WEDNESDAY, Jan. 2
On this, which is so far proving to be the second most disappointing day of 2008 for the State of Hawai`i, Department of Transportation officials announced that fans of the University of Hawai`I (UH) Warriors could not meet the football team when it arrives at Honolulu International Airport today after yesterday’s disastrous 41-10 loss in the Sugar Bowl. According to a Honolulu Advertiser story posted on the paper’s website this morning, the team will “not go to the airport terminal” but instead “will be picked up in a remote location and will be bused from the airport.” Oh yeah, that’s going to do wonders for the team’s—and the state’sesteem.
THURSDAY, Jan. 3
For those of you who care about such things, I got my college degree in political science, not journalism. This gets me ribbing from time to time—more from my colleagues than members of the public, to be honest—but it gives me one small advantage over my Journalism School peers: I studied the government budget process in college. And believe me, it was fascinating. Anywho, my brow furrowed even more than usual when I read our own state Senator Roz Baker’s quotes in today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin story “State budget: Focus is on the essentials.” According to the story, Senate Ways and Means Committee chairperson Baker—probably the most powerful person in the state Senate budget-wise—said, “We’re going to try to look at the things that absolutely need to be funded… I think everything is going to have to be justified.” Forgive my bachelor’s degree naiveté, but don’t our outstanding legislators do that every year? Isn’t it standard operating procedure to put only those “things that absolutely need to be funded” in each year’s budget?
FRIDAY, Jan. 4
Speaking of Journalism School, parsing, deciphering or just plain explaining Hawai`i Superferry, Inc. (HSF) press releases—all courtesy of the good folks at McNeil-Wilson Communications—would be an outstanding exercise for up and coming reporters. Today they sent over a real head-scratcher. Titled “HAWAII SUPERFERRY ADDS A SECOND VOYAGE BETWEEN MAUI AND OAHU STARTING JANUARY 16,” the release—as usual—doesn’t say vastly more important things than it says. While admitting that the HSF business plan “is dependent on running two trips per day,” the statement dances around the issue of why exactly the Superferry won’t (can’t?) make one daily voyage to Kauai, as originally planned. “Providing service to Kauai is very important to us,” HSF CEO John Garibaldi says in the release. “We’ve decided, however, to initiate a second voyage to Maui sooner in order to allow more time in which to work with the community on Kauai to ensure a safe and successful resumption of service.” Work with the community? Seriously: what does that mean? Hold meaningless “outreach” meetings in which the Superferry executives spout their corporate blather and anti-Superferry activists threaten to fill Nawiliwili Harbor with surfers and everyone leaves more convinced than ever that the other side is corrupt? Or will HSF attempt a tried-and-true method of combating other Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) movements—paying off leaders to walk away? After all, that method worked wonders with the state Legislature, in which HSF paid out considerable sums to both campaign coffers and lobbyists. Ultimately, your guess to those question is as good as mine. That’s because Hawai‘i Superferry press releases ultimately don’t say anything—well, anything beyond the corporate mantra “HAWAI‘I SUPERFERRY EQUALS GOOD.”
SATURDAY, Jan. 5
At long last, someone is finally taking a stand against the Hawaiian Grammy Awards, and the way they seem to favor compilation album producers over vocalists. And that someone is Keola Beamer. Nominated for a Hawaiian Grammy this year, Beamer is quoted in today’s Maui News as saying that he won’t participate in the Feb. 10 awards because his album Ka Hikina O Ka Hau—The Coming of the Snow is not true Hawaiian music. “Maybe we need a couple of categories of the Hawaiian music genre,” Beamer said in the article. “One might be instrumental music, one might be vocal music. I would love to hear a winner with Hawaiian lyrics on it.” This news is more shocking than state Auditor Marion Higa’s exasperation at Governor Linda Lingle’s excessive use of “executive privilege” to block the Auditor’s office from getting access to Hawai‘i Superferry records. It’s also way, way more shocking than Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares’ quote in today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin saying she’s “very disappointed” that the Superferry people decided to add a second daily Maui voyage “without consulting county officials and members of community.”
SUNDAY, Jan. 6
There’s a really interesting 31-page batch of Superferry-related public records posted on today’s Honolulu Advertiser, which the paper obtained through the state open records law. They confirm that various state Department of Transportation (DOT) staffers as long ago as 2004 were saying that it requiring an Environmental Assessment (EA)—less rigorous than an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), but still an official study—of the Superferry was the “Right thing to do.” And the Advertiser explains that very nicely in the story that accompanies the documents. But the paper’s story seems to miss the documents’ real money quote, which appears in a Dec. 29, 2004 DOT outline of “RECOMMENDATIONS” (author unknown). Basically a list of pros and cons for each point, the outline is clearly written by a DOT official favoring a Superferry environmental review—in fact, there are four pros and just two cons under “Require a statewide EA for the ferry system.” But the key point occurs right after the first con, “Cannot meet June 30, 2005 deadline for investors’ support,” which is the main reason Hawai‘i Superferry officials have always given when asked why they didn’t want to undergo an official environmental study. But underneath that phrase, written in very dangerous italics, is the following note: “The criticalness of this deadline has never been verified.” Bam! For the first time that I know of, we have some kind of official DOT skepticism of HSF’s stated rationale for refusing to do an EA or EIS.
MONDAY, Jan. 7
Not that it means anything now, but it is nice every now and then to see official evidence that Superferry opponents aren’t the irrational Luddites Superferry backers paint them to be.
TUESDAY, Jan. 8
And it’s official: UH football coach June Jones is trading Hawai‘i for Dallas, Texas, where he’ll accept a $2 million-a-year, five-year contract with Southern Methodist University. Oh yeah, it’s looking like 2008 will be just a spectacular year.
Anthony Pignataro is now available in Twitter form at http://twitter.com/apignataro. MTW