LIPOA POINT SAVED (AGAIN)!
Looks like Maui County really scored during the recent state legislative session. “Maui legislators secured almost $300 million in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding for various projects across the island,” stated a May 10, 2013 press release from the state House of Representatives’s media office. “The largest single item by far was $130 million over the next two years for construction of the new Kihei High School. Construction is expected to begin in 2015, and the full funding will allow bidding on the whole project, saving the State millions of dollars.”
For Kihei residents, who have been calling for such a school for the last three decades, this is good news indeed. Especially given all the land development that’s been taking place in South Maui (and the many, many construction projects slated to happen), it’s a wonder this wasn’t approved earlier.
And there are all sorts of other goodies in the budget, too. Because, honestly, that’s why we elect legislators, right? So they can send us stuff, which we can either pay for immediately with higher taxes or cuts in other current spending (boo!) or by floating millions or billions of dollars worth of bonds, which future generations of Kihei High graduates will have to pay for (yay!).
Anyway, according to the House press release the Legislature also approved $50 million for land acquisition around Kahului Airport (for more commercial development!), $10 million for a new airport access road there, $9 million for “the design and construction of a new pipeline system for upcountry Maui watershed,” $8 million for “the acquisition of land, and design and construction of a state agricultural park in upcountry Maui” and $3.6 million for “the acquisition of land to develop a new two-lane highway from Kihei to Upcountry Maui.”
And, of course, Honolua preservationists will be happy because (once again), Lipoa Point has been saved! While this is very good news, it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Remember: a year ago the County of Maui considered Lipoa Point preserved land. It was free and clear, as the landowner (that would be the Maui Land & Pineapple Co.) never tired of proclaiming in public.
But then, in August 2012, the company suddenly realized that it couldn’t pay for its own pensioners. So company officials went to the far too sympathetic Maui County Council and convinced enough of them to vote to take the land out of preservation. This necessitated the state to come in and authorize a $20 million bond to buy the land.
Because, as we all know, getting the state to pay for the preservation of land is far better than simply preserving it on your own.
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MAUI NEWS BYLINE MYSTERY ON JUDGED JUDGE STORY
So it looks like Maui has lost a judge to criminal activity. On Thursday, May 9, Maui Family Court judge Mimi DesJardins pleaded no contest to a single charge of tampering with a government record. The state Attorney General’s office originally charged her with 10 counts, but her plea deal brought it down to one. In fact, DesJardins went out of her way not to fight the case, resigning back on April 23, the day the AG first filed a criminal complaint against her.
Even just the one charge was a serious matter. According to The Maui News’ May 10 story on the plea, back in February DesJardins deliberately wrote the wrong time on probable cause documents for defendants who’d been arrested and held for longer than 48 hours, which is a crime. The defendants should have been released, but DesJardins signed and dated the documents as though she’d been given them before the 48-hour time period had lapsed.
There are two odd things about The Maui News coverage of the DesJardins matter. First, their May 10 story (and to a lesser extent, their earlier April 25 story on her resignation) are extremely sympathetic to DesJardins. For a paper that supposedly prides itself on “objective” reporting, the May 10 story gives supportive quotes from four separate attorneys (including DesJardins’ own lawyer) to just one source (the deputy AG who prosecuted the case) quoted on her guilt.
Even stranger is that neither Maui News story on DesJardins carries a byline. Though both stories are based entirely on the public record (the May 10 story largely just covers a sentencing hearing, which is open to the public), the paper chose not to identify the reporter(s) responsible for the story. Some publications (like this one) try to identify the authors of any and all stories. Others, like The Economist, give no bylines. Most publications pick one standard and they stick to it.
Bylines are useful because the let the reader know who did the work on any given story. While it’s reasonable to lift a byline in cases where a reporter’s life might be in danger from, say, a defendant just convicted of murder who swore vengeance on anyone associated with his case, nothing remotely like that happened here. And leaving off a reporter’s name because the association with that particular story might harm the reporter’s relationship with a source or sources isn’t generally considered to be a valid reason.
In any case, Maui News editor Lee Imada didn’t return an email asking for comment.
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HEE APPARENTLY DISLIKES ETHICS OFFICIALS AS MUCH AS REPORTERS
Oh, and on May 9, Honolulu Civil Beat posted an in-depth look at how state Senator Clayton Hee, D-Kaneohe–who recently warped a bill seeking to make permanent Hawaii’s media shield law into perverse anti-reporter junk and contributed more to destroying our state’s legal protections for journalists than anyone else in the Legislature–is also no fan of state ethics laws or Hawaii Ethics Commission executive director Les Kondo:
“A powerful state senator is blocking efforts to strengthen Hawaii’s ethics and campaign spending laws, state officials and nonprofit leaders say,” wrote Civil Beat reporter Nathan Eagle. “They point to Sen. Clayton Hee, chair of the Judiciary and Labor Committee, as the major roadblock to good government and political reform laws.”
Anyway, the Civil Beat story is quite long and detailed and, of course, nauseating. And if you’d like to know more about Hee’s experience with State of Hawaii ethics regulations, check out the killer May 21, 2011 blog post from investigative reporter Ian Lind (who, like MauiTime, is a source of free news and thus not an actual “news organization,” according to Hee’s now-dead shield law amendments) on how Hee wasn’t filling out mandatory ethical disclosure reports until Lind himself wrote about it.