Reports of pineapple’s demise on Maui were, if not greatly exaggerated, at least premature. From the ashes of Maui Land & Pineapple’s defunct agricultural arm rises Haliimaile Pineapple Company, a venture backed by several former ML&P executives. In a December 31 release, CEO Darren Strand said the company “brings new hope…by immediately saving 65 agricultural jobs with an expectation of adding more in the future.” Of course, the issues that doomed ML&P—and plantation-style ag in general—still loom, but hey, it’s the New Year. If you can’t be optimistic now, when can you?…
On the subject of optimism: You’ll be glad to hear Hawaii’s public school system will be “staying the course,” according to Acting Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, who replaces the recently resigned Pat Hamamoto. That would be the same course that’s gotten us bottom-of-the-heap test scores and the fewest numbers of instructional days in the nation, right? Just checking. (OK, to be fair: as of this writing, there were rumblings that Gov. Lingle and the teachers union might soon reach an agreement to eliminate some furlough days. May I be the first to nominate them for a medal of honor?)…. The hats of former Rep. Ed Case and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa are in the ring, and the two may wind up splitting the Democratic vote in the special election to replace Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who announced this week he’ll officially step down February 28 to spend more time with his gubernatorial campaign. In that case, the beneficiary would be Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou, the lone Republican in the race. Right now, Case—a former member of the conservative-leaning Blue Dog Coalition who defeated Hanabusa under similar circumstances in 2003—is focused on making sure there is a special election. In a January 4 e-newsletter titled “Why We Must Fill Hawaii’s Congressional Vacancy ASAP,” Case wrote that calls to hold the election in conjunction with the September 18 primary show “not only a disrespect for our rights as citizens, but a basic lack of knowledge of how Capitol Hill works and what’s at stake.” What’s at stake for Case, clearly, is a chance to get back to Washington. And he doesn’t want to wait…. Speaking of getting back in the game: This week, Gov. Lingle nominated Ed Kubo to a judgeship in Honolulu’s First Circuit Court, praising him as a man who has “dedicated his career to upholding the law and defending the public against crime.” You may know Kubo from the eight years he spent as Hawaii’s U.S. Attorney. Kubo was nominated to that post by President George W. Bush, and managed to survive the controversial 2006 U.S. Attorney purge, aimed at eliminating those who weren’t “loyal Bushies” (quoting an e-mail written by former Ashcroft underling Kyle Sampson). Not surprising Kubo was spared the axe, since campaign contribution records show he gave $2,000 to Bush/Cheney in 2004. Always nice to see loyalty rewarded…. Gov. Lingle’s decision to thoroughly review the Environmental Impact Statement for the Honolulu rail system—previously noted in this space as a paper-thin excuse to bring up the Superferry—isn’t the only thing delaying construction, but it’s one significant factor, according to a January 3 Honolulu Advertiser dispatch. What’s interesting is that Lingle has a (potential) ulterior motive for stalling the project: one of its main champions, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, could face off against Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona in the gubernatorial election. If he does, a failed rail would make for some slam-dunk attack ads (cue ominous music, an unflattering black-and-white photo of Hannemann and cartoonish footage of a train running off the tracks)….
The arrival of the Kapalua Golf Tournament brings with it inevitable stories about Tiger Woods’s absence and the reasons for it (like the one in the January 5 Maui News titled “Fellow golfers surprised by infidelity revelations.” Because yeah, a billionaire professional athlete cheating on his wife—who saw that coming?). Titillating talk of jilted Swedish models and nine irons bashing through Cadillac windows aside, what this illustrates is how completely the game of golf relies on one man for its popularity. Seriously—close your eyes and try to imagine the PGA without Tiger Woods. Kind of like the beach without the ocean: white, bland and mostly pointless…. While Hawaii remains mired in medical marijuana limbo, California is blazing ahead toward the next logical step: outright legalization. An effort to place the Tax and Regulate Initiative on the ballot in November has reportedly garnered far more than the required 434,000 signatures, and supporters say they hope to raise $10 million (“10 dollars from 1 million people,” according to an Oakland advocate quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle). Similar attempts have failed in the past, most recently in Nevada, not generally known as the capitol of moral austerity. But with the Golden State staring down a $21 billion deficit, and estimates that legalization could raise $1.4 billion in tax revenue, there’s hope that the tide may finally turn. Of course, never underestimate the ability of prohibitionists and the fearful sheep who follow them to harsh everyone’s mellow. Jacob Shafer, MauiTime