WEDNESDAY, Feb. 28
Good news for county firefighter Uilani-Manu Gomes. Named Fire Department Employee of the Year—and one of the subjects of Maui Time’s Nov. 16, 2006 cover story “Hot Chicks: What it takes to be a female firefighter on Maui”—Gomes gets a big award from VFW Post 3850 this weekend. Now we don’t want to seem nitpicking about this, but in our humble opinion county Fire Chief Carl M. Kaupalolo’s endorsement of Gomes’ bravery and dedication could have been a bit, well, more eloquent: “Firefighter Gomes has contributed to improved services, financial savings and progressed in public service,” he said, according to today’s Maui News. Makes her sound like a clever accountant, rather than someone who regularly straps on an oxygen tank and dives into raging infernos. Anyway, Gomes and three other county employees who are getting honored will receive $100 and a certificate, which hopefully was written by someone other than Kaupalolo.
THURSDAY, Mar. 1
One of the state’s true bipartisan public officials is leaving his post. Of course, when I say “bipartisan,” I mean that this official did much to bring both Democrats and Republicans together in mutually despising him. That’s right: Dwayne Yoshina, who has served as Hawai`i’s chief elections officer since 1996, is stepping down, according to today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin. To the left, Yoshina was the guy with rotten “people skills” who gave out a no-bid contract in 1998 for a computerized voting system that didn’t even work properly. And to the right—specifically, Governor Linda Lingle—Yoshina ran an office that was impossibly slow in counting ballots. “When you have an office that has only one function and that is to hold elections every two years, we shouldn’t have this many problems with a state this size,” she said, according to the paper. Now in Yoshina’s defense, he doesn’t seem to have done anything truly stupid since 1998, when he chucked the state’s paper ballot system. Years before problematic voting procedures in Florida and Ohio gave the White House to George W. Bush, Yoshina gave Hawai`i a computer voter system that was so flawed the state Senate eventually ordered a full statewide recount. In this regard, Yoshina was far ahead of his time.
FRIDAY, Mar. 2
SATURDAY, Mar. 3
SUNDAY, Mar. 4
So the other day I was talking to my friend Sarah, who works at the Southshore Tiki Lounge in Kihei, about bees. “Bees across the country are just dying,” she told me. She had read about the great bee die-off on some online news site. “I haven’t seen anything on this anywhere, and nobody has any idea why they’re disappearing,” Sarah said. “The ramifications across the environment are stunning, and you’d think this would be a little more important than Anna Nicole Smith, but I guess not.” I mention all this now because the Honolulu Star-Bulletin has a big story today on how Hawai`i’s bees seem to be very healthy. “Bees are reportedly vanishing, in 22 states across the nation, stricken by mites, pathogens and the most recent outbreak of ‘fall dwindle disease,’” reported the paper. “Hawaii remains one of the few places in the world where the bees, because of the geographic isolation and quarantine, remain healthy.” Well, relatively healthy: for reasons completely unknown, honey production is down 21 percent from last year’s levels. “We watch our bees just like you’d watch your cows, sheep or goats,” Oahu beekeeper Michael Kliks said in the Star-Bulletin article. “We knew 10 years ago something was going on. We haven’t had a decent harvest here for at least a decade… Everything is helter skelter and our bees are starving.”
MONDAY, Mar. 5
While it’s a good thing the state Legislature is gradually waking up to the fact that the proposed Superferry will impact the state’s environment in ways far more pronounced and different than the slow-moving barges and freighters that currently use our waters, it’s time to be realistic about the chances of forcing a full environmental review on the big boats. Yes, state Senators have proposed a bill that would require a full environmental review of the Superferry–at state taxpayer expense, though, and only after Hawaii Superferry, Inc. starts operations–but it’s not even close to a done deal. That’s because Superferry opponents in the Legislature still have to get their compromise bill by Maui’s own Representative Joe Souki. He’s sat in the seat representing Wailuku and Waiehu for the last quarter century. A longtime Superferry supporter—and beneficiary of $1,000 in Superferry campaign cash (See The Exchange, Feb. 15, 2007)—Souki has loudly and proudly declared his intention to kill any and all Superferry EIS bills that reach his Transportation Committee, which he chairs. “[W]e don’t need it,” Souki said in yesterday’s Maui News of a Superferry EIS. “The judge said we don’t need it. The federal government says we don’t need it.” Even the support in the state Senate for an EIS doesn’t bother old Joe. “The Senate usually have things wrong,” he said in the News.
TUESDAY, Mar. 6
The war in Iraq will take a long time—perhaps many years—but we need to slow the bloodshed very soon to change the “perceptions” about the war. So says Admiral William J. Fallon, the new head of U.S. Central Command, in today’s Honolulu Advertiser. Now if you think Fallon’s prescription sounds vague, contradictory and pretty much impossible, then you’re probably more informed than many on the “progress” of our latest Middle East fight, which has to date gone on longer than our involvement in World War II. Now in Fallon’s defense, his interview with the Advertiser was significant not for what he said, but for the fact that he never used the word “victory,” which comes out of the White House so often these days you’d think they were getting royalties on its use.
Anthony Pignataro just realized that you can’t spell “Dick Cheney” without “Dick.” MTW