Ah, the new year. It’s a perfect time to reflect on all that’s happened. In the sea of information, here’s a liferaft: Enjoy MauiTime’s 2018 Year in Review.
These are headlines and snippets from selected articles from 2018. Full articles and more are available at MauiTime.com
• The Future Is Sticky Green – The year started, peacefully enough, with weed. Samantha Campos wrote about the first Maui Cannabis Conference and the potential of legalization: “Hawai‘i expects revenues up to $144 million in 2018, and provided the state successfully proceeds with a reciprocity system, could gain from visiting patients an additional $58 million in industry revenue.”
• Analyzing Maui PD’s Body-Worn Camera Policies – MauiTime sent a copy of Maui Police Department’s body-worn camera policy to Upturn, a nonprofit that focuses on social justice and tech. Upturn graded Maui PD’s policy: “Maui’s body worn camera program risks doing nothing more than intensifying disproportionate police surveillance of communities.”
• More Bad News About Coral Bleaching – “Coral bleaching events (caused when the ocean grows too warm, which causes coral to expel the symbiotic algae that they rely on) around the world are happening so quickly these days that reefs lack sufficient time to recover, which leads to mass die-offs,” former-MauiTime Editor Anthony Pignataro wrote. So it goes.
• Can Hawai‘i Survive Our Age of Stupid? – On the morning of Jan. 13 I had to explain what a “ballistic missile” is to a child. In addition to deriding the stupidity and incompetence of the State’s response to the false alert, Anthony Pignataro offered an analysis:
“We’re all in this mess because nothing substantial has changed since the Cold War. We say the Soviet Union is gone and we’ve gotten rid of a lot nuclear weapons, but we still hold more than enough to burn the entire world many times over. What’s more, we – the richest and most powerful nation in history – still regularly bomb the poorest nations into rubble and threaten others with nuclear fire – which is itself an act of terrorism.
We do all this in large part because we’ve forgotten how not to do it. We long ago became what our folklore always told us we’re against – a giant war machine that exists solely to protect access to the capital and raw materials we need to sustain ourselves. And so we lie to ourselves about our actions around the world, which is beyond stupid.”
• More Public Beach Access Parking Wars – On Jan. 9, the council’s Parks, Recreation, Energy, and Legal Affairs Committee took up a bill that would prohibit public beach access parking between 9pm and 6am. The matter was deferred, but not before public outcry. “‘Where’s Mike White?’ [Kai Nishiki] asked at the start of her testimony. ‘This is his bill, right? Some shameful.’ Later, she called his bill ‘a clear conflict of interest [White is the general manager of Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel].’”
• Is the Maui High Speed Computing Center a Target? – After the false missile alert, Anthony asked experts if the Maui High Speed Computing Center could be a target of a potential attack. Experts agreed that it’s very unlikely to be on North Korea’s list of targets (Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam is, though).
• Why Is Glenn Mukai Still in Power? – Once again, Pignataro put a light on LC disfunction: “The Department of Liquor Control is so out of control that on Friday, Jan. 19, the Liquor Commission held an unprecedented special meeting to deal with a Violence in the Workplace complaint… the LC’s Chief of Enforcement – filed the complaint against Mukai himself.”
• Activists Rally for Kaleikoa Ka‘eo – After being arrested for allegedly blocking vehicles carrying construction equipment for the new Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope planned for Haleakala, Ka‘eo gave his defense in court in ‘Olelo Hawai‘i (Hawaiian language). Judge Blaine Kobayashi issued a bench warrant because Ka‘eo wouldn’t speak English and the court could not identify him. Within 24 hours, Kobayashi withdrew the warrant. Later, the Hawai‘i Judiciary issued a new policy: “The Judiciary will provide or permit qualified Hawaiian language interpreters to the extent reasonably possible when parties in courtroom proceedings choose to express themselves through the Hawaiian language.”
“There are things you can say in Hawaiian that you know really express through our cultural view of why it’s important for us to defend our sacred sites”’ Ka‘eo said in a Jan. 24 Hawaii Public Radio story.
“It’s obvious the issue has already taken root far outside courthouse, as Friday’s demonstration showed,” Pignataro wrote.
• We Have a Difficult Conversation About Sexual Assault and How Men Can Be Better – Anthony asked his friend Marie – who has worked all over the world in corporate offices, humanitarian charities, and strip clubs – what men need to do better.
Marie responded, “Listen. Realize that we always had to take more steps than you to get to a level pegging… Just be quiet, listen and take it on board. Talk to us about how you feel about things in your life, not ours. We’re all ears for you – can you be for us?”
• ACLU Says Hawai‘i Needs Bail Reform – On Jan. 31, ACLU Hawai‘i released a report on the need for bail reform in Hawai‘i. There are many details in the report. Like, “Around half of the people sitting in Hawai‘i’s jails have not been convicted of the crime for which they have been charged.” And, “Six out of nine correctional facilities are over design capacity.”
• Thinking About Guns in the Wake of the Parkland Shooting – Anthony reflected on the tragic Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which claimed 17 lives. In addition to talking about state gun control legislation, he made an interesting discovery: “I took the 10 states with the lowest firearm mortality rates and matched them up to the 2016 Presidential Election electoral college results. Guess what? Democrat Hillary Clinton won all 10 states.
Then I went through the CDC stats and compiled a list of the 10 states with the highest firearm mortality rates…This time, nine of the 10 states all went to Republican Donald Trump.”
“Half believes that civilians shouldn’t be able to own weapons like the AR-15, which were originally designed for the military, while the other half believes that the way to fix mass shootings is by arming teachers and hardening schools into fortresses,” he concluded.
• The Maui News Finally Reports Tommy Russo’s Exoneration – While Russo’s arrest was widely reported, coverage of Russo’s win at the Hawai‘i Supreme Court was barely existent, a “profound injustice.”
• Scariest Hawai‘i Government Report Ever – In response to the Jan. 13 false missile alert, Hawai‘i’s Emergency Management Agency created a roadmap for efforts to keep residents safe in case of disaster. Here’s an excerpt: “Food and Water supplies are very limited without constant importation. Upon port closure, there is an estimated five to seven days of food within the state. After five days of no food importation, the market capacity will be below forty percent. No large stores of surplus emergency rations exist.”
• Maui Officials Raising Big Money On O‘ahu – “The minimum suggested donation for both campaigns was $50, though each Representative’s campaign accepted up to $1,000,” Anthony wrote.
“Holding campaign fundraisers in Honolulu during the Legislative session (when it’s pretty much guaranteed that lobbyists from all over Hawaii will show up) is one of great strengths of being an incumbent – even if that incumbent’s district never even comes close to Honolulu.”
• Gun Money – Deborah Caulfield Rybak took a dig into Maui’s state senators’ and representatives’ views on gun legislation.
• ‘We’ll Need Grants’ – Deborah also looked at Alan Arakawa’s plan to move homeless people to Old Maui High. She asked John Tomaso, executive director of Tri-Isle Resource Conservation & Development – a nonprofit the mayor wanted to lease the campus to for the project – about the cost. Tomaso said, “Oh, I don’t know. I sound stupid, I know. I don’t know.”
• County of Maui to Start Using Key Sea Level Rise Report – In December 2017, the state released a report, “Hawai‘i Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report,” that illustrates the dire threat facing the state. On Mar. 2 Mayor Arakawa signed a proclamation that directs county departments to use the report in “plans, programs and capital improvement decisions, to mitigate impacts to infrastructure and critical facilities triggered by sea level rise.”
• State of Hawai‘i Honors the Late Billy Graham – “Graham may have been popular with American evangelicals, but he was also a polarizing, extremely political figure who articulated very strong views against homosexuality,” Pignataro wrote.
• The Problem of Cultural Heritage Tourism and the Continued Misuse of Culture – “Ultimately, the commodification of culture is only good for those who make money from the consumption,” Sydney Iaukea wrote. “Complicating the matter in Hawai‘i is the inconvenient political reality of U.S. occupation of Hawaiian Kingdom’s sovereign territory and nationality. Erasing the past takes dedicated and prolonged effort, and these latest attempts to make us forget historical reality by selling access to Hawaiian culture is only the latest act of this long performance.”
• Kaniela Ing Calls Late Sen. Inouye an ‘accused Serial Rapist’ – State Rep. Kaniela Ing denounced the renaming of Honolulu International Airport after late U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye. “In order for sexual violence to end, men need to know they can no longer get away with it. But when we name an airport after an accused serial rapist, we show them that they can,” Ing said.
“Inouye WAS an ‘accused serial rapist,” Anthony maintained. “Inouye denied it all when he was alive… the allegations never went to court’”
• Hawai‘i Consumer Debt Is Bad, Getting Worse – The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism released a new report showing Hawai‘i’s debt is rising faster than the nation’s: “The average debt per person was $64,642 for Hawaii, 46 percent, which is about $20,000 higher than the national average of $44,284 during the fourth quarter of 2017.”
• Say it Ain’t So, Joe – Joe Souki, former state representative, resigned in March. “Souki admits that, while serving…. he touched and kissed more than one woman in ways that were inappropriate and unwelcome. He admits that this physical contact exceeded the boundaries of the customary ‘aloha kiss,’” stated the ethics report. “Souki further admits that he made sexual comments… that were inappropriate and unwanted.”
• The Children’s Crusade – Maui’s youth organized in the wake of gun violence riddling the U.S. “For the students, being a part of the March For Our Lives means learning about all the difficult, laborious tasks that go into political activism,” Anthony wrote. “I thought it was really fascinating that so many students were getting together to bring change,” Isabella Blair, a senior at Seabury Hall, told Anthony. “Students should feel safe in school… I hope this inspires people to take action.”
• Is White’s Supremacy Subverting Maui County Council? – Councilmember Elle Cochran submitted a proposal on Mar. 1 to form a special housing committee. The matter was not agendized in following weeks, and in a statement to MauiTime, Cochran stated White said that as Council Chair, he has the authority to decide what should get posted on the agenda. White told MauiTime in response, “Pushing this issue at this particular time makes it look purely political to help her mayoral campaign.”
• New State Report Details Ugly Truths About Race in Hawai‘i – The DBEDT released another depressing economic report: “Native Hawaiians have the highest poverty rates for individuals and families, with 6,610 families (12.6% of families) and 45,420 individuals (15.5% of the population) living below the poverty level.”
“The first people to live in Hawai‘i,” Anthony added, “currently ‘have the highest poverty rates for individuals and families’ in Hawai‘i. This is a tragedy and a travesty that those of us in Hawai‘i who aren’t Native Hawaiian ignore at our peril.”
• County of Maui Loses Yet Another Injection Well Ruling – “Back in 2014, a Maui District Court judge ruled that the county’s use of injection wells at the Lahaina Wastewater Facility were a violation of the federal Clean Water Act… the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Maui District Court got it right – the injection wells are a violation of the Clean Water Act. So then the County’s attorneys asked the Ninth Circuit to reconsider their opinion. On Mar. 30, the Ninth Circuit rejected that,” Anthony wrote. The County of Maui – which still has plenty of taxpayer dollars to spend – will appeal this decision yet again, this time to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
• Remembering the Late Sen. Akaka – Former U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka passed on Apr. 6. “Most famous for his Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (the “Akaka Bill”) which he first submitted in 2000, the bill recognized Native Hawaiians and officially granted them the authority to form their own government,” Anthony wrote. So it goes.
• Lili‘uokalani Inspires Indigenous Writers – and Americans, Too – A piece in the Canadian journal The Walrus by Daniel Heath Justice summarized the Queen’s significance and quotes Lili‘uokalani: “It has been shown that in Hawaii there is an alien element composed of men of energy and determination, well able to carry through what they undertake, but not scrupulous respecting their methods. They doubtless control all the resources and influence of the present ruling power in Honolulu, and will employ them tirelessly in the future, as they have in the past, to secure their ends.”
• Inmate Frustrations Boil Over at MCCC – The overcrowded Maui Community Correction Center continued to meet problems this year. “[Apr. 9] at about 2pm, inmates…refused the order [to return to quarters] and said they wanted to express their frustration with the phone system, a damaged television in the common area of their module, and the absence of rice with some of their meals over the past few days,” Toni Schwartz, Hawai‘i Department of Public Safety’s public information officer, told Pignataro.
• Mike White Is Out?! – Mike White pulls a Paul Ryan.
• ‘Valuable Addition’ – Maria Zielinski was appointed director of the Office of Council Services on Apr. 6, but nobody seemed to care that as state tax director, Zielinski resigned after allegations that her department was interfering with an independent consultant’s work. “To say nothing of explaining to the public what exactly happened – is both insulting to members of the public who read the news and simply asking for trouble,” Anthony said.
• Drastic Plastic – Rob Parsons wrote a report about his takeaways from the sixth International Marine Debris Conference and offered remedies: “Dianna Cohen of Plastic Pollution Coalition says we can invest in reusable water bottles and coffee containers (steel rather than hard plastic is preferred), give them as gifts and encourage others to do the same. She likes giving out stainless steel straws, which she considers a ‘gateway’ to further conversations and meaningful actions,” he wrote.
• Could the Wailuku Civic Hub Help Gentrify Wailuku? – Re:Wailuku is rendered; Anthony described it as looking like “a futuristic mainland urban core, complete with a lot of animated white people walking around.” He added, “Pardon me for using a dirty word, but this sounds an awful lot like gentrification. It’s what happens when the redevelopment of generally working-class urban centers leads to locals getting displaced by condos and shops more geared to artsy, high-income people.”
• New Coalition Wants Holistic Approach to Maui Housing Problems – Hukilike No Maui Coalition, an organization including groups Sierra Club Maui and FACE Maui Housing, had hope to use a portion of old sugarcane land for a holistic approach to small-scale farming and affordable housing. Ah, simpler times. We now know that A&B sold about 41,000 acres to a venture between a California-based agriculture group and a Canadian pension investment management firm.
• More Bad News for People Who Live on Islands – A study found that people living in low-lying atolls may have to evacuate due to rising sea level in as little as 12 years. So it goes.
• Vacation Rentals Are Taking Over – A report detailed the toll of vacation rental units: One in three homes in Lahaina is a vacation rental, and 60 percent of condos and 52 percent of homes on Maui are sold to nonresident buyers.
• Mayor Arakawa Criticizes Council Over ‘Project Aloha’ Cut – Deborah again looked at Arakawa’s plan to move the homeless to Old Maui High; the details looked like “the result of a hastily convened brainstorm session.” This is probably why the council scrapped the project… and the $2.5 million price tag attached to the Affordable Housing Fund.
• Another Big Arakawa Fundraiser – At $500 a ticket, this wasn’t a grassroots organizing affair.
• State House Forms Sexual Harassment Working Group – An advisory group was created on May 9 to “evaluate current House procedures relating to reporting, investigating and eliminating inappropriate harassment behavior.”
• I’m Out, Again – We bid a hui hou to longtime MauiTime editor Anthony Pignataro. Anthony’s been doing great work with OC Weekly in California.
• The Way Things Evolve – Anthony caught up with Maui Tomorrow executive director Albert Perez. “It’s clear that chemical agriculture is a losing prospect here,” Perez said. “You have to ship in all the pesticides, and making a profit is very difficult.”
• New Editor, Still MauiTime – “You have stories to tell, perspectives to give and truth to speak,” I wrote.
“So, what matters to you? What would you like us to know? My email is below and posted at MauiTime.com. We are on social media. Write us sometime.”
• So, How Cool Are We With Roundup? – MauiTime publisher Tommy Russo witnessed a Hawai‘i Gas employee spraying glyphosate (Roundup) in the company’s lot, which is adjacent to Kanaha Pond and bordered only by a chain link fence. Yeah, it’s their private property, but how cool are we with Roundup, really?
• Are County Officials Covering Their Tracks With a Mass Email Purge? – Maui County announced that starting June 1, all emails older than three years will be deleted. “It’s shady as shit,” one staffer told me.
There are county rules around disposing of government records, and it didn’t seem that the process of law was being followed: department heads were given the power to determine what should or shouldn’t be saved. “Individual county employees should not have the power to decide what has, or what may someday have, informational value without appropriate oversight,” I wrote.
• Who’s Getting Your Money? – I took the community’s own words to see how the public felt on budget items. The number one priority? Affordable housing.
• Hemp History Week – “We have such a talent here – let alone from our recreational growers, Maui Wowie and all that – of knowledgeable cannabis growers on this island. That’s the other resource [other than climate] that companies see,” Steve Rose. executive hempster at the Maui Hemp Institute for Research and Development told me. With hemp legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill passed last week, this story is worth a revisit to anyone interested in cannabis and Maui’s agricultural future.
• County Email Purge CANCELLED – On May 31, following our print article and a community response, the mass email purge was canceled. “A lot of people were making some really bad assumptions unfortunately,” county spokesman Rod Antone told me. “So last and final policy on emails, we’re keeping them for ten years.”
But that’s not a guarantee of proper record keeping: When I asked Antone whether county employees could still delete emails permanently, he responded that “Departments are responsible for storing important documents. IT does the deletion after they get the go ahead that the necessary documents have been stored.”
• Environmental Progress Made With State Bills Signed Into Law – Hawai‘i remains committed to its own sustainability goals. HB2106 requires sea-rise analysis in any environmental impact statement before building a project. HB1986 directs the creation of a carbon offset program to help companies meet carbon emission limits. HB2182 sets a statewide for a carbon neutral Hawai‘i by 2045.
• Hawai‘i Passes Historic Chlorpyrifos Ban – Toxic chlorpyrifos will be banned, restricted use pesticide disclosure will be mandatory, and there is an establishment of buffer zones to protect schools.
But there are shortcomings. Monsanto has locations on Maui that are known restricted pesticide users (and just outside of buffer-zone range) – one of which is a mile uphill from the shore, less than a mile upwind of Kamali‘i Elementary and a mile from Lokelani Intermediate School. The other Monsanto location is less than a half mile away from the beach and adjacent to Kealia Pond. Further, the four-year grace period basically acknowledges the danger that chlorpyrifos pose to vulnerable populations and the environment… yet gives companies license to use the pesticide another four-and-a-half years.
• Dr. Willy Kauai Talks Hawaiian Nationality – “The Hawaiian Kingdom is one of the first countries in the world to embrace universal racial suffrage,” Dr. Willy Kauai told me. “Regardless of the color of your skin, your race or ethnicity, in the 19th century you could acquire citizenship under the Hawaiian Kingdom. That history is one that is important for us to come to better know because it informs our optics of today, to show how far off track we might have gotten.”
• MauiTime Reflects on White Privilege and Calls for Writers – “We want profiles and articles that reflect the wonderful diversity of the Maui community,” I wrote, after some reflection on white privilege, especially in the context of Hawai‘i’s history. “The best way I can think to do that is by inviting in and including more voices.”
• President P-grabber Wants to Cut Funds for Planned Parenthood – “This policy is a direct attack on low-income women and the most vulnerable,” Katie Rogers of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands told me. “This will disproportionately hurt women who identify as members of racial or ethnic communities.”
• CEO-to-Worker Pay Ratios – “This all goes to say that the amount of money made by ultra-wealthy CEOs is so monstrously excessive, it’s sociopathic… Giving an $8 million ‘grant’ to an executive (who already makes $11 million a year) for simply doing his job is the kind of vampiric exploitation of labor that makes sense if you consider that this is the same cabal to unleash Paris Hilton on the world.”
• MauiTime Walk Story – In June, we started our candidate coverage series, Walk Story. Over the course of the 2018 election season, we interviewed 54 candidates, including seven mayoral and four gubernatorial candidates – all in one take while walking down Market Street in Wailuku Town.
• Gabbard Dodges Debate – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard national headlines in 2016 by calling for more debates during the Democratic Primary, but Gabbard dodged debates in 2018 with challenger Sherry Alu Campagna.
• County Personalities Clash Over Fy 2019 Budget – Mayor Arakawa gives a masterclass in passive-aggressive letter writing in a memo to Councilmember Elle Cochran: “If I understand your letter correctly, you are essentially asking our administration to clean up a mess you created… Once you accept responsibility for your actions and you make clear in a letter to my office and notification to community members you’ve been in contact with, I will gladly consider submitting a budget amendment.”
• Happy Independence Day? – “There’s the problematic history of institutionalized slavery, colonization, and theft perpetrated by the United States… These truths are hard to reconcile with the opening message of the Declaration of Independence, ‘that all men are created equal…”
• Goodbye and Aloha Mark – MauiTime Co-founder Mark D’Antonio passed away on July 9, 2018 at his home in California. “The simple truth is there would not be MauiTime without Mark,” MauiTime Publisher and Co-founder Tommy Russo said. “Mark lived life to its fullest. He looked for and found the good in people, and wanted to share positive stories with everyone.”
• LC Knows What You Did Last Halloween – “LC is keeping us all safe by eyeballing ‘the female breast’ for the areola line, keeping dancing contained, monitoring wait-staff service, shaming smokers, and making sure you take one shot at a time. This kind of sticklerism is unsurprising to those who are familiar with our local Liquor Control, which is drunk and over-served on power.”
• Sand Mining Moratorium Extended After Public Outcry – “To be clear, the moratorium doesn’t resolve the grievances of the citizens that came to testify and demonstrate for on Friday… It is intended to get a measurement of sand quantity, not an archaeological inventory. As developers scan Central Maui for potential projects, it will be essential to proactively push for an assessment of the historical and cultural value of this land to ensure respect for the Native Hawaiians whose kupuna rest there… we must ask: How do we balance the needs to honor indigenous culture, protect the environment, and ensure prosperity for residents?”
• La Hoihoi Ea: Sovereignty Restoration Day – On Jul. 31, 1843, after five months of occupation, control of the Kingdom was restored to Kauikeaouli (King Kamehameha III). For Wilmont Kahaialii, knowing this history is empowerment. “They need to realize there was a time when it became important for the sovereignty to be restored to the Kingdom of Hawai‘i,” he said.
• More Bad News for People Who Like Earth – Plastic waste, which flows into oceans at a rate of 18 billion pounds a year, is also a previously unaccounted-for source of greenhouse gas pollution.
• Go Vote August 11 – If non-voters organized, imagine what could be possible. Nationwide voter turnout during 2016’s primary was only 29 percent. We desperately civic participation in Hawai‘i, which ranked dead last in voter turnout in 2016.
• Maui Community Correctional Center Pays for ‘Serious’ Violations – On Jun. 27, Maui Community Correctional Center and the Department of Public Safety were fined for two items deemed “serious” by the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. The fines totaled $16,300, but according to DPS spokesperson Toni Schwartz, “were mitigated to $8,150.”
• Primary Election Wrap-up: Just How Progressive Is Hawai‘i? – Kaniela Ing, a democratic socialist, was unable to pull off the upset he and his supporters were hoping for, despite Ocasio-Cortez’s appearance on O‘ahu for Ing’s campaign. Democrats in Hawai‘i’s Congressional District 1 opted for Ed Case, a moderate Democrat and supporter of the Iraq War during his previous turn in congress, who was Vice President of Outrigger Hotels and Resorts and a member of the Board of the Directors of the American Housing and Lodging Association.
• The Maui News Gives Platform to Disgraced Sexual Harasser – The Maui News makes a questionable choice and includes disgraced former-State Speaker of the House, Joe Souki, in a roundup of pundits. Yep, Souki, the disgraced public official who abused his power while in office was cited with no recognition of his misconduct.
• MauiTime Stands With Publications in Reaffirming the Importance of Freedom of the Press – We’re still here because there are still stories to tell and truth to speak – and readers like you keep checking in to see what we think. Our small MauiTime ‘ohana understands the importance of what we do, and week after week we do our best to satisfy the community need for journalism.
• Hawai‘i Senators Honor Late U.S. Senator John McCain – In the tradition that scoured for the good in Richard Nixon after his death, Hawai‘i’s U.S. Senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono praised late Senator John McCain following his death on Sunday Aug. 25 from brain cancer.
• See You on the Ice Side of the Moon – Following the discovery of Shuai Li, researcher at UH Manoa, and his team, the presence of water ice on the moon is now hailed with “definitive evidence” by NASA and other space agencies.
• #LahainaStrong – When Lahaina residents boarded up their windows and secured their belongings on the Wednesday before Hurricane Lane, they thought they prepared for the worst. Then, while the County of Maui was still under a Hurricane Warning on August 23 and 24, multiple fires were reported. In the aftermath, many people and families suffered immense losses. Uniting under #LahainaStrong, the community banded together to support each other in this trying time.
• Sheraton Maui Workers Rally for a New Deal, Ready for Strike Vote – On Labor Day afternoon, outside the entrance to the Sheraton, 200 people assembled to rally for a new employment contract under the cry “One job should be enough.” Their contracts expired in June and were followed by a summer of unsuccessful negotiations.
Yet, Hawai‘i’s visitor industry had a record-setting year in 2017. The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority stated in their July 2018 monthly report that year-to-date visitor spending was up 9.8 percent, “the most ever for any month in Hawai‘i’s history.”
Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson cashed in on Hawai‘i’s tourism success, making 395 times what Marriott’s median employee made ($33,697). Marriott operates Sheraton Maui.
• More Qualified, More Educated, Less Pay: Average Teacher Salary in Hawai‘i Declines 6.4 Percent – The inflation-adjusted average salary for Hawai‘i’s teachers dropped 6.4 percent from school year 2009-2010 to school year 2016-2017 (the latest data available). The Hawai‘i Department of Education Data Book shows that during that same period, the percentage of “Fully Licensed” teachers and “Advanced Degree”-holding teachers rose increased.
So, while teachers in Hawai‘i have become more qualified for their jobs, their salaries have actually decreased.
• Planning Department Plans to Enforce Transient Vacation Rental Rules – “We’re in the final stages of working with LodgingRevs to produce what we’re calling an initial census, which is a list of vacation rental operations that appear to be operating in contravention of our zoning code,” the planning department’s David Raatz assured councilmembers on Sep. 6.
• Councilmembers’ Day Off: Majority of Voting Members Absent for Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee Meeting – With an agenda including a resolution to urge the Maui County Visitors Association to “incorporate specific environmental action items into grant objectives,” the Sep. 17 Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee meeting was canceled due to lack of quorum. Councilmembers Don Guzman, Riki Hokama, and Mike White were unexcused absences. With an aggressively growing tourism and visitor industry, Maui needs answers. Councilmembers playing hookie won’t cut it.
• Access Denied! – Sydney Iaukea wrote about beach access: “Blocking access and making it hard to get to these places is not only illegal, but it also acts as a tactic to further dispossess and break connections.”
• ‘Astronomical’ Prostitution Demand in Hawai‘i, Study Finds – The study estimated “one out of every eleven males (9 out of 100) over the age of 18 and living in Hawai‘i, are online sex shoppers.” Yet, in Honolulu, sex buyers are arrested far less than prostituted people. “Criminalizing those prostituting drives them away from help,” Khara Jabola-Carolus of the Hawai‘i State Commission on the Status of Women said.
• Funding Our Keiki’s Future – Before being struck from the ballot by the Hawai‘i Supreme Court, the constitutional amendment was a big deal, with different views on whether greater state taxing power is the solution to education funding.
• Hawai‘i’s Transgender Youth Experience Significant Health and Social Inequity, Department of Health Reports – The Hawai‘i Sexual and Gender Minority Health Report 2018 showed that transgender public high school students are disproportionately at-risk and victimized. Among heartbreaking findings, it found that half of transgender youth have attempted suicide in the past year, and more than half of transgender youth do not have a teacher or an adult in school they can talk to about things important to them.
• Councilmember Attendance Report Card – After reviewing attendance records for the year from each County Council and council committee meeting of the year, I found: Council Chair Mike White had 70 absences, the most of any councilmember, amounting to missing 37 percent of his meetings. Councilmember Riki Hokama was the next-most truant councilmember, missing 43 meetings – 24 percent of them.
Hokama was absent 50 percent of the time for committees chaired by women, but absent only eight percent of the time for committees chaired by men. White was absent 51 percent of the time for female-chaired committees, but 35 percent of the time for male-chaired committees.
• Three Sheraton Maui Workers Barred from Property, One in Handcuffs, as Strike Enters Second Week – “They asserted their free speech rights but also their rights under the federal labor law to remain on property and to continue to pass out leaflets,” Unite Here Local 5 union organizer Cade Watanabe told me.
• The Latest in Signs of Impending Doom: 12 Years to Change Course from Disastrous Future to Horrible Future – A UN report found we only have 12 years to significantly alter our behavior or we will send the Earth and its inhabitants on a path towards catastrophe. Meanwhile, the Carbon Majors Report found 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 were emitted by only 100 companies. So, by all means, reduce, reuse, and recycle, but don’t forget to vote with your ballot and your wallet.
• Recognize Filipino-American History Month by Supporting Sheraton Maui Workers on Strike – “I’d say that at least 70-75 [percent] of our membership at the hotel would identify themselves as being Filipino or at least part Filipino,” Cade Watanabe, organizer at Unite Here Local 5 union told me.
• Con Am Gets Canned – On Friday, Oct. 19, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court invalidated the ballot question to authorize a constitutional amendment that would have allowed the state legislature to implement a surcharge on investment property to support public education. All four counties of the state of Hawai‘i claimed that the question was too vague to satisfy the requirements of a ballot question.
• Unmasking the Monsters: The 10 Largest Donors Trying to Buy Your Vote – We sifted through the campaign contribution reports from 2018 for all councilmembers and mayoral candidates in the running for the general election so you could see who and what, at that point in time, was paying to influence the election in Maui County – and what percentages of their funds came from the county, off-island Hawai‘i, and the mainland.
• County Vs. Atay? – The situation surrounding the 250th Celebration of Queen Ka‘ahumanu is messy. The Office of Economic Development disbursed the funds to Alika Atay’s executive assistant, Brian Bardellini. OED would go on to claim that Bardellini was not paying vendors and keeping good records; Bardellini and Atay claimed that OED’s scrutiny was part of a well-planned and coordinated strategy against his office.
• MauiTime endorses Elle Cochran for Mayor – “Cochran has shown herself to have the political courage and vision needed in times like these… Cochran’s leadership as an activist reflects a concern for people and willingness to listen – whether on a picket line or at a demonstration outside the County Building. When it comes to issues she got wrong, such as the increase of park fees in the latest budget, Cochran has done the difficult thing that is the mark of a leader: She admitted her mistake and took steps to correct it… in a political environment where demagogues bully the truth in order to win, it is refreshing to see a politician do what is right for the community, ego aside.”
• Protests at Pa‘ia Inn, Owner Claims Activists Spread Misinformation – Mopsy and Protect Pa‘ia from rallied outside the Inn on Nov. 2. “We want enforcement to be done and that’s the whole thing in a nutshell regarding the demonstration,” Mopsy said. For Baskin and the Aaronas, this was just the latest in an ongoing feud. “We are in full compliance so there’s no action for the county to take,” Baskin said.
• Mike Victorino Is Elected Mayor of Maui County – “I am very grateful and ecstatic about the win but now the work begins,” he told me. “I want to work with all of you, every one of us. We gotta make Maui good, we gotta make Maui greater, and we gotta work together. It’s not my county, it’s not their county, it’s our county.
• What Will Be the Fate of Maui’s Central Valley? – Amid reports that it is selling Maui holdings, A&B received permits for continued water diversion. Sierra Club is requested a contested case on the decision, but was later denied.
• The Week After: A Post-election Wrap Up – Maui’s big news came out of the nine county races. The historic election resulted in the first female-majority Maui County Council and a shift in the body’s political balance. Five of the nine ‘Ohana Candidates for council won their races, giving the group a majority of the County Council.
• ‘Cravalho Was Sending Cops Around!’ – Documents came in, allowing Anthony to add a chapter to his story on Elmer Carvalho. The FBI files shed light on how Maui Mayor Elmer Cravalho wielded power against the press.
• Lame Duck Council Makes Moves: in Final Weeks Before New Members Take Office, the County Council Deliberates Controversial Items – Lame-duck councilmembers have a short window to advance the work of the establishment before the ideological slant of the council is adjusted against them. Two particular items caught my eye at the end of November as bills that are approaching their last chance for passage before the new council shakes things up: an additional $40-million appropriation for the Wailuku Civic Complex and a Kihei-Makena Community Plan amendment.
• Does Yuki Lei Sugimura Hate Animals? – a Poorly Written Bill Ignites Social Media and Causes ‘a Whole Lot of Drama’ – After an hour of public testimony and days put through the social media outrage machine, Sugimura expressed regret for introducing the bill, which she explained was crafted over email with language from the cattle industry. The bill would have exempted livestock from the basic requirement that animal owners treat animals in a “humane manner.”
• Foam Free Maui County – Rob Parsons wrote about Maui’s styrofoam ban, which will take effect on Dec. 31, 2018. We can live without it.
• Scathing Liquor Control Audit Presented to PEA Committee, Referred to New Council – Auditors found problems with the county’s liquor control: unclear criteria to guide actions and accountability measures, and a lack of effective oversight. The audit stated that 72 percent of all violations in fiscal year 2017-2018 were for minor violations “such as failing to clear tables in a timely manner and dancing while holding an alcoholic drink.
• A Tale of Two Mauis: Newly Released Census Data Reveals Growing Inequality – Median household income for the highest earning census tract on Maui has increased by $5,195 while the median household income in Maui’s lowest earning census tract has decreased by $4,038.In other words, the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer.
• Mayor-elect Mike Victorino Announces Leadership Selections, With Six Carryovers from Arakawa Administration – The fear expressed by many during election season that a Victorino Administration would become the Arakawa Administration version 4.0 slowly becomes realized.
• Department of Liquor Control Audit: by the Numbers – 10 figures show the depth of dysfunction in the LC. Here’s one: 20 years since a comprehensive review of the LC rules, resulting in outdated rules such as those that prohibit beer flights and obscene language in songs.
• The People United Will Never Be Defeated – After 51 days, the Sheraton Strike resulted in a contract that granted workers a $6-an-hour raise and other protections. “The cost of living and the manini pay – Hawai‘i needs to do something about this,” Evie Chargualaf, a Sheraton Worker told writer Debra Andres Arellano. “That’s what we were fighting for. This wasn’t just a fight for us. It was a fight for all locals.”
• Scientists Address Humpback Mystery – “We’ve seen an 80-percent drop in sightings of mother and calf pairs,” biologist Rachel Cartwright, who has studied humpback mothers and calves on Maui since 1999, told Deborah Caulfield Rybak.
• Public Concern Grows Over Tentatively Scheduled Last-minute Public Hearing and Special Council Meeting – Now officially scheduled for Dec. 27, a hastily convened public hearing and special council meeting caused concern among many in the public that community input will not be adequately considered before decisions are made, and raised questions regarding whether legislation is being rammed through in the twilight of the current lame-duck County Council, before the turnover of five seats and inauguration of the new council (and their new political leanings) come Jan. 2, 2019.
• Massive Alexander and Baldwin Agricultural Land Sale Finalized: ‘Conventional’ Growing Plans Announced for Most of the Former Sugarcane Fields – And then the year ends with a bang. Alexander and Baldwin announced Thursday Dec. 20 the sale of some 41,000 acres of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company land – an action first reported last month by MauiTime. Yep, holiday season or not, things aren’t going to be slowing down anytime soon
Here’s to another year of reading, learning, and thinking with MauiTime.