WEDNESDAY, Jan. 17
Dark day in the state Legislature today. Because of new rules adopted by the state House of Representatives and Senate, powerful industry officials will no longer be able to take unpaid intern positions in legislators’ offices. No more will people like Mark Forman, the Hawaii Medical Service Association Foundation executive administrative who also moonlights as a grown man, be allowed to intern for free in the office of someone like state Representative Bob Herkes, who last year chaired the House Consumer Protection Committee. What is this state coming to? Doesn’t the so-called “good government” crowd know what it costs big organizations and corporations to lobby our state legislators? What, you want those knuckleheads we elected to write the laws, without any help from Big Business? That’s crazy!
THURSDAY, Jan. 18
Amidst all the talk and debate over what exactly to do with the state’s half a billion dollar budget surplus, the online edition of the Pacific Business News carried a very brief item titled “Poverty metrics: Hawaii’s problem is severe.” Whaaaat? The Aloha State, flush with tax revenue, bursting with wealthy tourists, has poor people? Apparently, and not just a few, either: “A national study finds that one in five Hawaii families have zero or negative net financial worth,” reported PBN. In fact, the problem is so bad that just five states are in worse shape. This is astonishing—20 percent of that same state that has nearly half a billion dollars burning a hole in its treasury’s pocket is, at best, living from paycheck to paycheck. But there’s reason for hope—with no election scheduled for another two years, our state legislators and esteemed Governor Linda Lingle have a free pass to work together on a realistic solution.
FRIDAY, Jan. 19
Woohoo! Tax rebate time! Who said Lingle didn’t care about poor people? The Associated Press is reporting today that she wants the state Legislature to pass a $346 million tax rebate package that would return to every family earning less than $100,000 a year the grand total of $100 per person. And I was worried our leaders wouldn’t take the state’s problems seriously.
SATURDAY, Jan. 20
As if there was doubt, the Superferry floats. So today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin informs us. And not only does it bob in a generally upright position more or less exactly as designed, but the new Hawaii Superferry has a bitchin’ new logo, too! No more of that wussy “H4” nonsense that sported old Superferry mugs—a sleek, stylish manta ray now adorns the Superferry name. “The support is a natural fit with the image we have selected to represent Hawaii Superferry,” company president John Garibaldi says in the article. “Just as the manta navigates our waters with elegance and efficiency, so, too, will our ferry serve Hawaii. And unlike the stingray, the manta ray does not sting, charge or bite. The benign manta ray calls Hawaii home, moving freely and naturally in our waters. This spirit exemplifies Hawaii Superferry’s connection to the state.” See? We have nothing to worry about. People looking at the Superferry logo may see a killer stingray, but they’re wrong, Wrong, WRONG. The Superferry will be an elegant, graceful ship, though in all honesty the boat’s projected 40-knot speed is a tad bit quicker than your typical manta ray. Also I don’t think manta ray could kill a humpback whale if it tried, charge $52 per person for a three-hour Friday excursion or spend $84,317 lobbying the state Legislature between Mar. 1, 2005 and Apr. 30, 2006, but I might be wrong.
SUNDAY, Jan. 21
Apparently, locals aren’t really taking to the new MTV reality show Maui Fever, which details the lives of a bunch of 20-something Westside haole hotties. “I couldn’t even stomach the first few minutes,” a Kihei mother says in today’s Maui News, which also quotes county Film Commissioner Benita Brazier as saying the show’s producers “did tell us they weren’t going to be offensive, and it seems like they’ve done just the opposite.” MTV offensive? The same network that produced such cultural pillars as Laguna Beach, Next! and all the Real World incarnations? You think they’re offended by all this bad publicity that’s doing little more than shoving legions of fans to the television screen? But hey, if you really get offended by a show about a gaggle of white kids trying to hook up every 17 seconds, think about the Jan. 16, 2007 Honolulu Advertiser story that revealed how show producer Asylum Entertainment has applied for a special state tax credit that encourages local movie production. Oh yes: it’s highly likely us Hawai`i residents will end up subsidizing Maui Fever. Now that’s reality TV.
MONDAY, Jan. 22
Though her theme involved innovation and risk-taking, Governor Lingle’s rhetoric during her annual State of the State Address this morning remained very safe. She liberally repeated well-worn, ultimately meaningless phrases like “digital revolution,” “global information-based economy,” “seize the moment,” “interconnected world” and “giving citizens the tools they need to compete in the 21st century” (a phrase that used to pack a lot more punch when it was just the 20th century). Her speech was basically a digest of “219 proposals”—including tax breaks and incentives to encourage private industry to nuzzle even closer to government—that she said would convert our state economy from one based on land development to one “fueled by innovation,” whatever that is. Oh, and this morning the state killed the proposed Malulani Hospital, too.
TUESDAY, Jan. 23
After Dain Kane’s abysmal fourth place, 12.3 percent showing in the 2006 Maui County Mayor’s Race, many political observers wondered what the pro-development, four-term councilman representing Wailuku would do now that he was unemployed. But have no fear, Kane fans: he’s back to work at the county. According to Ken Fukuoka, the county’s Director of Council Services, Council Chairman Riki Hokama recently hired Kane as a temporary executive assistant. Kane’s primary responsibility will be to lobby the state Legislature, both to push bills the county wants—like a bill to allow the county regulate timeshares differently than hotels—but also to make sure state representatives don’t pass anything “harmful” to the county. As such, Kane’s employment will run the length of the current legislative session—Jan. 15 through May 15—and he’ll earn $6,250 a month, or $25,000 for the whole deal. While this sounds pretty damn good for just four months of work, Fukuoka added that since Kane’s posting is temporary he won’t accrue retirement benefits or get health insurance.
Anthony Pignataro understands what it means to be offensive. MTW