Maybe I’m getting senile, but it took me a while to figure out why Hawaii Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui signed legislation (Act 241) buying Lipoa Point from Maui Land & Pineapple Co. way over at ILWU headquarters in Wailuku yesterday. I mean, he could’ve easily just driven out to Honolua Bay and surrounded himself with happy beach-goers, surfers and environmentalists, maybe while handing some ML&P official one of those giant novelty checks (in this case, made out for $20 million). But instead he appeared (as Acting Governor) at a union office with a bunch of union officials.
Then I read all the way to the end of Tsutsui’s Oct. 9 press release:
Act 241 also requires proceeds from the deal to fund ML&P’s pension plan, which would ensure pension needs are met for the company’s retirees. There are 1,600 pensioners, 1,000 of which are International Longshore Warehouse Union (ILWU) members.
“Our retired ILWU members are extremely pleased that their pension plans have been funded,” ILWU President Donna Domingo said. “As anyone can imagine, our members looked forward to having financial security in their golden years after dedicating their lives to the company for many years.”
Duh. For years, Maui Land & Pineapple Co.–a for-profit corporation–loudly and repeatedly told everyone within spitting distance that they would never develop Lipoa Point. Then a couple years, citing sudden and dramatic problems with their employee pensions, they said the point was back on the table. Environmentalists were outraged and people everywhere commenced much wringing of the hands. Which brings us to today–the State of Hawaii stepping in with a monster $20 million check to “save” Honolua Bay from a company that failed to keep its own financial house in order.
Who wants to celebrate?
Photo: Hawaii Lt. Governor’s Office