WEDNESDAY, Aug. 8
Time for a little experiment. I’m going to print a statement now that I firmly believe in but seems to be radical heresy in the mainstream media, just to see what kind of response I get: After smashing his 756th homerun last night, San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds has become unquestionably the best player in the history of Major League Baseball. You can start sending the cards and letters anytime.
THURSDAY, Aug. 9
So developer Charlie Jencks is now promising the Maui County Land Use Committee that he’ll build 250 affordable homes before any of the 1,400 luxury homes for Wailea 670, according to today’s Maui News. At first glance—hell, even at second glance—this sounds great. There’s no question the island needs way more than 250 homes priced so they’ll be affordable to working people, and Jencks’ contribution will go a long way. That being said, it should surprise no one that Jencks is also insisting that he build these affordable homes in North Kihei, pretty much as far away from Wailea 670 as possible (county law requires that affordable homes mandated for a given project must stay in the same planning district). The reason is perfectly obvious: rich people don’t want to have to rub shoulders with working people. Now Council Member Michelle Anderson has said, according to the paper, that she’d “much prefer all affordable housing on site,” but don’t get your hopes up.
FRIDAY, Aug. 10
It’s courting time for the Grand Old Party’s many presidential contenders, and that means our own Governor Linda Lingle needs to quicken her step and keep watch over her shoulder. Lot of eligible candidates out there just licking their lips at the prospect of slipping her endorsement into the campaign, but Lingle’s apparently not that kind of politician. According to today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Lingle—referred to by the paper as the “titular head of the Republican Party in Hawaii”—insists she has no intention of hooking up with any Republican presidential hopeful until after the primary election. Her reason? “[T]he Republican Party is in a building stage.” Gotta give Lingle extra points for creative spin on this one. See, the Republican Party around here dates back to the time when Hawai‘i was a U.S. territory. Back then, it pretty much ruled the islands. But once Hawai‘i became a state in 1959, and residents got a chance to vote, GOP candidates became pretty scarce in government. And that hasn’t ever really changed. In fact, since statehood, Lingle—as she well knows—has been the Republican’s only Hawai‘i governor. That being the case, it’s only to fair to wonder how many more decades the GOP will stay mired in this “building stage” before they break out and become a legitimate, stand-alone party in Hawai‘i.
SATURDAY, Aug. 11
As this paper has long pointed out, Maui is experiencing a very high demand for affordable homes—houses and condominiums for working people to raise their families. In fact, most land developers bitch and moan at Maui County Council efforts to make them build homes affordably priced for working people. The reason, as exemplified by today’s Honolulu Advertiser, is that there’s a lot, lot more money in homes for super-rich people. “An estimated 60 investors put up $5 million on average last week to buy units in the planned ‘ultra-luxury’ Maui condominium-hotel branded under the name of French crystal manufacturer Baccarat,” reported the Advertiser. Starwood Capital Group, which is heading the project, aims to build a “five-star” resort that captures “the Baccarat brand’s 240-year tradition of perfection and luxury with equally flawless service,” according to the company. And I’ll tell you: if I was so absurdly wealthy that I could drop $5 million on a condotel from 980 to 3,300 square feet, I’d jump at the chance to invest in one named for an ancient brand of terribly delicate glassware.
SUNDAY, Aug. 12
Meanwhile, back in the world populated by working people, The Maui News reports that a “non-stop” rush of people went to the Queen Ka`ahumanu Center today to talk with Congressional Representative Mazie Hirono (D, 2nd District) about “environmental issues, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers, how federal employees can get paid sooner and a few county and state problems.” Isn’t that quaint? One guy told the paper he wanted to talk to Hirono about getting some federal money to help move the Kahului Wastewater Treatment Plant out of the tsunami inundation zone. Another wished to ask Hirono for more federal arts funding. Isn’t it just precious how people who don’t live in spectacularly expensive condotels named for 240-year-old brands of crystal go about their lives on the weekend?
MONDAY, Aug. 13
You know what the biggest sport in Hawai‘i is these days? It’s getting out of having to do an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Taking a page from Hawaii Superferry, Inc., BlueEarth Biofuels LLC has taken to calling its proposed Maui biodiesel refinery—designed to spit out 40 million gallons of biodiesel each year—a “transesterification facility” instead of “oil refinery,” reports the Associated Press today. The reason is that an “oil refinery” triggers an environmental review, while “transesterification facility” just makes people furrow their brows and squint a little while they try to figure out what the hell it is. “It really is a different kind of facility,” Peter Rosegg, a spokesman for Hawaiian Electric Co.—which is partnering with BlueEarth—told the AP. “There are no emissions. It’s a very clean, very benign plant, unlike a refinery.” That’s wonderful! Now if it’s so damn clean, why not just do the damn EIS?
TUESDAY, Aug. 14
It’s funny—Hawaii Superferry, Inc. said that if we ask them to do a fully environmental review of their proposed high-speed, inter-island ferry, then they’d never be able to start on time. Well, guess what? We asked them to do an EIS, and they completely missed their projected start time. Not because they actually had to do an EIS—state officials managed to quash that one—but simply because, well, who knows, really. In any case, the company has finally announced that it’s starting service on Aug. 28. Don’t everyone celebrate at once.
Anthony Pignataro totally called it that one time. MTW