WEDNESDAY, Jan. 3
You know, the people who run the state’s Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) are pretty smart. Their job is to use their $70.7 million annual budget ($84 million, if they get their way this year!) to sell Hawai`i around the world as a tourist destination, because apparently there are still people who haven’t heard of the place. But this year, someone at the office had the bright idea to set aside $5 million for an “emergency response fund.” That way, if there’s a big terrorist threat, natural disaster or global pandemic—anything that would cause Governor Linda Lingle to declare a State of Emergency—then the HTA would use this fund for public relations, advertising and so forth. “When you go through a year like 2006 has been and you have a couple of what could be considered to be emergencies, although neither of them were catastrophic, you start to think about what if there was a catastrophic one and where would you find the money to do whatever you needed,” HTA president and CEO Rex Johnson said in today’s Honolulu Advertiser. This makes perfect sense: were a massive tsunami to hit Hawai`i, or a massive outbreak of bird flu or, God forbid, a worldwide nuclear holocaust, then people might not want to visit Hawai`i anymore. And that would really hurt our economy. I know I’ll sleep better knowing the HTA will have a doomsday fund so it can start churning out Come-To-Hawai`i marketing in the event of a disaster.
THURSDAY, Jan. 4
I can see it now: “Terror got you down? Try Hawai`i—bomb-free since 1941!” What?
FRIDAY, Jan. 5
Well, Mazie Hirono is now officially our new U.S. congressional representative. Far more liberal than her predecessor Ed Case—now safely tucked away in the Honolulu law firm Bays Deaver Lung Rose Baba—Hirono’s already got big plans for the next two years. “I’m very hopeful and optimistic that we will be able to do good things for the people of this country,” she said in today’s Advertiser. If you can’t recall the last time Congress did “good things” for the country, don’t worry—I think it happened sometime during Reconstruction. Anyway, one of the things Hirono wants to do right now, according to the paper, is “calling on the president to change direction in the Iraq war.” Talk about optimistic! Despite the midterm elections, Iraq Study Group recommendations and poll numbers that suggest the war is about as popular with the American people as syphilis, Bush wants to more U.S. troops into the fight for Baghdad. See, he’s still under the impression that we can have “victory” in Iraq. Until his advisers/political cronies/mommy convinces him this is pretty much impossible—or his term of office runs out in January 2009—our war in Iraq will continue.
SATURDAY, Jan. 6
A lot of people are scratching their heads concerning President Bush’s playing of musical chairs with our top Iraq War commanders, but it all makes perfect sense to me. See, he’s got to balance a realistic understanding that we’re losing the war with a complete and total inability to admit that his “leadership,” such as it is, has been astonishingly incompetent. Hence he moves Admiral William Fallon—an aviator who’s been heading the Pacific Command in Honolulu—over to Central Command where he’ll oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And then current Centcom commander General George Casey will be promoted to Army Chief of Staff. Fallon, whose understanding of naval aviation brings virtually nothing to the table in either Iraq or Afghanistan since counterinsurgency is a ground effort that’s far more political and socio-economic than military, is thus perfect for the job, since his views on the war haven’t been tainted by “experience.” And Bush must promote Casey—whose recent calling for lowering the number of U.S. soldiers in Iraq clearly puts him at odds with the president’s goal of “winning” in Iraq—or else face unhealthy questions that he disagrees with his top generals. I don’t know why everyone seems confused—it’s how we did things during the Vietnam War.
SUNDAY, Jan. 7
During the 2006 mayoral campaign Charmaine Tavares talked a lot about bringing new life to our tired, downtrodden county parks. This kinda made sense, since Tavares knew about parks because she was once head of the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Now Tamara Horcajo, Tavares’ new parks director, is up against the problem why our parks could use a bit of spiffing up. “Just to cover basic services I need at least eight new bodies,” Horcajo says in today’s Maui News. Now really, who would have thought that fixing up our parks would require more people and, by inference, more money? But have no fear—Tavares and Horcajo have a possible solution: “alternative funding sources like grants and sponsorships,” says the paper. Now grants are just grants, but sponsorships could really be cool. Think about it a moment: “Kalama Park, brought to you by Pepsi.” It’s all in the marketing—I’m sure HTA could offer a few tips.
MONDAY, Jan. 8
I was talking with a colleague about how the proposed Hawai`i Superferry looked to be a done deal—supposed to start sailing this summer, you know—when this morning’s Associated Press story on four renegade state senators—including our own J. Kalani English and Shan Tsutsui—are now saying that the Superferry needs to do a full environmental study. Of course, the Superferry people say they’ve already done more than enough “community outreach” and, in any case, have instituted something called a “whale avoidance policy” which, considering the speed with which these superferries travel, should really be something to see. Anyway, we’ve heard talk of a complete environmental review for over a year now. The question is whether the senators back up their words with some action.
TUESDAY, Jan. 9
Now that would be super.
Anthony Pignataro is waiting for an answer. MTW