I was unwrapping today’s Maui News when a yellow handbill—the kind usually found folded beneath windshield wipers in the mall parking lot—marked “Federal Employment! NOW HIRING” fell onto the floor. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised to read that it was from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and that they’re looking to hire more security screeners for Kahului and Kapalua Airports. Or that “minimal requirements” for jobs that could have saved 3,000-plus lives on one mid-September day in 2001 are U.S. citizenship, a high school diploma or equivalency “OR” one year of security experience, English “proficiency” and the ability to pass a background/credit check. Gee, I feel safer already. But seriously, can’t the TSA—which Congress allows to inspect airline passengers without disclosing the laws they operate under, much like some fascist dictatorships that don’t really need to be named here—think of better selling points to recruit security screeners than pushing stuff like “NO PREVIOUS EXPERIENCED REQUIRED” and “Part-Time starting at $13.98 per hour PLUS BENEFITS”?
THURSDAY, July 7
Using today’s terrorist bombings of London’s subway network that killed at least 37 and wounded more than 700 as a pretext, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security raised our vaunted and near-useless threat level from YELLOW to ORANGE, but only for mass transit systems. About three seconds later, our own Governor Linda Lingle likewise upped our own Hawai’i Homeland Security Advisory System Threat Condition Level (HHSASTCL) for mass transit, which is odd since our great state doesn’t have that many busses or trains—beyond the local tourist trolley and such. In any case, both of these alerts come even though security officials admit that “there is no credible threat” to U.S. infrastructure. Now I know we all want to be “safe,” but how come these London bombings are making us thousands of miles away freak out when other bombings—in Iraq, for instance—don’t cause us to miss a step? According to the website Iraqbodycount.net, during the last two weeks of June in Iraq, at least 206 people in Iraq died from suicide car bombs, mortar rounds or just plain gunfire. Is it possible that we’re all freaking out over London because a bunch of white people got blown up, but we’re perfectly willing to live with Arabs getting blasted pretty much every day? What?
FRIDAY, July 8
Super bad news for everyone who hoped 2nd Circuit Court Judge Joseph Cardoza would force the Superferry people to conduct a full environmental review before docking a single ferry in Kahului Harbor. Yeah, that is not going to happen. As The Maui News reported today, Cardoza is perfectly happy with Superferry officials’ view that $40 million in state-funded harbor construction is just a “temporary” improvement, which means no Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is necessary. Never mind that the construction work will be permanently changing the harbor or that federal officials like outgoing Haleakala National Park Superintendent Don Reeser have said the Superferry has the potential of making it easier for invasive species to enter Maui (see “Mountain Man,” July 7, 2005). That’s all incidental! In any case, attorney Isaac Hall, who represents the myriad groups who sued to force an EIS, wants his clients to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
SATURDAY, July 9
Found that Maui County’s Bottle Bill recycling program is just going great. And by “great,” I naturally mean “not at all.” And I don’t mean because some baling machine broke, preventing people from taking in all recyclables except for nickel-deposit plastic bottles. I stopped by the Lahaina redemption center this morning with a couple bags of plastic bottles and found tons of bagged plastic, aluminum and glass, a very nice attendant and no trucks to haul the junk away. What’s more, the guy had no idea when he’d get any trucks. Apparently, residents think recycling is great. Too bad local government hasn’t responded accordingly.
SUNDAY, July 10
Because he recently wrote a letter to the Pacific Business News that said with complete honesty and candidness that visitors “clog our crowded highways, drink our precious water, crowd our overused beaches, stress our sewage treatment plants, require fire and police protection and encourage the conversion of ohana units to transient vacation rentals,” local tourism boosters are attacking Maui County Planning Director Michael Foley. The letter “concerned me because it continues to perpetuate the naysayers,” state tourism liaison Marsha Wienart told The Maui News today on the controversy. Now I understand how people like Wienart make their living by encouraging more and more tourists to visit our fair shores, but I don’t recall reading anywhere in the planning director’s job description that Foley must plant a nice big wet kiss on the visitor industry’s ass every chance he gets.
MONDAY, July 11
Woohoo—the Guardian Angels are opening up shop on Maui! Says so right in today’s Maui News. Those guys kick ass—um, the Angels, not the News. Anyway, I’d always thought that since this island was crawling with Harleys that the biker gang was already here, but hey, I don’t know anything. I remember back on the mainland once—what? Oh yeah, that’s the Hell’s Angels. So who are the Guardian Angels? You mean they’re those pansy-asses in the little red berets and white T-shirts who run around thinking they’re some kind of volunteer militia? Wonderful. And they were brought here by West Maui Representative Kameo Tanaka? Man, the news just gets better and better. Oh wait, I spoke too soon. The News added that the mighty Angels have already broken up an argument and helped a drunk in Lahaina. Hell, if five of them had pulled over a guy for speeding and wrote a couple tickets for drivers not wearing their seatbelts they would have been indistinguishable from the Maui PD.
TUESDAY, July 12
How about this: we tell the TSA to send guys to bus depots and we move the Guardian Angels over to the recycling centers. Then everybody’s happy!
Anthony Pignataro is currently working on a graphic novel adaptation of Casper the Friendly Ghost. MTW