hope the council takes a closer look into what is going on in the Hawaii County Department of Public Works.
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She touched my soul
Dear Locals and Visitors to Maui July 16, 2021
Yesterday at the monthly meeting of the Maui Board of Water Supply, a young Hawaiian girl testified. Her name is Kanani and she told us that her Grandfather who died recently was on the Hawaiian Homes list for 80 years, waiting to be granted a home for his family but we failed her Grandfather because of a lack of water so more Hawaiian Home lands can be subdivided to make a lifetime dream of having a home of their own a reality.
Our State of Hawaii Constitution clearly states that the Hawaiian people have the top priority in the allocation of water. Right now, Maui is experiencing a drought which usually happens during the rainless summer months. But why we can't become water squirrels that store the water in holding tanks during the wet winter rain season in order to provide us with water during the dry summer months.
Climate change is real. As a lifetime resident growing-up in Haiku's Rice Camp, I remember as a kid waking-up in the morning and seeing dew on the grass. I remember well one time there was so much rain that my Dad had a very hard time taking his soda delivery truck out of the yard. Although I no longer live in Haiku, my Brother Stan lives there, and he tells me that our childhood observations of seeing wet grass in the morning is no longer true even during the winter months. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that our climate has changed more than just for a season but maybe for the duration of our lifetime.
What can we do about it? Maybe start by buying an electric car or take less airplane trips to Las Vegas, no we can't do the latter- it would take the fun out of life for many people including my Mother who when she was alive was quite a slot machine wizard.
I have been on the Board of Water Supply for over 4 years, I have less than a year left on a 5 years appointment. I have come to admire the people who volunteer their precious time to serve. I have great admiration also for Director Jeff Pearson and all the people under his supervision including a cousin of mine who is an engineer for BWS. These are great people who I know after hearing the soul wrenching testimony of Kanani, would give her family a water meter so they can have a home of their own finally after waiting 80 years.
But where is the water, how can we get more water for the development of affordable homes for working families who are leaving Hawaii by the hundreds? -- as told to us by another testifier from San Antonio, Texas who left Maui, her birthplace, because her and her husband could not make a go on their Island home. We have become victims of our own success. We have made Maui, the number #1 Resort Island in the World. Every Tom, Dick and Harry and their families want to come here and some of them want to stay and enjoy 'Paradise" for the rest of their lives. This has made the price of homes on Maui go through the roof with a median price of over $1M. Welcome to the lifestyle of the rich and famous, forget the Hawaiian people, we will take their "aloha spirit", make believe we really care for them, but don't allow them in our gated communities except to cut the grass and throughout our trash. Let them wait for 80 or more years for a roof over their heads, I got my piece of the rock. I love Maui, I pay my taxes - what else you want from me? That kind of attitude is making the residents very negative about tourism and that is going to hurt the visitor industry unless the hotels who employ people like my two Sons, Jason my oldest is a bartender and Chad my second oldest is a cook. Thank God they both have homes of their own, but they still struggle to meet the high cost of living here on Maui.
We know the problem or problems of providing water for affordable homes. The question is what are we going to do about it. When is all that aloha we give to our visitors ever going to be given back. We need to see when the visitor industry is going to realize that without homes for working families there will be no one left on Maui to do housekeeping. yard maintenance, tour guides and other tourist related jobs. It is time we see the people in the visitor industry who are making a ton of money step-up to the plate and get involve in providing housing for their workers, like the sugar plantations did years ago. They are the new plantation owners -they are the people who need to make sure that their workers are happy and well taking cared for or they will see an increased in resentment towards tourism in the World's #1 Resort Island. It is time for some soul searching for every rich and famous person(s) who know makes Maui their home. If you really love Maui,show some love and aloha by making some positive contributions maybe just a smile to the waitress or waiter that serve you a meal at a restaurant and if you plan to make Maui your home, get involve in the affordable housing issue. There is going to be a demonstration for affordable homes on Maui this coming Monday, July 19th. starting at 12 Noon in front of the Queen Kaahumanu Center before our County Council hears testimony about affordable housing for working families like Kanani's. Aloha is a two-way street - it is time to give back some aloha.
Norman Calvin Franco
Member - Maui County Board of Water Supply
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Debunking Sen Acasio’s Moratorium
Dear Editor, July 11, 2021
Senator Laura Acasio's commentary that was published in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald was way off the mark. I believe placing a moratorium on constructing luxury developments and tourism facilities would do more harm than good.
Firstly, the construction industry is one of Hawaii’s backbone economic drivers. A moratorium on these developments would result in major layoffs for an industry that was the only one that added jobs in 2020.
Secondly, who would decide when there is “sufficient” affordable housing to the remove the moratorium. In other words, this is just a backdoor to block development and harm Hawaii's construction industry that provides a living wage for its workers.
The real reason why there is a lack of affordable housing is two fold. 95% of the land in state of Hawaii is designated either conservation or agriculture. Roughly 5% of the land is designated urban or rural. 60% of DHHL lands statewide are not usable for homesteading either.
These land use restrictions coupled with Hawaii’s onerous environmental and permitting review processes make it impossible to develop affordable housing in Hawaii. Then external costs, such as raw materials, make these affordable housing projects simply unfeasible. In other words, the simplistic view alluded to by Sen. Acasio about this issue in her commentary doesn’t tell the whole story.
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Hawai’i 2050 ‘Sustainability’ Goals Follow Corporate Plan
Aloha, July 6, 2021
I read with great interest your story on the State of Hawaii DBEDT revisions.
I’d like to offer the observation that State of Hawaii planning functions as an organic part of the international Sustainable Development movement, adopted by most of the developed/developing world from the transnational level all the way down to the city/county planning levels.
The U.N. Millennium Development Goals, the follow-on Sustainable Development Goals, together with Agenda 21, etc., have been articulated via Federal agencies to just about every college and university in the nation receiving Federal funds, and every State and municipality receiving Federal funds. The same templates are being used from top to bottom and across the board.
The primary mechanism, the "Growing Smart: Legislative Guidebook with Model Statutes for Planning and the Management of Change” was introduced in 2002 by the American Planning Association, and has been almost universally promulgated as the planning template for zoning, energy, affordable housing, and other elements of national, state and municipal strategies. The Guidebook, was written by the American Planning Association; its launch was funded by a partnership between the federal government (HUD), Siemens Corporation, and certain wealthy foundations.
UH Manoa, where I taught for 27 years, embraced this mandate decades ago. All of the departments in the College of Social Sciences, and many programs in other colleges, push SDGs via various differently-articulated but closely-interlocked programs of, and courses related to, “planning”. The Urban and Regional Planning department is a primary example. Much of the University’s research is funded by SDG grants.
Sustainability seems noble and attainable until we factor in the carbon costs of solar panel manufacturing, the enormous pollution associated with solar panel disposal and short service life, electric vehicle batteries and electricity needed for all of these “green” technologies.
In my studied opinion it’s all a scam and a steep bill will eventually come due. And I have both a PV installation on my roof and a Nissan Leaf in my garage!
I do worry about where we will put our solar panels when they become unusable, which will happen eventually. There is a logarithmic service life even for the most well-built solar panel cells.
Inserting native Hawaiian language here and there in discourse about “renewable” energy in Hawaii will do nothing to alleviate the downstream damage to our local environment.
I really appreciate the Hawai’i Free Press and its reporting, which I have followed for many years.
Jeffrey Ady, PhD. (Retired)
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Founding Fellow, International Academy for Intercultural Research
Related: DBEDT Revises '2050 Sustainability Plan'