Go visit the Renaissance Wailea Beach Resort while you can, because they’re knocking it down next spring. Of course they’re going to demolish it—it’s 29 years old. It’s ancient! Did you know it dates clear back to the 20th century? It was built in 1976, a quaint time when people subsisted on 12 television channels, listened to music recorded on magnetic tape and drove cars that got just eight miles to the gallon. Boy, glad those days are gone. Anyway, the Renaissance Wailea is obviously totally obsolete so its owners want it knocked into debris. Like the guys who own the Royal Lahaina and Kapalua Bay Hotel—you know who you are—they want it replaced with a smaller, more “elite” hotel. In this case, by the St. Regis. It’ll be a place where very rich snobs can sip Mai Tais, gaze at Kaho’olawe and spend their days coming up with new reasons why they’re better than everyone else.
THURSDAY, Dec. 1
So there’s a new report out commissioned by the state Land Use Commission that says Maui County doesn’t have strong rules in place to make sure that people building on land zoned for agriculture are actually doing agriculture. You don’t need a report to tell you that—just drive through Launiupoko and see for yourself. If you spot a chicken coop you’ll be amazed. And what’s this about how even lots “left fallow” (some of us refer to that as being “undeveloped”) are also in compliance? Wow. You know, the tract house I grew up in had a “farm” in front of the house (next to the driveway) and another “farm” out back by the swing set and garbage cans. We “grew” crabgrass on our “acreage,” which was sometimes fallow when we didn’t get a lot of rain. Every weekend I had to “harvest” the crabgrass, but since none of us ate crabgrass clippings, we just threw it all away. We were reamed—in hindsight, we should have insisted that our lot get rezoned as agriculture and take the appropriate tax breaks.
FRIDAY, Dec. 2
Did you guys see that chart on the front page of today’s Maui News listing the various members of our powerful Iraq Coalition? The “Coalition of the Willing” is how “President” George W. Bush used to call it. Man, I’ve been to gun shows that packed more firepower. We’ve got troops in Iraq from Azerbaijan? Mongolia? El Salvador? What the hell did we say when Albania offered to send 120 guys? Don’t you think Armenia needs its 46 soldiers more than we do? And was it really necessary for Kazakhstan to send 27 soldiers? Oh man, do we suck.
SATURDAY, Dec. 3
Should have gone to the beach today.
SUNDAY, Dec. 4
Whoa! Did anyone catch Maui County District Health Officer Lorrin Pang’s op-ed piece in today’s Maui News? He was writing it as a private citizen instead of the county’s top health guy, but damn if he didn’t lay out a considerable case against letting genetically modified food makers—like Monsanto Hawai’i, which is growing and testing such things on our island—run free from regulation. “The GMO industry sometimes misrepresents the effectiveness of their current system, citing cases when product lines have been aborted based on animal toxicity,” wrote Pang. “We have marketed many GMOs, all of which are unlabeled, making post marketing studies near impossible. Even when products can be identified (say asbestos, lead or tobacco) it may take decades to detect harmful effects.” And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Pang then localized his argument. “Specifically for Hawaii, the field testing of experimental crops puts workers and communities at risk,” he wrote before advocating new federal regulators who aren’t so cozy with GMO manufacturers. Don’t see that happening until the Bush Administration—which tends to give giant multi-national corporations whatever the hell they want—is long gone, but it’s still nice to see someone as informed as Pang go public on this.
MONDAY, Dec. 5
There was also a tiny story in yesterday’s Maui News saying that the U.S. Navy will be heading to Kaho’olawe in the next few days to blow up some old bombs that were discovered last spring. It’s all part of an agreement that the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission has with the swabbies to take care of whatever old explosives happen to pop out now and then from the old days when the island was a gunnery target. And do you know why such an agreement is in existence? That would be because the Navy didn’t clean up the island as per its original promise. What a surprise.
TUESDAY, Dec. 6
The Honolulu Advertiser is reporting today that Lynn Scarlett, the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, will be touring Hawai’i this week as part of some fact-finding mission that may or may not have something to do with the fact that Washington is a cold wasteland right now while the islands are warm and pleasant. She’ll be the ranking federal official at the big Pearl Harbor Day festivities before doing a little island hopping. She’s supposed to see a fair amount of Maui, including Haleakala, the Ulupalakua Ranch, the Waihe’e coastal dunes, Kanaha Beach, then take a helicopter tour of the whole island to see various watershed projects. This is all fine and dandy except for one little thing: Scarlett doesn’t believe that the federal government—or any government, really—should be regulating the environment. She feels that big business and private industry should handle any environmental doings that need to be done. In fact, she takes a dim view of anyone who considers him or herself to be an environmentalist. In 1997, she wrote in Reason Magazine that, “Environmentalism is a coherent ideology that rivals Marxism in its challenge to the classic liberal view of government as protector of individual rights.” Sounds like the perfect person to be second in command at the federal agency in charge of protecting the environment.
Anthony Pignataro is not a number. He is a free man. MTW