Jim Albertini, a well known community organizer who has held several local protests, organized the event, because he heard there were more than two dozen private jets parked at the Kona Airport. He wrote on his blog: “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!”
Albertini, who runs a “peace” institute, received $231, 788 in state tax dollars to expand his property Malu ‘Aina Center for Non-Violent Education and Action and the Hawaii Island Land Trust, located in the Puna district 10 miles south of Hilo.
The former Pennsylvanian was recognized last year with the 2010 Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award. In its web profile of Albertini, the organization recognizing him notes: “He has been arrested dozens of times for non-violent resistance to war and injustice, including serving more than 20 months in prison for his civil disobedience actions. In 1972 he was arrested with author Jim Douglass for pouring blood on top secret electronic warfare files at the headquarters of the Pacific Air Force at Hickam Air Force Base. In 1984 he attempted to block a nuclear armed warship from entering Hilo Harbor in violation of Hawaii County’s historic nuclear-free zone law.”
While these Hilo protestors are many miles away from the thousands of people camping out in New York City, they have one thing in common – they are displeased with what is happening in the United States of America.
At the December 31 protest, participants complained about everything from “greed kills” to “war is not a jobs program” to the “1 percent” of America’s wealthy should not be so rich.
They stood within a mile of the exotic and luxurious Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu in Kona where U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, one of the most powerful supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement, has been staying this holiday season. But protesters apparently did not try to contact her directly, nor did she acknowledge them.
According to West Hawaii Today, Pelosi 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, 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.”
Pelosi 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.”
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.