Adapted from testimony before the Hawaii County Planning Council on Political Corruption in Hawaii, January 8, 2013 —
Aloha, Council Members,
I come to speak not just for myself but for my entire ohana [family]. The haole [European] side of our ohana has been on the Big Island since 1840. The kanaka [native Hawaiian] side of my family has been here for over a thousand years, since the first magician seafarers navigated their way across the vast Pacific on bamboo rafts to our beautiful islands. We are many hundreds of people not only on the Big Island but on every Hawaiian island.
As you know the present state of government in Hawaii is an international disgrace. Not long ago Money magazine rated Hawaii as the most politically corrupt of the 50 states – even worse, it said, than Russia. Things have got much worse since then.
Recently our Governor, Neil Abercrombie, and the majority of the Hawaii Legislature passed a bill, Act 55, that allows the Governor and a few of his friends to sell off our Hawaii public lands to their corporate friends at wholesale prices – with no environmental or public review. Millions of acres among the most unique and precious lands not only in Hawaii, not only in the United States, but in the entire world.
That’s nothing new for Governor Abercrombie or the Legislature. They have set new lows in the betrayal of the public trust, in their scorn for democracy and for the people of our state. Another example is the Governor’s determination to impose a enormous energy development on the magnificent islands of Molokai and Lanai, in order to pay off his corporate contributors in the energy and investment banking business.
Molokai, rated by National Geographic as the sixth most beautiful island in the world, and by Yahoo Travel and MSNBC as one of the 10 most beautiful islands in the world, will become a huge industrial zone to feed unnecessary electricity to Honolulu, which can generate all its own simply with rooftop solar. Lanai, owned by mega-tycoon Larry Ellison, is equally and stunningly beautiful.
These projects imposed on us by our politicians and their corporate friends are of such a stunning evil there is no way to comprehend them – a sort of Holocaust of Hawaii’s environment and the culture of our people.
Act 55, because it voids environmental, cultural, fiscal and social review, cannot be stopped by the public no matter how horrible it is. Hawaii has become like the old Soviet Union, where people had no voice, and the commissars in Moscow would decide to flood whole regions and chase out thousands of people to build dams and send the power to Moscow, where by the time it got there you couldn’t fry an egg with it.
Government in Hawaii is dirty politics behind closed doors. The corporations come to Hawaii with money and the politicians give them what they want. It is government by and for the corporations, not by and for the people.
It is time for us, the people, to take Hawaii back.
Mike Bond is the author of Saving Paradise.
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