Letters for May 11, 2015
Council wrong to slash support for Open Space Fund
On Wednesday, the County Council voted to reduce the annual contribution to the Open Space Fund by 67 percent, from 1 1/2 percent of tax revenues to 1/2 percent.
The fund buys and preserves land for the people’s use; coastal and agricultural lands, watersheds and their habitats, and access to hunting, fishing and gathering.
Budget balancing was not at issue. Instead the Open Lands Commission, that selects properties for acquisition, came under heavy criticism for selecting alllegedly wrong properties or not spending the fund fast enough.
For the commission’s perceived sins, the council shorted this year’s contribution by about $1 million. When a doctor sees a patient who is ill, she diagnoses the illness and initiates a cure. She does not order the patient to stop eating. That is precisely the tortured logic dispensed by council members Mel Rapozo, Ross Kagawa, Arryl Kaneshiro and KipuKai Kualii.
The Open Space Fund is a people’s fund, established through ballot initiative to preserve important lands for our children and grandchildren. Real estate prices are rising. The island’s population is projected to double. Until this council, the fund had been added to fully and faithfully, knowing that preserving natural resources is the most important legacy we can leave to the future generations.
Kualii said of his vote, “I’m compromising my own values.”
Rapozo had this throwdown: “The Open Space Commission has two weeks to convince council to keep 1 1/2 percent.”
Yeah, right Mel.
The will of the people, sound judgment and statesmanship were absent from the council chamber that day.