Gov. Abercrombie’s first “Cabinet in Your Community” meeting fell into disarray last week on Kauai. Abercrombie and officials from the DLNR, DOA and other state departments spent much of the 90-minute meeting on the defensive as a crowd of about 200 peppered them with questions and comments, often shouted from the audience.
“It was one of the worst-run meetings I’ve ever been in,” said Jimmy Trujillo, an educator and community activist. “They really didn’t want to hear what we had to say.”
Much of the acrimony focused on the expansion of gentically engineered (GE) crops on the island, with one resident asking about possible health problems and reports of cancer clusters. When spokeswoman Donalyn DelaCruz tried to move on, saying, “Thank you for bringing the issue to the table,” a voice shouted from the crowd, “Somebody has to address it.”
Fishermen and recreational users expressed fears about expanded federal control of waters around Kauai, while others, such as Rich Hoeppner and Councilman Mel Rapozo, voiced worries that the PLDC board would approve projects the community does not want.
“Why not take a positive attitude instead of worrying about possible bad things?” the governor urged after making a lengthy sales pitch for the PLDC. “What projects would you like to see?”
Abercrombie spent considerable time trying tried to redirect criticism, saying said that residents should take their concerns about GE and the PLDC to the legislature, which passes the laws. He and DLNR Director William Aila frequently paused to chide audience members for unruly behavior.
The governor, visibly ruffled and annoyed, departed to a chorus of boos and, walking out as she was attempting to speak, made a dismissive gesture to Kauai Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura.