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Politics // Just Thoughts
Bob Jones

Ritte, Boersema And Ford Island

The first thing I said to Walter Ritte was: “I see you haven’t been arrested for a while!”

He smiled. “I’ve learned where the red line is and not to cross it.”

The Molokai activist has been busted for occupying Kaho’olawe, trespassing and burning down a ranch building, and allegedly damaging a five-mile portion of a water pipeline (he won that one). He brought down the resort development at La’au Point and scuttled plans for big cruise liner dockings at Kaunakakai.

Now he’s running for an OHA at-large seat rather than the Molokai seat he once held.

“I didn’t want a fight with Colette Machado (current trustee),” Ritte explains.

But he’s taking on at-large trustee Haunani Apoliona and the well-known Cal Lee. Why?

“I just got mad at the Legislature. We couldn’t even get a hearing on our GMO-labeling bill. And all those environmental exemptions for the Public Land Development Corporation. Everything going toward development.”

Ritte’s a hard-core sustainability and subsistence man who hunts and fishes, built his own house for $5,000 and survives on “some odd jobs here and there.”

Next challenge: the permits for some 35-40 passenger tour boats to Molokai. Will DLNR chief William Aila Jr. go along with demands that visitors stay in a hotel rather than in their boat cabins?

“Aila tells me he only listens to the governor 10 percent of the time and 90 percent he just does what is right.” Ritte laughs. “I think he’s listening to the governor 80 percent of the time.”


Jim Boersema may be pleased to see his name spelled right here. It usually isn’t. Not even in the press release from the Governor’s Office last year naming him as Neil Abercrombie’s director of communications.

Now Boersema has left Abercrombie – as have so many others recently. He is going back to work as chairman at Unity House, the bankrupt nonprofit of the Teamsters and the UNITE HERE! Local 5 unions.

He was drafted and did an enlisted infantry tour in Vietnam before being commissioned. He wrote a book, <I>Loveless In The Nam</I>, about an Army lieutenant, “a coward and a womanizer who always lands on his feet, comes out of every situation smelling like a rose and being awarded another medal.”

Want my two cents’ worth? The guv should have made him communications director and press secretary. He worked both media and PR for years.

No shortage of work or income for Boersema, though. He’s a retired colonel, part-owner of Zanzibar nightclub and the Mayan Plantation development in Belize, chairman of Olelo and on the board of Pacific Memorial Parks.


Count me as one vote for the Navy using the old Ford Island runway for a solar panel array. I love historic preservation, but old runways (that and Ewa Field) don’t strike me as major memory stirrers. “Hey, wow, look at that runway!” Not every thing is historic because it’s old.

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