COUNTY CANCELS FUTURE PAIA TOWN PARTIES
On Friday, Sept. 14 (officials usually announce bad news on Fridays), County of Maui Office of Economic Development Coordinator Teena Rasmussen declared that there would be no more Fourth Friday Town Parties in Paia. Her reasons are neatly summarized in the following paragraphs, which come from an email she sent to Paia merchants that afternoon (and which was immediately forwarded to us by Gilbert & Associates, a public relations firm retained by the county to promote the island’s various Friday night town parties):
“As hard as we all worked to make the Paia Friday Town party a success, we could not overcome the traffic and safety issues,” Rasmussen wrote. “We know that being able to close a road leads to a much safer and contained event. However, with Paia’s business community lining two very busy, main traffic corridors, closing the road was never an option.
“Due to this and the numerous concerns that you as merchants have raised about safety, we feel this party is just not the right fit for Paia,” Rasmussen continued. “Our office will be announcing on Friday afternoon at a Mayor’s press conference that there will no longer be a Friday Town Party in Paia, and we will be looking for another venue for the fourth Friday party.”
You’d almost think after reading Rasmussen’s email that county officials had invented the whole Paia town party thing. In fact, Paia merchants began holding Friday night parties before the county became involved (and could hold such events, albeit on an “unofficial” level). In fact, town party organizers from Paia that were quoted in the Sept. 15 Maui News actually seemed relieved at the county’s cancellation order:
“Honestly, in one way, the event had gotten very large for Paia,” said Paia Town Merchants Association board member Daniel Sullivan in the paper. “We ran out of money paying for the off-duty police officers for the event. We didn’t have money for the town functions.”
Note to the County of Maui: just because Wailuku Town can put on a killer First Friday party each month, that doesn’t mean other towns across the island can. And by judging from Rasmussen’s comment that her office is already looking at a replacement for Paia (most likely Kihei, which is ludicrous since it lacks an actual town core) means they’re just going to have to learn that lesson again.
ANOTHER SENSELESS GOOSE ATTACK
So on Saturday, Sept. 15, my girlfriend Angie and I visited the 700-acre Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge. Not usually open on Saturdays, they were making an exception as part of an effort to attract more residents. And it seemed to work–the parking lot outside both the visitor’s center and the ponds themselves were full around noon.
It really is a beautiful place. After checking in at the visitor’s center, which is full of colorful, informative displays (one of them, titled “Location, Location, Location,” was actually playfully sarcastic) on the rare and endangered Hawaiian coots (‘alae ke‘oke‘o) and stilts (ae‘o) that live at Kealia, we headed down a narrow road to the ponds.
There were found dozens of stilts, walking and chirping in the water, as well as a few coots paddling around. Oh, there was also a giant goose chilling in the middle of one pond. Not a nene, mind you, but a goose like you’d find on the mainland. It was kind of odd, sure, but we didn’t think much of it. Until, that is, we got home and checked out Hawaii News Now.
“A Wailuku man has sued Maui County for negligence, claiming he suffered a cut hand and back injury after being attacked by a duck or goose at the county’s Waiehu Golf Course,” reported the news service. “Deputy Maui Parks Director Patrick Matsui said the alleged attack happened near the course’s irrigation pond. Matsui said as far as he knows, just that one bird was hanging out at the county’s lone golf course. After the attack, county officials caught the bird and took it to a bird refuge on another part of the island to release it, Matsui said.”
Oh. My. God. Never mind that the County of Maui Corporation Counsel’s office considers the suit by plaintiff Ray Sakamura to be completely baseless. We were far more concerned that we had just seen that (alleged) attack goose firsthand. Had our light bird-watching exercise on a lazy Saturday brought us face to face with a potentially dangerous adversary?
Turns out, no. According to Kealia Refuge Manager Glynnis Nakai, the goose we saw has been a resident of the ponds for a few years. “Somebody raised it, and it showed up a couple years ago,” she said. “It’s domestic. It was either dropped off or it came in on its own.”
And then we breathed a sigh of relief–until we realized that somewhere, on Maui, there exists right now a goose (or possibly duck) that’s allegedly capable of swift, blinding violence…
LINGLE REDEFINES BIPARTISANSHIP
Once again, our little campaign for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by retiring Democratic Senator Daniel Akaka has attracted a little national attention. Earlier it was for Democratic candidate Mazie Hirono‘s appearance in a primary ad with Republican Alaska Congressman Dan Young, who endorsed her candidacy. Now it’s for Linda Lingle’s recent ad spotlighting apparent Democrats who have endorsed her. But according to a Sept. 17 post on the blog Talking Points Memo, at least three of those “Democrats” are actually Republicans:
“Lingle must win over independent voters and some Democrats in order to win in her deep-blue home state in November,” reported TPM. “Lingle’s willingness to reach across the aisle, which she highlights in the new web ad and in other spots, is meant to appeal to those voters. But several of the people featured in the ad appear to be Republican officials and candidates for state office.”
According to TPM, the “Democrats” in Lingle’s ad include Elaine Slavinsky, who ran for the Hawaii state Senate in 2004 as a Republican, Jan Shishido, who was head of the Maui County Republican Party in 2000 and retired Judge Takashi Kitaoka, who has publicly identified himself as a Republican.
Now this is a great campaign!