May 22, 2013 | 09:06 AMLAHAINA MARKET PLACE CUTS DOWN ITS TREES
And now we're going to talk a bit about trees–or rather, the act of going up to very old, very beautiful trees and chain-sawing them into sawdust and toothpicks. This is happening, or by this point has happened, at the Lahaina Market Place on Front Street. That little courtyard of shops has been an oasis of shade for decades in Lahaina Town, but no more of that. All of the trees are coming down.
Did I mention at least one of the shop owners in the place is pissed? Did I mention he is supremely pissed?
"It looks like a SCUD missile hit the courtyard," said Scott Picard of Sure Thing Burger. "Lahaina Market Place is a respite for everyone in town. You know how warm it gets. This is where they stopped. They'd smell the food, see the jewelry, see the glass blower. Now that's gone."
No one from Lahaina Market Place management responded to my request for comment (the property owner is the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation). And one employee of one of the Lahaina Market Place did tell me that one reason for the tree removal was apparently that the roots from the old trees were pushing up the courtyard's bricks (a common enough reason for tree removal). But Picard told me that he received no warning whatsoever that the trees were coming down.
"There were no signs, letters or phone calls," he said. "We had to do a temporary closure. You can't give food away during construction like that. It's like a sawmill when you're cutting these trees down. It was like it was snowing–there was total whiteout."
So, yeah. Those of who liked to duck into Lahaina Market Place and rest under the shade of gentle, ancient trees while window shopping or getting brain freeze from one of Ululani's Shave Ice are now out of luck.
"They could have done a ceremony," Picard told me. "They could have done a million things. Instead, this is an epic event with a disastrous ending."
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STATE CONSUMER OFFICE TARGETS MORTGAGE BROKER TRICIA MORRIS
We've known for about the past six months that times have definitely gotten tough for Tricia Morris, probably Maui's most famous mortgage broker. That the island could even have something called a "most famous mortgage broker" is testament both to Morris' marketing savvy and the extent to which the real estate bubble from a few years ago consumed Maui.
In any case, Morris' career apparently mirrored the nation's own experiences with subprime mortgages–she got rich, then she got broke. Her and her husband's bid for bankruptcy ended earlier this year, which was bad enough. But now the state of Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) is going after her, which is kinda much worse.
"Commissioner of Financial Institutions Iris Ikeda-Catalani ordered Kathleen Patricia Morris and Herman-Morris Enterprises Inc., dba Hawaii's Premiere Mortgage Co., to cease operating as a mortgage loan originator and a mortgage loan originator company on suspicion of violating Hawaii law," stated a DCCA news release sent out Friday, May 17.
The news release then outlined six alleged violations, ranging from "small kine" to "oh, shit" on the scale of alleged mortgage broker misconduct:
• Originating a mortgage loan in a consumer's name without their authorization;
• Receiving payoffs of mortgage loans and not remitting the payoff amounts to the lenders;
• Attempting to solicit a complainant with a payment to withdraw his complaint against the licensees.
• Using a trade name without properly notifying the Commissioner of the name;
• Failing to update the financial disclosure pursuant to changes in financial status; and
• Failing to notify the Commissioner about a revocation of a previous license;
There will be an administrative hearing on the order on May 29 over on Oahu. Reached by phone, Morris said she had no real comment on the order, though she said she'd issue a press release before the hearing. She also wanted to stress that everything in the press release was just an allegation.
"I am looking forward to the hearing and an opportunity to respond," she told me. "I was not informed of the commissioners' actions prior to the press release. I found out about it at 10:30pm Friday night on Facebook."
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STILL WAITING ON THAT KIHEI-HALIIMAILE ROAD
Show of hands for those waiting for the new Kihei-Haliimaile road? Yeah, well, you can put your hands down for a while–a long while, apparently. Though the Sunday edition of The Maui News has a front-page story headlined "Upcountry to Kihei highway project slowly moving ahead," there's actually nothing in the accompanying story to indicate the road (which, unlike Oprah Winfrey's private road connecting South Kihei to Keokea, will be open to the public) is moving at anything faster than zero miles per hour.
Yes, the story points out in the first sentence, the Legislature recently approved $3.6 million in funding for land acquisition for the road's corridor. But (much further down), the story says the road is slated to cost about $200 million, the vast majority of which is supposed to come from the federal government.
Well, it was a nice idea, connecting South Maui with Upcountry in such a way that people could travel between both areas without having to deal with Kahului traffic. Seriously though, given that Republicans currently control the U.S. House of Representatives (which I think has some say over spending and such) while Democrats control the State of Hawaii (and hold all four of our elected congressional seats), I think it's safe to say that we're not going to see any big road building checks sent our way any day soon.
Of course, a decade ago state officials projected that construction on the proposed Kihei-Upcountry road was going to end in 2007, so you never can tell what's going to happen.
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