The Week in Review
March 13, 2008
WEDNESDAY, Mar. 5
Let's start the week off right—with a lawsuit filed by five citizens alleging that in 2007 the Maui County Council's Land Use Committee repeatedly violated state open meetings laws while deciding what the hell to do with the big Wailea 670 project. "The Hawai'i Sunshine Act requires that the County Council allow public testimony on every agenda item at every meeting," Lance Collins, the attorney for the five citizens, said in a press release sent out today. "Last year during the Wailea 670 meetings, Land Use Committee Chair Mike Molina avoided public testimony requirements by engaging in a running recessed meeting several times." Now I can just visualize Wailea 670 "representative" Charlie Jencks throwing a hissy over this one, sputtering and stammering about how public comment just droned on and on during Land Use Committee hearings on Wailea 670, and that is actually a fair point. Many people did get to testify in public on this project. But that's not the issue: for years, Wailea 670 boosters like Jencks have been sneering that they had an "entitlement" to the land. And using the strictest, narrowest legal definitions, they were correct. Hence the beauty of today's lawsuit, which is every bit as narrow and legalistic as the arguments used by the Wailea 670 people. The law is the law, right?
THURSDAY, Mar. 6
Had an interesting chat with Doug Thorn. In case you haven't heard of him—and I can't think of a reason why you would have—he was the Project Technical Manager for the Hawai`i Superferry at the Austal shipyard in Mobile, Alabama. Put much too simply, he's the guy who actually built the Superferry. Anyway, I called Thorn because I wanted to find out what the people at Austal thought of Hawai`i Superferry, Inc. CEO John Garibaldi's saying in the Feb. 21, 2008 Honolulu Advertiser that a "design flaw" in the Superferry's rudder was at fault for the boat's recent pitching troubles. "That's an erroneous statement," Thorn—who strangely enough hadn't been asked his views on the Superferry's notorious rudder problems until this morning—told me. "There was a design change that we made that didn't filter down to this boat. It's not a major big deal—well, it was a major big deal that we had to go back and fix it—but it happens. The problem goes back to [designers in] Australia. That's actually part of the issue, but we're doing a lot of our own [design] work now. It's just one of those things." Now we may just be splitting hairs on this whole "design flaw" vs. "unmade design change" issue, but Thorn did seem really optimistic about the Superferry's current state of repair. Of course, this might be because yesterday Thorn and the rest of his Superferry team won the "Engineering Project of the Year" award from the Mobile Area Council of Engineers. Anyway, Thorn finished up our chat by saying that Austal workers have finished fixing the Superferry's rudder problems, and are now fixing the damage caused when Honolulu shipyard workers apparently "misblocked" the boat as they drydocked her. "She's a great ship, man, she really is," Thorn told me. "We just have to get her running on a consistent basis. Should be a couple, two-three weeks now."
FRIDAY, Mar. 7
Across the country, the sub-prime mortgage-lending crisis is ballooning into a full-fledged cataclysm and may in fact be dragging the entire nation into recession. Foreclosures are rising, home prices are falling. Can you think of a better time to jump into the local real estate market? And can you think of a better, sharper person to just walk in and clean house (so to speak) than… James "Kimo" Apana? I certainly can't—and neither can Prudential, which could barely contain their glee in an ad that's running in today's Maui News classifieds. "Welcome Kimo!" the ad announces. "As a former Mayor of Maui, Kimo's knowledge of the community and its people are unsurpassed. Once again, Kimo is showing his willingness to work with and help the people of Maui fulfill their dreams of home ownership."
SATURDAY, Mar. 8
Well, Thorn wasn't even close on when the Superferry would be able to sail again. HSF officials announced today that she'll stay in drydock another six weeks. "[W]ork to repair damage to the ship that occurred during the drydocking process is going to take longer than was previously projected," stated a McNeil Wilson Communications press release I received this afternoon. "Based on the latest repair schedule, reservations for sailings after April 22 are now being accepted." April 22? Hey, the Superferry still exists, right? It wasn't totally smashed into a million pieces when they hauled her out of the water, right? And all these delays aren't just so the company can figure out a way to tell us that they really, Really, REALLY screwed the pooch?
SUNDAY, Mar. 9
I'm just asking.
MONDAY, Mar. 10
Speaking of screwing the pooch, the news today is just packed with evidence that the War in Iraq is yet again headed for complete disaster. President George W. Bush and Republican presidential nominee John McCain insist we're winning, so how come the Associated Press is reporting today that the monthly cost of the war is now running at $12 billion? Typical inflationary pressures? Remember the good old days when the war cost just $9 billion a month? Of course, if you really want to get nostalgic you can think back all the way to 2003, when the Bush Administration was saying the "oil revenues" would pay for the war and we'd have lower gas prices to boot. Yeah, good times… Anyway, suicide bombers killed eight American soldiers today, the first time this has happened in about a year. But there's also good news! Vice President Dick Cheney's old company KBR, Inc. has finally stopped supplying our troops with "unmonitored and potentially unsafe" water, according to an official Pentagon report obtained by the AP. KBR insists it meets all our military's "contract standards" and has an "unwavering" commitment to our troops' safety, but otherwise can't really explain why "dozens" of our servicemen and women got sick when exposed to the water.
TUESDAY, Mar. 11
And now some really bad news about a war that has yet to start. Today Admiral William Fallon resigned as our head of Central Command, which has complete military authority over the Persian Gulf region. Fallon's ousting–resignation was apparently not his idea– is apparently due to his outspoken views (highlighted in a recent Esquire profile) that a war with Iran would not be in our best interests. "Admiral Fallon's decision to resign is yet one more example of this Administration silencing our top military leaders," U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka (D, Hawai'i) said in a press release sent out hours after the news broke. "It is not only necessary but mandatory that these military experts who have spent years in the field serving our country have the ability express their concerns without fear of censure or reprisal."
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