BEST POLITICAL ACTIVIST
“Oh, no,” Holter said when told he’d been voted Best Political Activist. “It should be Rob Parsons.” Modesty aside, Lance Holter is definitely a Man of the People. He’s chairman of the Maui Democratic Party, boss of the local Sierra Club chapter and a Paia realtor. He’s volunteered for just about every county board and committee out there, and he’s outspoken on issues like affordable housing, open space preservation—especially on the North Shore—the Superferry’s potential troubles and the military’s use of incredibly toxic depleted uranium munitions. And we haven’t even mentioned yet how Holter’s slow growth politics are so solid that developer Kent Smith once physically attacked him at a Maui Planning Commission hearing!
Runner-up: Sierra Club Hawai`i President Lucienne de Naie (AP)
BEST COUNTY OFFICIAL
Jo Anne Johnson
Unlike some county council members who hang with a gaggle of developers or who derive immense popularity from the fact that their son plays for a major league ball club, Jo Anne Johnson has built up loyal following the hard way: honest, straight-forward public service. She refuses to take campaign contributions and consistently enrages land developers with her calls for building moratoriums. And in many ways, her popularity eclipses all other Maui County officials—in fact, MAUI TIME readers have named her Best County Official the last four years in a row. Sometimes it seems everyone likes Jo Anne Johnson—and we do mean everyone: During the 2006 election, we asked Deidre Rockett, who was running against Johnson, to name her opponent’s biggest failing. “I think Jo Anne Johnson is a great lady,” she said. “I think she does a great job. I’m not going to say anything negative about her.”
Runner-up: Variations of the phrase “They all suck.” (AP)
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE
Civics Lesson #2: The state, not the county, gave us the Superferry. State officials decided an Environmental Impact Statement wasn’t necessary; that worries about Superferry cars tracking invasive species all over the islands were unfounded; and that concerns about increased traffic snarls caused by the boats were overblown. But once again, you picked a county issue as the runner-up for both these categories: over-development. Now we’re all for development: we like big roads with two lanes in each direction so the faster cars travel on the left and the slower ones stick to the right. We like living in a warm (or cool), well-made house that doesn’t leak when it rains. We enjoy working in a big, air-conditioned building. And we especially love eating in places affording nice views and spacious settings. That being said, the county has some gall okaying more timeshares, condominiums, golf courses and multi-million-dollar mansions than we want to know about while telling us long-time residents to stop watering our lawns because we’re running out of water. Hey, how about figuring out the water situation and getting that long overdue affordable housing built and then start worrying about where the rich and famous will tee off.
Runner-up: Over-development. (KS)
BEST CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE
Now before you go and point out that Maui County has but one representative in the U.S. Congress, we should point out that this category didn’t exist when our congressman, Ed Case, held the seat. So there. Hirono is progressive in the best sense of the word: she supports a worker’s right to organize; she opposes the complete takeover of America’s healthcare by monolithic corporations; and she finds the war in Iraq abhorrent and wants it to end as soon as possible. And while she’s new to the halls of the Capitol Building, she’s certainly not a rookie legislator. (AP)
BEST PLACE TO WATCH THE SUNSET
When you’re commuting across the island and working two jobs to barely afford your cramped, overpriced ‘ohana here on Maui, just glimpsing the sunset can feel like a luxury. So when you have a few moments to splurge on yourself, indulge in doing nothing at Kam III while the sun performs its daily grand exit. Watch as the sky turns amazing shades of red, orange and purple while amateur shooters angle for the best position to catch that legendary but oh-so-rare green flash as the sun dips below the horizon.
Runner up: Ka‘anapali Beach. (JA)
BEST PLACE TO CONTEMPLATE MAUI IN ABSOLUTE SILENCE
First, wake up no later than dawn. Then head to South Maui. Drive through Kihei, Wailea and Makena, all the way to the end of the road at La Perouse Bay. Park, then pick up the King’s Trail and keep heading south. Walk past the silent heiaus, quiet fisherman and endless lava formations. Stay on the trail that hugs the coast. Eventually you’ll see a light beacon atop a cliff that overlooks the sea. Follow the trail up to said beacon and sit. The rest should come naturally. (AP)
BEST USE OF COUNTY FUNDS
Civics Lesson #1: Education is a state-funded, state-organized and state-run deal. The State of Hawai‘i builds and repairs schools using state money. Now the runner-up here—cleaning up abandoned cars—is actually a county-funded project. Just as we were learning to love the fire-licked, four-wheeled—or sometimes three, two or even one-wheeled—carcasses littering our roads, the county started hauling them away.
Runner-up: Abandoned car clean-up. (KS)
BEST REASON TO THINK THERE MIGHT BE HOPE FOR THE COUNTY AFTER ALL
“Show Me the Water”
This summer, Maui County Councilwoman Michelle Anderson proposed a new law that would prohibit the granting of development permits unless and until a developer could show county officials that the proposed project could draw upon at least 20 years of water. Of course, developers immediately rose in outrage, though their reasoning—that the law is “unnecessary” because they would never, ever build a big project without an adequate water supply—is curious. If the law’s unnecessary, pointless, and will make not one iota of difference, why not allow its passage onto the books without comment? What harm could it possibly do? (AP)
BEST PLACE TO SEE NATURE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE
Wailea 670 property
Drive south on Pi‘ilani Highway, all the way through Kihei. Just before the road veers sharply to the right into Wailea, look to the left. See all that open space? That’s a 110-acre native dryland forest. If and when developer Charlie Jencks gets his way—we’re think it’s more of a question of when—that will all get ripped out, replaced with 1,400 housing units, a shopping center and yet another golf course. See it now, while you still can. (AP)
BEST NEWS REPORTER/ COUNTY OFFICIAL
Most people know Osher as the Pacific Radio Group News Director. She’s the calm, reassuring voice on all sorts of Maui radio stations who offers news bites, road closure information and critical updates on earthquakes, fires and tsunami warnings—all stories that require her to gather information from county fire officials. But as of this spring, she began a five-year term as a Maui County Fire Commissioner. As a fire commissioner, Osher enjoys oversight over the very fire officials she interviews as part of her news job. Now most—and by “most,” we mean “99.999999 percent”—of reporters, editors and media analysts around the world would call that a conflict of interest, but not Osher. (AP)
BEST DEFINITION OF
When rich and powerful land developers like Everett Dowling start throwing around words like “sustainability,” you better watch out. Definitions abound about what the word actually means, but the best definition we’ve found comes from Rob Parsons, our very own environmental columnist: “Sustainability is providing for current needs in ways that do not diminish or deplete future generations from enjoying the same quality of life, or benefiting from the same resources.” Make sense? We think so. (AP)
BEST ENVIRONMENTAL TEASE
Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge
First they go and build a wonderful 2,200-foot scenic boardwalk along the refuge out of recycled plastic planks and nails that cracked in the warm sunlight, forcing officials to rebuild the entire thing with even more recycled plastic-and-wood planks and screws. Then they still don’t open it because they haven’t completed—or even started to build—a small parking lot at the base of the boardwalk. As though that wasn’t nearly enough, Kealia Refuge and Alexander & Baldwin officials have also been delaying the construction of a permanent fence to keep rare sea turtles from crawling onto North Kihei Road, even though such a fence has been in storage at the refuge for the last few years. (AP)
BEST COUNTY BLUNDER
Ditto Best Environmental Issue.
Runner-up: Ditto Runner-up, Best Environmental Issue. (KS)
BEST TALK RADIO HOST
Maui’s well-known, well-respected Sports Guru got his own morning drive-time talk show a few months ago, and unlike 99 percent of the rest of radio talkers, decided to focus on rational discussion of national, state and local issues. Fred wants to hear all viewpoints, asks intelligent questions, never interrupts guests and genuinely wants to inform his listeners. And he’s on Fox! We know! Since it is a Fox News station, don’t be surprised if you hear a commercial spot asking you to “get to know [Fox News token lefty] Alan Colmes on a more intimate basis.” Shudder. (Shameless plug: Hear Fred talk with MAUI TIME Editor Anthony Pignataro every Thursday morning at 7:30). Weekday mornings, 6-8 a.m. on Fox News 900 AM. (AP)