This Week in Review
July 20, 2006
WEDNESDAY, July 12
After a marathon session that ended early, early this morning, Maui County Council Chairman G. Riki Hokama seemed to be leading his colleagues to the unthinkable decision that the county should join a lawsuit by three Maui environmental organizations against the state's Department of Transportation. The grounds are simple and well known: the state refuses to require Superferry, Inc. to do a full environmental review of the plan to run high-speed car ferries between the islands even though it will require massive construction work at Kahului Harbor. For all his bravery and hard-edged realism on the lawsuit idea, Hokama did display a certain naivete during the hearing when he asked why preeminent Superferry backer Governor Linda Lingle—ostensibly a supporter of "home rule"—had forsaken her beloved Maui. This shocks you Riki? Really? See, Lingle's a state politician instead of merely a county one, and that means she reserves the right to completely reverse herself on long-held "home rule" principles if expediency demands it.
THURSDAY, July 13
Today political neophyte Angus McKelvey, who's running for the state House of Representative's 10th District against Democrat incumbent Kam Tanaka and former Maui Republican Party chairwoman Kay Ghean, wrote a letter to Her Majesty Governor Lingle pleading for her to "declare a state of emergency for West Maui because the traffic situation has reached the point of disaster." McKelvey told the governor that West Maui needs more bypass roads now or risks a major drop-off in tourism. "To put a personal spin on this impact, I have had some West Maui hotel managers tell me that for the first time in twenty years visitors have directly told them that they will not return to the island again because of the traffic," he wrote. McKelvey's right, but he's only got half the story. The state has been ridiculously slow in building highways in West Maui, but the Maui County Council has also been trigger-happy in approving massive residential and hotel expansion throughout the region. And it's just going to get worse. "A Kaanapali Development Corp. executive laid out plans Wednesday night for 4,850 new housing units on the company's West Maui lands," reported The Maui News today. Yeah, that'll make things better
FRIDAY, July 14
Looks like we're going to have to wait on that plan to get the County of Maui to sue the state over the Superferry, says today's Maui News. Seems the whole matter hasn't been "noticed properly" and any action taken would violate the state's open meetings law. Over-development, insanely high home prices and toothless resolutions—those things we can have now, but looks like we're just going to have to wait for county officials to start their war against the Superferry.
SATURDAY, July 15
It also doesn't look like we—or anyone else in the U.S.—will get to the bottom of that whole deal where the National Security Agency apparently got secret phone records from a bunch of phone companies. State legislators tried to hold an "informational briefing" on Wednesday to get some answers, but no one wants to cooperate. According to an Associated Press story published today, State Attorney General Mark Bennett refuses to subpoena any phone companies, even though New Jersey officials are doing exactly that. The phone companies—including Carlyle Group's Hawaiian Telcom—are denying they gave any records to the NSA. None of this is surprising—when was the last time you got a straight answer from the phone company?
SUNDAY, July 16
Which came first—the traffic or the headache?
MONDAY, July 17
With barely a week left before the filing deadline (July 25), political junkies are still asking Big Island Mayor Harry Kim—who is a Republican—if he will please, Please, PLEASE run on the Democratic ticket against Governor Lingle. This is not so far-fetched: Kim is popular, moderate and reasonable. What's more, he's got statewide recognition—an advantage sorely lacking in both Lingle's current Democratic challengers, former state Senator Randall Iwase and Oahu harbormaster William Aila. Then again, Kim's not exactly been decisive on the run-for-governor question. Lingle already has $3 million in her campaign bank account, and has said she'd spend double that to hold onto her job. If Kim wants to run against that, more power to him, but it ain't gonna be easy.
TUESDAY, July 18
There are 10 people running for Case's 2nd District Congressional seat, but the latest campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on July 14 strongly suggest the pack is already narrowing to just two. In terms of cash on hand, Democrat/former Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono is way out front with a little more than $335,000, while Republican/former State Representative Quentin Kawananakoa—his platform mirrors the Bush Administration's talking points—is running a distant second with nearly $177,000. The reports show he's loaned himself $250,000 and already started pouring tens of thousands of dollars into high-powered consultants as well as television and radio spots. Democrats Brian Schatz and Colleen Hanabusa are doing well—they've got $121,000 and $113,000, respectively—but the Political Action Committee (PAC) EMILY's List has not yet begun contributing money to Hirono's campaign. Billing itself as the "nation's largest grassroots political network," the pro-choice PAC's recent Hirono endorsement all but guarantees huge money for her in the near future.
Anthony Pignataro's most recent documentary series, the nine-part Hot Chicks: Where's Mine?, did not win a Peabody Award. MTW
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