Video by David Corrigan
A bill that supporters say will provide transparency in the sale of public lands recieved a negative recommendation from the County Council’s Finance Committee on Tuesday, after a narrow 4-3 vote.
Bill 132, introduced by Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong, would require the administration to identify potential buyers for public land being sold that is larger than 10 acres or valued at more than $500,000.
Mayor Billy Kenoi said he would veto the bill if passed, and discouraged its approval in a press conference last week.
Although Yagong joined Kelly Greenwell, Brenda Ford, and Pete Hoffmann in voting for the bill, 5 votes were needed to pass it along to the full Council with a favorable stamp. Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole, who said she was on the fence, changed her vote during the meeting, saying the disparaging remarks about the mayor from residents during the public comment infuriated her into opposing the bill. Please from fellow councilmembers to Naeole to change her mind were not succsessful.
Councilmembers Donald Ikeda and Guy Enriques voted no. J Yoshimoto and Dennis Onishi were both absent for the vote.
Although the Bill did not specifically address the sale of the Hamamkua lands in order to balance the county budget, many at the meeting saw the connection. However, those who supported it also saw the bill as an opportunity to ad transparency to the government process at a time when transparency appears to be needed.
The administration has said that the council already authorizes county land sales by resolution before the land is put on the market. The mayor called Bill 132 “bad and unnecessary legislation because the buyer, price and potential land uses in any public land sale are already public record by law.”
The bill will still have a chance to become law when it goes before the full council on October 7 in Keauhou.
Bill 132 debate
Guy Enriques: Transparency has to end somewhere
Dominic Yagong: Bill 132