Publisher Tommy Russo parses the tsunami scare, and the coverage of it, in his Publisher’s Note. I’ll add one, sillyish note: I know the Civil Defense sirens are tested on the 1st of every month (as a colleague pointed out, it’s a great/horrible way to play an April Fools joke on a fresh-off-the-plane friend), but couldn’t they have taken the day off on Monday? I mean, the sirens got a pretty decent workout two days before, and despite small notices in The Maui News and on the County Web site, I’m guessing Maui officials fielded a few jittery phone calls that morning….
It’s never good when reporters lose their jobs or when the number of local media outlets shrinks. But, good or not, both of those things will happen once the deal between the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and the Honolulu Advertiser is consummated. In case you missed it, Oahu Publications, which owns the Star-Bulletin, announced plans last week to buy the Advertiser from publishing giant Gannet. Unless someone steps forward to buy the Star-Bulletin (which Oahu Publications had to put up for sale because of anti-trust regulations), the two papers will merge and the bloodletting will commence. Of course, if/when Honolulu becomes a one-daily newspaper town it’ll be far from unprecedented—hell, some mid-sized and even big cities are at risk of becoming no-daily newspaper towns. (Again, see Tommy’s piece for a discussion of the way news is changing, and a reference to a new Oahu media company that I’m sure is watching this story with great interest.)… For the last couple months, I’ve been speculating that Gov. Lingle’s efforts to stall the Oahu rail project might be motivated, in part, by the fact that its main champion, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, could face Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona in the gubernatorial election. Apparently I was wrong. Discussing her recent trip to Washington, D.C., Lingle said she “looked [Transportation] Secretary [Ray] LaHood in the eye and I told him that I wanted him to understand there are no politics involved from my side of this.” And, as we all know, it’s impossible to look someone in the eye in Washington and lie to them…. Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (aka the Akaka Bill) 245-164; it now heads to the Senate, where it’s died repeatedly over the past decade. It may have more momentum now—President Obama has promised to sign it if it lands on his desk. But the bill still has its detractors, including Gov. Lingle. In a statement issued before the House vote, Lingle had this to say: “For more than seven years, my administration and I have strongly supported recognition for Native Hawaiians and supported the Akaka Bill. We have supported a bill that would set up a process of recognition first, followed by negotiations between the Native Hawaiian governing entity, the State of Hawaii and the United States. Once that was completed, it would be followed by the Native Hawaiian governing entity’s exercise of governmental powers and authorities. Amendments made to the bill in December 2009 turned that process around….Ultimately…the current draft of the bill is not one I can support.” Note the repeated use of the word “recognition.” It’s the same logic that underlies the Apology Resolution—we’ll acknowledge you, we might even say we’re sorry, just don’t expect us to give you any actual power…. The two Democrats vying to fill Neil Abercrombie’s vacated 1st District seat, state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and former Rep. Ed Case, appear to have differing views on the special election, which will cost an estimated $1 million. Hanabusa says we can’t afford it, while Case says it’s necessary to bolster Hawaii’s small Congressional delegation. Ironically, the candidate who probably likes the special election the most is Republican Charles Djou, who’s painting himself as a hard-line fiscal conservative in keeping with his party’s national re-branding effort. Djou wouldn’t have a prayer in a head-to-head matchup with either Hanabusa or Case in November, but could sneak in if his opponents split the vote. (For a longer look at all three candidates, see page 7.)…. If you were worried about the government taking away your fireworks, worry no more: SB2365, a bill that would have imposed “a total [statewide] ban on consumer fireworks except for permitted religious or cultural purposes,” has sputtered like a Ground Bloom with a wet fuse. The legislature is still considering creating a task force to study the issue, which is another way of saying we’ll all be choking on sulfur come Independence Day….
Hawaii averted disaster this week, but Chile didn’t. As of this writing the death toll from the 8.8-magnitude quake and its many aftershocks stood at nearly 800, with millions more injured or displaced. As we heave a collective sigh of relief, we should also extend a hand. The Red Cross www.redcross.org is a good place to start.