The Week in Review
May 29, 2008WEDNESDAY, May 21
So what should I write about today… American Airlines parking 85 aircraft and charging $15 to check baggage? Too much publicity already… Hawai'i schools' chronic inability to meet federal No Child Left Behind requirements? Too depressing… Probable Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama's alleged role in an international communist conspiracy? Hot damn! "A new 44-page report to be released in Washington on May 22 reveals the existence of an international communist network in Hawaii that includes Barack Obama's childhood mentor, identified Communist Party member Frank Marshall Davis," says a press release I just got from something called America's Survival, Inc.—a far, Far, FAR right wing nut group headed by a loon named Cliff Kincaid who made a small name for himself bullying cable companies that wanted to carry Al Jazeera's English-language satellite network. "The explosive new reports, which examine Barack Obama's ties with extreme anti-American elements, including agents of the Moscow-controlled Communist Party USA, will shed important new light on Obama's mysterious past and rise to power." This is truly something: whispered slander that Obama is a Muslim has apparently (hopefully) run its course, so the mouth-breathers who make Dick Cheney look like a moderate are now yelling Pinko. Look, Davis—one of the great African American writers of the mid-20th century who did spend many years in Hawai'i and died 21 years ago—dabbled briefly in the American Communist Party, no question. This is hardly surprising, since most thoughtful, intellectual black men in the 1940's leaned left because the right was too busy tying ropes around their necks. But only the warped mind of a Joseph McCarthy or a Cliff Kincaid would translate that life into "a security threat to the United States"—especially given the fact that communism pretty much died out two decades ago.
THURSDAY, May 22
Today we've actually got some good news about the circulation of The Maui News. It's gone up: According to the new Maui County Data Book, in 2007 the paper's Monday through Saturday circulation was 20,777—down from 21,668 the year before. But these days, according to the latest figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC)—the organization that tracks newspaper circ for the industry—Maui News circ is up to 20,937. Sunday circ figures are down slightly: 25,343 in 2007 according to the Data Book, 25,209 today according to ABC. I couldn't figure out why the daily's weekday numbers had shot up so high until I saw a brief note in the Maui Weekly, which is owned by Hawai`i Publications—the local arm of Wheeling, West Virginia-based Ogden Newspaper Group, which also owns The Maui News. According to this week's Maui Weekly, The Maui News raised its circ "by increasing the number of papers distributed to hotel guests." In addition, the paper "may have benefited from the departure of USA Today from daily distribution in Hawai'i at the end of 2007," reported the Maui Weekly. A lot of people don't realize this, but the number of newspapers handed out free to hotel guests counts in official circulation figures. USA Today is a master of this practice. In fact, when it celebrated its 25th anniversary in September 2007, slightly more than half of its celebrated 2,278,022 circulated papers went to hotel guests around the country. "USA Today doesn't get bought by 2.3 million people—at least not in the traditional sense of the word 'bought,'" reported CBSNews.com's Public Eye feature on Sept. 15, 2007. "Instead, they carpet the hallways of America's hotels, making 'The Nation's Newspaper' more like The Nation's Doormat." If The Maui News is following USA Today's model, then who exactly is its intended readership?
FRIDAY, May 23
|Maui in the near future...|
Well, it's official: the county Department of Water Supply (DWS) has declared Upcountry to be in a state of drought. "Based on the declaration of drought, the DWS issued a watch, which asks customers to reduce water consumption by 5%," said A DWS press release sent out last night. "The areas included are Haiku, Makawao, Olinda, Haliimaile, Pukalani, Kula, Omaopio/Pulehu, Kula, Keokea, Ulupalakua, and Kanaio/Waiohuli." Just to make sure people throughout Central Maui don't forget their drought status, the press release also included this quote from DWS Director Jeffrey Eng: "We need our customers in Wailuku, Kahului, Puunene, Paia, and especially Kihei to closely watch their water use and keep it to 600 gallons per day or less."
SATURDAY, May 24
We need to watch our water use? What about the Maui County Council, who keeps approving new development for South Maui. When are they going to have to start watching their water use?
SUNDAY, May 25
What a week! Add to the list of crises facing our fair isle exploding debt. But at least, according to a giant story in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin, people are trying to get help. "Our client volume is up 26 percent over the same period last year and I know it's going to get worse," Wendy Burkholder of the nonprofit debt-counseling agency CCCS of Hawaii told the paper. "There has been an exponential rise in housing prices, utilities, water, and other living expenses like gas and grocery prices. People are finally going under the wheels of the bus." I'd say something glib and possibly even witty here, but this just sucks.
MONDAY, May 26
For those of you who just can't get enough bad news about our island's current water problems, here's a little drop of refreshment from today's Maui News: consumer water use in both Upcountry and Central Maui has dropped from what it was last year at this time. In May 2007, Upcountry residents used 9.48 million gallons of water every day, but last week, they used just 7.64 million gallons. In Central and South Maui this time last year, residents consumed 27.41 millions a day, but used just 25.25 million gallons a day last week. This is considerable water conservation, but apparently not considerable enough. Look, county officials can continue to put the screws on current residents at the same time it tells land developers to go ahead and build thousands of new homes with mysterious, as-yet unnamed water sources, but given the fact that this is an election year, they might want to think about how much more of this people will take.
TUESDAY, May 27
Glass of water, anyone?
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