So tonight Charlie Jencks finally got a county Land Use Committee hearing his big Wailea 670—oops, I think I’m supposed to call it Honua’ula, which translates as either “red earth” or “dark sugar cane,” depending on which dictionary you check out and whether you get off on this kind of marketing—project that seeks to build 1,400 new homes in Wailea. As Jencks likes to point out, the new development will have 350 affordable homes. Or put another way, it will have 1,050 unaffordable homes. Anyway, the point is that it will have a lot of homes, as well as the added bonus of an as-yet not really specified source of water. Let the good times roll! You know, we really need this Wailea 670. There just aren’t enough rich people living on Maui. Ask anyone. I mean, Maui Land & Pineapple’s Kapalua Mauka will help, but who knows when that will go through.
THURSDAY, Jan. 5
So the state Auditor is really putting in overtime doing all these audits. The latest, plugged in today’s Pacific Business News, says the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) doesn’t provide proper leadership over its Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), which has the thankless job of patrolling state-controlled lands. According to the report, DOCARE officers “rarely patrol the state’s waterways in available boats,” must deal with a 50 percent workload increase without a corresponding staff increase and find their time taken up by paperwork instead of actual law enforcement in the field. But somehow through it all, Maui DOCARE officers have managed to lead the state in average enforcement actions each year. Forgive me, but all this sounds a tad familiar to me. I know I’ve read it somewhere before… Oh, of course: it was the point of our Dec. 8, 2005 cover story “Those who DOCARE” by Cheryl Ambrozic-Mooz that profiled numerous DOCARE officers who were willing to put on the record their complaints that tight budgets are preventing them from doing their jobs. How silly of me to forget.
FRIDAY, Jan. 6
Great news for rich people! The Maui County Council just approved Maui Land & Pineapple’s big Kapalua Mauka plan! It wasn’t a complete blowout for the land king—just a 6-3 vote of approval—but it was more than enough to get the big resort expansion on its 20-year way. Was there ever really any doubt that the company would get its chance to build another 690 condos and homes for the wealthy and powerful? Or that the county would let it get away with building its mandatory affordable homes somewhere other than Kapalua Mauka, so the rich people who do live there don’t have to deal with unsightly working-class types—most of whom will be MLP employees anyway?
SATURDAY, Jan. 7
Pink just got married? To a guy? Go figure.
SUNDAY, Jan. 8
It’s taken a while, but the Jack Abramoff scandal—the biggest ethical blow-up in the U.S. Congress in decades—has finally washed up on our shores. Put much too simply, Abramoff was until last year a Type A, high-powered devil-may-care Republican lobbyist who took many millions of dollars from Indian tribes and other clients and then allegedly bribed a boatload of congressmen, most but not all of which are Republicans. For instance, our own Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye and Congressman Neil Abercrombie took Abramoff money. Anyway, citing Abramoff’s recent guilty plea on charges of tax evasion, fraud and conspiracy, Governor Linda Lingle announced she’s returning $4,000 she’s taken from Abramoff and his lobbying firm since late 2003 (Inouye has said he’s giving back the $6,000 he got from Abramoff, but Abercrombie’s insisting he’s going to keep his $2,000). My only question is why Lingle—and Inouye, for that matter—is giving the dough away now. Why not back in June 2005, when the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee reported that Abramoff spent money given to him by a Mississippi Indian tribe on a West Bank sniper school instead of on anti-gambling groups, which is how the tribe wanted the money spent in the first place? Or how about even earlier than that, in April of 2005, when the papers were reporting that Abramoff referred to his Indian tribe clients as “monkeys,” “troglodytes” and “idiots”? Or here’s an idea: she could just never have taken the money in the first place. She would have a perfect excuse, too: she could have cited the 1989 Dolph Lundgren picture Red Scorpion, which Abramoff produced and wrote. No one, including quite possible Abramoff himself, would have argued that point.
MONDAY, Jan. 9
Lingle may not have Abramoff’s money to play with anymore, but if the Hawai’i Democratic Party continues to find new ways to define the term “hapless,” she won’t need it. Yup, the state party lost another of its potential candidates to run against Lingle this weekend. According to today’s Honolulu Advertiser, former Honolulu Police Chief Lee Donohue opted out of the race after determining that he was going to have to raise money to pay for the campaign. This whittles down the number of potential Lingle adversaries to two, one of which—Hawai’i County Mayor Harry Kim—is actually a Republican. But hey! There’s still nine full months of potential campaigning before the election! That’s plenty of time to draft someone, plaster his or her face all over the state and cut a half-dozen awkward commercials in which he or she talks about life-long dreams of being governor. They could even do a debate or two! Oh yeah, Lingle’s toast.
TUESDAY, Jan. 10
So the DLNR just announced that they want $92 million in fiscal year 2007—a $15 million increase over what they’re getting this year. You think this has anything to do with that recent state audit saying the department has a week enforcement branch?
Anthony Pignataro is currently working on a sequel to the 1993 movie Swing Kids, tentatively titled Swing Adults, which deals with little-known German efforts to introduce swing dancing to Stalingrad during World War II. MTW