New Meaning to Silent Majority
Land Use Commission omits public testimony from official records.
By Brandon Roberts
Nearly 100 community members testified in November's LUC hearings on Molokai.
In an unprecedented move, the Land Use Commission (LUC) chose to omit all public testimony from the La’au Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) hearing last November.
"To selectively censor testimony from the official record of the La'au LUC hearings is wrong under any circumstance," said Molokai Planning Chairman DeGray Vanderbilt.
Under the instruction of former LUC Executive Officer Anthony Ching, the Court Recorder did not type any verbatim testimony of Molokai residents during the Nov. 15-16 meetings This announcement was included in the Nov. 15 transcript by the Court Recorder.
With the resubmission of Molokai Properties Limited (MPL) draft EIS, the Molokai Planning Commission (MoPC) will find it difficult to review past public sentiment when none was recorded.
The MoPC has formalized a letter to the LUC asking for an explanation as to why public testimony was omitted and to request that all testimony be included on the official records.
A videotaped copy of the LUC meeting recorded by Akaku Community Television, Inc was sent with the request. The intent of the MoPC to include this video is to assist the LUC in recreating the official meeting record.
At the first EIS hearing held May 2007 in Hilo, HI, all public testimony was recorded verbatim. At the Nov. 15-16 hearing only the commissioners and MPL attorneys were verbatim and “that does not give an accurate account of the meeting,” Vanderbilt said in a phone interview.
At the Nov. 16 hearing, MPL attorney Isaac Hall went on the defensive. “Many of the people involved have not read the document in the kind of depth that it needs to be read in.” The public was given less than two weeks to review the 3,000 plus-page final EIS.
“This is not justified in any case,” Vanderbilt said. “Public testimony is the guts of the meeting, why it should or should not be accepted.” The neglected opinions leave many wondering if it was a purposeful omission.