JoAnne Johnson does not fit Maui?s stereotypical image of a county councilmember--still she is a veteran of the council because of her reputation for standing up against big developments that are willing to make any social/environmental sacrifice for a lucrative profit. As a former resident of the US Virgin Islands, she has seen first hand the importance of education and awareness as to how consumptive tourism as an industry can become--if we allow it.
Councilmember Johnson has repeatedly tried to introduce Moratorium Bills to allow the council time to assess current development impacts and determine a best course of action for future decisions. The problem is some believe this would interfere with capitalism and ?economic progress.? However, if we do not find a way to live within a sustainable island plan we will end up losing our paradise.
Johnson has many suggestions to protect our paradise. Low voter turnout and public disenfranchisement have been major obstacles to holding bad planners accountable for their decisions. Many complain about the status quo but never do anything significant to affect change. Johnson feels we need to approach the issues we face with logical reasoning. Taking all sides into consideration and determining policies based on the needs of the next 7 generations, has worked for Hawaiians in the past. We need to form a plan and work towards solutions?putting individual egos aside for the greater good. JoAnne encourages us to let her know of our concerns and ideas, ?Don?t give up!? she says. Throughout the islands, the mood of the citizenry is changing. People are calling for accountability and change. In order to make things happen we all need to keep asking questions, keep a track record and follow up on the realities of controversial decisions.
?History often repeats itself and we need to learn from our mistakes lest we be destined to repeat them.? We need to close loopholes and change laws for Ag subdivisions?require public hearings (by studying the Launiupoko subdivision, we see it has had a major impact on the public and on community resources); require environmental review (by studying the Ukumehame subdivision, we see the trench they are digging destroy the Hawaiian stilt wetlands upsetting the ecological balance in our near shore environment, which is our most valuable asset). We also need to form an implementation and enforcement process to obey laws regarding agricultural subdivisions, specifically HRS 205.
Councilmember Johnson urges us to promote businesses that will help us remain self-sufficient and build a testament to our island heritage as opposed to a monument--which signifies demise. She also assured the crowd that when her term as councilmember came to an end she would be right back with us fighting to take care of the balance. Malama Pono.