Power Transfers & Aloha Republicans
If someone refuses to accept an obvious solution they either: a) are stupid; or b) don’t see a problem. Castle & Cooke CEO David Murdock—the 183rd richest man in the world according to Forbes—isn’t stupid. So clearly he doesn’t see a problem with putting hundreds of wind turbines on Lanai and transmitting the power to Oahu via undersea cables. And why should he? It’s his island. Of course not everyone on Lanai is thrilled with the plan, which brings us to the obvious solution: to win local support, all Murdock would have to do is let a fraction of the wattage generated by the turbines stay on Lanai. Currently, Lanai residents pay the highest power rates in the state; change that, and you’ll change some minds. Not all minds—some people’s concerns run deeper than a utility bill. But letting Lanai keep a little of its own energy would be significant, both practically and symbolically…. Always nice to be made an example of in a government press release: Two local property owners who were hit with almost $20,000 in combined fines for failing to obtain building permits were the subject of a January 26 County dispatch titled—unimaginatively if descriptively—“Building Without Permits in Violation of County Code Costly for Property Owners.” A Haiku man was nailed to the tune of $10,000 “for doing grading work, plumbing work, constructing a rock wall and building a barn,” while Seashore Properties LLC paid $9,160 to “resolve three disputed Notices of Violation issued to it by County building inspectors” in Paia. What’s interesting about the release is that it’s completely devoid of context: we aren’t told how many other violations, if any, occurred during the same period, or how those fines stack up relative to others. There is also no information about how to obtain building permits and get in compliance with the law. Of course, all that is available elsewhere. But that’s not the point. This is the bureaucratic equivalent of drinking from the skull of your vanquished opponent, which is weird on several levels….
We have some fun with Gov. Lingle’s final State of the State address in this week’s Spin Cycle (page 9), but it actually wasn’t a bad speech. She (mostly) avoided revisionist rearview gazing and petty political swipes, and instead focused on Hawaii’s future. And some of the ideas she outlined—like easing the unemployment tax hike on small businesses, banning new fossil fuel power plants and offering incentives for electric vehicle charging stations and alternative power projects—make sense. Of course, as Sen. Kalani English pointed out in a January 26 Maui News piece, “the rhetorical words were nice, but substance and the meat need to follow.”… If it wasn’t clear before, it is now: Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s political future is quite literally riding on the Oahu rail. The EIS is still stalled, and it’s possible the July deadline to file nomination papers for the 2010 election (when Hannemann is expected to resign as Mayor) could arrive with the project still in limbo. If that happens, Hannemann will be forced to give up his gubernatorial ambitions or hand his opponents a ready-made political cudgel. Heck, Hannemann’s Democratic opponent, Rep. Neil Abercrombie, was already setting up the issue last spring, suggesting in a Honolulu Star-Bulletin report that Hannemann would “abandon his responsibilities” and leave the rail “leaderless.” Let this be a lesson, kids: don’t start any multi-billion dollar transportation projects you can’t finish…. In October 2008, when Lingle was on the Mainland stumping for McCain/Palin, she dismissed Obama’s Hawaii connection (and threw her own state under the bus), pointing out to a Colorado newspaper that Obama never voted or owned a business in Hawaii and saying, cryptically, that “Hawaii is a different part of America.” But now that the Republican National Committee and Lingle’s buddy Michael Steele are catching heat for staging a convention at the Hilton in Honolulu even as they preach fiscal restraint, suddenly Obama’s Hawaii roots are deep and meaningful. “It is a great decision to come to the President’s home state, the most diverse state in America,” Lingle told the Star-Bulletin. Nice to hear she’s had a change of heart….
I’ve been critical of the Democrats’ toothless, insurance company-placating health care “overhaul” ever since they chickened out and took the single-payer option off the table. But please: the election of Scott Brown to fill Ted Kennedy’s vacant Massachusetts Senate seat does not equal a national mandate against anything. There are less than 7 million people in Massachusetts; of those 7 million people, only 1.2 million voted for Scott Brown. That’s less than one half of one percent of the population of the United States. Because of that tiny minority, the latest attempt to fix our broken health care system will likely die a sad, quiet death. And for this, people are celebrating. Golly gee whiz am I proud to be an American. – MauiTime, Jacob Shafer