On April 8, the state Supreme Court ruled that Kuilima Resort Company has to update a 25-year-old Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for its controversial Turtle Bay expansion on Oahu’s North Shore. Why does that fall under “hyper local”? Because the same standard could be applied to Maui projects like Makena Resort, which has an EIS that Sierra Club spokesperson Karen Chun called “hopelessly outdated” in a release following the Supreme Court decision. Added Earthjustice attorney Isaac Moriwake: “If the EIS law means anything, it’s that we can’t make decisions today based on an EIS done an entire generation ago.”… Walgreens cut the ribbon on its new Kahului store this week (located in the long-derelict former Pizza Hut lot) but not everyone is cheering. The Hawaii Carpenters Union (HCU)—peeved that the Illinois-based chain didn’t hire local union workers—organized a protest. Quoted in The Maui News, an HCU rep said Walgreens’ hiring practices will ultimately “[drive] everybody’s wages down.” OK, but this is just an isolated incident, right? Doesn’t prove anything about Walgreens as a company. Well, there is this, from the March 5 Hoboken Patch in New Jersey: “Members of Laborers’ Local 325 Union say that a Maryland based general contractor, which was hired by Walgreens, is making tough economic times tougher for laborers in and around Hoboken…. The inside of the building at 101 Washington Street will eventually be transformed into a Walgreens pharmacy, but workers performing the demolition there have been shipped in from out of state.” And this, from the February 16, 2009 The Union in California’s Nevada County: “The suspended Walgreens project will come up for review Tuesday at the Grass Valley Planning Commission—and is already facing local discord and scrutiny. Only one area contractor has been hired for the Glenbrook Basin job now sitting in a lake of Sierra mud, drawing criticism from the Nevada County Contractors Association.” And this, from the January 16, 2009 Charleston Gazette in West Virginia: “Walgreens may be moving into the neighborhood, but they’re not making friends among union labor groups or contractors. Union laborers say store developers have frozen them out of construction jobs across the state, and officials at Walgreen Co. don’t bother to answer their letters.” And this, from the April 22, 2008 Bay City Times in Michigan: “More than 20 building trade affiliates from different tri-county trade unions picketed this morning in front of a Walgreens store rising at the corner of Center Avenue and Scheurmann Road. Holding bright orange signs that read “Local Jobs for Local Workers”…they peacefully protested the use of out-of-town labor to build the store in Hampton Township.” So what does Walgreens think about all these protests? Let’s ask spokesperson Michael Polzin, quoted in the same Maui News piece: “They certainly have that right.” Clearly.… Two local boys squared off in a pro baseball game on the Mainland last week—and both had a big hand in the outcome. On April 6, the Oakland Athletics beat the Seattle Mariners 2-1 in extra innings. In the fourth, Oakland catcher and Baldwin High grad Kurt Suzuki hit a solo homer. Then, in the ninth, Seattle summoned Kula-born Kanekoa Texiera from the bullpen to make his Major League debut. He got the last two outs of that inning and the first two of the tenth, but ultimately gave up a game-winning hit. Not the outcome Texiera was hoping for, but a cool moment for Maui nonetheless…. Tooting-our-own-horn alert: AAF Hawaii announced the winners of its annual Pele design awards on April 10, and MauiTime received an Award of Merit for the Halloween-inspired “Zombie Tavares” cover, easily our most controversial issue of the year (and one that, you’ll recall, sparked a First Amendment flap when County employees were caught removing copies of the paper from a public building). Congrats to Art Director Chris Skiles and illustrator Len Peralta….
If strongly worded letters could magically be converted to school funds, Furlough Fridays would be ancient history. On April 5, Save Our Schools Hawaii posted a message to the Governor on its Web site, accusing Lingle of “blatant, reckless behavior” and “schoolyard bully tactics.” Six days later, Lingle fired back, calling Save Our Schools “misinformed” and encouraging them “to direct your energy and effort [at the teachers union].” To which Save Our Schools replied: “We are disappointed that your letter failed to address our central point: we need an end to furloughs now. We understand that there are difficulties amongst the parties and that is why we have personally met with each of them. It is important to note that HSTA, as a union, does not represent the public, but you, as our governor, represent us.”…. As the legislative session winds down, bills are falling by the wayside. One recent victim: HB2667, which would have required the Department of Transportation “to conduct a study on the feasibility of establishing a statewide ferry system.” I could repeat the same arguments that have been made in this space for years, but instead let’s turn to measure testimony given to the Ways and Means Committee. From Malama Kaua‘i: “[I]t is ironic that a study to look at the financial viability of a ferry service that utterly failed to be financially viable despite an enormous financial investment from both the public and private sectors is even a consideration.” From the Kahului Harbor Coalition: “Contrary to statements in the introduction of the Bill, the Hawaii Superferry definitely proved to NOT be ‘a very successful mode of transportation of both persons and property….’ In the end the Hawaii Superferry could not generate enough ridership and could not operate on enough days to do much more than cover its outrageous fuel consumption cost…. Why does the State now believe that it can accomplish what these super-savvy businessmen could not?” Or, if that wasn’t explicit enough, how about this, from Big Island resident Marjorie Erway: “It’s time to let a Ferry system die a natural death instead of trying to revive a dead whale.”…
Does anyone else find it ironic that to honor Ronald Reagan—the guy who said government is the problem and not the solution—we’ve gotten a publicly funded airport, a publicly funded aircraft carrier, a publicly funded postage stamp and now, if a group of Republican lawmakers have their way, a publicly funded piece of currency (the fifty, giving Ulysses S. Grant the boot)? Just asking.