Yesterday Governor Lingle was on hand to dedicate the new Youth ChalleNGe facility at the former Kulani prison site on Hawai’i island. This was reported in the Honolulu Star Advertiser and Hawaii News Now.
The Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) decision to transfer the land from the Department of Public Safety to the state Department of Defense is being challenged by three parties: Kat Brady of the Community Alliance on Prisons, Michael Lee, a Kanaka Maoli cultural practitioner and lineal descendant with ties to the lands in question and DMZ-Hawai’i / Aloha ‘Aina. Read more here and here
The three parties requested a contested case hearing before the BLNR. This should place a hold on the BLNR decision going into effect. To date, there has been no correspondence from BLNR to the intervening parties.
The Kulani prison lands, which are zoned for conservation, were set aside decades ago by executive order of the Governor exclusively for a prison. No other uses are permitted. When Governor Lingle closed the Kulani prison she announced that she was giving the facility to the National Guard for the Youth ChalleNGe program. The Department of Public Safety and the Department of Defense signed a memorandum of agreement to transfer the occupancy of the facility. But the previous executive order has not been officially terminated. And a new executive order has not been issued nor approved by the legislature. So the the new Youth ChalleNGe facility is illegal.
Lingle is not one to let the law get in the way of her plans. We saw what lengths she would go to in order to circumvent the law in the case of the Hawaii Superferry. Earlier, the Hawaii National Guard tried to sneak in military training, but community groups blocked the military training component. In the last months of her term, the expedited transfer of the Kulani facility to the National Guard seems to be Lingle’s attempt to “Superferry” the Kulani prison transfer. This time she’s leaving the mess for the next governor to clean up.