English Pot Laws & Royal Pain
Ah, April 2008—the memories we shared: Finland’s Foreign Minister resigned after getting caught sending text messages to a stripper, Blackwater Worldwide’s Iraq “security contract” was renewed, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of lethal injection and, for the first time, Maui Land & Pineapple was on the New York Stock Exchange. Back then, a share of ML&P was valued at $33 and the company’s total “market capitalization” (share price multiplied by the number of shares outstanding) was about $245 million. Flash-forward to the present and ML&P stock is hovering around $4 per share, while its market capitalization has plummeted to $34 million. That’s $16 million below the threshold required to stay on the “big board.” Now, ML&P has 45 days to prove it can turn things around in the next 18 months, or membership in the NYSE club will be added to the growing list of things the company has lost…. “[W]e already legalized medical marijuana, so we should allow the counties to [regulate] the dispensaries,” Senator Kalani English told The Maui News this week. He was talking about a bill he plans to introduce during the upcoming legislative session that would lay the foundation for Hawaii’s voter-approved medical pot law to actually, you know, work. English is also planning to introduce a bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, the first (but important) baby step toward legalization. Of course, as long as we’ve got a Governor who hides behind federal prohibition, it could be a moot point….
Speaking of our illustrious leader: At a public forum on Oahu this week, she said comparing the Honolulu rail project to the Superferry is “silly” and has “no basis in reality.” Well, they’re both large, expensive transportation ventures that required detailed Environmental Impact Statements. Or not, if you believe Lingle: “There was never a requirement for an EIS for the Superferry until it was challenged and went to the state Supreme Court.” That’s technically true, except for the “never” part. You remember Act 2, the special law passed by the legislature and signed by Lingle that allowed the Superferry to run without a completed EIS? No? Well, apparently neither does Lingle, because she also said the Superferry “did not use one dollar of public funding.” As Brad Parsons points out over at the Unofficial Hawaii Superferry Blog (hisuperferry.blogspot.com), convening a special session to pass Act 2 required public funding, as did barge repairs and tug service in Kahului harbor and Department of Land and Natural Resources inspections, not to mention all the ongoing legal fees. In the end, after the spin has been stripped away, Lingle’s argument is simple (and, to use her own words, has no basis in reality): it was OK—and necessary—to push the Superferry through without an EIS, but the rail needs to be deliberately and completely considered…. Last week, I told you that the Honolulu City Council was mulling a bill that would make it possible to name a park after President Obama (and, I guess, all the other “President[s] of the United States born in Hawaii”). Well, they considered it and decided: not yet. Quoted in a Pacific Business News report, Councilman Charles Djou (who’s running as a Republican to fill Rep. Neil Abercrombie’s soon-to-be-vacant seat) said he’d support “eventually renaming an appropriate facility after Barack Obama,” but added, “we should at least wait until after he leaves the presidency.”… As evidenced by the hundreds of church-organized demonstrators who gathered in Wailuku (and across the state) to oppose civil unions this week, that scalding hot button will play a key role in the coming gubernatorial election. If the issue matters to you one way or the other, here’s where the leading candidates stand: Abercrombie supports civil unions; Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona and Mayor Mufi Hannemann (who stayed quiet on the issue for a while) don’t. Joining Aiona at a rally on Oahu, Hannemann came all the way out of the closet, reportedly telling the crowd he believes “in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.” As with all people who make that claim, he failed to adequately (or, for that matter, inadequately) explain how extending marriage rights to same-sex couples threatens that sanctity….
There’s bad press, there’s insanely bad press and then there’s this: As the chaos and suffering in Haiti deepen, Florida-based Royal Caribbean Cruises has decided to go ahead and dock its ships there anyway. As first reported in London’s The Guardian, less than 100 miles from the earthquake’s epicenter, cruise-goers are living large on a private beach “enjoy[ing] jetski rides, parasailing and rum cocktails delivered to their hammocks.” In a statement posted on the company’s Web Site, CEO Adam Goldstein said Royal is “making a very valuable contribution to the relief effort by offloading supplies” and “generating economic activity for the straw market vendors, the hair-braiders and our 230 employees…” That’s right, folks—they’re doing it for the hair-braiders. Who says there’s no such thing as corporate compassion? – MauiTime, Jacob Shafer