MAYOR ARAKAWA SIGNS MAUI ISLAND PLAN
Not sure if any of you noticed this, but on Friday, Dec. 28, Mayor Alan Arakawa signed the Maui Island Plan, which the Maui County Council finally passed (after years of delays) a few weeks ago.
“We now have the framework which will allow us to move forward, striving as always to balance the many current and future needs of Maui and our people,” said Arakawa in a press statement issued that day. “To all of those involved in the process, whether they saw eye to eye on every detail of the plan or not, your efforts are much appreciated. Mahalo again for all of your hard work.”
Sounds wonderful. You’d think that someone like Lucienne de Naie, an original member of the General Plan Advisory Committee that first drafted the Maui Island Plan, would be celebrating. Except she isn’t. Not even close.
“This ‘all growth and no green’ approach is a BRAND NEW look,” she wrote in an email to MauiTime. “It happened after a closed-door ‘executive session’ with the Council’s General Plan Committee and County attorneys this October.”
According to de Naie, the plan Arakawa has signed offers no protection to the island’s currently undeveloped lands.
“What happens to all the parks, preserves, culturally important lands and greenway buffers that hundreds of community members attended community meetings to support?” she asked rhetorically. “They are now shown on ‘diagrams.’ If a developer wants to build on one of the green spaces on these ‘diagrams,’ the planning department and the Council need to be ‘informed.’ That’s it! No action. No plan. No commitment.”
Helluva way to celebrate the new year.
THE STRANGE CASE OF MR. CASE
Speaking of cases, I’d like to take a moment to discuss whatever became of Mr. Ed Case. I thought of the former U.S. Representative as soon as I heard that U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye had passed away on Dec. 17. After all, Case had first gotten himself elected to congress by winning a special 2003 election after Congresswoman Patsy Mink died. And though he never really came close to beating Mazie Hirono in the Democratic Party Primary this year for the right to succeed retiring Senator Daniel Akaka, was it possible that Case could still now wrangle an appointment to the Senate?
Of all the names tossed out as possible replacements for Inouye, Case probably had the most experience. He wasn’t shy about pointing this out, either, in his Dec. 23 letter to the Hawaii Democratic Party’s Central Committee:
“Our next Senator must hit the ground Thursday [Dec. 27] on the critical issues facing us all right now, from the fiscal cliff to growing our economy, preserving Social Security and Medicare, and dealing with an uncertain world, while also fighting inside DC to save Hawaii projects, funding and jobs now at great risk,” he wrote. “Our next Senator must also have the knowledge, experience and ability to work with different Presidents and colleagues over the coming decades toward rebuilding national leadership and influence for our Congressional delegation.”
Turns out, though, no. See, Case made a lot of enemies–Democratic Party enemies–in the last decade. All his “experience” in congress didn’t apparently mean a lot to them, because Case never made the the list of three contenders that Governor Neil Abercrombie used to appoint a temporary replacement.
Case himself seemed to understand that his crusade for Inouye’s Senate seat was forlorn. In an email to supporters sent out a day before he submitted his official request for consideration to the Democratic Party, Case included this telling line about his former dealings with the man now being virtually labeled as Hawaii’s patron saint of national politics: “Of course, we disagreed later over how to ensure Hawaii’s representation in the Senate in a post-Inouye world, and that cost me dearly.”
Brief historical recap: in 2006, Case gave up his perfectly safe congressional seat to run against Senator Akaka in the Democratic Primary. Though old, at that time Akaka still very much wanted another term, and Inouye and the rest of the Democratic Party establishment agreed with him. But whippersnapper Case stepped in with arguments about both Hawaii’s senators were getting pretty up there in age, and there would come a time soon when both would be gone, and Hawaii needed to make plans now for that loss of seniority.
Inouye, in a 2011 interview with Civil Beat, said he didn’t take to Case’s challenge against his buddy at all. “Mr. Case came to me and I asked him, I said, ‘Are you running for the Senate?’” Inouye said. “He says, ‘No.’ Forty-eight hours later, he announced, and in his headquarters were all posters. And these posters are not made in 24 hours. It takes a little while to do this. I don’t mind people disagreeing with me. But on something like this, straight to my face.”
But a moment later in the Civil Beat interview, Inouye then admitted that that was all in the past. “Well he came to see me and, you know, I let bygones by bygones,” he said. “But I said something like, ‘When I get agitated and irritated, I might act up.’ After all, I’m human, right?”
Inouye may have forgiven Case, but the party certainly didn’t. That’s why I wasn’t really surprised at the tone of Case’s Dec. 29 email to supporters.
“Despite a few disappointments… 2012 was a good year for Audrey and me,” he wrote before detailing the accomplishments of his kids.
Case wasn’t a bad politician–a bit too moderate and accommodating in his views and actions on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, for instance, but he was a decent guy who understands the legislative process. Perhaps someday, after the party feels he’s paid enough penance he’ll get a chance to crawl out of the wilderness of extremely lucrative business, property and financial law (he’s currently at Bays Lung Rose and Holma in Honolulu) and serve in public office again.