This Week in Review
June 15, 2006
WEDNESDAY, June 7
Seems the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has decided to "request information" from the National Security Agency (NSA) about whether the spooks in Washington are tracking our telephone conversations. "We continue to operate in the dare here, and Hawai'i's citizens deserve to know whether or not the federal government is monitoring their phone calls," Rep. Brian Schatz (D, 25th District) said in a press release today announcing the decision. "Our constitution guarantees privacy for Hawai'i citizens, so this is a critical issue for the government to investigate." Schatz, who's been pushing this NSA eavesdropping thing ever since USA Today broke the story and is one of many candidates running for U.S. Representative Ed Case's 2nd District congressional seat, is probably going to end up disappointed. See, the NSA is our nation's most paranoid and secret government agency. The chances that they'll provide honest and candid answers to Hawai'i's PUC are about as good as President George W. Bush appointing Paris Hilton to the Federal Appeals Court. Or a civil liberties attorney. Still, I'm glad someone in Honolulu is at least asking questions.
THURSDAY, June 8
So it looks like the old Akaka Bill is dead. Not yet buried—U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka has too much at stake in his bid for reelection to let go of his vaunted Native Hawaiian Recognition Act so easily—but it is dead. Sixty senators were needed today to approve a full floor debate on the bill—something Akaka has spent the last six years asking for—but only 55 of his colleagues agreed. Even that is amazing, considering all the talk of how the bill was racist and unconstitutional spouted by right-wing senators Lamar Alexander (R, Tennessee) and Jon Kyl (R, Arizona). Akaka is promising to revive the bill this legislative session and, if it fails again, next year (assuming he's around to do so), but what else can he say? State Senator J. Kalani English called the loss a "major setback," and that's pretty astute. Then again, the real radical Native Hawaiian activists—the ones who want secession from the U.S of A—always hated the Akaka Bill anyway, because it pretty much made that dream an impossibility.
FRIDAY, June 9
Here's something you don't see every day: Howard Konrad, the owner of the Whaler's Village Museum and Lahaina Scrimshaw, has just been indicted by the fed for illegal trafficking of sperm whale teeth, according to today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin. See, sperm whale teeth are made of extremely valuable ivory, but they're also usually attached to sperm whales, which are an endangered species. As such, selling sperm whale teeth requires a special U.S. Fish and Wildlife permit, which the Star-Bulletin says Konrad didn't have. In any case, Konrad's attorney says that Konrad is reputable and, though fascinated by whaling—no surprise there—is working with the U.S. Attorney's office to end the matter.
SATURDAY, June 10
Hey, isn't it great that the state got rid of that horrible gasoline price cap? I mean, what were they thinking? Thank God we don't have to go through that again. No more shelling out—ha! Shelling out! That's pretty funny!—$3.67 for a single gallon of 87 Octane. No sir, those dark days are long gone. Just say this morning that the price of gas has plummeted all the way to $3.61 a gallon. It's positively magical.
SUNDAY, June 11
Big story in today's Maui News about a consultant's report that came out in March detailing how the Maui County Planning Department was slow, understaffed, overworked and exhibited a "permissive" attitude concerning code enforcement. Oh, come on—this sounds like science fiction. Seriously though, what did the consultants do—drive up to Launiupoko and see all those lavish "farm dwellings" developers have been building up there over the last few years? Even more amazing than this startling conclusion—exemplified by the fact that despite a stated 25-day permit processing time period, the department typically takes four months to move permits through—The Maui News managed to get both Maui Chamber of Commerce President and developer extraordinaire Charlie Jencks and slow growth activist Lance Holter to agree that the report was dead on the money. In fact, both said the same thing: the Planning Department needs more people. While it's hard to argue this point. In his defense, Planning Department Director Mike Foley pointed out that his agency hasn't got the money to pay for expansion. While true, there's a flip side to that coin: despite all the horrors that supposedly go on in the planning cubicles—records stored in the hallway, planners not returning phone calls, etc.—somehow those people have managed to approve a heap of new residential, commercial and resort developments. I know because I pass all the cranes on my way to work.
MONDAY, June 12
Good news everyone! The brand new Pacific Tsunami Warning Center—that super high-tech nerve center set up at Ewa Beach on Oahu to alert all U.S. territories around the Pacific of deadly tsunami waves—was built in a tsunami zone. So says today's online Pacific Business News. Now here's some even better news: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wants to move the warning center to Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, which turns out is also a tsunami zone. Government agencies—they're fantastic!
TUESDAY, June 13
Agree or disagree with the Senator Akaka's Native Hawaiian Recognition Act, its death—and unless Democrats take over both the U.S. House and Senate in November, it's going to stay dead—means really bad things for Akaka's reelection campaign. Here's an 81-year-old, progressive but largely feckless guy saying people should for him and not that whippersnapper fake-Republican Ed Case, which is a great platform for reelection except that Akaka's esteemed colleagues in the Senate know better and don't act like he's got any seniority. The Akaka Bill has been floating around the congress for six years—it's hard to run on seniority with that kind of record.
Anthony Pignataro has long believed that Keith David is a much better actor than David Keith. MTW
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