At a time when we’re blowing up M-80s, watching Twilight Zone reruns and gorging ourselves on hot dogs—celebrating our grand republic’s birth and all that—it’s funny to watch land developers bitch and moan about how they’re allegedly being prevented from pouring concrete pads and paving roads on sensitive, often sacred land—which is apparently their God-given right. “It takes forever” for his company to obtain building permits and archaeological approvals, developer Stanford Carr says in yesterday’s Honolulu Advertiser. As anyone who’s driven through Waikapu, by Airport Beach on the Westside or down South Kihei Road knows, somehow developers are finding a way to get those permits. In fact, so many developers are getting the okay to build that yesterday’s Maui News carries an unusually fawning story about a proposed county law that would hold up development permits unless the developer could guarantee a 20-year water supply for the project. This is, of course, long overdue—big developments like the proposed Makena Resort expansion and Wailea 670 are today moving forward without such guarantees—but why stop at just water? What about requiring new road construction, sewer and water treatment infrastructure as well?
THURSDAY, July 5
Well, it’s official—at least as far as the Honolulu Star-Bulletin editorial page is concerned. In a scathing editorial that blasts Governor Linda Lingle for waiting so long to sack her scandal-plagued chief of staff Bob Awana, the Star-Bulletin credits us—and specifically reporter Greg Mebel—with being the first media in Hawai‘i to explore Awana’s role in an international blackmail affair. “On May 29, [alleged blackmailer Radjatta] Patkar’s arrest was reported by the Calcutta Telegraph, naming Awana as the alleged victim and describing him as ‘the secretary to the governor of Hawaii,’” stated the Star-Bulletin editorial. “The article was e-mailed anonymously to Greg Mebel, a reporter for the weekly Maui Time, according to Mebel. Mebel reported that he e-mailed a copy of Patkar’s indictment to Awana on June 8, requesting comment. Awana responded by planting a front-page article in the Honolulu Advertiser about his cooperation in the case, although not describing the nature of the alleged blackmail.” This may sound like self-important crowing, but when you’re a small, understaffed, undernourished little weekly on Maui and a big Honolulu paper credits you with starting the chain of events that led to the downfall of Governor Lingle’s top guy, we feel it’s deserved.
FRIDAY, July 6
The headline in today’s Honolulu Advertiser says it all: “Conditions prime for brushfires on Maui.” Did you hear that, people? Maui could have wildfires—perhaps even like that horrible, extremely well publicized one last week that destroyed two homes and 2,600 acres stretching from Olowalu to Launiupoko. Shocking, absolutely shocking. To be fair, the Advertiser redeems itself by including a mind-numbing quote from Maui Fire Chief Carl Kaupalolo, though they buried it three-quarters into the story. “We may want to have our Fire Prevention people talk with major landowners again as we did last year and take a look at these areas and cut firebreaks and conduct grading that would provide access,” he said in the story. So you MAY want to do a little fire prevention, Carl? What a capital idea!
SATURDAY, July 7
SUNDAY, July 8
Bad news for fans of Lahaina’s annual Halloween parade and festivities—on Thursday the Cultural Resources Commission (CRC) deferred granting LahainaTown Action Committee (LAC) a permit for this year’s event. Even though yesterday’s Maui News quotes LAC President Jerry Kunitomo told the panel that Halloween is “a very, very positive environment,” commission chairman Sam Kalalau III was hesitant. “I feel that I want to deny it,” he said, according to the paper, “but I need to be fair and weigh out the pros and cons.” While it’s undeniable that Halloween in Lahaina does involve tens of thousands of people walking around in various stages of intoxication and undress, it’s also undeniable—as Maui Police officials apparently pointed out—that even if the panel rejects a permit for the festivities, they will still close off Front Street because legions of party people will show up anyway. Ultimately, after five hours of testimony and discussion, the CRC ended up doing what most panels do when faced with similar dilemmas: they deferred the whole matter to another meeting.
MONDAY, July 9
Anyone out there know anything about cruise ships? Apparently the Hawai`i Tourism Authority (HTA) just figured out that they’re important to our economy, environment, etc., and want to know everything about them. In fact, they’re willing to pay at least $600,000 to get the info, according to the July 5 Honolulu Advertiser. “State tourism liaison Marsha Wienert said the cruise industry merits special attention,” the paper reported. “The latest visitor arrivals for May showed a triple-digit increase in cruise visitors.” Hence the HTA’s 19-page “Request for Proposals to Provide a Hawai‘i Cruise Industry Study,” which calls for “comprehensive, reliable and objective information to assess the cumulative impacts [of cruise ships] on each island and on a statewide basis.” And they do indeed want to know a lot, like an assessment of the industry, how the big ships impact harbors and roads, environmental effects, management and labor practices and even a look at the notorious Memorandum of Understanding between the industry and the state of Hawai‘i that pretty much allows cruise ships to do whatever they please in our waters as long as they keep steaming here.
TUESDAY, July 10
By the way, if all that sounds familiar, it’s because two years ago Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa’s Cruise Ship Task Force released a scathing report that took the whole industry to task. Like most government reports, it made a few headlines, sparked a few discussions, then vanished, never to be heard from again. Anyone want to bet where the HTA study ends up when it’s done?
Anthony Pignataro is not a professional, but he can sound like one if need be. MTW