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March 06, 2011

Waikiki Corporate Flush

by Michael Daly

Waikiki corporate developers can afford to lobby city representatives and public service department heads in such a way that they achieve large chucks of city money (even money they don't have) to be directed at replacing low income street artists in Waikiki with plants, tiles and lies.

The design is used to further steal away other people's land, (in this case public land) something of a territorial tradition since the overthrow of Queen Lili`uokalani in 1893 when a handful of rebel business men conspired with U.S. forces to oust the Monarch in Hawai`i.

Now each private building owner party to the joint corporate/city Kalakaua Avenue Streetscape Project can afford their share of 40% of the total project cost. Phase One was originally stated in September 2010 as costing $23 million with taxpayers paying 60%. When hidden plans were finally announced at a Waikiki Neighborhood Board meeting, it was seen that each building owner could lay their choice of tile and create a Waikiki Special District that becomes a privately owned shopping mall and outdoor theme park. This is an attempt to diminish, and eliminate altogether, public rights of free speech on the sidewalk.

Waikiki must be allowed to return to a cultural community with a heart, hosting visitors and sharing genuine local engagements and aloha. This is the essence of Hawaiian self-determination and human regard.

When business pays for something, they think they own it! The building owners already control part of the sidewalk as if they own it- but it is not theirs! They can't even challenge clear Hawaiian Land Title to any Waikiki property with their bits of paper which ultimately rely on a Treaty of Annexation between the Kingdom of Hawai`i and the USA. Such a treaty never happened: just the unlawful military take over of the region that exists today.

Waikiki really represents a handful of absent global hospitality and retail corporations. They force corporate culture, security, handbooks and rules that have nothing to do with the 'aina, land. Corporations are stealing public resources, apparently even the resource of the integrity of democratically elected representatives. Once uplifted, those resources are used to further gain every last iota, to oppress workers and residents, and exploit the environment.

Generally, corporations are now flush with money. Many executives are experiencing boom time salaries and bonuses while workers and government budget makers struggle to pay for essential basics and make cuts - and many good folk are homeless or close to homeless.

Q: Why do corporations not pay taxes into the general pool so government can function democratically and without corruption?
A: They are anti-democratic and corrupt. Oh, and greedy, blind and self centred - organisations without a community soul.

The culture now is that corporates eagerly invest in the estate of government for special interest projects of their own. The corporate entities then understand and design such development as being their own. The agenda is that the valuable foundational resources such as government, land and public rights are inherently and gradually thrown in as part of a private evolutionary package. It all the while erodes what's left of any public estate - and the taking of Waikiki sidewalk is a perfect, yet unprincipled example.

If the public is not careful, in just one generation the children today will loose their physical and intellectual property rights of our public space without even noticing; sidewalks will be perceived for shopping only, considered a conduit to get from one credit card machine to another for the benefits of luxury retailers, global resorts and banks.

Corporate businesses are not hurting in Waikiki. Some, like The Cheesecake Factory are the sales and profit envy of their sister branches nationwide.