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State lawmakers push school land development

By Anita Hofschneider

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 01:40 p.m. HST, Feb 15, 2013


Representatives from three House committees are moving forward a plan to let the state raise revenue by developing unused public school lands.

House committees on land, education and finance approved the bill today, but the vote didn't go smoothly.

"This is the PLDC," said Rep. Gene Ward of East Honolulu, referring to the highly criticized Public Land Development Corp. "This is one of its children."

The House voted unanimously to get rid of the state land agency Thursday in response to persistent, vocal opposition denouncing the organization as a pathway to unbridled development.

Ward and Rep. Cynthia Thielen, both Republicans, told fellow committee members today that the proposal to develop school lands was no different.

Rep. Cindy Evans, chairwoman of the House Committee on Water and Land, disagreed.

"In no way do we at the Legislature want to circumvent local community plans," the Democrat said as she laid out her proposed amendments to the school land development bill.

Evans proposed removing any mention of the PLDC from the bill, allowing the Board of Education to manage the development projects and limiting the number of projects to just five.

But Ward said the changes aren't enough.

"It will be top-down control," Ward said. "It will be control from the governor's office."

House Education Committee Chairman Roy Takumi, a Democrat, tried to assuage the concerns by saying any development projects would be compatible with the needs of the schools and their surrounding communities.

"It won't be like a pawn shop and a wastewater treatment facility," Takumi said.

He said the bill is necessary because it is impossible for the state to keep up with the costs of aging infrastructure.

Farrington High School in Honolulu has buildings that are a century old, causing health and safety concerns, Takumi said.

But still, several lawmakers voted with reservations and the most vocal opponents of the bill refused to be silenced.

At one point in the hearing, Evans told Ward multiple times that he was out of order when he insisted he be allowed to respond to Takumi.

"I'm sorry, this is a democracy," said Ward, talking over her. "People should be heard."

The bill next goes to the full House for a vote.







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poidragon wrote:
"In no way do we at the Legislature want to circumvent local community plans," the Democrat said as she laid out her proposed amendments to the school land development bill.' But that is exactly what you are doing with these plans to propose school land development, or don't you understand the very concepts that killed the PLDC in the first place? "Evans proposed removing any mention of the PLDC from the bill, allowing the Board of Education to manage the development projects and limiting the number of projects to just five." They want to allow the DoE to manage this, when it has been known for years that the DoE has problems managing its own departments? what is wrong with our democratic legislators, allowing their lust for finances get in the way of fiscal responsibility and their fiduciary duty to the citizens of the State of Hawaii?
on February 15,2013 | 03:48PM
poidragon wrote:
"In no way do we at the Legislature want to circumvent local community plans," the Democrat said as she laid out her proposed amendments to the school land development bill.' But that is exactly what you are doing with these plans to propose school land development, or don't you understand the very concepts that killed the PLDC in the first place? "Evans proposed removing any mention of the PLDC from the bill, allowing the Board of Education to manage the development projects and limiting the number of projects to just five." They want to allow the DoE to manage this, when it has been known for years that the DoE has problems managing its own departments?
on February 15,2013 | 03:48PM
nonpolitic wrote:
First of all, has anyone seen the actual bill and read it in iits entirety? If not, I suggest opinions be held in abeyance until such time. Also, as a point of clarification, the department of education does not manage any other departments. People seem to think that everything has to do with the PLDC. Such paranoid thinking detracts from any attempt at policymaking these days. We should all step back and view legislative attempts to better our society without a jaundiced eye. To do otherwise is a disservice to ourselves and to future generations.. Ms. Hofschneider, in the future, please try to report on the real policy issue instead of the incendiary theatrics of certain legislators. Otherwise, this newspaper will soon be of no more literary or news value than Civil Beat..
on February 15,2013 | 05:03PM
taxpayer1 wrote:
The DOE can't manage the encumber funding repair and maintenance budgets as it is. The bureaucracy just can't get it done and they want to take this on? Doesn't pass the smell test. Politicians setting education policy is problematic. SA needs to dig deeper. If they have 5 sites/projects in mind, let's hear about them beforehand.
on February 15,2013 | 05:37PM
coyote wrote:
Don't let the DoE manage anything.
on February 15,2013 | 05:35PM
ISCREAM wrote:
Remember the old saying..."Those that can...do! Those that can't....teach!" Don't let the DOE have any property management. And we certainly do not want the state paving over more of the little open spaces we have.
on February 15,2013 | 08:35PM
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