Today Kathleen from Mana Means Advertising & Public Relations on Oahu called. Yes, Mana Means. The same guys who do PR for Mail Boxes, Etc., Bandito’s Cantina and Wilkinson Shake Roofing, wherever those places are. I know, I was shocked, too. I tried desperately not to sound nervous over the phone. Anyway, Kathleen told me she was working on behalf of a “congressional candidate” and wanted to send me—ME!—some press releases as they became available. Pausing to catch my breath, I told her that was fine, and to just send them to me. “Would fax or email be best?,” she asked. I froze. I didn’t want to seem too informal by saying email, but then again fax machines are horribly obsolete, like steam engines and TV comedies starring Scott Baio. “Either works, but email’s probably more convenient,” I said, throwing caution to the wind. She accepted that easily enough, and that’s when I made my big blunder. “Who is the congressional candidate?” I said, flushed with overconfidence. “Oh, we’re not announcing that yet,” she said, giggling slightly. “But you’ll hear about it soon.”
THURSDAY, Apr. 6
Big story in today’s Washington Post about House Resolution 513, which would severely limit contributions to so-called 527 political committees that in the last election spent gobs of money on “issue-ads.” Since the vast majority of 527 groups—named for the provision of the Internal Revenue Code that allows them tax-exempt status—benefit Democrats, the bill is seen as a major blow to the party’s ability to fight the Republicans, who raise their money through the party. Anyway, the bill narrowly passed “in a virtual party-line vote”—virtual, because seven Democrats, including our own congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Ed Case (D, 2nd District), voted for it. Now when I first heard all this, I’ll admit to saying, “Woohoo! Another reason to pile on Ed Case!” I mean, who cares about a Democrat who thinks we should fight in Iraq until Dubya tells us to leave? But then I remembered something: I hate 527 groups. Yes, they largely help Democrats take on the increasingly caveman-like Republicans, but they also make it possible for unlimited big money contributions to take over elections. That’s why good government organizations like Common Cause oppose 527 groups. Ditto The League of Women Voters. And Ralph Nader’s organization Public Citizen. I can argue with Case, but I can’t argue with them.
FRIDAY, Apr. 7
Isn’t it great to wake up one morning and find that not only is there such a thing as the Hawai’i Superferry Advisory Group, but that it’s already met twice? Superferry president John Garibaldi told The Maui News today that it was “coincidental” that his company suddenly announced the group as the state Senate Ways and Means Committee toyed with the idea of cutting $20 million in harbor expansion funds—money the ferries need if they’re going to disgorge cars on Maui. And maybe it is all a big coincidence. But let’s look a bit closer at the group itself. It’s apparently been meeting in secret, so it’s not exactly a force for public insight. It’s got six members, so if they ever have to vote on anything, they run the risk of ties. But how often would they deadlock, really? Let’s see: there’s Madge Schaeffer, chairwoman of the Governor Linda Lingle’s Maui Council of Advisors (I think it’s safe to call her pro-Superferry); there’s Diane Ho, head coach of the Hawaiian Canoe Club (anti-Superferry, if there is such a thing); there’s Robin Newbold, alternate member of the Humpback Whale Sanctuary Council (pro, given the revelations in our “Whale of a marriage” story from Apr. 6); there’s Mahina Martin, another canoe paddler (anti); there’s Warren Watanabe of the Maui County Farm Bureau (pro); and there’s Teya Penniman of the Maui Invasive Species Committee (anti). Now let’s just add up the votes and… well, look at that: three pro votes and three anti votes. I see nothing but calm waters ahead.
SATURDAY, Apr. 8
SUNDAY, Apr. 9
Everything you need to know about how the State of Hawai’i views corrections can be found in this single sentence, taken from today’s Honolulu Advertiser: “The state created a computer model in 2000 that allowed corrections officials to calculate how changes such as a three-strikes law would affect the prison population, but the state abandoned the computer simulation two years ago after funding ran out.” See, the state is considering a three-strikes law similar to that used in California. But state officials are worried that such a law would explode our already overcrowded prison system, which is already so bad many Hawai’i inmates are actually held in Arizona. Yet state law enforcement officials can’t even scrape together enough money to run a lousy computer model of how such a law would work here. But hey—we gotta lock more people up, right?
MONDAY, Apr. 10
With so much focus these days on all the crooks and cronies that seem to infest the Republican-run U.S. Congress, you’d think our own Hawai’i state Legislature would move quickly and decisively to limit lobbyist influence. Or failing that, they could come up with some kind of weak bill that would at least make a show of pushing lobbyists away from the trough. But no. According to an Associated Press story in yesterday’s Maui News, a bill that would have banned lobbyists from giving money to state senators and representatives while the Legislature was in session has died. The bill said nothing about giving money during the eight months of the year when legislators aren’t working on the people’s business, but apparently even that was too much to ask in an election year.
TUESDAY, Apr. 11
Just got a press release titled “Governors’ Spouses Take the Lead on Alcohol Awareness Month.” It’s about a new 21-member group called Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free. I was about to toss the thing when I noticed that one of the “Governors’ Spouses” is our own Lt. Governor James “Duke” Aiona. I wish I could make up stuff like that.
Anthony Pignataro is currently working with Jerry Bruckheimer to bring those old Mr. T cartoons they air late night on the Cartoon Network to the big screen. MTW