Today the governor’s office sent out a press release trumpeting the fact that the U.S. Department of Justice only has four concerns on the infamous Akaka-Stevens Bill that would provide official recognition of Native Hawaiians. Just four? How miraculous. Missing from the press release and accompanying news stories is any mention of the intense irony surrounding the second concern: “Amending the language to make it clear that the bill does not interfere with the operations of the U.S. military in Hawai’i or affect military readiness.” Okay, so let me get this straight: the federal government wants to give some degree of sovereignty back to the Hawaiian people, as long as they don’t try anything stupid like exercising that sovereignty by trying to kick out the U.S. military, which seized the islands a hundred years ago from the Native Hawaiians. Did I miss anything? Now unless I’m totally reading this wrong, the whole thing looks an awful lot like the kind of sovereignty they have in Iraq, where the Iraqi people are free to do anything they like except ask us to leave.
THURSDAY, July 14
Even without the “protections” promised by the Akaka-Stevens Bill, Native Hawaiians are exercising their First Amendment free speech rights, which they do enjoy from time to time. Like the other day, when a bunch of them trekked over to the Cameron Center in Wailuku to protest plans to build the 14-foot diameter Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) atop Haleakala. Actually, they were mostly protesting the fact that scientists want to paint the 92-foot tall observatory housing the scope white. On clear days, the observatory—like the rest of the scientific stations on the Haleakala summit—will be visible all over central Maui. “I don’t want to see it,” activist Charles Kauluwehi “Charlie” Maxwell, Sr. reportedly told the attending scientists, according to today’s Maui News. “Find a different color, where it’s not such an insult.” Hmm… here’s an idea, Charlie: how about you find a better reason. Now I know Hawaiians consider Haleakala sacred land, but come on. There are already a bunch of other telescopes—some used by the U.S. Air Force for military purposes—atop the mountain. It’s not like the summit already doesn’t shine like a diamond on clear days. Think, people!
FRIDAY, July 15
About the only shocking thing about the decision by the public access cable channel Akaku’s Board of Directors to fire station president Sean McLaughlin on Wednesday is that it’s taken until today for The Maui News to run a story outlining allegations from McLaughlin that the whole thing is “politically motivated.” What other possible motivation would there be? McLaughlin has publicly opposed the takeover of the Akaku board by individuals loyal more to developers like Everett Dowling and development in general than opening television production to the public. The latest such member, Charlie Jencks, is the president of the Maui Contractors Association—a lobbying arm on behalf of the construction industry—and a close friend of Dowling. In fact, Jencks recently testified before the state legislature that Akaku was getting too much money from Honolulu. Oh yeah, politically motivated is a generous way to put it. In any case, I’m sure this will be the end of Akaku’s troubles and it’ll be nothing but smooth sailing ahead for the station.
SATURDAY, July 16
Ahhh… patronage: will its magic never die? On this, the 60th anniversary of the first successful test of a nuclear weapon, Governor Linda Lingle sent out a release naming the nine lucky “volunteers” who get to sit on her Maui Council of Advisors—a panel that meets on the third Thursday of every month to discuss Maui’s “needs.” State campaign finance records show Lingle had a pretty easy time picking the advisors. Five of the officials—John Henry, Madge Schaefer, Janice Shishido, Kalei Sombelon and Shan Steinmark (curiously misspelled as “Stan Steinmark” in Lingle’s press release)—all contributed on average $200 to Lingle’s campaign committee since 2001. Two other panelists—Ezekiela Kalua and Jo-Ann Ridao—work for the West Maui Taxpayers Association and Lokahi Pacific, respectively, which contributed at least $200 to Lingle in 2002 and 2003. Now I’m not saying that it looks like Lingle gave preferential treatment to people who gave her money—oh wait, yes I am.
SUNDAY, July 17
Suspicious fires breaking out all over the leeward coast of Maui… Suspicious fires breaking out on the leeward coast of Oahu… Nahhh, it’s probably nothing.
MONDAY, July 18
The world famous National Association of Counties held its rockin’ 70th annual conference this weekend on Oahu, but the blow-out was marred by 200 no-shows who were prompted by criticism back home about public officials using taxpayer funds to pay for a “junket” to Hawai’i. But 1,800 bureaucrats and council members managed to swallow their pride and show! And some of them got to hear our very own Councilman Dain Kane moderate a panel discussion called “What’s Smokin’ in Your County?” on various anti-smoking ordinances throughout the land. As you all know, way back in 2002 Kane masterminded Maui County’s own restaurant-smoking ban, which we all know has been just a smashing success. I mean, look around—do you see people smoking in restaurants? There’s not a—oh, wait, yeah, people are still smoking in restaurants. Bars too, but in some weird compromise they were never part of the law to begin with. Guess it has something to do with the fact that no one’s really enforcing the law in the first place.
TUESDAY, July 19
Yet another to reason to hope the Akaka-Stevens Bill goes down in flames came from Representative Ed Case (D, Hawai’i) in today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin: “Absolutely nothing [in the bill] authorizes gambling in the state of Hawai’i.” No slots? Blackjack? Not even one harmless round of Keno? What a rip.
Anthony Pignataro faced multiple counts of conspiring to throw the 1994 World Series, but the charges were mysteriously dropped hours before the Grand Jury was prepared to hand down an indictment. MTW