Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa gave his annual State of the County address on Friday, Feb. 24. It was a good speech in which he talked about how his administration helped make the county more efficient but still needs state and federal money to build things like a proper film studio and bus shelters. But near the end came this exceptional plea:
“But in order to succeed we must do one more thing: We must be bold. Because only by being bold can you take advantage of hope. And only by being bold can you affect change.”
Arakawa is exactly right. And when he starts appointing people who believe in civil rights to the Police Commission and the Liquor Control Adjudication Board, and when we start seeing those departments behaving with greater emphasis on compassion and individual liberty, then we’ll know exactly how bold his administration can get.
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NON-PROFIT CHAIRMAN DISSES MAUI NEWS REPORTER
Hey, I would too if she spent the last year kicking my non-profit association’s ass all over the island with a series of stories detailing the County of Maui’s increasingly pointed and critical attempts to find out what, exactly, the 25-year-old Wailuku Main Street Association (WMSA) does with the grant monies it gets (which provide 100 percent of its funding).
Anyway, Tom Cannon (who wouldn’t even talk to me years ago after I wrote a story critical of the WMSA that quoted Jocelyn Perreira, the organization’s executive director) is an architect and chairman of WMSA. I can’t fault the guy for being a bit miffed when The Maui News keeps writing hard-hitting stories about public criticism against WMSA, a pending lawsuit, county officials asking for financial specifics or, on Feb. 24, about how the state Attorney General’s office has decided to start a formal investigation into allegations that the WMSA has violated the state law governing non-profits.
WMSA officials like Cannon have repeatedly denied any and all wrongdoing. Still, I wasn’t too surprised to read in reporter Ilima Loomis’ Feb. 23 story that “Cannon said he would only respond to questions if The Maui News assigned ‘a fair journalist’ to the story” and that “He maintained that past coverage has been biased and untrue.”
Bashing the reporter’s credibility is an old and tired tactic. But what did surprise me was my own independent discovery that Cannon made fun of Loomis’ NAME in a letter he wrote to County Planning Director Will Spence back on Jan. 30.
Brief back story: the county has lately begun asking WMSA officials for specifics on how they’re spending the county’s grant money. WMSA (usually in letters signed by Cannon) has responded that this constitutes “micro-managing” and divulging such information would “betray” the trust given to WMSA, which claims to help individuals who wish to remain anonymous with assistance in getting their development projects through the county planning department.
To illustrate their reasoning, Cannon outlined the following detailed hypothetical situation to Spence in his Jan. 30 letter:
“For example, to illustrate, suppose an individual (Ramod Watt) came to the County with a request that changes to a streetscape be made so that he would be able to visit stores that were inaccessible due [to] various obstructions in the public way, and your department agreed and paid for plans to be created to address Mr. Watt’s concern. Then, prior to implementation of the plans, a merchant who would be personally affected by the plans (say a Mr. Star Hu) comes to you saying that he doesn’t want to have the change made, and you agree to delay or cancel implementation. Then, a Maui News reporter (Ilama Doe Gno) writes an article in support of Mr. Hu’s position that includes [a] statement from you or your staff. Would you inform your funding source (the Council) specifically about your meetings with Watt, Whu, and I. Doe Gno? We think not. And, if you would not be willing to disclose the details of your conversations, as a public official, why do you think it appropriate for us to disclose our private consultations, when we are not a public agency?”
Let’s leave aside the logical discontinuities and contempt for the democratic process inherent in Cannon’s hypothetical illustration. But “Ilama Doe Gno” (Or more accurately, “I. Doe Gno”)?
Get it? Hu’s on first, Watt’s on second and I. Doe Gno is on third!
Is that just precious? Cannon is an Abbott and Costello fan!
That is kinda funny, though if you ask me that whole “Ilama” thing is still pretty messed up.
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ARE HAWAII PUBLIC OFFICIALS JUST BOTS?
So some Investigative Journalism in the Digital Age students at Eugene Lang College in New York have started the Bot or Not Project (botornot.net). This is a simple test that allows Twitter users to see if a particular Twitter account is maintained by an actual human being or is simple a computerized spam-sender–a “bot.”
For fun, we decided to run the Twitter accounts of some of Hawaii’s most important and powerful public officials through the Bot or Not test, just to see if the folks we were interacting with are actually the officials (or, in some cases, their staffs) they claim to be. Here are the results, which as you’ll see, are (and are not) somewhat surprising.
• “We think it is a human but you just never know these days”:
@GilKAOGG (Democratic state Representative Gil Keith-Agaran)
@Lingle2012 (Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda Lingle)
@MazieforHawaii (Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mazie Hirono)
@TulsiGabbard (Democratic U.S. Congress candidate Tulsi Gabbard)
• “We think it’s probably a human (but with bot tendencies)”:
@Daniel_Inouye (Democratic U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye)
@JKalaniEnglish (Democratic state Representative J. Kalani English)
@EdCaseHawaii (Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Ed Case)
@BrianSchatz (Democratic state Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz)
@RozBaker (Democratic state Representative Roz Baker)
• “We think it’s probably a bot (but with human tendencies)”:
@NeilAbercrombie (Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie)
@MufiHannemann (Democratic U.S. Congress candidate Mufi Hannemann)
@DukeAiona2010 (Former Republican Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona)
Finding Hannemann, Aiona and Abercrombie in the bot category won’t be news to anyone who’s seen them speak, but Lingle came out as a human? Who knew?