Even without the election of Republican Donald Trump to be President of the United States, this was a monstrous year. We’ve had to deal with job losses, outrageous giveaways to big business and just a general slide away from democratic protections and open government assurances. We like to think of Hawaii (and Maui especially) as existing outside the world’s troubles, but it’s clear that FEAR has truly been the watchword for 2016. And it’s likely 2017 will be even worse. So sit back, relax, maybe take a swig of something strong and revisit with us the year’s highs and lows (way more of the latter than the former) in Maui County.
On Jan. 1, the legal smoking age in the State of Hawaii rises from 18 to 21 years of age. State officials say that much of the reason for this change comes from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) studies showing that “one in four high school students and one in 13 middle school students are current users of tobacco products” (though even state officials admit that the use of tobacco in Hawaii has been declining since 2000)… Though Komoda’s Bakery in Makawao won’t officially celebrate its centennial until November, we celebrate early with a cover story on the venerable sweet shop. “We are so blessed with the loyalty of our customers,” bakery patriarch Calvin Shibuya tells us… Just six days into the new year, Alexander & Baldwin (A&B) announces that it will close the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (HC&S) mill–the last sugar operation in Hawaii–at the end of the year. This single announcement will touch off a year of complex feels: nostalgia, worry over the fate of the mill’s nearly 700 workers, hope that A&B really will keep to its promise to convert much of its 37,000 acres into “diversified agriculture” and, yes, joy at the impending end of cane burning. But have no fear, says anthropologist Carol MacLennan–the plantation mill may be closing, but the plantation itself will stay. “Sugar production is ceasing, but A&B is still there,” she tells me. “You still have a major company with say over the acreage”… Speaking of A&B, an Oahu judge smacks them good this month, ruling that for the last 15 years or so, the state has been illegally granting permits to the company so it can divert East Maui stream water, The Maui News reports. The next logical step is to stop the diversions, but no one can say when (or if) that will happen… County of Maui officials release a $70,000 report saying the county needs to start a public power utility co-op. Sierra Club Hawaii loves the idea, and, of course, Maui Electric Co. (MECO) hates it, but MECO and the county haven’t been getting along lately, mostly because of the county’s big waste-to-energy proposal from Anaergia Services (which, by the way, isn’t really going anywhere right now anyway)… Maui artist, writer, performer and treasure Pat Masumoto dies. Many creative, wonderful people will die this year around the world, but Masumoto’s death hits very close to home. Maui will always be a less colorful place now… Hawaii News Now reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is taking over “a theft and bribery case involving multiple Maui police officers.” So it goes…
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announces on Feb. 2 that it’s discovered four entirely new species of marine algae (“limu”) in Hawaiian waters deeper than previously thought possible. “These findings redefine our understanding of algal distributions in Hawaii, and hint at the great number of other new species that are likely to be discovered in the future from these amazing deep-water reefs,” says Papahanaumokuakea research specialist Daniel Wagner… Given that last year’s search for a new County Liquor Control Director is completely trashed, the Liquor Commission decided to start over with new applicants. But just four people in the entire county step forward (shocking, I know): current LC Deputy Director Traci Fujita-Villarosa, former LC Deputy Director Glenn Mukai, current LC Officer Layne Silva (son of retired Director Frank Silva) and current LC Officer Karilee Yoshizawa (daughter of Mukai). I’ve got a bad feeling about this… A mere 26 years after the Hawaii State Auditor recommended modernizing the state’s payroll system, the Hawaii Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS) announces that it will do exactly that. We’re assuming this means the state will finally stop using payroll form D-55, last revised in 1977 (the 1989 Auditor’s report specifically mentioned this form, saying using it instead of computers made payroll accounting unnecessarily burdensome). Hey, better late than never, right?… Maui Police officers arrest Maui Police Officer Carlos Frate for “violating a Warning Citation [that] was issued as a result of an Abuse of Family and or Household Member investigation,” states a MPD news release issued on Feb. 17. And so it goes… On Feb. 18, Maui Rep. Kaniela Ing, D–Kihei, is scheduled to appear in Second District Court on a citation for allegedly lacking auto insurance. Though no one outside the court knows it, Ing doesn’t attend the hearing, leading to the judge handing down a $250 bench warrant. Uh oh… On Feb. 25, the county’s best wonks (otherwise known as the Special Committee on County Governance) gather in the Maui County Council chambers to discuss whether it might be cool to change the county away from a strong mayor type of government to one using an appointed “county manager.” Even if they agree, doing so will require a ballot measure, and if these guys want to get something up for a vote in 2018, they better act fast… U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D–Hawaii, endorses Senator Bernie Sanders, D (but normally I)–Vermont to be the Democratic Presidential candidate. Though most pundits are predicting that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be the nominee, Gabbard insists that Sanders “will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity.” At the same time, Gabbard resigns her post as Vice Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, which was leaning hard for Clinton.
Two days into the month County Planning Deputy Director Michele Chouteau McLean sends letters to six Ka‘anapali resorts telling them to get their public parking in order. It’s about damned time!… On Mar. 8, Hawaii Republicans hold their presidential caucus and maybe-billionaire Donald Trump wins. Well, he took the largest share of the vote, 42 percent, which means he wins the state. Notably, none of the state’s Republican elite had backed Trump–former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona wanted Senator Marco Rubio to win, while former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou had backed Ohio Governor John Kasich. As for state Senator Sam Slom–the only Republican in the Hawaii Senate–he first wanted neurosurgeon/loon Ben Carson before switching to Senator Ted Cruz. See, everybody loses!… There are many celebs (Woody Harrelson!) and power-brokers (David Cole!) applying for a medical marijuana dispensary license, but none are quite like drug warrior Don Shearer. Since the 1980s, his company Windward Aviation has flown marijuana eradication flights in Hawaii for the police and federal government. What’s more, he agreed to sit down with us to explain why he wants to open a medical marijuana dispensary. “Almost everyone I know in law enforcement would want to do this if they could,” he says…. Well, the Liquor Commission does it again: After meeting for nearly half an hour in closed session during its early March hearing, it utterly fails to vote on a clear choice to be the new director. So they do what all good panels of political appointees do: they give up and threw the whole thing into the lap of the new Liquor Commission, which formally starts work in April… A new study in Marine Pollution Bulletin seems to show that waste from South Maui injection wells is forming a plume in the waters just off Kihei that’s a threat to coral. “Of particular concern is Cove Park, directly next to Kalama and and the center of the wastewater plume from the Kihei WWRF [wastewater reclamation facility],” states the study. “Cove Park remains a popular beach for tourists and recreationists who are largely unaware of current WQ [water quality] impairments”… You think that’s bad? Richard Zeebe, a professor at University of Hawaii’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology says that new findings show that the earth’s climate is changing at a rate 10 times faster than during any event in the last 66 million years. “Everyone is focused on what happens by 2100,” Zeebe says in a Mar. 21 news release. “But that’s only two generations from today. It’s like, If the world ends in 2100 we’re probably OK! But it’s very clear that over a longer timescale there will be much bigger changes.” Don’t you feel better now?… On Mar. 26, Hawaii Democrats decide that they prefer Senator Sanders to Secretary Clinton, by a pretty wide margin, in the Hawaii Democratic Caucus. That’s right–Sanders wins with 71 percent of the vote. Given that at this point in the race Clinton is still leading Sanders in both pledged delegates and Superdelegates, it’s looking increasingly likely that Hawaii voters are going to be disappointed when the Democratic convention rolls around this summer… Makena Beach & Golf Resort officials announce on Mar. 29 that the resort will close in July to make way for luxury condos. This seems to contradict a letter the resort sent to its nearly 400 employees just two weeks earlier, assuring them that there would likely be no sale in 2016. “It is important to confirm that no date has been established and as things stand right now we do not expect to have a date before the end of this year,” Makena Resort GM Declan McCarthy says in the letter. I can already see that there will be many casualties this year, but irony won’t be one of them.
Retired Maui News reporter and columnist Ron Youngblood dies at the age of 73. When he retired from the paper in 2009, he “averaged writing about 320 editorials a year [and] edited the 4,000 or more letters to the editor the paper received annually,” according to the paper… Maui Tomorrow releases a new report that shows how the county can create more agricultural jobs while still providing effective and environmentally responsible stewardship of the land (it’s viewable at FutureOfMaui.org). “This is an opportunity to go back to the values that Maui people were raised with,” says Alika Atay, an activist and Maui County Council candidate… Olowalu Town developers withdraw their petition before the state Land Use Commission (LUC) to build 1,500 homes and a host of commercial structures in the tiny Westside village, quietly ending a massive (and massively controversial) project that was decades in the making… Maui’s own voyaging canoe Mo‘okiha O Pi‘ilani finally gets a proper home in Ma‘alaea Harbor. It’s the first such canoe built on Maui in 600 years… The U.S. Postal Service issues a new stamp honoring Haleakala National Park, as part of a news series of stamps dedicated to national parks. The stamp shows the dormant volcano covered in clouds, with a rainbow cascading over it. “Much of Haleakala’s beauty comes from its rainbow-colored rocks,” says Kevin Ebi, the photographer who took the image that graces the stamp. “The rainbow in the sky complemented that nicely”… One day after state legislators carve a special exemption for A&B into House Bill 2501, which will now give the company special “holdover permits” to keep taking East Maui water (even though the impending closure of their thirsty sugar operation means they won’t need so much water in the future), A&B announces that they will “fully and permanently restore” a few taro streams in East Maui. Aww, how generous of them… Hawaii News Now reports on Senate Bill 2439, introduced by Maui Senator Gil Keith-Agaran, which reaffirms the public’s right to photograph police officers on duty (the bill, Keith-Agaran says, was inspired by MauiTime Publisher Tommy Russo’s arrest back in November 2012 for photographing cops on Haleakala Highway–though a judge threw out the case, prosecutors have appealed the ruling). Gotta take the good with the bad… State officials finally announce medicinal marijuana dispensary licensees. On Maui, this means good news for former Maui Land & Pineapple Company CEO David Cole, bad news for Woody Harrelson (and Don Shearer, for that matter).
Following up on MauiTime’s story in March about possible injection well effluent leaking into the waters off Kihei, the Maui Nui Marine Resource Council holds an all-day workshop on South Maui water quality at the Humpback Whale Sanctuary offices. It’s apparently a grim day. “As human population increases on islands with highly visible limitations on the ecosystem, it is important to understand factors such as wastewater that can alter the ecosystem,” states the program on the talk by marine ecologist Dr. Eric Brown. “Over the past 20 years numerous studies have examined the impact of human wastewater in coral reef ecosystems and identified several key stressors that negatively influence coral reef organisms when present in excess quantities. These stressors include freshwater, dissolved inorganic nutrients, endocrine disrupters, pathogens, solids, heavy metals, and toxins”… What, you’re still here? Cool, because we got some juicy stuff coming up… In case you were worried, the state Senate votes to approve HB 2501. “The most important thing to understand about HB 2501 is that the Legislature is circumventing a January state court ruling that found A&B had been illegally diverting water for 15 years,” Civil Beat’s Chad Blair writes. Nonetheless, Maui Senators Keith-Agaran and Roz Baker vote for the bill, while J. Kalani English votes against it… Speaking of English, an arsonist fire-bombs his Hana home for who knows what reason. No one is injured, but it’s an unsettling attack… Bad news for Maui County Corporation Counsel Pat Wong–his latest financial disclosure form indicates he only won between $1,000 and $9,999 gambling in Las Vegas last year. Given that he was raking in at least $50,000 a year playing cards in the years up to my June 2015 cover story on Wong’s love of Vegas gambling, I can’t help but think that maybe I jinxed him… The Liquor Commission finally chooses a new director! They end up selecting Glenn Mukai, but at least the got someone (former director Frank Silva retired last fall). Of course, the commission opted for someone with a nepotistic connection to the office (pretty much a requirement given the fact that Silva’s two sons worked for him these past years), but the important thing here is we can all finally move on to the LC’s next travesty of justice… A new report commissioned by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) confirms what most of us out here have known for some time: sharks love Maui best of all. “Overall, our results suggest the insular shelf surrounding Maui Nui is an important natural habitat for Hawaii tiger sharks, and consequently large tiger sharks are routinely and frequently present in the waters off ocean recreation sites around Maui,” states the report. “This may explain why Maui has had more shark bites than other Main Hawaiian islands, although we cannot exclude differences in the numbers of ocean recreation activities between Maui and other islands as the primary cause of inter-island differences in shark bite rates.”
Though Rep. Gabbard is very popular in Hawaii’s Second Congressional District, and is widely expected to cruise to reelection, Maui activist and author Shay Chan Hodges files to run against her in the Hawaii Democratic Primary Election. Her reason–Gabbard isn’t nearly as liberal as her constituents, noting specifically that Gabbard has introduced legislation in the House of Representatives that’s backed by far-right-wing billionaire Sheldon Adelson, has repeatedly criticized the Obama Administration’s military actions in the Middle East and has supported legislation that would make it more difficult for refugees from the murderous Syrian civil war to seek refuge in the U.S…. In a story right out of a cheap detective novel, news breaks that Alexandria Duval (aka Alison Dadow) allegedly murdered her twin sister Anastasia Duval (aka Ann Dadow) by driving their Ford Explorer off a cliff in East Maui. Turns out both sisters reportedly used to live high in Palm Beach while running some sort of yoga studio that may have gone bad. On June 7, Maui Police arrest the surviving sister, who was driving the SUV at the time, on suspicion of murder… Wow, that was fast: not long after her arrest, Judge Blaine Kobayashi throws out the arrest of Alexandria Duval (Alison Dadow), citing a lack of evidence. For reasons I suspect we can all understand, Duval/Dadow immediately boards a plane for New York… Brian Kohne, maker of the great 2010 movie Get a Job, wraps up filming on his new picture Kuleana. Though Get A Job was a comedy, this new film is a drama. Hope we won’t have to wait too long to see it in the theater… Haleakala National Park officials call for public comment on their plan to use “non-lethal and lethal methods” to remove feral goats, pigs, dogs and axis deer from Nu‘u. “Management and removal of feral animals will provide protected habitat for endangered ‘ua‘u, and potentially other federally listed or candidate species,” states the park’s Environmental Assessment for their plan. Laurelee Blanchard of Leilani Farm Sanctuary immediately cries fowl: “Alexander & Baldwin could dedicate a couple hundred acres of land (that was once used to grow sugarcane) to provide a safe sanctuary for the relocation of feral goats, deer, and pigs who are deemed to be ‘invasive,’ she says… Former Maui Mayor/Hawaii Speaker of the House Elmer Cravalho dies on June 27 at the age of 90. Unquestionably a giant in both state and county history, he was also brilliant, tempermental and cunning… Wow, Gov. Ige signs SB 2439. Didn’t see that one coming. Of course, he also signs SB 2501, which we totally saw coming… Remember that county manager proposal? Well, it’s as dead as Muhammad Ali, who sadly also died this month.
A big brushfire apparently caused by a downed power line in Ukumehame leads to the closure of the Pali and calls from Mayor Alan Arakawa for a new West Maui road. “Last night’s brushfire was a perfect example of why we need an alternate route to and from West Maui, “Arakawa says on July 3. “Our residents and visitors can be cut off at any time due to a brushfire, rockslide or even a bad traffic accident, as they were yesterday. Even I was stuck in Lahaina last night and was forced to take the back road out, which is not made to handle heavy traffic.” All good reasons, and here’s another: rising sea levels due to climate change are already eating away at the the coast, and will sooner or later force the road to move inland… During a deadly active shooter situation on July 7, Dallas Police attach explosives to one of the bomb-defusing drones, then launch it a sniper who’s killed five cops and wounded five others (as well as two civilians). It’s an unprecedented act for a municipal police department in the U.S. and there needs to be serious, national discussion on whether it’s a good idea for cops to use robots for this purpose. Curious, the next day I ask the Maui PD if they can do the same thing with their Avatar II drone, which they got in 2014. “Our robot has that same capability,” MPD Lt. Gregg Okamoto tells me. Oh, joy… The state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) kills the proposed NextEra/Hawaiian Electric merger in a 2-0 vote (one commissioner abstains). The panel did so, according to KITV, because the companies “did not demonstrate that the application is reasonable and in the public interest.” So it goes… The Hawaii Democratic Party’s LGBT Caucus issues a statement of “strong support” for Democratic Second District congressional candidate Shay Chan Hodges, but not for incumbent Tulsi Gabbard. There is much back-and-forth arguing between Gabbard’s campaign and the caucus, but ultimately Gabbard’s people say no big deal because they already got an endorsement from the Human Rights Campaign, so there. Isn’t politics beautiful?… MauiTime gets an anonymous tip that says asks there’s an active bench warrant out on Maui Rep. Ing, D–Kihei. Court records indicate this is true, so we call him. Apparently after getting that call, Ing surrenders himself to the MPD, where he’s booked and released with a new court hearing on Aug. 25.
When it becomes clear to just about every Democrat in the nation that Hillary Clinton will clinch the presidential nomination, Rep. Gabbard steps away from Sanders and endorses Clinton for president. “Now, given the remaining choices, I–like Bernie Sanders–will be casting my vote for Hillary Clinton,” Gabbard says. “Moving forward, as a veteran and someone who knows firsthand the cost of war, I will continue to push for an end to counterproductive interventionist wars, and lead our country down a path toward peace”… At the Aug. 10 Liquor Commission hearing, new Director Glenn Mukai reveals that his department has put the screws to 45–Forty-Five!–establishments that handed in liquor license-renewal applications with errors (in some cases, the errors were trivial). Oh, and Mukai also admits that he broke the office of former Deputy Director Tracy Fujita-Villarosa (Mukai gave her two-days notice when he took over), and still can’t explain the room’s “foul odor” that even a Haz-Mat team failed to get rid of… There’s another firebomb attack of state Senator English’s home in Hana, this time causing $2,500 in damage (though again, no injuries), Maui Now reports on Aug. 16… The Hawaii Primary Election happens, and once again, incumbents lead the way. In the closely watched races, Gabbard beats Chan Hodges (not a surprise) while Ing handily beats back challenger Deidre Tegarden (kind of a surprise, given the recent revelations about Ing’s bench warrant). In fact, after crunching the numbers, it’s clear that during the race Ing’s campaign spent $19.30 per vote and won while Tegarden’s campaign spent an astonishing $79.15/vote and lost. Oh, and in the open race to replace Maui County Councilmember Mike Victorino in the Wailuku seat, County Managing Director Keith Regan loses badly, even though he spent a whopping $111,473 on the race. That’s good news (Regan’s view that what’s good for Mayor Arakawa is good for the county is completely incompatible with honest government) but even better news is that Shaka Movement activist Alika Atay makes it through the Wailuku Council seat primary. He still has to beat former Councilmember Dain Kane in November, but given that Kane hasn’t won an election since 2006, there’s at least a fair chance of that, right?… Pacific Whale Foundation announces that they’ve spotted the first humpback whale of the season in Maui waters, but given the fact that it’s still August, it’s clear that something is off. And sure enough, the whale is encrusted with whale lice, which are naturally occurring but usually only appear on sick or injured whales.
Two hurricanes (Madeline and Lester) come precariously close to Hawaii, but do little damage aside from washing a bunch of debris onto Baldwin Beach, closing it for a few days. Still, they scare the hell out of just about everyone on Maui, which is saying something given that everyone’s already jittery over the fight for Maui Memorial Medical Center. Yes, Kaiser Health Systems is supposed to take over all Maui hospitals, but delays mean that MMMC will likely have to cut services… From fear, we shift to anger: on Sept. 8, the Associated Press reports that much of the fish we eat in Hawaii comes from foreign crews working under near-slave conditions. “Hundreds of undocumented men are employed in this unique U.S. fishing fleet, due to a federal loophole that allows them to work but exempts them from most basic labor protections,” states the AP report. “Many come from impoverished Southeast Asian and Pacific nations to take the dangerous jobs, which can pay as little as 70 cents an hour.” Many local restaurants buy fish from this fleet… You should take a break and get a sandwich or some musubi–you’re going to need it for what’s coming up soon… The U.S. Congress passes the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act, sponsored by our own Sen. Brian Schatz. Because really, what possible harm could come from further commodifying native Hawaiian culture for tourists?… Big demonstrations of residents protesting seawall construction in Olowalu help convince state officials to restripe the highway instead of doing a bunch of construction that would have been harmful to the coast… Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump finally says that he believes President Barack Obama was born in the United States (no shit, dumbass!) but then says Hillary Clinton started the slander that Obama is from Kenya, which is just another outrageous lie. Look, since it’s likely we’re going to have to deal with Trump for at least a few more months (if there’s a god, it will just be a few more months), then everyone should understand something: Every thing Trump says for public consumption is a lie. Everything. He’s a small boy trapped in a greasy game show host’s body, and to get attention he lies and throws around petty, stupid insults. Please keep this in mind the next time Trump says something outrageous, which will probably happen five minutes from now… U.S. Rep. Mark Takai, D-Hawaii’s First District, dies of pancreatic cancer at the much too early age of 49. Takai “carried this aloha spirit with him wherever he went,” Rep. Gabbard recalls. “He shared it with everyone that he came into contact with”… President Obama signs the NATIVE Act because, well, America… More than 500 people show up for the Lahaina Town Clean Up. Given that this annual event started just a dozen years ago with a mere handful of friends trying to clean up the town, that’s pretty damned good… Guess how many of the 166 rape kits used by the Maui Police Department since 1999 have actually been tested. No seriously, guess–I’ll wait… SIXTEEN! That’s according to a new report by the Hawaii Attorney General’s office.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), MauiTime learns that U.S. Army Intelligence maintained a brief but classified file on then-Speaker of the House Elmer Cravalho in the late 1950s. The reason? Cravalho’s close ties to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). See, the commies scared the army and FBI so bad they considered unions like the ILWU a threat to national security. Thank goodness those times of paranoid delusion are long over… They’re really over, right? I mean, the CIA, FBI and U.S. military are larger and more powerful than ever, but they wouldn’t run roughshod over the constitution in their zeal to confront imaginary enemies like during the Cold War, right? Say something!… Oh hey, check this out: Rep. Gabbard writes to Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking her to for more information on news that Yahoo scanned hundreds of millions of personal emails at the behest of the U.S. Intelligence community. Can we even consider ourselves citizens of a democratic republic anymore, instead of mere subjects to corporate-military oligarchy? Yeah, thought so… The Maui News obtains a letter from Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa to Councilmember Don Couch saying that he will “suspend” the county Planning Department’s work on community plans because, as he believes, the planning process is broken (Couch tells The Maui News that he agrees with Arakawa). Missing from this story is any reasonable discussion about how the process isn’t broken, but the Planning Department–hobbled by a bad plane crash last year and staffing cuts–is clearly broken. But that puts responsibility for the slow roll-out of community plans on Arakawa’s desk, and we can’t do that… State Rep. Angus McKelvey, D–West Maui, gets a far easier reelection campaign when the Maui PD arrests his Republican opponent Chayne Marten on five charges of first degree sexual assault, three charges of third degree sexual assault and one charge of endangering the welfare of a minor… Here’s more good news: University of Hawaii researchers discover that ocean-level records may actually have been leading scientists to underestimate the magnitude of sea level change during the 20th century. That’s right kids, the world’s oceans are rising at a faster rate than previously thought… But Chef Sheldon Simeon of Tin Roof and old Migrant is returning to the new season of Top Chef in December, Bravo Network announces. So at least there’s that… The Grand Jury in Maui County votes to indict Alexandria Duval for allegedly killing her twin sister back in May. Given that Duval long ago flew to New York after being told there was no case against her, this is rather awkward…
Lahaina Cannery Mall hosts the first ever Maui Comic Con on Nov. 5 and 6… North Shore residents gather to hear why an investment group should get to lease Old Maui High for $1/year for some sort of tech/education/agriculture campus. Needless to say, many people aren’t particularly pleased with the plans… This year, being what it is, Baby Donald gets elected president (though he manages to do so while losing the popular vote count to Clinton by more than two million votes–an astonishingly poor performance that robs him of whatever “mandate” he may choose to assume). Here’s to four years (assuming we’re all lucky enough to avoid global nuclear holocaust and Republicans find it in their hearts to continue letting us have elections) of childish rants, monumental conflicts of interest stemming from the businesses he owns, racist appeals to white supremacists and endless lies about even stupid shit. But that’s America, right?… In other election news, most Maui County incumbents once again win reelection (including Kaniela Ing, who’s still dealing with the case of his alleged expired auto insurance), with one notable exception: Maui County Councilmember Don Couch, who represents South Maui, loses to Pacific Biodiesel co-founder Kelly King. Councilmembers Mike Victorino and Gladys Baisa were both termed out, and their replacements will be Alika Atay (aka not Dain Kane!) and Yuki Lei Sugimura. This means a whole new reality on the Maui County Council, which starts on Jan. 2. This is, assuming County Council Chairperson/tourist industry shill Mike White doesn’t become even more power-mad… Maui County Planning Director Will Spence and Deputy Director Michelle Chouteau McLean pen an op-ed in The Maui News stating that the planning process “is broken” and they need to start “evaluating our governing statutes.” The fear from activists is that this means they want to start chopping into County Code Chapter 2.80B, which gives community plans the force of law. Given the new County Council members that just got elected, Spence and Arakawa don’t have a lot of time to play with… A federal appeals court throws out the Shaka Movement’s anti-GMO ballot measure, which was approved by the voters two years ago. “The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded Friday [Nov. 18] that Hawaii state pesticide law is comprehensive, and that the Legislature intended it to be ‘uniform and exclusive of additional, local rules,’” Civil Beat reports after the ruling… For reasons she never chooses to explain publicly, Rep. Gabbard doesn’t sign a letter with 169 of her Democratic congressional colleagues denouncing President-Elect Trump’s decision to make white nationalist Stephen Bannon his “chief strategist.” But Gabbard does meet with Trump on the morning of Nov. 21. Though the Washington press corps tweets that Gabbard is under consideration for a host of jobs, she emerges from the meeting to say they talked about foreign policy and the war in Syria… Former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke tweets that he wants Rep. Gabbard to be Trump’s Secretary of State, but Gabbard tweets nothing but scorn back at him (though in a way few of her followers probably saw): “No thanks. Ur white nationalism is pure evil”… A handful of Maui High teachers and students rally against hate at the school on Nov. 22. It’s the brightest moment in an otherwise bleak month.
Near the four-hour mark of the Dec. 2 Maui County Council hearing, the council approves Chairperson White’s request to suspend normal hiring procedures and install former Arakawa budget director Sandy Baz in the Office of Council Services. Councilmember Don Guzman vehemently opposes the measure, but it passes anyway. Councilmember Riki Hokama uses the occasion to deliver a vague, rambling series of threats to the OCS staffers, insinuating that many of them won’t have jobs come Jan. 2… New crime stats show that though overall crime in Hawaii has slightly dropped this year, property crime and violent crime rose (the latter somewhat significantly) in Maui County. “Maui County’s crime rates increased for six of the ten Index Crime offenses, with a notable increase of 86.4% for arson,” states the new 2015 Crime in Hawaii report from the state Attorney General’s office. “Maui County reported the highest statewide rates for total, violent, and property crime indexes, as well as rape, aggravated assault, and larceny-theft”… Haleakala National Park announces that they’ve started an online reservation system for those wishing to view the sunrise from the summitt. Starting Feb. 1, you’ll need a reservation (cost: $1.50) or you won’t get into the park to watch the sunrise… Dec. 12 marks the final cane haul for the HC&S mill at Pu‘unene. The sugar plantation era is officially pau in the state of Hawaii… Hawaii super-promoter Tom Moffatt dies at the age of 85. Virtually every big concert in Hawaii in the last 40 years owes its existence to Moffatt… Maui Grown Therapies, a new medical marijuana dispensary co-founded by former Maui Land & Pineapple Company CEO David Cole, says it will open soon in the Maui Lani Village Center. Conveniently, it’s less than a block away from a Mako’s Mart and North Shore Pizza Company… A few days before Christmas, County Council chairperson Mike White apparently decides that he needs to purge the Office of Council, so he starts sacking some of its best and most ethical staffers, including Director David Raatz. This happens because democracy was apparently the last casualty of 2016.
Cover design: Darris Hurst