WEDNESDAY, Mar. 19
Good news for everyone! Of course, by “everyone,” I mean “Charlie Jencks”—I mean, we’re all pulling for the plucky lad, aren’t we? Well, today we all got one step closer to never having to listen to him open his pie-hole again because the Maui County Council voted 5-4 (don’t you just love those squeakers?) to approve Honua`ula Partners LLC’s massive Wailea 670 project that will replace ancient South Maui dryland forest with 1,400 homes and a private golf course. Amazingly enough, nominally pro-development council members Riki Hokama and Bill Medeiros joined the usual slow-growth duo of Michelle Anderson and Jo Anne Johnson in voting against the massive project that, still to this day, lacks a water source. And, as Anderson rather forcefully pointed out during the hearing, golf course run-off leads directly to reef destruction. But Jencks—who’s being paid big money to move the project through county government—is happy, and isn’t that all that matters right now? Of course, he’s still got to get Mayor Charmaine Tavares’ approval and (once again) the Maui Planning Commission’s approval, so it’s not like you’re going to see bulldozers congregating at the southern end of Pi‘ilani Highway anytime soon. But in all likelihood, it’s going to happen.
THURSDAY, Mar. 20
Looks like it’s curtains for Aloha Airlines. For the second time since 2004, the company has declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This is hardly surprising, the way the 61-year-old airline has been bleeding cash lately: $81 million last year, $46 million the year before, $41 million the year before that… But a nasty inter-island fare war ($39 Maui-Oahu tickets, anyone?) combined with out-of-control fuel costs have once again put the screws on old Aloha and its 3,500 employees. The whole industry is, well, pretty messed up: Hawaiian Airlines scored a judgment against Mesa, alleging unfair competitive practices; ATA recently trashed some of this Midwestern routes, and may dump its Hawai‘i runs; a recent go! flight in which both the pilot and the co-pilot fell asleep in the cockpit between Honolulu and Hilo; Southwest ran afoul of the Federal Aviation Administration for repeatedly flying aircrafts the agency deemed “unsafe”; Delta and Northwestern had talked about merging to save each other, but now even that seems unlikely. Remember when airlines other than Hawaiian actually served meals? They were terrible, sure, but they came with the cost of the ticket. These days, you’re lucky if you can get half a can of Pringles for $5 from the flight attendant, and even then you better have your Visa handy because they don’t take cash at 37,000 feet. I suppose it’s considered out of line to bring up that old Reagan Administration spectre Airline Deregulation, but seriously: if you start treating airlines like any other firm, subject to little more control than that offered by the market itself, then the industry will shake itself out with the same ruthless efficiency that marks the big banks, hospitals and oil companies. Someday, perhaps, the mighty pendulum of history will swing back towards government regulation and stabilization, but until then, don’t expect commercial flying to get any easier.
FRIDAY, Mar. 21
Did I mention that I’ve been flying a lot lately?
SATURDAY, Mar. 22
Yeah, I guess it was pretty obvious.
SUNDAY, Mar. 23
So what’s a superdelegate to do? How do the nearly 800 special Democrats exercise their votes for presidential nominee come August, when their party holds their big convention in Denver. Vote according to how their particular state’s primary or caucus went? Or vote their own… what’s the word? Ahh, yes: “conscience.” Now according to Hawai‘i superdelegate (and U.S. Senator) Daniel Inouye, they can vote however the hell they want to. “It’s their decision,” he says in today’s Honolulu Advertiser. “We were designated as superdelegates to use our initiative and experience to do what is right.” That’s Inouye’s rationale behind his intention to vote for Senator Hillary Clinton, even though Senator Barack Obama nailed the Hawai`i Democratic Party Caucus vote back, and I suppose it’s as good as any other reason. That all these arguments and machinations—enjoyable though they are—only seem to strengthen the candidacy of Republican John McCain (and Ralph Nader, actually) seems almost beside the point.
MONDAY, Mar. 24
Yikes—according to an Associated Press story put out moments ago, Molokai Ranch (owned by Molokai Properties, Ltd) is shutting down at the end of the month, putting 120 people on the island out of work. Citing “community opposition” to its plans to build a large luxury development at La`au Point, the company says that by the end of the month they’ll close the Molokai Lodge, the Kaupoa Beach Village, the Kaluakoi Golf Course, the Maunaloa gas station and the Maunaloa theater (the only movie house on the island), as well as its actual ranching operations. This is stunning news, and could potentially devastate the island. “I do hope, however, that the actions of Moloka‘i Properties Limited are based on the company’s legitimate concerns about the state of the Moloka‘i economy,” state Senator J. Kalani English—whose district includes Molokai—said today, “and not presented as a bargaining chip in their efforts to impose their desire for development on the Moloka‘i community.” Show of hands of those who think English is going to be disappointed?
TUESDAY, Mar. 25
For those who can’t get enough good news, the War in Iraq has officially killed 4,000 U.S. soldiers. I’m just saying.
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