The Week in Review
April 10, 2008
WEDNESDAY, Apr. 2
Now I like Joe Bertram III. He's the state Representative for the 11th District, which encompasses South Maui. Bertram's fair and knows firsthand (from the years he spent both as a Maui Planning Commissioner and as a County Council gadfly) what issues are really important to residents. That being said, he really needs to be careful what he stuffs in those little taxpayer-funded envelopes he—and the rest of our esteemed lawmakers—enjoy sending to us constituents. "At present I am working to pass resolutions that will protect our elementary school children from cancer causing ultraviolet light, tax brakes [sic] for households that invest in alternative energy sources, as well as a bill that will set out 'smart growth' guideline[s], that will include walkways and bikeways in all future developments," Bertram recently wrote his constituents in a letter simply dated April 2008. That sentence, a mish-mash of spelling errors and sloppy phrasing (is Bertram pushing for a bill that would protect children from lower taxes?) is a dangerous signal to send to voters—especially in an election year.
THURSDAY, Apr. 3
Oh, look, more good airline news: ATA just went out of business. Absolutely wonderful—less capacity and higher fares always mean good things for the consumer, right? Seriously, I'm starting to hear scary numbers: one million airliner seats worth of capacity for both ATA and Aloha lost every year; 10,000 stranded passengers in Hawai'i alone; a potential loss of half a million tourists every year; a $100 increase in ticket costs on average. Oh, and Aloha CEO David Banmiller is going around saying there's going to be disruption in the airlines. "We just happen to be at the beginning," Banmiller said at bankruptcy court a few days ago, according to the Honolulu Advertiser. "You haven't seen the end yet." You mean it's going to get worse? Oh, joy.
FRIDAY, Apr. 4
Oh yeah, it had to happen: Hawai`i Superferry officials just announced that they're coming to rescue us! Apparently, the grievous rudder problems and drydock damage have all been made good—ahead of schedule!—and everything already checks out so the company's going to send the Alakai back to Maui this coming Monday. Of course, HSF officers say it's just a coincidence that the Superferry is coming back at a time when inter-island air travel seems to be collapsing. "We've been working to get the ship into service as soon as we could,"company business development director Terry O'Halloran told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. "That's always been our goal, and it's really unfortunate for Hawaii to see a company like Aloha Airlines [fail]." Yes, yes—it was the plan all along to announce that the Alakai wouldn't be ready until April 22, then suddenly restart passenger service on April 7. Though there is one small wrinkle in that story: today's Maui News reports that—in contrast to O'Halloran's insistence that the Superferry is right on schedule—HSF President and CEO John Garibaldi "told The Maui News that the ferry had left dry dock but that there were no intentions to put it into service immediately."
SATURDAY, Apr. 5
I'd say this was odd, but where the Superferry is concerned, it would be odd if the statements of company officials actually conformed to physical reality.
SUNDAY, Apr. 6
The Maui News paints a grim picture of Molokai today. And why not? Nearly two percent of the entire island population lost their jobs the moment Molokai Ranch announced that they were playing hardball and pulling out of the island—with the noted exception of the plans to build luxurious homes at La`au Point. Company officials refused to talk with the News, which also isn't very surprising. Their actions practically yell out that they don't care what happens to the residents of Molokai or how the rest of us view them or their actions. They want La'au Point developed, and they will do everything they can to force the issue. Given that there are still plenty of anti-La'au Point development signs across the island, it appears that the fight will only get nastier.
MONDAY, Apr. 7
So I guess everyone around here is cool with the Superferry. I say this because the Alakai came back to Kahului Harbor this morning and no one was there—no protesting surfers in the water, no marchers on the beach, no sign-wavers on the road over by the Superferry entrance. Then again, maybe we're worried about nothing: apparently, less than 50 people actually sailed today on the nearly 900-capacity Alakai.
TUESDAY, Apr. 8
|Tavares likes Wailea 670!|
The lawsuit filed by five local residents against the County of Maui, alleging that the County Council Land Use Committee improperly recessed their hearings on the Wailea 670 project and failed to allow public testimony on new information that was periodically offered, hit a snag this morning. The county asked Judge Joseph Cardoza for another 18 days to read a hundred or so pages of affidavits and exhibits that plaintiffs' attorney Lance Collins sent Monday morning. Collins objected to such a long delay, suggesting two to three days, so Cardoza split the difference. After the hearing, Collins was still optimistic, even going so far as to say that his case was completely independent of Mayor Charmaine Tavares' imminent vote on the whole project. Which, even though it was due yesterday, wasn't actually made public around 8 p.m. this evening. "After much deliberation and consideration,"Tavares wrote in a letter to the Maui County Council members, "Ihave decided to sign the bills related to the Wailea 670 project (Honuaula) that the County Council supported and forwarded to my office for review and action."Tavares' reasons were simple: 700 affordable units (250 of which are in North Kihei) and the fact that "these lands were designated as urban in 1994 for future residential and recreational development"–exactly the case project lobbyist Charlie Jencks has been making. Then she added this little wrinkle: "The Department of Water Supply has indicated that the County of Maui does not at this time have sufficient water to support the development of these [North Kihei] units,"the mayor wrote. "The development must therefore find its own source or wait until the County has developed sufficient water before going forward with this component of the development." In any case, the next hearing on the open meetings suit is on Monday, April 14, at 8 a.m. in Judge Cardoza's 4th floor courtroom. Given these developments, it should be fun.
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