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Posts Tagged ‘molokai’

From Marti:
Big Mahalos to the people of Molokai for making the journey to Honolulu to raise awareness about Molokai Ranch’s new ploy to exploit cash for water.  I was shocked to hear that Gov. Lingle allowed Molokai Ranch to raise residents’ water rates 178% or risk losing all water services.  HEWA!  Access to clean water is a basic human right.  Molokai Ranch took on the responsibility of providing water to people (for a profit) all these years and now that profits are down they just want to close up shop.  That’s just wrong.

Rep. Carroll (D-Molokai) said it herself, “Molokai Ranch should not simply walk away from legal and moral obligations” to provide water service to the residents of Molokai.

There is word for what Molokai Ranch is doing, it’s called: extortion.  Good for Molokaiians for sticking up for themselves.  If this ridiculous rate increase is allowed to stand, then it sets a bad precedent for all of us in Hawaii who pay to have water pumped into our homes. Someday soon they are going to come knocking on all of our doors threatening to cut off our water if we don’t pay them a hundred times more.

A statement from the residents of Molokai:

In May, Molokai Ranch, citing financial impossibility but providing no financial evidence, suddenly announced the company would terminate its water and sewage utility services at the end of August. In July, The Department Of Health said: “The lack of a sustained and reliable source of safe drinking water in West Molokai will create a substantial danger…an imminent peril to the public health and safety.” By threatening to cut off an essential lifeline to the Molokai community, Molokai Ranch created a manmade and calculated crisis in order to avoid financial responsibility.

Without conducting a physical or financial audit of the utilities, the PUC bought into the Ranch’s threats, sided against the ratepayer, and claimed it “had no choice” but to raise the rates of Waiola O Molokai, Inc water utility by an unprecedented 178%.  The people of Molokai cannot afford to pay such exorbitant rate increases, and should not be forced to subsidize mismanaged utilities.

Not only was the rate increase unprecedented and unjustified, but the rate review and approval process was fundamentally flawed.  The PUC, which should be acting as a regulatory agency for the utilities, assumed an unprecedented role and filed for the rate increase on behalf of the utilities, as the Ranch claimed poverty (while still refusing to disclose financial records) and refused to file its own proceedings for a rate increase.  The PUC also disallowed Molokai ratepayers to intervene as a formal party to the proceedings.

Compounding the PUC’s procedural errors, the DCCA then failed to advocate on behalf of the affected ratepayers.  A 25% increase is normally the cap for a rate increase; instead of upholding this policy on behalf of the local consumer, the government agencies appeased the demands of a foreign-owned business and arbitrarily approved a 178% increase knowing that Molokai ratepayers cannot afford to pay such an egregious rate increase.

The Molokai community has filed a formal complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the PUC for breaching a duty to ensure that all rates, fares, and charges are “just and reasonable” and to investigate the DCCA for breaching a duty to “represent, protect, and advance the interests of all consumers, including small businesses, of utility services”. The Molokai community asks that the August 14, 2008 rate increase approval be considered null and void.

The Molokai community asks that Governor Lingle, who oversees both the PUC and the DCCA, overturn the PUC’s rate approval and demand a fair and just rate review process. Molokai Ranch should be asking for a rate increase instead of the PUC, and the people of Molokai should be granted legal standing as a participant in the rate review process.

(photo by Trevor Atkins)

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Monday = RIMPAC exercises end and another whale strands itself on Molokai beach. Think they’re related?

“Any statements implicating sonar or RIMPAC activities are premature and speculative,” said spokesman Mark Matsunaga.

Star-Bulletin story: http://starbulletin.com/2008/07/30/news/story09.html

“Obviously I feel that there may be a correlation because, for one thing, this type of whale stranding does occur for a variety reasons. This particular type of whale has consistently been associated with stranding related to the Navy’s sonar all around the world,” said Paul Achitoff, attorney with the Earthjustice office in Hawaii, adding, “So when one happens while the Navy is using its sonar … it’s obviously something that should raise concern among any objective person.”

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From Marti:

Like everybody else, we’ve been watching the news coverage about the closing of Molokai Ranch. We’ve seen how the corporation has tried to spin this event to throw blame at the community for opposing the La‘au Point development. The same tactic was tried with Superferry. But, I gotta say, it still ain’t working.

It is not the community’s fault when a corporation has a bad idea, sinks a whole bunch of money into it, and it fails. When somebody says “ah, this isn’t gonna work, don’t do it,” but a corporation goes and does it anyway… that’s called hard-head.

To see how hard head this corporation is… and how resilient the people of Molokai are, take a look at this list of news coverage & commentary compiled by Molokai residents.

La’au Point Residents Not At Fault by Lee Cataluna
http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008803280357

Karen Holt and Todd Yamshita were on KGMB 9 new this morning talking about the Ranch shutdown, the closure of access, buying the Ranch, and windfarms.
http://kgmb9.com/main/content/view/5093/108/

Maui News Articles

Future of proposed project at Laau Point is unclear
http://www.mauinews.com/page/content.detail/id/501866.html?nav=10

Residents resolve to move on
http://www.mauinews.com/page/content.detail/id/501867.html?nav=10

Star Bulletin Editorial/Articles

‘Mothballing’ Molokai Ranch would be devastating
http://starbulletin.com/2008/03/26/editorial/editorial01.html

Molokai parent calls isle unit ‘cash positive’
http://starbulletin.com/2008/03/26/business/story01.html

Molokai Ranch’s imminent closure brings uncertainty
http://starbulletin.com/2008/03/26/news/story02.html

Honolulu Advertiser Articles

Ranch’s fate determined by billionaire
http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080326/NEWS01/803260431

Molokai Ranch closure leaves bleak prospects
http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080326/NEWS01/803260433

Molokai Ranch timeline
http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080326/NEWS01/803260432

Some legal mana’o/analysis on recent Water Decisions from a Save La’au attorney:
“Three recent decisions need to be understood. First, in September 2007, the Attorney General finally concluded that the State could not lease the MIS to MPL until an environmental assessment is completed.

Second, on December 26, 2007, the Hawai`i Supreme Court vacated the Commission on Water Resource Management’s permit to withdraw and use water from Well #17 for the West End of Moloka`i. In the Matter of the Contested Case Hearing on the Water Use Permit Application Filed by Kukui (Molokai, 174 P.3d 320; 2007 Haw. LEXIS 381 (2007) (Kukui).

Third, on December 14, 2007, Maui County enacted a new ordinance (Ordinance #3052) that requires verification of water supply before subdivision is approved. MCC 14.12.040 and 18.04.020(G)…no permitted allocations from Well 17. At this point, MPL has neither the right to use Well 17 water, nor the right to transport water using the MIS….

The bulk or “piecemeal” sale option and the agricultural subdivision option present inaccurate information. These lots cannot be subdivided into more than 1500 – or even 215 plus 223 – lots. Ordinance 3502 (2007) would not allow this to occur because there is no water source available for these lots. Moreover, MPL over-estimates its ability to sell any of the parcels of land given the fact that it currently has no guaranteed water source for any of its lots. No buyer would purchase a lot on the dry West End without any assurance of a water source.

It is unfortunate that MPL has misled GuocoLeisure and its shareholders regarding the value of MPL’s land. Not only was the Hallstrom Group’s valuation inaccurate when it was made, but the three recent decisions (the Hawai`i Supreme Court’s in Kukui, the Department of the Attorney General’s regarding the MIS, and Maui County in the new subdivision ordinance) make it abundantly clear that 1) MPL has no guaranteed source of water to develop its lands and 2) the lands cannot be easily subdivided. MPL’s land is worth far, far less than MPL claims.”

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By now, most of everyone has heard the news of the surprise announcement of the Molokai Ranch shut down. On the last days events, a few words to share from from Kahualaulani on Molokai:

We are still sorting it all out over here. And while it is a shock, it is not really a surprise…Molokai Ranch’s true colors have finally been shown. They have played the “employee card”: they couldn’t shove their unwanted development down the throat of this community, so now they will take it out on their own workers, while blaming the development opposition for the “need” to do this.

Indeed, the Ranch states in their press release: “Unacceptable delays caused by continued opposition to every aspect of the Master Plan means we are unable to fund continued normal company operations.” But this is so not true. The community did not object to “every aspect” of the Plan; the community objected to the Laau development aspect of the Plan. We have been consistent from the start in saying the there are many good parts of the Plan (and the community put a lot of work into creating those parts), but that developing Laau is unacceptable to the large majority of this community.

laau-protest-with-surfboards.jpg

We have also been consistent in saying to Molokai Ranch and Plan supporters, lets all come back to the table and find solutions to this issue: let’s find real alternatives to this development, and other types of economic engines besides development. They chose not to listen, and to to try to ram-rod their project through. Wrong idea. And now they are bringing their oft promised/threatened “doomsday scenario” down on this community – by laying off their workers and starting to sell-off their lands. What a mean-spirited and cruel reaction to not getting their way (‘I’m taking my ball and going home!”) They have already sold half of Na’iwa (the ancient makahiki grounds) and Ka’ana (the birthplace of hula) looks to be next…

But let’s be clear here: all the “delays” were caused by Molokai Ranch’s own decisions: by making this whole thing into an “all or nothing” “take it or leave it” thing (either take/accept the Plan with Laau development, or no Plan); by choosing not to listen to this community saying ‘”A’ole Laau” (No to laau!); and by voluntarily withdrawing their shoddy EIS after massive community and LUC opposition to it, (and thus having to return to a draft EIS stage). They were also seriously “delayed”/affected by two recent Supreme Court Decisions – one that took away their allocation of potable water, and the other that neutralized their preferred method of transporting it. (But I don’t hear them blaming the Supreme Court!)

The sentiment in the community is that we feel deeply for the workers who have lost their jobs, and we will support them in whatever ways we can: by trying to find them new jobs, or by creating new jobs with better economic engines, and by helping to provide food during this time. Molokai takes care of her own.

But also, we see this as a great opportunity to bring stewardship of this island back to the people of Molokai. We were already working on various solutions before this happened: from investors with more appropriate endeavors, to the UPC windfarm, to conservation buyers, to buying the Ranch, to a combination of all of the above. Now we are going to push to bring those kinds of things to pass if we can.

laau_point.jpg

It was a historic day yesterday, but now, with your help and continued support, we might truly be able to make history. This island has a chance to have economic, energy, and food independence – a truly sustainable and self-sufficient community. A hub of sustainable agriculture, environmental stewardship, Hawaiian culture and aloha. We can Ho’i i ka Pono! We can truly Keep Moloka’i, Moloka’i!

(first photo from rmayda on flickr, second from Paula Kawal.)

Links to articles:

Molokai Ranch Shutting Down (MPL Press Release)
http://www.themolokaidispatch.com/node/1837

“Doomsday” Has Arrived (Molokai Dispatch)
http://www.themolokaidispatch.com/node/1851

Mayor Tavares And Molokai Council Member Mateo Respond To Ranch Closure (Molokai Dispatch)
http://www.themolokaidispatch.com/node/1841

Lingle Focuses On Molokai Ranch Employees, Island’s Economy (Molokai Dispatch)
http://www.themolokaidispatch.com/node/1840

Molokai Ranch Shuts Down (Molokai Times Article and community and reader’s comments)
http://www.molokaitimes.com/articles/8324115936.asp

Molokai Ranch to quit island (Honolulu Star Bulletin Article)
Stung by rejection of its planned luxury project, the owner will lay off 120 staffers and seal off the land…”
http://starbulletin.com/2008/03/25/news/story01.html

Molokai Ranch to close, lay off 120 (Honolulu Advertiser Article)
http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080325/NEWS01/803250367

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From Marion:

Last week, KAHEA submitted written testimony to the State Land Use Commission in opposition to “the proposal by Molokai Properties Limited to build 200 luxury estates at La’au Point” which will negatively impact the environment and culture.

Our comments point out that: although there is overwhelming scientific evidence supporting that the main Hawaiian Islands serve as foraging and breeding grounds for monk seals and millions of dollars for research and monitoring have been set aside, little has been done by the state and federal governments to permanently protect habitat — like that La’au point. The truth is that the single most important action we can take to save monk seals is provide them places of permanent pu`uhonua, true and forever sanctuaries. Monk seals survive best when left alone in a place where humans do not dominate the landscape, in sanctuaries marked only by the presence of blowing sands and waves crashing against jagged lava formations at the water’s edge.

Further, because “Molokai is one of a few communities that still have resources to sustain traditional subsistence”, they need to be honored and protected to ensure the perpetuation of these traditional practices of gathering for their families and communities. The reason why these practices still remain today have to do primarily with the fact this shoreline is undeveloped and difficult to access.

The proposed development will limit access to this 5-mile stretch of coastline by providing only two points of entry, one at each end of the proposed coastline development even though the “state law requires that public access to the shoreline be available every quarter mile” which is clearly not honored in this proposal.

The Molokai community has voiced their undying concern regarding the relentless and greedy development plans of Molokai Properties Limited. The community has no interest in having a community split and culturally and socially restricted by the influx of big money. Today, they are standing up, protecting their inherent rights to collect what they need from the mountains to the oceans that keeps their culture alive.

hawaii-luxuryx-large.jpg

To make this place no more than a picture postcard tropical beach destination is to strip it of its most fundamental and uniquely Hawaiian identity. We stand together with communities on Molokai to share the view that the sea, land, culture, and people remain vital in marking this land as a Hawaiian place.

Click here to read comments on the EIS:

KAHEA’s comments in opposition to the development at La’au Point

Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Comments on the development La’au Point

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