WEDNESDAY, Dec. 20
In World War I, “military strategy” involved throwing huge quantities of men and fire at the enemy’s entrenched lines. Both sides did this for about four years, and then Germany surrendered. In 1936, the British author C.S. Forester described this “strategy” in his World War I novel The General: “In some ways it was like the debate of a group of savages as to how to extract a screw from a piece of wood. Accustomed only to nails, they had made one effort to pull out the screw by main force, and now that it had failed they were devising methods of applying more force still, of obtaining more efficient pincers, of using levers and fulcrum so that more men could bring their strength to bear. They could hardly be blamed for not guessing that by rotating the screw it would come out after the exertion of far less effort; it would be so different that they would laugh at the man who suggested it.” I quote this now because President George W. Bush said this morning that he wants to send 30,000 more U.S. soldiers to Iraq.
THURSDAY, Dec. 21
Spitting in the eye of all those crabby naysayers who insist it’s still much, Much, MUCH too early to be declaring a candidacy for U.S. President in 2008, U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D, Illinois) has said—through his sister—that he will announce whether he’ll run after he finishes his vacation here in Hawai`i. Hey, a man’s got to keep his priorities straight.
FRIDAY, Dec. 22
Great news for all you Kihei-Upcountry road fans! According to today’s Maui News, the state Highways Division will—in the next few weeks—decide who gets the contract to design the actual road. Can’t you just smell the asphalt? Now they’re thinking the road, which has been kicked around since 1970, which was so long ago that people were still watching new episodes of Green Acres, will cost something like $86.3 million. Oh, and the story says it’ll take five years to build the road. Five years! At first I thought this was an insanely long time, but then I realized that it’s actually very realistic. That’s because the road is from Kihei to Upcountry, which is uphill at a considerable slope. Now if engineers were to build a road from Upcountry to Kihei, which is all downhill, then they’d have a far easier time and would probably get done a lot faster. But no one ever listens to me about these things.
SATURDAY, Dec. 23
We’re getting near the end of the year, and you kids know what that means! That’s right: it’s time to watch our beloved Maui County Council members jockey for power and influence in their upcoming term. And they’re so elegant about it, too, they way they all line up in today’s Maui News—Councilwoman Jo Anne Johnson excepted—behind current Chairman G. Riki Hokama (who very humbly refuses to comment for the article). The reason Johnson isn’t backing Hokama? Why, she wants the job herself. Now it would be nice if Johnson did take charge of the council, but there’s no way that’s going to happen. The story makes clear she hasn’t got the votes—she doesn’t seem to have any votes, actually, beyond her own—which isn’t at all surprising given the fact that except for Johnson and Michelle Anderson, the rest of the council members all support the standard land developer agenda. But that doesn’t mean there’s not going to be a fight once the council reconvenes Jan. 2, 2007. No sir—Council members Danny Mateo and Mike Molina both want the all-powerful—okay, sorta powerful—job of Vice Chairman. It’s not really clear from the article who’s got the edge, though my money’s on an entirely different candidate: Joseph Pontanilla. He’s pro-development and quiet—so quiet his name doesn’t even appear in the story!—he’s the perfect dark horse candidate to ride in and take over after Mateo and Molina split the vote.
SUNDAY, Dec. 24
Sorry Dave. At least Arizona State put up a good fight.
MONDAY, Dec. 25
For some reason Governor Linda Lingle—who said during her recent reelection campaign that her administration has “taken unprecedented action to preserve the environment”—suddenly wants to spend far more money on environmental protection than ever before, according to today’s Honolulu Advertiser. She wants the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to start getting slightly more than $100 million each year—more than $40 million more than when she first took office in 2002. What’s more, she wants to increase the DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) from the current miniscule 40 officers to 150 over the next two years. If this sudden recognition that DLNR is severely underfunded and understaffed, it’s because you read about it right here in these pages more than a year ago. “For the past few years, DOCARE has run on a skeleton crew of just six enforcement officers and two supervisors on Maui, one officer and supervisor on Lanai and one officer on Molokai to patrol or cover all this,” Cheryl Ambrozic reported in our Dec. 8, 2005 story “Those who DOCARE.” Ambrozic then quoted DOCARE Branch Chief Randy Awo: “Ideally, what I need to accomplish our goals in Maui County is to employ 50 enforcement officers plus five more supervisors and five more clerical support staff,” Awo said. “My men are working under dire circumstances. We have a good staff here, but we are small and our challenges continue to increase. We need more officers. I don’t think this will happen in my lifetime but it would be nice if it could happen in the lifetime of our children.”
TUESDAY, Dec. 26
Could it be that Awo was unduly pessimistic about the state finally giving him the people he needs to enforce our state’s environmental laws? Is this spending increase a tacit admission by Lingle that her first term of office didn’t really do squat for the environment? I don’t know—you tell me.
Anthony Pignataro wants to know where all the irate shoppers have gone. MTW