On May 29 I attended the Kihei-Makena General Plan Committee meeting that was opened to public testimony regarding South Maui growth.
From 9 a.m. to noon, various voices were heard--developers, individual citizens and others representing sacred Hawaiian lands, environmental and sustainability groups. Some proposed further urban sprawl along the Mokulele Highway south to Makena and some wanted to protect open space and sensitive land areas.
At noon, Councilmember Gladys Baisa vacated her seat and Councilmember Don Couch presided over the remaining testimonies. I was the first to speak after this changeover. Mr. Couch abruptly stopped me when I mentioned my concerns about the Pi'ilani mega-mall.
I was stunned, as were other attendees, by Mr. Couch's censoring of me on this particular project, which I found disconcerting. In the previous three hours, Councilmember Baisa didn't interrupt anyone, including those who shared their concerns and disapproval of the Pi'ilani mega-mall.
This was a public testimony session for the purpose of the public having a voice. What possessed you, Mr. Couch, to squelch my Kihei voice regarding this particular project? And why wasn't this project, with a magnitude that will have a major impact on the lives and small businesses from Kihei to Makena, listed on the South Maui Growth agenda?
Councilmember Couch, I would appreciate answers--and an apology.