On a day when so much is big news: Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa presents his funding priorities to the state legislature; state officials call for 15,000 more affordable homes; GoldenPalace.com pays $25,000 for Captain Kirk’s kidney stone—I’m going to focus on Gladys Baisa’s announcement that she wants the Upcounty County Council seat. Who’s Gladys Baisa? Everyone knows Gladys Baisa—until she recently retired, she’d worked for 21 years as executive director of the non-profit Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO), which provides social services for the county’s neediest residents. A diminutive, extremely friendly woman who always seems to smile and seems to get along great with just about everyone who holds power on Maui. Public officials love her. Police officers love her. Developers love her. Everyone loves her. And for that reason, she will absolutely slaughter anyone who tries to run against her for the seat, currently held by Charmaine Tavares, who’s termed-out and considering running against Arakawa. I mean, no offense to Baisa, but she will massacre her opponent(s). Won’t even be close.
THURSDAY, Jan. 19
FRIDAY, Jan. 20
So Big Ed Case (D, Hawai’i) wants to leave the little old House of Representatives and get a seat in the mighty U.S. Senate. And the path is an easy one, blocked only by one Senator Daniel Akaka (D, Hawai’i). See the problem, folks? See how Case has a big “D” after his name, just like Akaka? Welcome to the Hawai’i Democratic Party. See, it’s not enough that Republicans beat the living hell out of Democrats. The Democrats—and this has been true since, oh, the founding of the party—enjoy whipping each other as much as the GOP enjoys whipping them. And right off the bat, Case is tearing into Akaka, telling us all why we need to drive the senator who voted to give ANWR to the oil drillers clean out of power. “Like all of our Hawai’i, I have the deepest aloha for Senator Akaka and truly honor his decades of selfless service,” said Case in his Jan. 19 campaign kick-off announcement. Okay, so there’s not as much stabbing and biting as I expected. But Case did, in carefully guarded terms, outline in that little bit of seemingly shameless praise, lay out his campaign strategy. Catch how he used the word “decades” to describe Akaka’s experience? That’s a little Washington code word for “ancient.” See, Akaka is 81 (so is Senator Daniel Inouye, but he got overwhelmingly reelected in 2004). And this scares Democrats. “The last thing we want is for both our Senators to leave office at the same time, with all of their accumulated seniority disappearing overnight, leaving our Hawai’i vulnerable while we build it anew from scratch,” said Case, who’s an infantile 53. See how he used “accumulated seniority” in a sentence? That’s called getting off to a good start.
SATURDAY, Jan. 21
And now the hand wringing begins. Senator Akaka told the Honolulu Advertiser today that he doesn’t “feel betrayed” by Case announcing that he wants his Senate seat even though they apparently never discussed it before and they’re all supposedly friends in the same political party. “I won’t say that he was disloyal, but he did not discuss it with the delegation,” Akaka told the paper. “And, if he did, I think the delegation would have tried to persuade him not to run.” Well, duh! Hmm, I’m Ed Case, loyal Democrat, and I’m going to run against another loyal Democrat who’s been in politics nearly as long as I’ve been alive. I think I’ll run and tell the rest of the party! I’m sure they’ll have nothing but support for me! Even more shocking is that Governor Linda Lingle thinks Case’s announcement is a good thing. “It will increase awareness of the upcoming election,” she told reporters. “It should boost voter turnout. And I think anything that involves more people in voting is a positive thing for our state and for our country.” Well, double duh! See, Lingle is a Republican. They could potentially win big here if Case’s gambit backfires and he ends up souring the state’s liberal voters when the November elections finally roll around. All the GOP would have to do is put forward a moderate candidate and they could finally, after all these years, win a U.S. Senate seat in the great state of Hawai’i.
SUNDAY, Jan. 22
MONDAY, Jan. 23
So state assistant superintendent Kathy Kawaguchi wants a thorough looking-over given to the DARE program. This nationwide drug prevention deal, used in most of the state’s elementary schools, brings cops into the classroom in an attempt to steer kids away from smoking the reefer and snorting the coke. It’s also been the target of numerous studies and reports saying its standard of telling 10-year-olds to just say no doesn’t really work. “DARE tends not to be as effective for drug prevention,” Kawaguchi told a state Board of Education committee, according to today’s Advertiser. Though she did add that it does succeed in building a “child partnership” with the fuzz. If this sounds familiar, dear readers, it’s because you’re dear readers and have already read about problems and controversies with the DARE program in the pages of this paper (Barukh Shalev’s “Be Respectful,” Sept. 8, 2005).
TUESDAY, Jan. 24
Looks like we’ve got to put our beloved Hawaiian ahi on that growing list of fish—shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, to name a few—that kids and women who may shortly give birth to kids shouldn’t eat because of high mercury contamination. That’s because new federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) studies show ahi’s mercury content is higher than originally thought. “The federal data are not news to us,” Dr. Linda Rosen, deputy state health director for health resources, is quoted as saying in today’s Advertiser. “[They] are in the range of levels we found in our own survey.” Wait a sec—the state already knew the ahi mercury levels were high, and they’re only mentioning it now? Considering that the Bush Administration wants to let toxic polluters dump more mercury into the environment, shouldn’t they have spoken up sooner?
Anthony Pignataro really, Really, REALLY hates moving. MTW