My Turn: The antithesis of aloha

I’m writing to express my dismay that Mayor Mitch Roth is urging Hawaii County Council members to remove Mark Van Pernis from the Leeward Planning Commission.

There is a part of me that wants to believe that Roth didn’t write his own letter. But I guess this is who we elected, someone who is willing to resort to such nastiness.


In reading through Roth’s about Van Pernis, we see quotes suggesting he “behaves as if he is opposing counsel performing cross-examination” and “badgers’ applicants that do not answer questions to his liking.”

You know what? It sounds to me like Van Pernis asks hard questions of the administration and the applicants who are proposing rezonings or looking to wiggle out of development conditions. Of course, a pro-development wanna-be dictator isn’t going to like such dissent!

These kinds of lowbrow aspersions are commonly whispered in break rooms and over pau hana drinks. But to put this on the County of Hawaii letterhead and come before council members and try and kick a curmudgeon to the curb? This is low class and just gross. It’s the antithesis of aloha.

Yeah, Mr. Van Pernis can be brash and even crusty. He used to be one of my sources when I was a reporter for the West Hawaii Today. I don’t always personally agree with him. I don’t always personally agree with the Hawaii County Council either. But in a democracy, we honor the diversity of people willing to step up and serve on a board or commission. We don’t reject people who have volunteered their service, and who we already appointed, simply for the fact that we don’t like their style.

I cannot believe this is our mayor. Look closely at the headlines. The deputy director of Public Works walked away from his position. We all want to know the story behind that story. The planning director is calling for the removal of “community” in community planning. Now we are trying to get rid of one of the commissioners who isn’t a yes man?

Mark my words, the planning director and the mayor are going to try and fill that position with someone like a Realtor or a wanna-be developer who is going to help them make it really easy to pave paradise and put up a parking lot, someone who is going to be loving the mayor’s attempt to raise real property tax revenue by turning Kona more into Levittown than it is.


Mark Van Pernis knows planning; he knows the law. He has good ideas. He is community-oriented. He has a hard time articulating himself due to a speech impediment that is getting increasingly worse. What should be concerning to council members is the appearance of discrimination of Van Pernis’ disability. I would suggest, rather than get rid of someone who may have a difference of opinion, council members recommend to the mayoral administration and its departments to get some training on tolerance and ADA, because ableism is rampant.

Tiffany Edwards Hunt is a resident of Kea‘au.