WEDNESDAY, Jan. 16
The Superferry cancelled its voyage to Maui today because of big swell in Kahului Harbor. Probably won’t sail tomorrow, either. But it’s hard to care about it today (or any day, really) because it’s the first day of the state legislative session! Wooooo! State Senate Majority Leader Colleen Hanabusa used the word “sustainable” five times in just the first three paragraphs of her Opening Day speech! You think she can get away with that kind of mind-numbing repetition on any other day of the year? This is also the day with the state Attorney General’s office announced its annual “Law Enforcement Coalition Legislative Package”—a round-up of bills that AG Mark Bennett wants the state House and Senate to pass so his job can be a little bit easier. One adds “mandatory sentencing provisions for serious child abuse and electronic enticement offenses.” Another is a constitutional amendment making it simpler for prosecutors “to compel the testimony of a witness claiming Fifth Amendment privilege, but prohibits use of that testimony in any criminal proceeding against a witness, except prosecution for perjury or false statement” (the Hawai`i Supreme Court struck down a previous law allowing exactly this). Feel safer? Hey, look on the bright side: at least the Legislature’s in session for just four months.
THURSDAY, Jan. 17
So about 10 months after it started, the Fox News 900 AM radio show “The Talk of Maui” is coming to an end this week. Hosted by longtime local sports reporter Fred Guzman, the two-hour drive-time show featured interviews with local officials and community leaders, listener calls and Guzman’s own commentary. And I don’t know why the show ended, but my own personal theory is that it had to do with that last part. See, Guzman is not your typical talk show host—he’s rational and intelligent. He tempers his opinions with facts, good judgment and always presents them in a respectable, honorable way (he was so fair that he asked ME to be a regular, weekly call-in guest—my last appearance was this morning). Guzman treated his show as a way to inform Maui’s residents, not as a club to beat fear into them with mushy-headed propaganda about “terror threats” and “illegal immigrants.” Yes, his cadence would speed up considerably when topics turned from politics to sports—those last few weeks he talked a lot about University of Hawai`i football—betraying his first journalistic love, but Guzman’s knowledge and understanding of local government was considerable and genuine. Knowing all this, my reaction upon hearing that his show was ending wasn’t “Why?” but “How the hell did he last on Fox News radio for 10 months?” Well, now he’s gone (and by “gone,” I mean still doing a daily sports show on ESPN 550), apparently replaced by some Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) programming. I hope Maui’s happy.
FRIDAY, Jan. 18
Did someone say OHA? Oh yeah, that was me. Anyway, today’s Pacific Business News has a story on a new settlement offer to OHA over the 25-year-old issue of revenues derived from ceded lands: apparently, the state’s going to give the Office of Hawaiian Affairs $13.2 million in cash and about 200 acres on Oahu and the Big Island, worth about $187 million. At first glance this sounds like a pretty good deal, but remember: government officials never announce good news on a Friday, when most people aren’t paying attention. And sure enough, the Honolulu Advertiser today reports that this deal positively pales before one offered nine years ago that would have handed $250 million in cash and 365,000 acres to OHA. Yikes. Now the issue over who gets money made off ceded lands—royal or government territory at the time of the 1893 overthrow that the new republic “ceded” to the U.S. Those lands are all over the state, and some make serious money. Like Molokini and the surrounding reefs, for instance. In fact, according to an Oct 24, 2007 letter from OHA Administrator Clyde Namu`o to the state Division of Aquatic Resources on the sinking of the Maui Snorkel Charters boat Kai Anela at Molokini (See our cover story “The Kai Anela Incident,” Jan. 17, 2008 for more on that), both proposed ceded land deals are probably low-balling what OHA should get. That’s because, according to Namu‘o, Molokini is “part of the 1.8 million acres of land that belong to the Hawaiian monarchy and were transferred to the state when Hawai‘i became a U.S. state.” What’s more, Namu‘o wrote that, “OHA is entitled to 20 percent of all revenue generated on this land” and wants “a fair market price… placed on all future revenues generated by permits granted for Molokini.”
SATURDAY, Jan. 19
Now that’s some real money.
SUNDAY, Jan. 20
Developing new water sources. It’s Mayor Charmaine Tavares’ top priority for 2008, according to today’s Maui News. After that, she wants to get more affordable housing built and get the county to use more renewable energy. That’s what she wants to focus on this year, and it’s a decent list. Yes, Tavares considers her first year a success, bringing about the “leadership and action” she campaigned on. But for fun, I decided to look up Tavares’ stated priorities when she first got herself elected mayor back in 2006. “Mayor-elect Charmaine Tavares said improving county services will be her first order of business upon taking office in January,” The Maui News reported on Nov. 9, 2006. Whether she considers county services sufficiently improved isn’t said in today’s story, but what I really thought intriguing was the order of her priorities beyond that. After the county service improvement thing, Tavares wanted to implement the county’s new policy requiring considerable affordable housing from new development projects and, lastly, “completing a Water Use and Development Plan.” Now The Maui News reports that Tavares insists that plan “is near completion,” but doesn’t know when we can see it. Maybe now that it’s at the top of her list of priorities, we won’t have to wait too long.
MONDAY, Jan. 21
Economic experts keep telling us the economy is not now in nor is headed towards a recession, which would be all fine and reassuring if the papers didn’t keep presenting us with stories about how times are getting tough. Like right now, it’s apparently a good time to be a repo man. According to today’s Honolulu Advertiser, missed payments and car repossessions are up—way up. It’s apparently such a growth industry that the Advertiser story quotes a recent Special Finance Magazine story as saying that auto loan delinquencies are at a 16-year high. Now that is amazing—I mean, I had no idea. Who knew that in 21st century America there could be such a thing as Special Finance Magazine? And that, apparently, it would have actual, human readers? Remarkable.
TUESDAY, Jan. 22
Hmm… I wonder what Special Finance Magazine pays for an article…
Anthony Pignataro actually wants you to go to Twitter and follow him—http://twitter.com/apignataro. MTW