(BIVN) – The planning for a Department of Hawaiian Home Lands subsistence agricultural community continues, even as the head of the department faces criticism at the Capitol.
“We are doing the master plan work for Honomū, which is right below Akaka Falls,” DHHL director Jobie Masagatani told state senators during an informational briefing at the Capitol. “These agricultural lots are intended to be basically rural standards.”
State Senator Kai Kahele wanted to know why Honomū was selected for the development, as opposed to Lower Piʻihonua, which is closer to Hilo.
“The Lower Piʻihonua tract has residential lots, farm-lots, pastoral, electricity, paved roads, telephones, it’s near hospitals, there’s a 1 million gallon water tank,” Sen. Kahele said. “We identified it almost 20 years ago in our island plan. Why are we doing subsistence ag in Honomū?”
DHHL planner Kaleo Manuel stepped forward with an answer. “There’s a lot of bridges,” in Lower Piʻihonua, Manuel said. The cost benefit analysis “far exceeded” what the department thought made sense in terms of infrastructure investment.
Sen. Kahele also grilled DHHL director Masagatani about a number of other issues during the briefing.
“Why do we not have any annual reports that is posted on the website since 2015?” Kahele asked.
“I take full responsibility for that, it is an oversight,” Masagatani answered, saying that with a new public information officer the department should be able to catch up.
“Every director since Michael Kane in 2002 has published a report,” Kahele continued. “There’s absolutely none under your tenure as director since 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. That’s not an oversight, that’s a failure.”
“Why do we not have the reports published on the website, for the legislators to review, and,” Kahele added, “more importantly, for trust beneficiaries to review statewide?”
The Honolulu Civil Beat recently reported that senators have told the online news outlet that Masagatani lacks enough votes to be confirmed for another term as the head of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.