October 02, 2008
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24
When I left California to assume journalistic duties on Maui, I imagined I'd be dealing with a whole new slate of issues. And for the most part that's been the case, with one unexpected exception: Both places face an ongoing, and burgeoning, illegal immigration problem. As reported in The Maui News, the feds arrested 21 undocumented workers—to use the euphemism of our time—at a Honokowai construction site. Last month, 23 illegal laborers were nabbed at the same site. Both raids were spearheaded by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, which totally made up that name just so its acronym could be ICE. Sounding less like a government employee and more like a futuristic bounty hunter speaking in the third person, an agency rep said that "ICE will use every enforcement and investigative tool against employees and employers who fail to heed our warnings."
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
Looking for a fun way to kill a little time online? How about helping Hawaii's Department of Education slash its budget? In what is actually kind of a cool move toward transparency and open participation, the DOE is inviting the public to check out a draft of proposed cuts and weigh in with ideas and suggestions. The site (doe.k12.hi.us) will be open until 5pm September 29. After that, officials will review the input and present a finalized budget on October 2. Bottom line: no matter what, painful cuts are coming, possibly to the tune of nearly $70 million over two years statewide.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26
Whatever your opinion of Joe Souki, the picture on the front page of today's Maui News that shows the District 8 Rep. riding a bicycle on the newly widened Haleakala Highway is pretty awesome. Props to Joe for strapping on the helmet and taking the plunge. (And, of course, he's wearing a lei—something that is apparently required of all Hawaii's elected officials under state law).
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27
A few impressions from the presidential debate: First and foremost, how ridiculous was it of McCain to pretend skipping the debate was somehow putting country first? This is the best—and in some cases only—opportunity many voters have to see these guys face off and present their ideological platforms. Not saying there aren't issues with the format (more on that in a moment) but these things have become an indelible part of the process. And come on, John—do you really expect us to believe that a couple hours on a plane and a couple more at the podium were going to be the difference between a binding solution and total economic collapse? I'm sure the other 98 members of your legislative body managed to muddle on without you and your opponent for a day. Now, as for the event itself: I watched on CNN and was pretty disgusted by their whole "scorekeeping" system, which was at best a distraction and at worst a completely misleading ploy to make people think of the whole thing as a sporting event (which it sort of is, but let's not encourage that aspect). OK, OK, enough beating around the bush (a phrase that, come to think of it, pretty well sums up Obama's debate strategy if you capitalize the "B"): Who won? I'm calling it a draw. Both guys landed a few jabs, but no knockout blows (there I go with the sports analogies). Both were able to semi-effectively insert their stump speech applause lines. Obama stayed cool without appearing detached; McCain got riled without going into full-on Yosemite Sam mode. My guess is not many minds were changed. Now we await the Palin/Biden bout, which should at least provide some quotable non-sequiturs. Stay tuned.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
RIP Paul Newman, who died yesterday at age 83. His acting and philanthropic exploits have been documented enough to not need rehashing here. Let me just say that watching Cool Hand Luke was a formative experience in my life and for that alone I owe Mr. Newman a debt of gratitude. The salad dressing is pretty good, too.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
Maui's first big TVR test case has been settled. Actually, it was settled back in July, but the details were just made public. As reported in The Maui News, a California woman who was operating a four-bedroom transient rental unit in Kihei without the requisite conditional use permit agreed to pay $35,000 to put the matter to rest. That's a chunk of change to be sure, but it's considerably less than the $214,000 she would've had to cough up had she been slapped with the maximum penalty. What, if any, effect will this have on future TVR cases? Remains to be seen, but officials say they hope it'll help serve as a deterrent.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30
Boy oh boy do the corn syrup people have their eyes on the ball. Attentive readers may recall that last week we an a photo in this space featuring Halloween candy with a caption reading, "Fear high fructose corn syrup, not razor blades." It was in reference to a list of Halloween "safety tips" that perpetuated the paranoid, unsubstantiated myth about evil goodie-givers handing out tainted treats; really it wasn't< about corn syrup at all. But don't tell that to Audrae Erickson, president of the Washington D.C.-based Corn Refiners Association, who fired off two separate e-mails calling me out for disseminating misinformation re: the ubiquitous sweetener. Wrote Audrae: "High fructose corn syrup, sugar and several fruit juices are all nutritionally the same. High fructose corn syrup has the same number of calories as sugar and is handled similarly by the body." She went on to cite some sources that didn't look totally bogus. So, despite the fact that her role as queen of the nation's corn peddlers makes her something less than an impartial authority on the subject, I'm willing to allow that the real problem isn't corn syrup per se, but the massive quantities of sugar in all its forms that Americans consume (as much as 150 lbs. (!) a year according to the USDA). I now await an indignant message from Ralph P. Saccharine, CEO of the National Alliance for the Promotion of Sugar Consumption. MTW
|Corn syrup: just as bad as sugar.||
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