Somehow, whether by accident or vast conspiracy, Democratic Congressman Ed Case managed to get on the same stage as U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka (D, Hawai’i). This went down at the Aug. 8 Hawai’i Publishers Association luncheon and it was apparently stunning to see. See, Case has been complaining almost since the day he declared he would run for the Senate that Akaka was refusing to debate him. That’s why it was so great that they both went to the luncheon: there, Case could—and did, according to today’s Honolulu Advertiser—say that Akaka is old and ineffective, and Akaka could get all folksy and say we should honor our kupuna. Hey, this is important, people! But only until the Primary Election on Sept. 23. See, Jerry Coffee, the former Vietnam War POW, Midweek columnist and current front-runner for the Republican nomination, just checked into some hospital in Texas for emergency heart surgery. His son told the Associated Press that Coffee is expected to recover and will stay on the ballot, but won’t be doing any more campaigning. Hawai’i Republicans are funny people—they’ve got a lock on the Governor’s Mansion, but not much else.
THURSDAY, Aug. 10
Land development on Maui has literally become a sickness. Yesterday Judge Joseph Cardoza ruled that the county is not to issue any approvals or permits for the Maui Lani subdivisions in Kahului and Wailuku because the Mayor’s office should never have allowed the developer to grade the land in excess of county code. In a Maui News article today, Cardoza denied that he’d be issuing development permits from the bench, but really—given the Planning Department we’ve got now, would that be so bad? Even the Maui Planning Commissioners are kinda/sorta half-heartedly saying that something’s gotta be done about all this traffic that just keeps getting worse. In fact, they even started ripping into the Hyatt and its consultant Chris Hart at their Tuesday hearing. “This is a collective problem that involves not just this project,” Hart told the commission. He’s exactly right. The choking, strangling West Maui traffic is a collective problem, and demands a collective solution: a moratorium on all new land development. Call it tough love for our beloved officials—just as if they were alcoholics in denial, we must carefully pull the bottle out of the their hands so they can’t drink anymore. It’ll be difficult—the developers will bitch and moan like you wouldn’t believe, but it’ll be worth it. If the developers complain to the county, they’ll hear that the moratorium will come off when the state starts building some highways or high-speed rail lines—anything that will alleviate some of that congestion. My guess is things will start happening fairly soon after that.
FRIDAY, Aug. 11
Surprising news just emailed to me from the Ed Case camp: a new poll says Case and Akaka “are running even with 43 days left to the primary election.” According to Case’s email, a survey of 500 likely Hawai’i voters shows 47 percent are for Akaka, 45 percent for Case and eight percent are undecided, with a 4.5 percent error rate. That’s huge! That’s crazy! That’s… probably bogus. See, the poll was done by Rasmussen Reports, which is notorious in the political campaign world for being less than reliable. See, they conduct polls using what they call “automated polling methodology”—or put another way, a computer calls people up and asks them polling questions. Since a human being never asks the questions, there’s no way for the company to be certain who’s exactly answering the questions. This might explain why other polls in which one human being interviewed by other human beings show Akaka leading Case by as many as 20 percentage points. Anyway, the respected Capitol Hill paper Roll Call, the Associated Press and CNN refuse to report automated polling results. I’m writing about the Rasmussen results here because otherwise, no one would ever know about the poll or its inherent problems. I mean, the local press around here is rather gullible, but not nearly so much to fall for a stunt like this.
SATURDAY, Aug. 12
Doh! Just opened up today’s Honolulu Advertiser and found a story headlined “Polls show Akaka still ahead of Case.” Seems that a “national polling firm released poll results yesterday that found that U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka holds a slight edge over U.S. Rep. Ed Case in the Democratic primary for Senate among all likely voters…” Yeah, I’m shocked, too.
SUNDAY, Aug. 13
There’s a far better—and scarier—story in the Advertiser today about the unknown but undoubtedly high number of unexploded bombs, artillery shells and torpedoes that litter our islands and waters. See, Maui is covered in the junk, which mostly dates to World War II. It’s all over the old Makawao Gunnery Site, Kamaole Training Base in Kihei and ‘Opana Point Bombing Range, as well as Kanouou Point, Kanahena Point and even the Molokini Crater. Of course the federal government hasn’t put nearly enough money into cleanup, so it’s likely we won’t find out where the old explosives are around here until commercial and residential development starts encroaching on the old ranges.
MONDAY, Aug. 14
Whoa! The Maui News editorializes today that something radical really needs to be done about traffic—light rail radical, to be exact: “A rail system [running from Kahului to Kapalua] built privately or publicly or in partnership, could take hundreds of tourist cars off the road each day, make commuting a breeze and avoid throwing millions of dollars into asphalt that would be jammed by cars the day after it’s down.” That sounds like an outstanding idea, though it’s doubtful it would happen anytime soon—certainly not soon enough to help when all those new timeshare towers start opening in North Beach next year.
TUESDAY, Aug. 15
You think traffic’s bad now, just wait until then.
Anthony Pignataro is mad as Hell but is perfectly willing to take it some more. MTW