Well, the Maui County Land Use Committee is sure giving the Wailea 670 project that old college try. They’re still running their hearings during the day instead of the evening, when working people could attend, but nobody’s perfect. The latest issues are Council Member Michelle Anderson’s request to preserve a 110-acre dryland wiliwili forest in the area, Councilman Mike Victorino’s desire for an evening public hearing so the most people possible can speak up and Council Chairman Riki Hokama’s wish that the expansion of Pi‘ilani Highway to four lanes through Wailea would happen sometime before 2012. Will Charlie Jencks, the developer’s “representative,” go along with these new conditions, or balk at the near endless hearings on his plan, which aims to add 1,400 more luxury homes and condos to Wailea? Will Committee Chairman Mike Molina continue to insist that daytime hearings are sufficiently democratic? Next meeting’s on Monday, so we don’t have to wait long.
THURSDAY, Aug. 16
There’s a fascinating Associated Press story buried in today’s Maui News. Highlighting a recent SMS Research & Marketing Services, Inc. survey conducted on behalf of the Hawaii 2050 Task Force, the story makes crystal clear that a substantial, considerable, solid majority of Hawai‘i residents feel the state’s in serious trouble—so much so that they’d be willing to pay higher taxes to fix it. According to the SMS survey, more than 60 percent of residents would be willing to pay for energy independence, protected cultural sites and a cleaner environment; more than 70 percent would be willing to take a hit in the economy to get universal health care; and an astonishing 80 percent or more of residents want mandatory recycling programs and better education, “no matter what it costs.” Now if I were a state or local official—especially one who had a reputation of being more than usually friendly towards big business and land developers—I’d be shaking in my slippers as I looked over such numbers.
FRIDAY, Aug. 17
Statehood Day is a holiday? Since when?
SATURDAY, Aug. 18
So today was the big open house for Hawaii Superferry, Inc.’s Alakai, which came all the way over to Kahului Harbor just to let us Maui rubes walk her decks and sit in her lounge chairs. And a few thousand people stood in a lot of lines to get aboard the boat, too (nice to see a couple Pacific Whale Foundation guys staging a protest outside the harbor, too). I use the term “boat” because, though the Alakai looks big from across the harbor, it’s pretty small once you get piped aboard. There are a lot of chairs and plasma screen TVs, sure—the boat is designed to carry 866 passengers, after all—but there isn’t a lot of exterior deck area. The forward Halalua Lounge—that’s Hawaiian for “Manta Ray,” which I suppose is the sea creature most readily identified with inebriation—costs an extra $20 to enter, and it features plush leather airline-style seats, cocktail servers and an addition 500 plasma screens, all of which were playing Hawaii Superferry commercials when I walked through (one, literally named “Audio Branding,” kind of creeped me out). Anyway, the lounge wasn’t serving food or drinks during the open house (“We don’t actually want you to stay,” joked Darren, a Hawaii Superferry guide who rode with my group on the bus from the Maui Community College parking lot over to Pier 2). The gift shop was also closed, though people could press their faces against the glass and see the little bars of Kona Soap and stuffed turtles that will eventually go on sale. And no one was allowed up to the bridge or down into the engineering spaces, either. But we did get to see the two car decks. Man, are they dull. Anyway, throughout the boat a battalion of HSF personnel stood around telling prospective passengers how long the trip will take (three hours, just like on Gilligan’s Island), how they first need to clean all the mud off their cars (invasive species, you know) and, most importantly, how to get to the head (that’s restroom for you non-nautical people).
SUNDAY, Aug. 19
“Audio Branding?” What the hell is that?
MONDAY, Aug. 20
Less we all get distracted by all the shiny metal and polished planking of the new Alakai, The Maui News reminds us today that there’s still a fight raging over getting the state Department of Transportation to commission a proper Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). In fact, 2nd Circuit Judge Joel August hears the case this week. And on Thursday the Hawai‘i Supreme Court finally gets the appeal of the 2005 decision by Judge Joseph Cardoza that first trash-canned the idea of a Superferry EIS.
TUESDAY, Aug. 21
Of course, maritime law is a harsh mistress, so Superferry opponents probably shouldn’t get their hopes up.
Anthony Pignataro was shocked to hear Councilman Mike Victorino mention his name—and in a good way—on the Fox News 900 show “The Talk of Maui” this week. MTW