As these words are being written, a fire is raging above Honoapiilani Highway. Hopefully by the time you read these words it’ll be contained, but we’ll take the opportunity, as ever, to thank the men and women working overtime in the heat and smoke to keep us safe…. Last month, one of MauiTime’s distribution boxes was removed from the sidewalk on S. High Street in Wailuku. Publisher Tommy Russo contacted the County, and after a back-and-forth e-mail exchange with Communications Director Mahina Martin was told it was a state thing. Russo then contacted the state Department of Transportation (DOT). DOT rep Charlene Shibuya confirmed the box had been removed. Russo asked why, after sitting there for more than 10 years, our box had suddenly become an issue. Shibuya responded that a complaint had been filed by the County. When Russo asked which department, he says Shibuya replied, “the Mayor’s office.” Now, we don’t know for certain what led the Mayor’s office to file the complaint or why Martin didn’t know—or chose not to share—that information. What we do know is that last October, County employees confiscated copies of MauiTime from the County building and were caught multiple times by Russo and in security footage obtained by MauiTime. The issue in question featured a caricature of the Mayor as a brain-chomping zombie (it’s since gone on to win some awards). We’re going to keep pursuing this and will try to get our box back on High Street (DOT says we can apply for a permit). In the meantime, we’ll leave it to you to connect the dots…. General Growth Properties—a rather ironic name given the circumstances—disclosed that it will probably lose 13 shopping centers due to their status as “underperforming retail assets,” in a June 3 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. General Growth owns or manages ten properties in Hawaii, including Whaler’s Village and the Queen Kaahumanu Center. None of those properties are on the chopping block for now, and General Growth says it’s on track to emerge from bankruptcy later this year. In April 2009, when the company filed for Chapter 11, it was $27 billion in debt, according to a Pacific Business News dispatch. Kinda puts your credit card balance in perspective….
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser: sounds wrong, but get used to saying it. This week, after a protracted build-up, Oahu’s two dailies officially became one. Technically it was the Star-Bulletin’s parent company (Oahu Publications) that bought out the Advertiser’s parent company (Gannett). But this isn’t about media conglomerates, it’s about readers and a community and the future of journalism. Newspapers are folding all over the country, so it’s easy to dismiss this change as inevitable. But when voices disappear, when the number of outlets sifting and disseminating information decreases, that’s never a good thing. As the Star-Bulletin put it in a concise farewell message posted on its Web site: “The Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin have a long and tangled history together, but in the end, each paper was better for having the other as a sparring partner.”…
We live in an anti-intellectual society. Not buying it? Just look at the way the word “professor” is almost always used as a pejorative. We want “straight talk” from our leaders, which means small words over big ones and reactionary rhetoric over cogent analysis. So it’s sad but not surprising that Obama felt the need to tell NBC’s Matt Lauer that the only reason he’s meeting with experts and gathering information about the BP oil leak is so he knows “whose ass to kick.” Obama went on to add that this isn’t “a college seminar.” Yes a college seminar—a group of educated people discussing important questions and seeking good answers. Who the hell wants that? What we need is some butt whoopin’, American style! I know, people are angry. I’m angry. No one with a pulse can look at this mess and not be angry, especially when BP’s CEO keeps running his stupid mouth. (A little PR tip: shut the hell up.) But this ass-kicking business is nothing more than the same hollow, “smoke ‘em out,” “dead or alive,” “mission accomplished” bravado we got from the last guy. And you remember how well that worked out. So Obama: be decisive, by all means, but be reasonable. Be thoughtful. Hell, be professorial. It may not make you look like a tough guy, but it will make you look like something even better: a President.