Navy Shows NO Aloha: Open letter to Secretary of the Navy

Malu ‘Aina Center For Non-violent Education & Action

P.O. Box AB Kurtistown, Hawaii 96760
Phone 808-966-7622
September 4, 2010

The Honorable Roy Mabus
Secretary of the Navy
1200 Navy Pentagon
Washington, DC  20350

Aloha Mr. Secretary:

On August 26, 2010, the Navy held an EIS Scoping Meeting on Navy expansion plans for Hawaii and the Pacific at Hilo High School in Hilo, Hawaii. The public was invited to attend, and I regret to inform you that many of the Naval personnel presenting these plans were arrogant and insulting to the public, and hostile to and contemptuous of the concerns expressed by citizens of East Hawaii. We were repeatedly told that “This is not a public hearing, and no public speaking is allowed.”

Public input was limited to touring “science fair” type exhibits. Persons wishing to comment were told to “put it in writing,” either by writing on forms provided, or typing comments into a laptop computer provided by the Navy for that purpose. I and other members of the public asked the officers present for the opportunity to set up a small sound system, to facilitate a public hearing and discussion of scoping concerns for the pending EIS. Your officers were not pleased by this request, and called the local police to help “maintain order”. Eventually, the final hour of this four-hour meeting became a citizens public hearing, which was, ironically, facilitated by the local police as a compromise.

We had hoped that your officers would participate in this discussion, or at least listen to the public comments. They did not. Community members were very respectful of Navy personnel who did not return our aloha spirit. Your officers blatantly refused to take any notes to be included in the record of this presentation, and indeed rudely engaged in private conversations while community members were expressing concerns that they might have addressed, and asked questions they might have answered.

This was truly conduct unbecoming the Naval officers present, who presented the Navy in a very poor light. By contrast, two days earlier, on August 24, Marine officers conducted a similar public scoping meeting on Marine expansion plans in Hawaii also at Hilo High in the very same cafeteria, and behaved in a very respectful and professional manner. One of our community members, Marine Sergeant Major (retired) Sam Kaleleiki, opened the citizen public hearing portion of the meeting with a pule, and helped set the stage for a productive hearing. The Marines all listen attentively to the public testimony, and took notes unlike the navy’s rude, and possibly in violation of NEPA, behavior for not including a public hearing, and the concerns expressed, as part of the navy scoping meeting.

Mahalo for your consideration of this letter. I would appreciate hearing from you regarding the concerns I have raised.

Very truly yours,

Jim Albertini,