Filled out your Census yet? According to the latest figures from the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, there’s a 1 in 3 chance you haven’t. Only 65 percent of Hawaii households had mailed back their forms as of April 23, tying us with Oklahoma for the fifth-lowest return rate in the nation. (Many parts of Maui County, including Molokai, Lanai and East Maui are doing considerably worse.) Census workers will start going door-to-door next week, at a cost of more than $50 per home. If you think that sounds like a waste of taxpayer money, there’s something you can do: answer the ten questions, lick the envelope and be done with it…. “He doesn’t really ride waves so much as fly them, soaring above the sea foam upside down and spinning the nose of his board in whiplash twists…it’s a sight to behold. Sorry, but humans can’t do that, you keep thinking. Then he goes and does it all day long.” That’s Rolling Stone writer Paul Solotaroff, describing Maui’s Clay Marzo in a penetrating April 15 story titled “The Surfing Savant.” Of course, we’ve been giving Marzo ink for years, since he was an up-and-coming grom following in the footsteps of his big brother, Cheyne. Most recently, in September 2008, contributor Beau Ewan profiled Marzo, who has Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder characterized by social ineptitude but also intense, obsessive focus. Here’s an excerpt from Beau’s story, “Hope Floats”: “The intricacies of Marzo’s mind ultimately remain a mystery. Perhaps the only thing we know for certain is that his impact on his sport is already something far beyond videos, advertisements and contest results. And through it all, Clay just wants to go surfing.”….
OK, now she’s just trying to piss them off. This week, Gov. Lingle proposed a bold new approach to getting students back in the classroom for the three remaining Furlough Fridays on the current school calendar: teachers and administrators can work for free. Brilliant! Why didn’t they think of it before? “I have met teachers, principals and education officials who tell me they want to return to the classroom. This is encouraging,” said Lingle in an April 25 statement. “I therefore am calling upon teachers and principals to voluntarily agree to come back for the remaining three days this school year. This would be a welcome and significant gesture to heal our community.” Hawaii State Teachers Association President Wil Okabe told the Honolulu Advertiser Lingle’s suggestion, if implemented, would violate the union’s pact with the state and is thus illegal. Setting that aside, if Lingle actually wanted the teachers to consider her proposal, she would have brought it up behind closed doors and let them pretend it was their idea. But then, the goal isn’t–and never has been–to find a workable compromise, but rather to trade snide sound bites and score cheap political points. Whether you blame Lingle or the union (or the correct answer: both), one thing is clear: this relationship redefines dysfunctional. And, as is the case with many dysfunctional relationships, the kids are caught in the middle…. The tax-exempt status of churches has always bothered me (whatever happened to giving Caesar what is Caesar’s?), but at least they should have the decency to actually be churches. According to the group Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of Church and State (HCSSC), two properties on Oahu owned by the Catholic Church have been enjoying the benefits of religious institutions while raking in the profits of hotel-convention centers. “The Catholic Church is potentially costing the residents of Hawaii more than $1 million in fines and uncollected taxes,” claims an April 12 HCSSC release. “Zoning and land use violations jeopardize the safety and security of guests as well as the economic interests of all Hawaii citizens.” HCSSC says it’s filed complaints with the city, state and the IRS. According to the Advertiser, both the St. Stephen Diocesan Center and the St. Anthony Retreat Center (which, a quick check of the City of Honolulu’s online property tax records reveals, has an assessed value of $7.637 million) claim to be “unaware of any violations.”…
Overheard this week on Hawaii News Now, regarding Obama and the Dems’ financial regulation bill, which fell a few votes shy of passage in the Senate and (shockingly) got zero GOP support: “Republicans say they may submit a bill of their own.” Oh they may, may they? In that case, I may consider them something other than petty, partisan obstructionists who would vote against a bill proclaiming that puppies are cute and shouldn’t be boiled alive in weapons-grade plutonium if Obama supported it. Then again, I may not.