Councilman Yagong “My integrity that’s being placed on the table here” – Malama Market, and the Highway 130 Fiasco

At the January Board of Ethics Meeting that took place in Hilo, Councilman Dominic Yagong was questioned regarding his connection to Malama Market.

One thing I’ve highlighted below is that Councilman Yagong confirms that the Malama Market Intersection and Highway 130 is one of the top 3 most dangerous intersections in the state!

Part of his response included the following testimony that I just wanted to get out here on my blog.

YAGONG: Being that it is my integrity that’s being placed on the table here, saying that I used my position to benefit Malama Market because Malama had an interest, if—Mr.

Chairman, it is so imperative to that question, that I really tell you what this issue is, very briefly, because it will show you that Malama Market has—in fact, what I did was not in the best interest of Malama Market. It actually hurts Malama Market, and that’s what I wanted to show you, Mr. Chairman, if I could. It will be very brief. But it’s directly to the question by Mr. Cadaoas—Mr. Cadaoas?-

CADAOAS: –Yes—

YAGONG: –Mr. Cadaoas bringing forth, because he’s actually saying that there is a conflict of interest. It’s so important for me to be able to tell the commissioners that when you take a look at the whole issue, and it’s in your map but it’s probably easier if you just look at this here, the whole issue is based on Highway 130, and I don’t have to tell you that Highway 130 is one of the most dangerous roads in the state of Hawai‘i. If you take a look at this section here, this is where Highway 130 meets the entrance to Malama Market. In order to go to Malama Market, you have to take a left or right in to this intersection to be able to go to the shopping center that has Malama Market. Malama Market only has one entrance to be able to go to that shopping center, only one. My contention on the Bill 283 was for the developer to build this right in, right out off of Highway 130 so that it’ll alleviate the traffic off this intersection. By the way, of the ten most dangerous intersections in the state of Hawai‘i, this is listed in the top three, this intersection here. So what we’re trying to do was to make sure, before the applicant occupied the building, that we would actually have it in writing. What I meant was to have them have a certificate—to get a certificate of occupancy, this safety improvement would have to be made. The problem—and the reason for that was to be able to make it safer—this is what the community was actually screaming for. But here’s—to Mr. Cadaoas’ question, commissioners, by advocating for the right in, right out, what that does is, it actually diverts traffic away from the only entrance to Malama Market. When you divert traffic away from a business, away from the area, you don’t help them. It’s like Hāmākua Coast, when you had the old road that went through Pepe‘ekeo and ‘O‘ōkala and Laupāhoehoe, but you had all these small businesses along the way, then we built a highway through. All the businesses died, why? Because you diverted traffic away from the business. This decision or my action that I took had nothing to do with Malama. If I wanted to protect Malama, I would have never advocated for the right in, right out. Because this would make it safer for the people—and by the way, not only for the people, but for the developer. Commissioners, I don’t know if you folks know this, but in the end, when the final bill came out, I voted yes for the application. I don’t want to assume that you folks knew that, but I did vote yes. And the reason I voted yes was at the last hearing, the developer told us, along with the State Department of Transportation, that the contractor was willing to work day and night to complete this before Long’s opened. And just to let you folks know, although my amendment failed to have this done before they occupied the building, the construction was done before Long’s opened up. They did exactly what I asked them to do, simply because it was the right thing to do, not to benefit Malama but to benefit the businesses there. In order to get to their—without this right in, right out, in order to get to their shopping center, they would have to come to Malama and take this turn here. Long’s couldn’t even get a 40-foot container through this here without doing one of those zig-zag and trying to get in. They knew they had to get this opened to get their containers into their center. It benefited everybody. Most of all, it benefited the people of Puna, to make it safer at the most dangerous intersection in the state of Hawai‘i. Nothing to do with Malama Market. I would have withheld this requirement and not support the requirement if I had any interest in Malama Market. It was interest of public safety. Very simple.

You can view the entire transcript here: Hawaii County Board of Ethics Minutes, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011

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