Mayor Alan Arakawa sure wants his “gas tax holiday.” So much so that this week he asked the Maui County Council to pay for it through a $2 million state grant earmarked for transportation. According to today’s Maui News, more than one council member thinks lifting the county’s 18-cent tax on a gallon of gas is kinda screwy, considering that it’s just for two months and, well, actually I guess that’s it. They do have a point, in that gas prices will continue to rise irrespective of our tiny little tax. Still, chopping our gas prices from an oppressive, imperial $3.66 a gallon to a mere $3.48 a gallon would do wonders for our economy and driving habits.
THURSDAY, Oct. 6
So a bunch of state legislators gathered over at Kahului Harbor’s Pier 2 to shoot the shit over the proposed Superferry the other day. State Department of Transportation Director Rodney Haraga was also there to answer all their questions. Too bad a lot of his answers were some variation of the phrase “We don’t know.” According to today’s Maui News, Haraga wasn’t much help to the lawmakers, who wanted to know how the state was going to fit the giant auto ferries into already crowded Kahului Harbor. In fact, the News reported that Haraga couldn’t even say if the Superferry would make enough money to succeed. Nor could Haraga apparently convince the senators that the $40 million the state authorized to pay for harbor upgrades would fully satisfy the Superferry’s needs. You know, I just thought of something: remember that Environmental Impact Statement that two judges have now ruled isn’t necessary? I bet that would have answered a lot of exactly these types of questions. Good thing we don’t have to deal with any of that.
FRIDAY, Oct. 7
There’s an old rule in politics that says wait until Friday before releasing any bad, potentially controversial or Courtney Love-related news. Guess what? Today’s Friday! Woohoo! Been waiting all week! And the University of Hawai’i isn’t letting us down—today’s the day they made public their contract with the U.S. Navy to do secret, cutting edge military research in exchange for $50 million. In fact, UH will set up something called a university affiliated research center (UARC) to handle the Navy’s work. For those who think UH’s job should be just straight civilian research with no military chaser, this is a dark day indeed. “If the university accepts this UARC it is no longer a university,” UH social work professor Joel Fischer told the Honolulu Advertiser today. Oh, I don’t know about that—lots of universities are cashing big checks from the Pentagon in exchange for military work. All them high tech weapons and sensors have to come from somewhere, and why not go to places where young people learn about Aristotle, the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment to get them?
SATURDAY, Oct. 8
Great news, everyone! Well, I guess it’s great only for Aloha Airlines’ 3,000 current employees and retirees. They’re getting their pensions canceled! Isn’t that great? Oh wait, it’s really awful. Anyway, it’s the big thing right now in the airline industry—well, that and declaring bankruptcy. Right now, Aloha is on its hands and knees, begging U.S. District Court Judge Robert Faris for permission to carry out “reorganization,” which is a legal term meaning “To toss a company’s loyal workers overboard during tough times.” Okay, so I exaggerate: Aloha’s pensioners would get dumped in the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which would bail out the airline—at taxpayer expense, mind you—by taking over about half of the company’s pension. The rest would get trashed, naturally, but at least people who’d devoted 15, 20 or more years to Aloha would get a few scraps. How much money do old people really need, anyway? And since the Pension Benefit Corp. is a federal entity, all us non-Aloha pensioners get to share in the misery. You see, everybody wins! By the way, have I mentioned yet that Aloha Airlines has somehow managed to both suck and blow at the same time? Or that the worst thing about all this is that Aloha will undoubtedly get its way? Yeah, those second Dark Ages seem to be getting closer and closer all the time.
SUNDAY, Oct. 9
So The Maui News is reporting that developer Everett Dowling wants to delay his own superrich condo project in Makena because there are more ancient Hawaiian sites on his 11 acres than he originally thought. What a surprise. What wasn’t a surprise was the way Dowling’s archaeologist Lisa Rotunno-Hazuka explained her failure to find these sites, saying that vegetation throughout the area was really heavy when she and her team visited the site four years ago. While perhaps true, Rotunno-Hazuka is missing a larger point: the whole Makena area is covered in Hawaiian ruins. In fact, if you look at a map of the area, there are plenty of marked sites just to the north of Dowling’s 11 acres, and a ton more to the south, but none in between. That should have tipped off Rotunno-Hazuka to perhaps look a bit more carefully as she surveyed the area, but no. After all, was it really in her employer’s (Dowling’s) best interest that she come back with a detailed list of rock walls and old dwellings that need careful preservation? Sure, Dowling says that he’s glad so many new sites have been found now, rather than when the bulldozers went through, but how come he wasn’t demanding a fuller archaeological survey months ago when word of these sites first began circulating?
MONDAY, Oct. 10
Quick, grab the kids: Hawai’i is now the fastest-growing cruise ship destination in the U.S., according to the Hawai’i Chamber of Commerce, so you know it’s legit. And you know what that means: lots more sewage and pollution pouring into our state waters because, well, it’s totally legal for the ships to dump the stuff.
TUESDAY, Oct. 11
And you know what else? That won’t change anytime soon.
Anthony Pignataro is working on a new book called Mr. Red: How television’s most famous horse told the Soviets our nuclear secrets, due out in early 2006. MTW