Guest Viewpoint for Tuesday — October 28, 2003

• Questions could apply to other corporations here


Questions could apply to other corporations here

By GREGORY IIMZ GOODWIN

Jack Lundgren (Kukui‘ula questions, TGI 10/27/03), though writing specifically of Alexander & Baldwin’s abrogation of promises, covenants, contracts made by the Corporation with the community, could as well have been speaking generally, including Princeville Corporation, when he says:

“A company and its representatives come before the community, seeking general plan amendments and zoning which they claim will benefit the community and provide reasonable housing opportunities. Fifteen years later, with a sharp new partner and huge profits in mind, they ask for amendments, and the reasonable housing disappears. Should a company, like a person, honor their word? I believe they should.”

In the beginning of a community’s relationship with the placement a corporation in their community, a community must ask: “Where resides Honor in the Corporation’s word?” It is often too late for the community to later expect a corporation to behave honorably when in the beginning Honor was truly deficient. One must search the sources of the words of honor, the words’ owner’s stated, alleged and suspected motives. One must not assume the residence of Honor is that of Kaua‘i corporate land attorneys: local “guns” hired by an off-Kaua‘i island corporation, like A&B; or, most especially, local land lawyers hired by non-Hawai‘i, “Foreign (to Hawai‘i) Corporation” registered corporations, like Princeville Corporation. It is inherently impossible for corporations are to be the bearers of honor as can be attributed to a person of honor. Corporations are owned, bought, sold; though the perception of honorable behavior has ‘value’, it is not a value that cannot be quantified in dollars as is real estate and “zoning for dollar$”

Humans may live, rejoice, sacrifice and die for Honor… but corporations? Corporations live on profit$, rejoice over and with profit$, sacrifice for tax-break$, and, either become absorbed by another corporation, or die, for lack of profUS$: Profits first, foremost, fundamentally. “Honor”, only if apparent when the prize is material, is not Honor at all.

Unfortunately, when Honor and Corporatism get put into the U.S. political system, there’s not much honor left over to sustain a real community, much less a democratically viable county, state or federal government.

Being one of the signed-on petitioners of Waileia Hanalei community for at least three different Waileia Hanalei community’s and supporters’ petitions to Princeville Corporation and County of Kaua‘i, I cannot say that I am glad to hear of Dr. Lundgren’s account other Kaua’i communities who are having to deal with other corporations and those corporations’ land lawyers (albeit some being the same lawyers as Princeville Corporation’s) and “investors”.

“A&B now has a new partner, DMB of Arizona.” [Lundgren] while Princeville Corporation, registered in Colorado (of Eagle County origins), is majorly of Japan’s Suntory, Inc., and increasingly affiliated with Starwood Resorts of US, New York.

How in the world can longtime families and citizens, and their supporters, of Kaua’i truly expect to have their County of Kaua’i government (struggling along on a $90 million dollar revenue) project and protect Kaua’i residents and community interests when such longtime residents and communities interests run contrary to billion$ of US dollar corporations’ fundamental interests, and/or, when such corporations’ plans, operations break the corporations’ promises, covenants, contracts with the community?

The Baptiste Administration’s Kaua’i Ka Leo community meetings should be at least one avenue Kaua’i communities have to let officials of the County learn of community concerns. Corporations have multiple federal, state and county avenues available to them, and corporations are known to thrive by using them all; leaving communities at the extreme disadvantage of being left only with one-vote, one-day, permitted ritually every-other year.

Even that one permitted vote has at best only nebulous connection to any resolution of expressed community concerns verses the Corporation in one’s backyard. Corporations cast vote$ every day of every year, any restraint on doing so is mostly self-imposed; public and private officialdom will entertain in order to then be entertained.

Corporations are not only by definition not-democratic, they are resistant to democracy when not otherwise immune to democracy. To a community, corporations are more like an occupying power to be patronized instead of “being” recognized as a compassionate neighbor and member of the community.

Gregory Iimz Goodwin is a resident of Princeville, Hanalei.

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