Whoa! No less authorities than the Pacific Business News, Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin—all of which have reported many, many times that the wholesale gasoline price cap will never work—are reporting today that this coming Monday, gas prices should drop 44 cents in Hawai’i. Incredible. “This is a very good sign that the law is working as intended,” House Majority Leader Marcus Oshiro told PBN. Unbelievable. The reason for this wonderful change, should it actually come to pass? “Recent decreases in mainland oil markets,” reported the Star-Bulletin. Astonishing. Imagine that—once the insanity and carnage caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ends, the price cap actually starts working.
THURSDAY, Oct. 13
Good news everyone: The Maui News is reporting today that all work on the Kaheawa wind farm over by McGregor Point has resumed. It stopped because state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) inspectors found that construction practices weren’t up to specs. And with a big storm on the way a couple weekends ago, they were afraid runoff would tumble rocks and whatnot onto the Pali and the reef below. But now, according to the News, everything’s back on track and work on the windmills has begun again. The only problem with the story is that it’s pretty much incomprehensible to anyone who just reads The Maui News, because the News never reported that the DLNR had ordered a work stoppage at the wind farm site in the first place. In fact, just one paper reported that little revelation, and it was the one you’re reading right now (see Cheryl Ambrozic-Mooz’s “Tilting at Windmills” in our Oct. 6, 2005 issue).
FRIDAY, Oct. 14
There’s a big run at Bankruptcy Courts all across the country this weekend, according to today’s Advertiser. A record 102,863 Americans—up from an average of 30,000—fell over themselves last week trying to declare bankruptcy before new draconian rules take effect on Oct. 17. Those rules, signed by President George W. Bush in April, make it all but impossible for regular-type working people to declare themselves insolvent and get out of crushing debt. Why would Bush do such a thing you might ask? Well, mostly because the already fantastically wealthy bankers and credit card companies wanted him to, and they’re, as he’s so eloquently described, his “base.” Thank God Bush, in his infinite wisdom, decreed that big corporations like Aloha Airlines can still declare bankruptcy and dump thousands of employee pensions onto the federal government, where loyal workers who spent decades at Aloha will be rewarded with about half of the retirement money they were promised was coming.
SATURDAY, Oct. 15
Maui residents seem to like to recycle stuff. Lots of them are turning in their old glass bottles, so much so that local recycling industry guys are having trouble keeping up. “We have just been expanding like crazy,” Aloha Glass Recycling President Tom Reed says in today’s Maui News. Plastic bottles, too. In January of this year, people turned in 862,111 plastic bottles to get their nickel deposits back. By June, that number had soared to 7.16 million. These are especially astounding numbers considering that recycling on Maui is kind of difficult. There’s no island-wide curbside program but people are, on their own, saving their bottles and cans and hauling them to redemption centers. For recycling advocates, this is all great news, except that the county wants to build a giant trash incinerator in Central Maui that would pretty much negate whatever recycling habits we’re currently nurturing. There are people driving around with bags full of plastic bottles trying to help out, and the county still insists on dragging its feet on curbside recycling. Oh, if only recycling required a massive facility with a huge price tag that required 30-year bonds to pay off and the risk of municipal bankruptcy. We’d be recycling like there was no tomorrow.
SUNDAY, Oct. 16
Flush with excitement over stronger than expected voting in yesterday’s big constitution vote throughout Iraq, the U.S. military went and bombed 70 Iraqis into oblivion, more than half of which appear to be innocent civilians. Nice to see our desire to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is as strong as ever.
MONDAY, Oct. 17
Halloween is fast approaching, and you know what that means! That’s right—the first anniversary of the sailboat Dolphin wedging itself onto the reef a few yards off Front Street in Lahaina! Oh what a magical time it was: owner drinking with a million other people in town as a south swell churned just off shore… not long after the steel-hull Dolphin—which the owner had just bought and wanted to rename the Technicolor Dreamboat—dragged its anchor and ended up parked on the reef. And there it’s sat ever since. But not for long, according to today’s Maui News, which says state officials want to pull the 20-ton boat off the reef and sink it off Puamana Beach Park with the old Carthaginian II. It sounds optimistic, but they want the ship underwater sometime around the end of the year. While great for scuba divers, this will leave Lahaina Harbor with no great ship to gaze at—no rotting Carthaginian and no wrecked Dolphin.
TUESDAY, Oct. 18
Boy, I thought those sharpies over at Aloha Airlines had everything under control: declare bankruptcy and dump their 3,000 employee pensions into the loving arms of the U.S. Treasury, then everything will be fine. Apparently not—today’s Associated Press story says Aloha also wants to void all its labor contracts. One of the reasons Aloha is trying to balance its books on the backs of its employees? “Fuel has gone up $1 a gallon since we began our discussions with the union,” said Aloha spokesman Stu Glauberman. Yeah, those rising gas prices will get you every time… except here on Maui! Dude, they’re down to $3.33 a gallon! Yeah, prices dropped last night, just like the state legislature said. It’s so surreal—when I look at the gas station signs, I almost feel like I fell into a time warp and woke up in June.
Anthony Pignataro has never been able to sleep on an airplane. MTW