RESPONSE TO MOLOKAI TIMES/MOLOKAI RANCH FULL PAGE ADVERTISEMENT
Dear Mr. Orodenker,
First of all, I’m overwhelmed that you would finance a whole page ad featuring me. No one has ever done that. Also, thanks for the opportunity to shed more light on this important subject. I believe the title of your recent full-page commentary, ‘Ranch is Working Together to Find Solutions’ is in error. It should read, “Ranch is Working Hard to Take Your Water.” Your company has not put an honest attempt into trying to work with the community. Instead, it has tried to shove this La’au project down their throats and hasn’t listened to what the community is saying. This is a just a last ditch attempt by a desperate developer to cash in, get out of here, and leave the community holding the bag. Your former boss, CEO #6 or #7, left and with him went all his empty promises such as, “The community will decide!” The community has decided; count the votes. What part of NO don’t you folks understand?
Instead of respectful dialogue with Molokai, the Ranch has resorted to slick publicity campaigns designed to mislead neighbor islanders and decision makers into thinking, “the community is behind us.” You work for a company that has a history of circumventing and undermining the government and community processes, and has been splitting our community apart since they arrived in 1987.
The vote on La’au was total confusion that lacked clear guidelines on voting, and prerequisites for voting. Two people weren’t residents of Molokai, and only one recused herself. There were absentee voting going in, and too many who voted had connections to the Ranch, such as working for the Ranch, or having contracts with the Ranch. In fact, the Ranch was covering the airfare for John Sabas to be at meetings. A disproportionate amount of people had ranch connections, which leads one to believe this was a loaded deck. You had a handful of people who hardly came to the meetings, then voted. I was there. So who was representing the community? I guess you don’t know because “YOU WEREN’T THERE!”
Molokai Ranch still doesn’t understand what is involved in an open community process. It’s easy to have community input meetings; it’s what you do with the input that determines whether it’s a bottom-up process or not. There are so many questions and concerns that have gone unanswered, and that’s why Molokai Ranch has failed to win the confidence of the majority of this community. I’ve been involved in community participatory planning for over 25 years on Molokai, and served on the State Community-Based Economic Development Advisory Council for six years as its vice-chairman, and I’ve never been seen a community process where certain topics were off-limits, namely water. How can you talk about development without discussing water?
In your first sentence, you state that, “Glenn Teves has had a long history of attacking Molokai Properties Limited …” Surely, you must be mistaking me for John Sabas or Walter Ritte. I spoke to Walter Ritte last week and he feels slighted that the Ranch has never spent a whole page on him. But then again, I forgive you since you just arrived on Molokai, you’re still learning who everyone is, and who you are in this circle of life we call Molokai.
To set things straight, Molokai Properties doesn’t have a long history on this island as your letter purports. In fact, you don’t even have a local telephone number. When I called directory assistance yesterday asking for Molokai Properties, the operator said, “There’s no listing on Molokai!” So where is the Molokai Properties office located? In Hong Kong or Singapore? Harold Edwards told me why this new company was formed. All they’re going to be involved in is selling land; nothing else. They’re going to get rid of everything else, so those of you worrying about your jobs, you should be worrying no matter what happens.
In my day job as County Extension Agent with the University of Hawaii, I’ve worked on many projects with Molokai Ranch over the last twenty-five years. These include planning for a dairy, a piggery, and even the slaughterhouse. I’ve also conducted field trials in Maunaloa to control pasture weeds, including Christmas berry and lantana. I’ve co-sponsored numerous rancher’s workshops with them on pasture management and animal health to improve ranch productivity, and I’ve helped them interpret soil samples and provide fertilizer recommendations on amounts for their pastures, haying operations, and even their proposed golf course at Maunaloa.
In the early 1990’s I worked together with Jimmy and Jackie Duvauchelle to start a 4-H livestock club in Maunaloa, a first for this side of the island. I have a history of working with Molokai Ranch when it was still a ranch, and they sought my assistance when they needed help. In 1987, I was asked to sit on a Molokai Ranch Community Advisory. I believe the reason they chose me is they valued my input. In 1988, I was approached by Ian Hurst, then-CEO of Molokai Ranch, to be their water consultant. I turned him down because I told him, “I’m the water consultant for the homesteaders!”
Over six months before the EC/Molokai Ranch Land Use Plan process started, I was asked by Harold Edwards to meet with him and Peter Nicholas at their conference room in Maunaloa. We reviewed maps of Molokai and they wanted to know where the important agricultural lands and aquaculture areas were. After this meeting, we had lunch at the little shop next to the theater and I left Maunaloa for Hoolehua. As I made the big turn out of Maunaloa, I realized that I had left my prescription glasses in the conference room, so I turned around and went back. When I entered the office, no one was there except Harold and Peter, who were talking story. Instead of bothering them, I just snuck in and grabbed my glasses. As I walked out, I overheard Harold telling Peter, “Now, all we need is the WATER!” They were after the water from the beginning. And for Peter to say, “We don’t need water!” is a big fat lie.
Now I knew the end of the story. By the way, John Sabas was the chief architect of this plan and worked closely with Peter. So far, he’s the only beneficiary to this plan. So no matter how you cut it, water is still the biggest issue in my eye. This is why they held off the water discussion and also the alternatives until the end, then said, “We’re out of time!” So this exercise was all about wasting the community’s time and using attendance numbers to justify this bogus process when they already knew what they wanted to do.
As a former attorney for the Nature Conservancy, you come from a different mindset than someone who is trying to preserve and affirm Hawaiian rights. Molokai Ranch has spent millions of dollars, such as in the Waiola Case, paying hired guns like you in an attempt to overturn our gathering and water rights. Like your article, these attacks have consistently come from Molokai Ranch. In the late 1990’s, Molokai Ranch filed a contested case hearing against Hawaiian Homes request to supply water to 85 homesteads in Hoolehua and 125 homesteads in Kalamaula. You are just following in the path of your forebearers. This was an act of vindictiveness because Hawaiian Homes opposed the Waiola Well application.
The Hawaiian Homes Act has been amended many times, much to the detriment of our rights and the integrity of the Act. Section 221 (d) of the Hawaiian Homes Act in its original form states: “The commission is authorized, for the additional purpose of adequately irrigating any tract, to use, free of charge, government-owned water upon the island of Molokai …” This section was amended in order to construct the Molokai Irrigation System. The homesteaders gave up a significant portion of their water rights on Molokai to build this irrigation system, but it was crucial to the rehabilitation scheme of getting water and native Hawaiians back to the land. As a result, today homesteaders have 2/3’s prior right to water from Waikolu Valley only. It took several legislative acts and amendments over a period of ten years to be approved, and is still being challenged today by others who don’t want to see the homesteaders have this water.
In 1943, Hawaii’s Territorial Legislature passed Act 227 (H.B. 249), which created the Molokai Irrigation System. Section 4 of that Act provided that homestead lessees have a preference on all water developed in the system. It reads: “The lessees of the Hawaiian Homes Commission shall have the right to have their water needs, domestic and agricultural, first satisfied before any water shall be available for sale to any other person or persons, and, in the event that there is no surplus over and above the needs of said lessees, then said lessees shall be entitled to have the whole thereof.”
You had questioned our 2/3’s right to the groundwater in Kualapuu. Act 164 amended Territorial Law (Chapter 317 of Revised Laws of Hawaii 1945) giving Hawaiian Homes Commission and lessees of Hawaiian Home Lands prior right to two-thirds of the water developed for irrigation and water utilization project by the tunnel development extending to Waikolu Valley and groundwater developed west of Waikolu Valley, upon actual need shown to the authority. I consider all of these legislative actions as amendments to the Act.
The primary intent of the Molokai Irrigation System is to deliver water to Hawaiian homestead lands. Now, Molokai Ranch wants to use it to transport water to Laau Point? If this is not a personal attack on our rights, then what is?
Kualapuu’s sustainable yield of 5 mgd that you allude to is being questioned by experts, even the US Geological Survey in light of the recent droughts and salty well at Kawela. In other words, the sustainable yield may not be 5 mgd. With over 26,000 acres of land on Molokai, only 15% of Hawaiian Homes Lands have access to water. And you expect us to give you OUR water? Stand in line behind the homesteaders, and behind the residents of Kaunakakai.
Instead of rebutting all your statements, I believe its in our best interest to save this information for the upcoming La’au contested case hearings before the Land Use Commission and the Commission on Water Resource Management, and if need be, appeals before the State Supreme Court. As an attorney, you can interpret the Hawaiian Homes Act anyway you like, but I know what our rights are. They are a higher law than other state law because the Act is a federal law, and the state has a trust responsibility to uphold these rights before all others. That’s why we, as homesteaders, have first rights to water also affirmed in the State Water Code.
Just to put our water crisis into perspective, in a letter to Kammy Purdy dated January 31, 2007, Mr. Peter Young, Director of the State Department of Land and Natural Resources stated he is reconvening the Molokai Water Working Group due to the some of the concerns I addressed in my article. I sat on the Molokai Water Working Group in 1996 and will probably do so again. If you feel so strongly about it, you should tell Mr. Young we don’t have any water shortage on Molokai, and you can even ask our dear Hawaiian Homes Commissioner Milton Pa to join you.
When I think of La’au, I cannot help but see the parallels between what is happening on Molokai and the movie, Milagro Bean Field War. You gotta see it, and you may even see yourself in it. One of the strategies by the developers of this giant ‘leisure time community’ was to discredit the leaders and sympathizers opposing their development. Is this what is happening here? You gotta do better than this.
In closing, I encourage you to attend community meetings and learn about what’s going on in the community, and not be another ‘ship passing in the night’. And you can thank me later for introducing you to the community.
Glenn Ioane Teves