STATE INSPECTORS TIRED OF INSPECTING NEW THINGS
So it looks like Hawaii won’t be regulating ziplining any time soon. On Feb. 7, the state House Economic Revitalization and Business (ERB) Committee voted to defer HB-2060, a bill that would have established “standards and regulations” for zipline companies and “canopy tour operators” throughout the state.
This normally wouldn’t be big news except for a few small details. First, ziplining is big now. In just a few years, lines have been strung all over Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island. Second, a construction worker building a zipline tower fell to his death on Hawaii Island back in September–the first zipline fatality in U.S. history. And lastly, the bill died under pressure not from the state’s zipline operators, who for the most part cautiously favored the bill, but from the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR), which would have begun inspecting zipline operators.
“We oppose this measure as written as it includes recommendations that are too problematic to implement and would entail higher costs,” noted DLIR Director Dwight Takamine in a Feb. 7 letter to the House ERB committee.
Problematic? Higher costs? Shocking! Who ever would have thought that increased regulations might end up being “problematic” and would incur “higher costs?”
But Takamine continued. Takamine noted that the fees mentioned in the bill wouldn’t even come close to paying for increased inspectors, training and the costs of flying to and from the neighbor islands, where most of the state’s zipline tours are located, which are all valid points. But Takamine’s solution was a bit more problematic:
“The department questions whether owners and operators of ziplines and canopy tours should be allowed to inspect their own equipment in the manner that owner-users do for boilers and pressure vessels,” Takamine added. “The department lacks the expertise to render judgment at this time, but notes that the criteria for owner-users of boilers and pressure vessels are very high standards. Such inspectors hold a national certification, pass examinations prescribed by the department, develop and maintain rigorous self-regulatory regimes approved by the department, and are continuously employed by an inspection agency. Insurance companies authorized to insure boiler and pressure vessels in the state employ special boiler inspectors.”
There’s a good point in there, but in the process Takamina has opened a very big door: why should the state even have a Department of Labor and Industrial Relations inspectors for anything if local companies and trade groups can set up their own inspection teams and regulations?
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WAYNE MONIZ WROTE NEW BOOK
I’m starting to wonder if there’s anything Wayne Moniz can’t write. Seriously–the guy made his name in Hawaii writing plays, which are difficult and confining. If you can’t write effective, meaningful, real dialogue (and many, many writers can’t), then the play fails, pure and simple.
Moniz has written 13 plays. He’s also written screenplays, poetry, musical lyrics and short stories. About the only thing I think he hasn’t yet done is a novel, but novels are easy–you just ramble along until you’re done. It requires none of the discipline or control of short stories, which are much harder by comparison (I know this, having previously written a novel).
Anyway, Moniz is at it again, this time with a new compilation of short stories called Beyond the Reef: Stories of Maui in the World. Published by Moniz’s own outfit Punawai Press in Wailuku, the book officially comes out on March 9.
“Like all his previous works, the Maui native has based these stories on the people, events, and issues of Hawai‘i, with the aim of preserving its rich past, in his own small way,” reads the info blurb on the back of the book. “As in his previous award winning anthology, each yarn is of a different genre: ghost story, comedy, crime, a Western, and, this time, includes several new types: a tragedy, an inspirational story, a coming of age tale, and a sports reminiscence.”
You catch that? Most story writers tend to stick with one genre–I like noir mysteries, but other people prefer sci-fi or vampires or historical. But Moniz likes to jump around and write about everything (well, except maybe vampires, though given an assignment, I’m sure he’d produce a completely compelling and interesting Dracula story).
Though to be honest, Moniz doesn’t just mix up genres within Beyond the Reef–he mixes it up within the stories themselves. Take “The Big L,” for instance, which happens to be my favorite story in the new book. It’s a crime story, sure, based loosely on Maui’s first bank robbery, which occurred back in 1938. It’s full of period gangster talk (as well as pidgin, of course) but it’s also damned funny.
Of course, Maui defies genres, and right now, I can’t think of a better writer on the island who not only understands that, but can accurately recreate it.
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GMO PROTESTERS NEVER SAY DIE
So those crazy kids in Occupy Wall Street-Maui, GMO Free Maui and Occupy Monsanto Maui (on paper, these seem to be different organizations, but in practice, we’re talking the same people) held a “joint effort” this week to draw attention to efforts calling for the labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
“This is the first SIMULTANEOUS PROTEST/rally on THREE ISLANDS, probably since they petitioned not to be annexed by the US!!!” activist Courtney Bruch emailed me a few days before the protest, which took place on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at the Piilani/Mokulele Highway intersection in Kihei. “We will be protesting to call attention to the gmo corn field in full view of the hwy [sic], and because the legislature is dragging its feet in scheduling hearings for a GMO labeling bill for Hawaii.”
By all accounts, the protests on Maui, Oahu and Kauai went well, though given the fact that GMO labeling just isn’t even on the federal government’s list of its Top 100 priorities, it’s hard to be optimistic.