APEC Opens With Violence And Hookers While Governor Neil Abercrombie Prays For Rain

And here’s someone else you can vote for now, and then grumble over after he’s been in office for a few months, and finally denounce when he comes up for reelection: Ladies and gentlemen of Maui, meet Don Guzman. He wants to sit in Maui County Councilmember Joe Pontanilla’s seat representing Kahului when Pontanilla gets termed out next year.

Guzman certainly has all the makings of a future county councilman. He’s a lawyer and former county deputy prosecuting attorney. He’s a loyal Democrat, having previously worked as Congresswoman Mazie Hirono’s Maui field representative. He’s got awards (Asian Pacific American Law Association’s National Service Award), volunteer cred (member of the Maui Drug Court, March of Dimes and Lahaina Junior Golf Association boards) and is even in good standing with the church (lector at Christ the King Church).

There’s not much on his website (donguzmanmaui.com) beyond a big photo of Guzman in his best banker aloha shirt and spots for you to give your email address and campaign contribution, but he’s got a free campaign kickoff coming up on Tuesday, Nov. 22 (5:30-8:30pm) at the Maui Tropical Plantation that will have lots of grinds and entertainment, so go to that if you want to know if he stands for anything.

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Well, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit has finally started over on Oahu. This is where the leaders of 21 Asia Pacific nations–including our own President Barack Obama!–get together to talk story over jobs and trade and other serious matters of state. And what an auspicious opening it got: the fatal shooting of local Kollin Elderts, 23, by State Department Diplomatic Security Service Agent Christopher Deedy, 27, in front of a Waikiki McDonald’s at 3am on Saturday, Nov. 5.

“The [expletive deleted] haole wen’ kill Kollin,” one man at the scene said in the Nov. 6 Honolulu Star-Advertiser. As expected, the State Department refused to comment on the shooting, though reporters did eventually confirm that Deedy was in town as part of APEC. He’s been charged with second-degree murder, and though police also found a knife at the scene, its possible connection to the shooting remains unknown at press time.

But APEC isn’t just about an armed federal agent killing a local–it’s about serious issues like getting people of all walks of life in the region back to work. It’s about stimulating the global economy, as well as the local market. It’s about, well, boosting local trades like, ahem, hookers.
“[I]t’s not just security that’s increased in Honolulu,” reported the Associated Press on Nov. 5. “An advocacy group for survivors of human trafficking says it is seeing increased signs of prostitution on the streets of Waikiki.”

But don’t worry: Honolulu PD has increased the number of cops–and surveillance cameras–on the street to deal with this.

“It’s definitely something we want to think about,” Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle told the AP. “You don’t want an embarrassing situation to happen.”

The killing of a local by a federal agent–that the city can apparently handle. But an APEC diplomat caught with a Waikiki hooker? Now that would be too much.

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And now to be serious for a moment, Governor Neil Abercrombie wants to make it rain more in Hawaii. To bring this about, he believes the state needs more forests.
It’s about time.

“Studies have shown that since 1990, statewide winter rainfall has been 12 percent lower and continues to decline,” stated a Nov. 3 press release from the Governor’s Office. That fact is used to justify Abercrombie’s new “The Rain Follows the Forests” initiative, which aims to restore native forests statewide. “These goals aim to double the amount of protected watershed areas in 10 years,” the release continued. “It will require approximately $11 million per year and would provide for over 150 new natural resource careers.”

A variant of this is going on right now on Kahoolawe. There, volunteers planting native vegetation are trying to restore the “cloud bridge” that once stretched from Haleakala to the island, drenching it with rain.

“Temperatures are steadily rising, while cloud cover lessens–meaning more water is evaporating,” University of Hawaii Professor of Geology Tom Giambelluca said in the governor’s press release.

“On the ground, this means lower stream flows and less ground water recharge. Forests are a major part of the water equation because they intercept water from the clouds and reduce direct runoff.”

But protecting Hawaii’s forests goes beyond giving us all more water to feed our towns, golf courses and astonishingly thirsty sugar cane crops (it takes five hundred gallons of water to produce one pound of sugar).

“As a fisherman, I know that mauka and makai are connected,” state Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairperson William Aila, Jr. said in the news release. “Without forests to hold the soil, heavy rains will cause erosion that pollutes our beaches, reefs, and fisheries. Everything is affected downstream.”