They called it a debate, but the medical experts who showed up at Seabury Hall tonight to talk up “The politics of health care” pretty much agreed that care on Maui and pretty much the rest of the U.S. is phenomenally screwed up, unless you’re rich, in which case you’re set. In fact, Dr. Ronald Kwon—the main force behind the proposed but apparently dead Malulani Medical Center—said he thought it “really shameful we’re the only industrialized nation that doesn’t have national health insurance.” Maui District Health Officer Lorrin Pang later stole the show, saying, “When you live in a looking glass world, things behave opposite.” All in all, it was a solid airing of views surrounding a very complex situation—another winner for Seabury’s Philosophy Club, which chooses the topics and questions for the monthly debates—but the evening didn’t all go so smoothly. I, for one, could have done without Maui Memorial Center Director and former banker Wesley Lo repeatedly uttering the infernal word “stakeholder”—which is totally true, except that when I wrote “repeatedly” just now I actually meant “once.”
THURSDAY, Feb. 8
Well, the opposition is down, but not quite out. Over on Oahu, the state Senate is holding hearings on the possibility of forcing Hawaii Superferry, Inc. to submit to a full environmental review before they start racing their ships between our islands. Using unusually harsh language in his testimony yesterday, Pacific Whale Foundation President Greg Kaufman said the proposed Superferry poses “jeopardy” to the humpback whales that visit our state every year. “The HSF [Hawaii Superferry] is a high-speed vessel unlike any other ever to ply Hawaiian waters,” he told the Senate Transportation and International Affairs Committee and the Energy and Environment Committee. “At 350 feet in length with a 78-foot beam and carving a draft at over 11 feet this vessel single-handedly poses a formidable threat to Hawaiian marine life, and in particular [the] endangered humpback whale.” Kaufman also ridiculed Superferry officials’ insistence that the “whale avoidance plan” would minimize strikes. “The math is not in HSF’s favor,” Kaufman said. “[A]ssuming a travel speed of 35 knots and encountering a whale at 500 yards, with the whale swimming 1-3 knots towards the vessel, the reaction time to collision is 2.38 seconds. Traveling at the same speed and detecting the whale at 100 yards, HSF has minus 9.67 seconds to react—in other word they will hit a whale before they even see it from about 500 yards or less.”
FRIDAY, Feb. 9
Brings a whole new meaning to the term “whale season,” doesn’t it?
SATURDAY, Feb. 10
One hundred residents reportedly gather in the Baldwin High School Multipurpose Room today at a special state Senate hearing on the proposed Superferry. Of those 100, an estimated zero percent spoke out in favor of the state’s plans to launch the large, fast auto ferries in July without first doing any kind of environmental review. Instead, residents seem fixated on concerns like the introduction of invasive species throughout the islands, how the boats will affect traffic in Kahului and what passengers would do should the ferry get stuck here overnight for whatever reason. All legitimate questions, when taken together they raise an additional curiosity: how the hell could the state get so stupid as to try to steamroll an inter-island, high-speed ferry past an environmental review? This is Hawai`i—a chain of islands bound up by very delicate cultural traditions and ecological balances that have unfortunately been misused, trodden upon and exploited for the last century. The least state officials could have done was pretend to care for something other than Hawaii Superferry, Inc.’s financing schedule when they approved this thing. But nope, couldn’t do that—and now they’re looking at a state Legislature that is tiring of hearing continuous citizen complaints and might just force the Superferry people to do an environmental impact statement. Funny how things work out.
SUNDAY, Feb. 11
Hey Grammy voters: people other than slack key compilation album producers have been known to record Hawaiian music. I know it sounds strange, but sometimes a single singer will fill an entire album with just songs that he or she wrote. If you look into it, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
MONDAY, Feb. 12
Just two days before V-Day, and the Associated Press drops a bombshell of a love story: there’s a move afoot in the state Legislature to legalize prostitution. If Senate Bill 706 passes—and that’s about as big an IF as you’re going to get this legislative term—prostitution will be legal in certain areas. “Designated areas shall include portions of geographic areas that have a history of this offense,” the bill states. “The designated areas may be described both by geographic boundaries and by time of day limitations.” Mmm… boundaries. Got to have boundaries… What? Anyway, those individuals caught soliciting hookers in “public places” will still face a $500 fine but no jail time. Ironically, the state senators and representatives sponsoring this bill don’t really seem to want it to pass. “It’s one of those bills, you do it for public dialogue instead of trying to get it passed,” state Representative Bob Herkes (D, 5th District) told the AP. “It helps to find out what the public thinks, and this is the way to do it.”
TUESDAY, Feb. 13
Just in case you were wondering how much money $575 million truly is—besides the reported amount a hui including superdeveloper Everett Dowling, Trinity Investments and Morgan Stanley Real Estate paid to get their hands on Makena Resort—I did some checking. That much cash will get you 19 Trident D-5 nuclear-armed submarine-launched ballistic missiles ($29.1 million apiece), one Norwegian Star cruise liner ($400 million) or five communications satellites (about $100 million each). In addition, that kind of money dwarfs the purchase price of a private island in the Caribbean ($1.75 million each) and nearly equals the gross domestic product of Gibraltar in the Mediterranean ($500 million). Enjoy!
Anthony Pignataro is about a quarter of the way into Thomas Pynchon’s new 1,100-page novel Against the Day, and though he enjoys it immensely, he really has no idea what it’s about. MTW