Considering the Who’s Who list of state and local power brokers that appears in today’s Associated Press story “Judge rules business campaign contributions not limited to $1,000,” it’s a wonder The Maui News chose to run it on page A4, sandwiched between three other stories, the obituaries and a big photo of the Kamole Water Treatment Plant. We have, in order of appearance: Maui Circuit Court Judge Joseph Cardoza, the guy who decided that a recent state Campaign Spending Commission rule limiting corporate contributions to just $1,000 went too far; Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares—the 2006 candidate whose campaign first ran into trouble last year when the Spending Commission ruled it had improperly accepted contributions in excess of $1,000; William Crockett—Tavares’ attorney (and former husband of Governor Linda Lingle) who argued the case before Cardoza; Barbara Wong, the now-pissed off Campaign Spending Commission executive director; and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, who last year failed to stop the commission from limiting corporate contributions. Oh, and even though the story came out today, Cardoza apparently ruled in Tavares’ favor back on May 4. Better late than never, I suppose.
THURSDAY, May 24
Speaking of being better late than never, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) just announced they’re beefing up their safety inspections of helicopter air tours throughout the state, according to today’s Honolulu Advertiser. As expected, industry people point to the hundreds of thousands of people who fly air tours throughout the state every year and don’t die as evidence that there doesn’t need to be any increased safety regulation, while officials at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) point to a disturbing spate of helicopter tour accidents in the last couple years, including a recent fatal crash on Kauai, an accident investigators say might have been preventable. While greater attention to safety—be it increased inspection, more stringent procedures or less use of the Hibachi while airborne—is seldom a bad thing, why must we always wait until after people have died before asking questions about safety?
FRIDAY, May 25
Sneezing. Not good.
SATURDAY, May 26
In a not-even-remotely-surprising move, U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye (D, Hawai‘i) has hooked up with U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D, New York). According to a statement from Inouye published in today’s Honolulu Advertiser, the senior senator from Hawai‘i will push for Hillary in 2008 because of our veterans. “She has been a tireless advocate for our soldiers and veterans, fighting for life-saving body armor when they deploy, and the healthcare and benefits they deserve when they return home,” he said. These are certainly good things, especially given that the carbon-based life form currently occupying the Oval Office chose to wait until the Washington Post ran a devastating series on the squalor and misery that permeated Walter Reed Army Hospital, which cares for a great many of our wounded soldiers and veterans before doing anything about it—an especially grievous act of negligence given the fact that the war had been raging for more than three years when the story broke. But Inouye’s reasoning is questionable on another level—remember, back in 2002 Clinton voted in favor of invading and occupying Iraq, and today walks a very thin line by refusing to say that vote was a mistake. Of course, cagey Inouye already seems to have accounted for the fact that the party faithful may be more interested in what Clinton did five years ago than her present-day assurances: “My support for Hillary Clinton does not take away from, or speak any less of, the other Democratic candidates,” Inouye also said in his statement.
SUNDAY, May 27
Looks like we have to add invasive algae to the ever-growing list of problems our island is facing. And, as is usually the cases with these things, we’re at fault. According to a story in today’s Maui News, there’s a correlation between the algae and wastewater injection wells that pump treated sewage deep under ground. But don’t worry—we can treat sewage in a more coral-friendly way, though it will cost county residents a bit more. By a “bit more,” I mean “$30 million to $40 million” to build a new effluent-transmission pipe to golf courses, which use the treated wastewater to irrigate the links. This is logical—so logical in fact that we have to ask why as an island in the middle of the Central Pacific we weren’t doing this before, coral die-out or not.
MONDAY, May 28
What is it those pro-war types always say to make us life-long civilians feel small and selfish? Oh yes: “Freedom isn’t free.” Of course, they always say it with the steadfast assertion that our brave soldiers and veterans made this country—which last year sold more arms to war-fighting nations around the world than anyone else—“free.” But as the creepy, Orwellian story “At work, free speech has a price” published in today’s Advertiser makes clear, most of the U.S. isn’t free at all. “[W]ith limited exceptions, there’s nothing to keep your employer from firing you or taking other disciplinary action for what you say at the water cooler, in a company newsletter, or even on your own personal blog,” the paper reported. Now the good news is that collective bargaining agreements—brought to you by unions, who have also given workers grievance hearings and week-ends—make clear that management can only fire labor for “just cause.” Unfortunately, the bad news is that in today’s American private-sector workplace, collective bargaining protects a mere eight percent of workers. “A lot of people think they’re protected by the First Amendment in cases where they’re not,” attorney and labor specialist David Williams of Wilmington, Delaware said in the article. Happy Memorial Day!
TUESDAY, May 29
You know, if the U.S. ever does become a nation of free people, I think it could really go places.
Anthony Pignataro is running out of pithy things to say in this space and could really use some suggestions. MTW