JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!
So I guess it was only a matter of time before the old “jobs” debate got started in the fight over the proposed Kihei “mega malls.” Earlier this month, the State Land Use Commission (SLUC) voted that the plan put forth by Eclipse Development Group and Honua‘ula Partners for 700,000 square feet of retail and 250 affordable homes, respectively, in North Kihei violated various conditions imposed on the property back in 1995. I still can’t believe it took four days before Pacific Business News reported that Goodfellow Brothers, which was slated to start construction on the malls, was not taking the SLUC decision well.
“Goodfellow Bros. is laying off about 100 people after a Maui mega-mall proposal was shot down by the Hawaii Land Use Commission late last week,” PBN reported on Feb. 11. “Goodfellow has a total workforce of between 250 and 300, some of whom have been with the company for more than three decades. The 100 people that will be out of a job are mostly operational engineers, laborers and other field workers.”
On Feb. 16, The Maui News published a story saying Eclipse President and CEO Douglas Gray agreed with Goodfellow.
“I am disappointed at the decision of the SLUC and saddened at the impact on the jobs of workers who were slated to begin the grading and infrastructure work for the project,” Gray said, according to the paper. “It is my hope that we can quickly come to a resolution that will put people back to work and create up to 1,800 jobs when the promenade [the retail complex] is completed.”
The underlying point was clear: meddling environmentalists who had petitioned the LUC to stop the mega mall project because it bore no resemblance to the “light industrial” zoning given the land back in 1995 were putting a lot of locals out of a job.
We forget sometimes that, in America, “jobs” is often given as the reason we do everything. During the cold war, Washington loved to wave the jobs hammer around during Pentagon budget discussions. Liberals didn’t much care for military superiority arguments, but even they backed off when faced with the government buying huge quantities of nuclear and conventional weapons (tanks, planes, ships, missiles, etc.). That meant a large segment of the American population were working very good jobs for defense contractors. In 1990, Secretary of State James Baker even tried to use “jobs” as a reason to liberate Kuwait after the Iraqi invasion that summer.
In this particular case, of course it’s sad to see even more locals out of work. But to borrow a tired argument from those who oppose banning smoking in restaurants and bars, no one forced them to go work for an industry that, even when all permits and papers are in order, is highly cyclical. It’s also hard to feel a lot of sympathy towards either Goodfellow boss Steve Goodfellow or Honua‘ula Partners representative Charlie Jencks–in 2005, both men testified for their pal Everett Dowling’s state legislation that would have eviscerated funding for Akaku, Maui’s public access TV station (Dowling opposed the station because of its airing of hearings in which people opposed to his development projects often spoke).
But hey, all this is going to be academic soon. The LUC didn’t kill the proposed mega malls, and will take up the matter again in a month or two. In fact, there’s a great probability that the proposed Kihei mega malls will live again. There’s too much power, money and, yes, jobs at stake for all that land to just go back to being zoned agriculture.
IS THE PLDC DEAD?
Looks like the fate of the hated Public Lands Development Corporation (PLDC), which was quietly passed and signed into law back in 2011, is just about complete. On Tuesday, Feb. 19, the Senate “without comment” (according to the Associated Press) unanimously voted to kill the hated PLDC. This comes after the state House voted unanimously on Feb. 14 for HB1133, which would kill the PLDC, after which Honolulu Civil Beat reported that House Speaker Joe Souki called the whole creation of the PLDC a “mistake.”
Of course, there still has to be reconciliation between both bills, and then Gov. Neil Abercrombie has to sign the thing, but given the enormous public opposition to state officials simply selling off public lands regardless of local zoning, I think passage is a safe bet.
WE GET A STATE MICROBE?
When I first read the headline “Microbe may be elevated to symbol of Hawaii” on the front page of the Feb. 14 Maui News, I thought the paper had veered into The Onion’s satirical territory:
“House Rep. James Kunane Tokioka, who represents residents of southeastern Kauai, introduced House Bill 293,” reported the News. “It calls for establishing and designating Flavobacterium akiainvivens as the official microbe of the state.”
Like most people, I guess I thought Hawaii already had an official microbe. Because, well, legislators have nothing better to do on the public dime, right, except pass a bunch of toothless resolutions and hold self-serving hearings and so forth.
I was wrong!
In fact, while Hawaii does in fact have a State Bird (Nene), State Marine Mammal (humpback whale), State Reptile (Gold Dust Day Gecko) and State Individual Sport (surfing), it lacks a whole bunch of other symbols that should be official. Since we had five free minutes this morning, the MauiTime staff came up with a few suggestions that ought to be on the books:
Hawaii State Rodent: Mongoose
Hawaii State Television Program: Magnum P.I.
Hawaii State Food: Spam Musubi
Hawaii State Crime: Running red lights
Hawaii State Motor Vehicle: Monster truck
Hawaii State Method of Parking: Backing in
Hawaii State Beer (tie): Heineken/Steinlager
Hawaii State Footwear: Slippah
Hawaii State Insect: Cockroach
Hawaii State Language: Pidgin
Ok, legislator people: get cracking!
In our Feb. 14, 2013 story “Go Red Garden Party,” we forgot to give photo credit to Natalie Brown. We regret the error.
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