BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, one of the most powerful supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement, may be in the right place at the right time to protest with the Big Island branch of the movement, Occupy Hawaii Island.
The former House Speaker is once again spending her holiday at the exotic and luxurious Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu in Kona on the island of Hawaii. The hotel web site says the resort is a tropical paradise with a spa, beachfront dining, fashion boutiques and a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course. According to West Hawaii Today, she spent previous Christmas holidays in Kona at the same hotel in an elaborate presidential suite that rents for $10,000. Her spokesperson has not disclosed which suite Pelosi is staying in this year, saying such personal information is not released publicly.
Pelosi’s trip coincides with a planned protest by the Hawaii Island occupy groups near her hotel.
Jim Albertini, a well known community organizer, who has held several local protests, writes on his blog: “I just got a report from Kona. There are about 30 private half billion dollar jets parked at the Kona airport. I’m up for a drive over to protest at Kukio and possibly other 1% gated communities just north of the airport. Any others interested in joining me? The 1% pay only a little more to park their jet as it costs us to park our cars overnight. Something is wrong with that picture.”
In an email to supporters this week, Albertini confirmed he organized a protest with “all Hawaii Island Occupy groups” this Saturday, December 31, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the road just south of the Four Seasons/Hualalai Resort.
“It’s time to say to the 1% — PAY YOUR SHARE! At a time when 26% of children on this island are food insecure, this kind of extravagant wealth of the jet setters is SHAMEFUL! Ring in the New Year with friends who care for the people and the planet!” Albertini writes.
Pelosi, who reported a 62 percent jump in her wealth earlier this year from $20 million to $35.2 million, is one of the wealthiest lawmakers in the country. Besides the $223,500 a year she made as House Speaker, and the $193,400 she now makes as House Minority leader, she and her husband Paul have made a number of savvy investments in Apple, the United Football League, as well as in real estate and in a capital management company.
Despite her wealth that easily launches Pelosi into the so called “1 percent”, she has been a vocal supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which claims to represent the “99 percent” and protests against the “1 percent” or America’s most wealthy people.
October 8, 2011, during a press conference, Pelosi praised those involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement: “God bless them for their spontaneity. It’s independent … it’s young, it’s spontaneous, and it’s focused. And it’s going to be effective. The message of the protesters is a message for the establishment everyplace. No longer will the recklessness of some on Wall Street cause massive joblessness on Main Street.”
She told ABC News in an exclusive interview on October 9 that she, like the protestors, is dissatisfied with Congress. “Count me among those … who object to the way Congress is conducting itself. We have a responsibility to try to find common ground.”
Pelosi will have security nearby if protestors get too rowdy. She has been escorted by local police during her last two holiday visits to Hawaii Island at a cost of $34,000 to local taxpayers and is being escorted on this trip as well, according to Big Island police.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama, another powerful ally of the Occupy Wall Street movement, is vacationing on the island of Oahu. His trip has proved much pricier to state and federal taxpayers.
In a Hawaii Reporter story published last week, the total cost (based on what is known) for a 17-day round trip vacation to Hawaii for the President and his family and staff and security is an estimated $4,113,038.
That includes $3,629,622 for separate travel for the president and his family, $151,200 for housing for security, $72,216 for staff to stay in one of Hawaii’s most luxurious resorts, the Moana Surfrider in Waikiki, and local police protection and ambulance detail for $260,000.
The President’s family and their friends are paying for their own beachfront rentals, which can cost as much as $3,500 a night.