Saturday, March 1, 2008


LIKE A FOX: When is a victory for the community a loss?

When widely-reviled developer Tom McCloskey teams up with the Kauai Planning Department and Commission as they did Tuesday when they fed that cesspool of corruption, the Public Works Department (DPW), which took back over a case delayed for eight years and likely to take another eight before remediation

What wasn’t reported in the paper was that when McCloskey was allowed to withdraw his long-standing request for an after-the-fact (ATF) Special Management Area (SMA) Permit- one that would have allowed him to legalize his illegal 1998-2001 land rape in Moloa`a- it was actually an ill-advised and illegal action by the Commission which could allow him to delay a required fix even longer.

In a twinkling of an eye that left the many attendant community activists befuddled and speechless, McCloskey- the man behind the rape of Kealia too was permitted to withdraw his application to keep illegal work he did in creating a Jimmy Pflueger like lake... lopping off hilltops and fouling the bay and reef, all allegedly created with the blessings of the former Kusaka and possibly the current Baptiste administrations.

McCloskey was a Colorado developer who came with a history of denying access and was “caught” here by citizens including now state Senator Gary Hooser when he served on the Kaua`i County Council. He paid a big fine for the work, no thanks to the Kaua`i PWD, which had ignored dozens of local complaints and reportedly, with administration prodding, suspended all required remedial action pending the ATF SMA

That turned out to be a long drawn out process that eventually led to Commission hearings on the SMA Permit to allow the mysterious McC to do what he shouldn’t have been allowed to do in the first place.

With a growing contingent of public-interest watchdogs every session the Commission actually told his lawyers that the only way we’ll give you a Permit is if you remove, remediate and restore the whole area, something somewhat extraordinary and unprecedented for the Commission.

All the while the DPW did nothing awaiting the ATF Permit to clear the Planning Department.

But when the final action requiring the amended permit requiring restoration- as required by federal law was ready to be passed, new SMA but veteran- now revolving door- Planner Mike Lauretta told the commission that McClosky was withdrawing the permit.

Though the Commission could have rejected the request and voted on the new SMA permit requiring remediation under penalty of federal law, without any public input or debate in a confused vote Commission Chair Steven Weinberg allowed and ordered the withdrawal with no conditions.

Weinstein claimed his hands were essentially tied and newbie planner Imai Aiu sat stoically as did Lauretta while the Commission abandoned many years of work and sent the matter back to the DPW where inaction and reported corruption led to the environmental and cultural degradation

The public was told they couldn’t comment until after the action was taken, a gross violation of the State Sunshine law which requires public testimony on every agenda item before final action is taken .

Though a befuddled “what just happened” public filed up to ask, none properly challenged the action and the daily agenda proceeded.

This puts the matter back into the PWD where it died in the first place until the EPA stepped into the Pflueger case. McCloskey was scared by that since he apparently had been “Pfluegering” his own ahupua`a.

But McCloskey smartly donated the “Kealia Kai” parcel- and a lot of money for Kuakas - creating the Bike Path with the land donation that started a boondoggle that continues today... going through the Safeway parking lot.... which now apparently is a county park.

But his was not the first case of the PWD filing a suit through the County Attorney’s office in Kaua`i history. He was saved by Baptiste and director Ian Costa who stopped the PWD work pending McCloskey’s Kaua`i-kaulana ATF permit

Neat, eh? Third world?- you bet.

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