Poinography!

January 10, 2009

Poinography January 2005 archive

Filed under: — Doug @ 12:25 pm

Poinography!

1/31/2005

Critiquing the State Auditor

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 1:23 pm
Now that I’ve had some time to review that report I mentioned in the earlier post, I’m not sure where to begin. So I’ll just start with what they said about our State Auditor, since Ms. Higa is typically held in such high regard by our media.

The relevant section of the report knocks her down a peg or two.

Hawaii has a long history of independent performance auditing dating back to 1965. However, Hawaii?s current audit practice appears to be another area of weakness. The state?s independent audit practice is not extensive. It appears that the independent audit agency only completed around eight performance audits between 2002 and 2004. The quality of the audits ranges from poor to average. The most recent audits looked at programs compared to established objectives. These audits did not include specific performance measures; however, they appeared to be pretty thorough in recounting what was occurring in the program and provided a number of recommendations to fix the problems.

Put in those terms alone, I’d have to agree. However, to be fair to Ms. Higa, she only audits what Concurrent Resolutions direct her to. In my 9 sessions at the legislature I have never heard her testify against a resolution asking her to conduct an audit, so it’s not as if she is a shirker.

The critique of her audits has some roots in a larger problem in the state; the absence at the department level of any real performance measurement or even clearly stated goals and objectives (I know, I sound like a certain former Senator, ha ha). The audits are almost always requested as a “gotcha” when the horse is already out of the barn. This is only amplified by the Republican Gov vs. Democratic Lege, of course.

Out of curiosity I checked the corresponding report for the state where I grew up, Wisconsin, to compare it with Hawaii (the site has a cool comparo feature that makes this effortless, btw). I’ll allow that I’m more than a bit wonky and perhaps a bit more interested in this topic than most, but the description of Wisconsin’s audits in the report sound great. Check this out:

The Legislative Audit Bureau is responsible for performance audits in Wisconsin and conducted 52 performance audits between 2002 and 2003 (out of 106 total audits). The audits covered a wide range of topics and were generally very high quality. The GPP reviewed several audits, all of which covered major agencies or programs and issues that were central to the success of that entity. In addition to evaluating programmatic success, audits frequently compared performance to other governments and over time, using examples of successful policies in other states where applicable. Audits discussed not only the success of the programs, but the accuracy and appropriateness of performance information used to evaluate success, recommending additional outcome measures for certain programs. Several of the audits discussed external factors that could change future performance levels. For example, an audit of air quality programs compared Wisconsin standards for air quality to the national standards and noted that changes at the national level could result in a different number of days being recorded as ?unhealthy.?

Damn, gimme some audits like that, Ms. Higa! When you look at the reports Wisconsin generates, well, the reports in Hawaii look relatively skimpy.

This is just one example, the Government Performance Project report is full of little nuggets like this. I recommend it.

Comments (0)
Hawai’i gets a C in governance

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 7:54 am
Both dailies carry this AP story today. The story is based on a report available here.

I’ll comment further on this when I get a bit more time to digest it all. On first glance, however, the report seems to be even-handed and useful. Check it out.

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Maui Bus – the plan described

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 7:44 am
Honolulu is not the only county looking to solve transit problems. The Maui News has this story that describes the soon-to-be-released recommendations of a recent $150,000 mass transit report.

The recommendations are predictable: more buses, more routes, more frequency. Currently they have some private shuttle buses providing six-day service each week. The report recommends using federal money for the County to purchase “mid-size, heavy duty” buses, and then hire a private firm to operate them with the County’s “Maui Bus” logo on the side.

One of the House Majority Package bills this year would allow counties to increase the GET to fund transit initiatives, so it would seem likely that if that passes then this bus proposal would be a likely benefactor on Maui. I am not familiar enough with Maui geography to really know if the routes described at the end of the article are thorough enough to serve all or most of the people who need it, but I am familiar with Maui enough to know that every time I visit the traffic is crazy at morning and evening rush.

Comments (0)
David Carradine Not Chinese – review

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 7:31 am
Finally made it to the Kumu Kahua production of “David Carradine Not Chinese” yesterday. I don’t have too much profound insight into theater, but I guess I liked the show.

The jokes and local humor were funny, as I had expected and hoped. The set was adequate, though I sat on the wrong side of the stage to see the television shows that they were constantly flipping through on a small set. The characters were likable and fun.

The only question I have is if the acting was good. It’s hard to say, because the story finds the characters rehearsing a (very amateur) performance for a community banquet. Thus you could either think the actors can’t act, or they are acting like characters who can’t act. Clever, eh? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say the latter.

Oh, I also happened to be seated next to the playwright, Darryl Lum, who was laughing at his own jokes harder than me. ??

Ka Leo also had a review of the play today which is notable mostly for how many times (THREE) the reviewer used the phrase “how do locals figure out their identity,” in the first three paragraphs and the photo blurb. Heh.

Comments (0)
1/30/2005

Bottle Bill obstructionists pass the buck

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:06 am
Is it really so hard to see that in order for a beverage container deposit program to work consumers need to be able to have their deposit refunded at the same places where they buy beverages? As Senator Kim says in this article, “it makes sense.”

Of course the beverage retailers don’t want to offer this service. What company that contributes to (and profits from) an ecological problem previously considered an economic externality has ever wanted to remediate the situation on its own free will?

Sheryl Toda, director of corporate communications at Foodland, said store operators have to consider the additional expense along with sanitation concerns, space constraints and the impact on customers. “While we support the state’s efforts to make recycling as easy as possible for the entire community, we believe there are other sites that could more appropriately serve as redemption centers,” she said.

Oh, really? What sites are those, Ms. Toda?

The Governor, who the reader might recall is in charge of that branch of government that is compelled to execute the law, is of no help. She opposed the idea, and is loath to see it work. Thus, she has not shown any leadership or effort to streamline the redemption process, and says she will leave it up to the legislature. So be it, that is Politics 101. The legislature should take up Kim’s bill, make it law, and then rightfully take all the credit for solving the cumbersome redemption process problem.

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Advertiser to solicit more reader input for political stories

Filed under:
HI Media
— Doug @ 7:46 am
Anne Harpham, a HNA senior editor describes in this column how they propose to cover stories involving legislation and its impact on residents. Any expansion of this coverage is good for the people of the State, and, of course, better reporting is good for my blog.

Harpham writes that they will try to move away from approaching people on the street for their opinion. She admits that reporters
often catch people who don’t have a specific view on the issue we’re asking about and, to be fair, that method gives people little time to think through a response.
Which is only a polite way of saying that they can’t find good quotes using the brute force method and shoe leather. No surprise there, that’s asking an awful lot from a threadbare staff of two reporters on the legislature beat.

Instead, Gordon Pang suggested,
“What better way to solicit people than by asking those reading a story to comment on them?” asks Pang. “The side benefit is we can build a reservoir of ‘regular folks’ we can build a dialogue with that will last through the life of an issue.”
Genius! Gee, you mean LIKE A BLOG DOES? No, no, dear reader, it’s not like that at all!
The idea of asking people to either call us or e-mail us comes from Pang’s days as a “Bureaucracy Buster” reporter.
Right. Good idea. Why didn’t we think of it?

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Airport terminal upgrade in the works

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 7:27 am
Does it really matter what our Honolulu airport terminals look like? According to the DOT and tourism folks in this HNA article, it does matter.

I guess digital signage and skylights would be nice, but if they have any plans to go so far as to enclose the whole place and add air conditioning I would be opposed. Getting off the plane and smelling the lush smells and feeling the warm air is the key to the whole “coming home” feeling for me, and I suspect it’s a thrill for the arriving visitor, too. We may be looking at concrete tarmacs like the rep from Pleasant Island Holidays bemoans, but we are getting a visceral dose of Hawaii that a climate-controlled concourse would ruin.

Funny how the tourism folks and their DOT allies all support this expensive work, when the passengers tell the pollsters that they like our airport. Even the quotes from passengers questioned for the story don’t make the problem seem very urgent. It’s almost like the passengers were just playing along with a reporter asking his leading question.

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MORE monkey news!

Filed under:
General
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 7:15 am
Today brings forth yet another report in the recent flurry of primate news. Panaewa Rainforest Zoo on the Big Island has built a cool geodesic monkey enclosure (snarkily called the “Primadome”) to supplement its previous cage. Buckminster Fuller would be proud…

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NOAA seeks 20-acre waterfront site on O’ahu

Filed under:
Science
— Doug @ 6:20 am
It’s about time that NOAA finally gets some new digs! They are dispersed all over the place in semi-crappy buildings. This piece doesn’t give much detail of the exact site, but I would suspect it is near the UH Marine Center at Snug Harbor. NOAA currently moors vessels at Snug, but I’m not sure it could hold a fleet of 4 NOAA boats and the UH fleet of research vessels.

It would seem to me that a little digging into the environmental studies could have revealed where they plan to do this project, since it is my understanding that they need to have a public review period and accept comments on the plan. Maybe it is not yet to that stage of the process.

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1/29/2005

Team Ellen

Filed under:
Sailing
— Doug @ 8:13 pm
Okay, putting on my sailor persona for a post.

I highly recommend www.teamellen.com where you can keep up with Ellen Macarthur’s attempt to break the non-stop singlehand sailing circumnavigation record. She is over a day ahead of the current record holder’s pace, but anything can happen in the final few thousand miles. The site has decent narrative and cool audio and webcam feeds, too.

In substantially more mundane sailing news, tomorrow morning (weather permitting) I will be helping with a test of a new headsail designed specifically for the KYC bulkhead races which we do double-handed most times. The sail has a high clew so nobody needs to go forward after each tack to skirt the foot inside the lifelines. We’re pretty stoked about it, so I hope it works as planned.

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Discount wharfage at Kalaeloa Harbor

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 2:13 pm
The state is talking of halving wharfage fees to use Kalaeloa Harbor for freight purposes. If that means cheaper goods for consumers instead of just higher profit margins for shipping companies, then I’m all for this.

However, it was strange to see this HNA article on the same day as the SB article I discussed in my previous post. Too bad these two don’t write for the same paper so an editor could have seen how well their stories fit together.

Anything that eases the load on a busy harbor by shifting traffic to a under-used harbor makes a lot of sense. The comments in the article about it being expensive for companies to operate out of (or to shift operations to) Kalaeloa sort of raised my eyebrows. The new competitor entering the market could plan his business strategy to capitalize on the cheap wharfage and on his competitors’ relative inability to exploit that cost savings.

Can this really all be coincidence?

Comments (0)
More competition on the horizon for sea freight

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 1:58 pm
This story suggests that we might be see a new competitor enter the market for international and interstate sea freight. A former Matson exec is striking out on his own.

His defection is enough to make those tech companies with “do not compete” clauses in their employment contracts think of themselves as pretty akamai.

The timing between this develoment and the announcement that the state is going to offer lower wharfage rates at Kalaeloa Harbor makes me wonder if this guy influenced that policy decision or at least knew of it in advance. If not, he’s just a lucky guy with great timing.

Comments (0)
New power from wind on Big Island

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 12:59 pm
Another story provides some encouraging talk of more wind power production. There are two projects in the works (one at South Point and the other at Upolu Point), both spurred on by federal and state tax incentives with upcoming deadlines.

HELCO talks the happy talk, but they are also quick to point out that wind power is not cheaper than the fossil fuel-derived power that they provide. HELCO would love to see these projects fail, imo.

If only we could account for all the externalities involved in depending upon fossil fuels for power, then renewables would compete on their own without needing tax subsidies.

Comments (0)
Old skool power effort on Big Island

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 12:49 pm
After being inactive for only a few weeks, this story describes how some (mostly local) investors have proposed to buy the electrical power plant in Pepeekeo and begin generating power if they can sell the power back to HELCO for the Big Island grid.

The plant produces ash, and there is a big heap of it left on the site that “the investors have no interest in obtaining.” Heh. I wonder why? Getting rid of the ash is part of running the plant, so they obviously have some sort of plan for it, but dealing with the existing ash should be part of any deal, imo.

This same plant was considered for a trash-burning power system, but that effort failed last year.

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Housing to become more affordable — for military families

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:31 pm
A brief story in the PBN on the announcement that housing allowances will be raised for military families that live off-base in this expensive market.

This is good news for military families (especially junior enlisted troops with children). This is good news for sellers. This is good news for landlords. It is not-so-good-news for those looking for an affordable home or rental, as this influx of money will be likely to exert upward pressure on average housing costs.

You can almost hear this landlord licking his chops:
“They are excellent tenants,” said Mike Stott, owner of Stott Real Estate, which rents 125 of its 277 properties on Oahu to military families. “The increase in their housing allowance means that they will be able to afford the increases in rent.”
Comments (0)
New category added

Filed under:
General
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 12:13 pm
I finally realized that many of my posts that I had been categorizing as HI State Politics are really not state-wide in scope, so I’ve created a category for Neighbor Island items.

Sorry if you tried to view the site earlier today. My host was having some tech trouble but worked hard to get everything back in order.

Comments (0)
1/28/2005

Restorative Justice denied

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 7:26 pm
This is the most intriguing story I’ve seen today. Check it out, but pardon its annoying page design issues.

To be frank, I’m not sure how to phrase all that’s going on here without unintentionally offending the Hawaiians who are involved with the movement described in the story. So, I hereby apologize in advance and now I’ll plow right in.

The State judicial system is butting heads with some intriguing Native Hawaiian concepts of justice and sovereignty. Years ago I had the privilege of hearing the manao of Auntie Eleanor Ahuna as she worked to establish “places of refuge” as an alternative to incarceration. She and others are very concerned that Native Hawaiians are sent to prison at very disturbing rates. Evidently she and her allies are gong to see this effort bear fruit very soon, according to the story. The State judicial system, however, is not equipped to accomodate this different way of approaching justice.

By driving on the State’s roadways without a license Fergerstrom was clearly engaged in civil disobedience, to assert his belief that the Kingdom of Hawaii still exists and that he is a subject of the Kingdom, not of the State. However Fergerstrom seems to be unclear on the traditional meaning of civil disobedience, i.e. you knowingly disregard what you consider to be an unjust law AND you accept the punishment for that decision.

On the other hand, the State would not even let Fergerstrom tell the jury the basis of his decision to commit the civil disobedience. Fergerstrom considers his defense to be based on religious freedom and free speech issues. But if he can’t even raise this defense in front of the jury it will be impossible for him to establish his bona fides—he will look like a common unlicensed driver and unworthy of any judicial relief. This is problematic for people in Hawaii on both sides of this issue if it sets precedent for how a defendant may present a defense.

So, it looks like 13 months in the poke for Fergerstrom, unless he goes even further afield from his Kingdom Law and gets an audience in Federal Court for his claims. It’s too easy to dismiss him and his supporters as kooks. They are not.

We can hope the Hawaii Island Journal follows this story as it develops.

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Molokai reacts to potential devlopment virus

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 1:39 pm
This HNA article describes how a former anti-virus software executive, now a millionaire living on Molokai, is falling from grace in his neighbor’s eyes. Previously known for philanthropic contributions to the island, his decision to auction off a large tract of Molokai land has residents worried that another round of fighting off a real estate development is forthcoming.

With the skyrocketing prices on the other islands (see earlier post today), I suppose it was inevitable that somebody would see a potential for profit in the relatively overlooked island of Molokai. I really like it the way it is, we need another planned community for gentrification like we need a hole in the head.

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Ag-Tourism touted on Maui

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 1:13 pm
This Maui News story tells how some small agriculture busineses on Maui are eager to begin or expand the amount of tourism they conduct on site. For some of these businesses the tourism revenue far exceeds the actual revenue from the agriculture. This is leading to questions at the County level as to how to zone these operations and, of course, how they will be taxed. The article implies that the County is working with the farmers and listening at this point, but some sort of decision will have to be made sooner or later.

Those involved in ag-tourism argue that without this sort of supplemental tourism revenue small farming operations in the United States will not be able to survive economically against the cheap foreign competition. Unless, of course, tourists discover that shoveling manure in Maui is no more fun than it would be in an equally smelly third world farm.

Maui manure no ka oi.

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Kauai County tax relief being fought in court

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 1:10 pm
Today there is an interesting Kauai Garden Island News report about the legal battle over tax relief on Kauai.

A ballot initiative was affirmed by the voters in November that would lower property taxes on that island, but the County has not implemented the plan and it appears will not act until all of their legal attempts to overturn the ballot initiative have failed. Supporters of the new law must wait at least 3 weeks to see if the judge will issue a summary judgment as the County has asked, but even if the county loses that round the County would then plan to appeal that decision—and would not have to implement the law unless that appeal fails. It’s a safe bet that if the summary judgment is granted for the County then the supporters of the law would take further legal action, too.

The County is arguing that the new law unconstitutionally removes their taxing authority. The supporters say that if the County thought it was unconstitutional then it should not have been allowed onto the ballot.

Leaving aside the question of the wisdom of the tax relief sought, in my layman opinion the supporters are wrong. There is a set procedure to place an issue on the ballot, and challenging the constitutionality of the proposed measure is not part of that procedure, nor should it be. Courts should not be tasked with reviewing the constitutionality of proposed laws before they are even approved. The onus is on those offering the ballot initiative to foresee constitutional challenges and to then design a question able to withstand any challenge.

The County may have had the same legal (and fiscal) concerns about the question when it was filed to be put on the ballot, but since they opposed the measure it would have been silly of them to alert the supporters when there was still time for the supporters to regroup and craft a measure that would pass constitutional muster.

The County was too slick for the supporters. We’ll see if the judge agrees.

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What’s going on here?

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 8:54 am
I seem to remember a few police raids that took place several months ago, but I still don’t know exactly what the investigation described here is trying to find. Whatever it is, if the investigation makes former Mayor Harris look bad (worse, heh) then I’m sure it will be pursued with zeal by Mayor Hannemann. Watch this space.

Comments (0)
Another show-biz shakedown

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:49 am
Lee Cataluna’s latest column is a welcome reminder of how easy the state rolls over to any production company that asks for (or demands) a tax break.

I’ve never seen the show “Lost” (since I don’t watch any television) so I can’t comment on her suggested money-saving plot devices. But I do like these two excerpts from her column:
Sheesh, who do they think they are, Jeff Stone?!
— and —

Uh, shouldn’t government assistance be for the little old lady who can’t pay for her medication? Shouldn’t that be for innocent babies born to drug-addicted mothers? Shouldn’t that be for the elementary school with the puka roof and the broken windows? How does a successful TV show get in line before them? Get real, or get lost.
Comments (2)
Where have I heard this before?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:32 am
The headline pretty much says it all, SHELL HIKES GAS 7 CENTS ON GUAM. The Hawaii parallel is not only the fact of high and rising gasoline prices but also this:
It is not certain whether the island’s two other gasoline companies would follow Shell’s move. Historically, the three companies have changed their prices in similar amounts, whether they be increases or decreases, within days of each other.
Comments (0)
HNA chart shows just how hopeless home prices are

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:15 am
Am I looking forward to ever being a homeowner in this state? Look at this Honolulu Advertiser chart after the jump and you’ll know why I don’t have any hope.

Come on housing bubble, burst already! Hey, it could be worse, I could live on Kauai…
:)

(more…)

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Aduja joins Sonson in the penalty box

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:10 am
Former Senator Melodie Aduja has also been suspended from practicing law. Unlike Representative Sonson’s two month suspension, however, Aduja will sit out for three YEARS.

The offenses that she considers as a “relatively minor infraction,” involved mixing her funds and client funds and using the monies for her own use. The court says that such abuse is typically grounds for disbarrment, so she should consider herself lucky to only be suspended. Aduja also paid a sizable fine.

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More on Kaho`ohalahala’s replacement

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 7:55 am
House Majority Leader Marcus Oshiro describes in this op-ed the shortcomings he sees in the process Governor Lingle is using to choose a replacement for the Maui, Molokai, and Kaho`olawe legislative seat. The crux of his argument is that there is Republican influence and, as he sees it, the Governor can tip the selection scale in the event of a tie.

As it happens, there is also a new House bill that would rework the entire process to fill vacant House seats and, should it pass, it would also have whoever the Governor names next month removed and an election held (using instant runoff voting) to seat another representative. I’m not sure of the chances for this bill, but if it gets a hearing it is likely to be contentious.

Comments (0)
1/27/2005

DHHL planning big things for Kapolei

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:35 pm
Many people on the DHHL waiting list should be happy to read this article describing a wide array of ambitious plans underway or soon to begin in the Kapolei area.

A few things caught my attention in the article. There is a strange paragraphwhere Chairman Kane says:

“We also want to go into communities with the concepts and ideas of how we can benefit our surrounding communities. … We need to make sure that our adjacent landowners, like in the case of East Kapolei, know that we are bearing the major costs of bringing down water from the mauka lands and sewer lines from the makai lands.”

Is there someone else trying to take credit for that work and expense? Strange comment.

The other thing that I found interesting was his statement about traffic:

Kane said DHHL has been working with the state Transportation Department on accelerating the building of the North-South Road and with the county on Kapolei Parkway. “The two bisecting roads are critical pressure points for the region,” Kane said. “If they’re built, traffic and congestion in the region will subside tremendously.”

That may well be true, but I would think that adding 977 (if I added correctly) new homes to the area will be adding a significant amount of traffic to the mix.

It’s great news that 25% of the homes must be made available to households earning less than $52,550. It’s also great to hear about the families in the self-help aspect of this project who are contributing sweat equity and building 3-bedroom, 2-bath homes for $70,000. I can only hope that the legislature has similar success in facilitating more affordable housing in the larger community.

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Not me, cuz

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 12:15 pm
File under amusement: here is the first time I’ve seen somebody sharing my name in a local media story. …as if I could ever afford to build a place on Front Street in Lahaina.

I know. It’s probably not interesting to you the reader, but that’s the great thing about blogging—it’s so thoroughly self-referential.

This is my blog, darnit, so deal with it!

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Secret trials in Hilo?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:09 pm
I read this strange report in the SB several times, but I still can’t understand exactly what is going on. It certainly sounds fishy. If it is true that District Court Judge Pyun conducted (a) bail hearing(s) that were closed to the public, and especially if this is a continuing policy for this judge, then it needs to addressed and he needs to be held accountable. That kind of treatment is only for “enemy combatants,” the last time I heard.

Stepping back a bit, I’m not even sure why the story ran today, since so little is known and the Circuit Court judge reviewing the incident in question declined to make a ruling. Strange editorial decision, this.

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In Memoriam

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 7:25 am

Comments (1)
Shocked and awed

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 6:26 am
I’m really gutted this morning after the announcement that the worst multiple fatality incident for U.S. troops to date during the Iraq invasion/occupation (a helicopter crash in a sandstorm) has resulted in the death of almost 30 Marines from the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base. This devestating news is, of course, on the front page of both Honolulu dailies.

It should not make me more sad that these Marines served at the same base as I, but it does. It should not make me more angry about the war that these Marines served at the same base as I, but it does. What a waste! My condolences to their next of kin.

This is obviously a Hawaii story, and obviously it’s important. That said, the war and national/internation politics is outside the scope of what I want this blog to focus on, but I needed to write something.

Comments (0)
1/26/2005

Hawaii Superferry gathering steam

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 1:16 pm
Following up on a legislative briefing yesterday, there is a thorough piece in the PBN about the proposed Hawaii Superferry. I was at the briefing and the ferry seems to be a pretty cool project. It looks like things are falling in line for this to happen, but there is still the question of the $40M in harbor modifications for the ramps to load vehicles onto the ship. Legislators are skeptical that general obligation bonds are the proper method of financing, since the ramps will be something that only this operation will be able to use due to the design of the ship. Legislators would prefer some flavor of revenue bond, so the taxpayer is not subsidizing this all. Seems logical to me.

I do have some lingering thoughts and questions, however:

What happens if the passengers don’t want to take their vehicle along? It seems there would need to be overnight parking and connections to car rental businesses at each port.
Will motorcycles be allowed, and, if so, will they be charged the same fare as bigger vehicles?
Mr. Garibaldi described how the lower fares on the ferry might remove some of the pressure on the interisland air carriers to keep fares low. To me that translates into “the airlines will be able to raise their fares.” Garibaldi said this in response to legislators who were concerned that a) the ferry would start a price war and hurt the already limping interisland airline business, or b) in the opposite scenario, the air carriers would win the price war and this will lead to yet another ferry operation being unprofitable and going out of business.
If there are sea conditions that the ferry is unsafe to operate will the passengers without vehicles be accomodate on a plane?
If a passenger discovers that s/he becomes violently seasick on the first leg of the journey, will a refund be offered for the second leg?
Can a vehicle be shipped unaccompanied by a passenger with the understanding that another party will claim it at the destination?
Comments (2)
Hawaii County council staffer “let go”

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 8:18 am
A bizarre power struggle and messy personnel situation on the Hawaii County Council is described in this article in the West Hawaii Today. Apparently the offense leading to the “not a termination” of a seven year employee was:

[A Councilmember] told West Hawaii Today that [the employee] was dismissed because he had drafted a memo for [the Councilmember] expressing concerns about the affordable housing policy without [the Council Chair] knowing about it.

WTF? Do these folks work for the Council or for the Chair? Sure, they are “at will” employees and the Chair is their ultimate employer, however the bizarro policy in the article issued by the Chair on January 14 is essentially a gag order preventing any of the opposing members of the Council from using the Council staff without the Chair’s consent/knowledge. This is unsound government, to put it mildly.

The Chair should know that what goes around comes around. He may not be Chair forever, and then he’ll have all his memos vetted by his successor. Justice, perhaps, but still stupid.

Comments (0)
Kauai beach access mystery

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 7:48 am
Plenty to mull over in this story from the Garden Island News. For the most part it seems like another too-typical story of a beachfront property owner fighting against allowing right-of-way to the beach. However, there’s more here this time.

Maybe a better legal mind could make this more clear (post a comment, please), but it seems that this dispute started last year (with the landowner bringing a federal lawsuit that the land not be a public right-of-way) but the suit was dismissed from federal court. At that time, however, the federal court said that if the County took action against the landowner then the federal suit could proceed. (That seems queer, but whatever) Now the County has taken action, suing the landowner in the State 5th circuit court.

The question that goes unanswered in the article is by what reasoning each side thinks they have chose the correct venue (federal court vs. state court). The unanswered questions are not for lack of effort on the reporter, the County public information officials were closed up like a hermit crab touched by an angel (as my friend Rachel would say).

Comments (0)
Hemmings fires back

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 7:28 am
In response to Whitney Anderson’s salvo I noted earlier, Senator Fred Hemmings offers his reply today. Hemmings sounds a bit nervous that Anderson (his defeated opponent from 2000) is down but not out.

Interestingly, Hemmings does not comment or dispute the account that Anderson gave with respect to the funding for the Waimanalo wastewater project. He wants to put that “petty bickering” behind him, not that Hemmings started it.

Ooops, actually Hemmings did start it. Heh.

Comments (0)
Vision Teams to be robbed blind

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 7:20 am
Mayor Hannemann has announced that the Vision Teams (established under Mayor Harris) are not going to be a conduit for improvement monies in the future. These Teams had been (unelected) players in city politics and often rose above the (elected) Neighborhood Boards when it came to deciding which community improvement projects were funded. With this change the NBs could (re-?)assume that influence, or it may mean that Mayor Hannemann will make these decisions on his own and then fight it out with the City Council to get the appropriations. I predict the latter.

The Vision Teams were a very politically savvy creation by Mayor Harris. Few things make constituents happier than listening to them and then promptly following up with money to carry out their wishes. With the NB pushed aside from the Vision Team process, the Mayor could take the bulk of the credit—and did, of course.

Comments (0)
1/25/2005

Sniffing butts and backpacks at a school near you

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 7:56 am
I saw this feature in the Honolulu Weekly about the recent School Board meeting where the topic was drug control policy in the DOE. One of the ideas going around is to use canine units to sniff for drugs, a policy in place at the Academy of the Pacific and at Saint Louis (which are both private schools, of course).

Personally, if a private school wants to treat its students like suspected criminals then I say more power to them. Since the searches are only going to catch the student not akamai enough to carry the drugs on his or her body I don’t see much point, but whatever. It’s your nickel.

In public schools, however, I have a big problem with this. The bulk of all students are compelled to attend a DOE-affiliated school and thus, in that captive environment, they should not be subject to unwarranted invasion of their privacy or searched without probable cause.

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Lingle still opposed to gas cap law

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 7:44 am
In addition to the “hire a consultant with a conflict of interest” strategy I posted about earlier, the administration appears to be adding a “repeal the whole idea” strategy to its fight against the gasoline price cap law. Skimpy coverage of this development is here in todays HNA and a more detailed story is here in the SB.

I predict much debate this session on this gas cap issue (again), and in the end I see another postponement as likely. At the very least we should expect some tinkering with the mechanics. Outright repeal I consider to be unlikely.

Comments (0)
Woo hoo! Primate trifecta!

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 7:22 am
When it rains it pours! At this point I’m thinking of that scene in “Bruce Almighty” with the mugger in the alley…

Anyway, once I got over the shock of yet another primate piece in our local newspapers, it’s an interesting article. In a nutshell: Rusti may get a new enclosure at the Honolulu Zoo. The story describes how the handsome devil may also be romancing his vasectomized self with a female companion. Go, Rusti!

We’ve seen plans to get Rusti a better living arrangement fall through before. I’m rooting for this plan to work.

Comments (0)
Continuing the “primates in zoos” theme of the week

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 7:18 am
Eh! Whacha you lookin at, brah?

A photo from todays HNA.

Comments (0)
1/24/2005

Plaigarism is the highest form of flattery

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 3:39 pm
Looking through the hundreds of bills that have passed First Reading, I was amused to realize that HB 190 is a bill that I wrote six years ago while I worked as a Committee Clerk for Nestor Garcia. (It also became the basis of my MA project). In a nutshell, the bill proposes a way to channel the profit motive of private prison operators towards an end more in line with the public good.

This time around, however, the introducers are eight Republicans—so take a look at it now, it probably won’t get a hearing. Too bad. I thought it was a worthy idea then, and I still think it is an idea worth advancing.

Private prisons are a bad thing overall, but this scheme is certainly more palatable than sending Hawaii inmates to mainland (private) facilities where the only motivation for the operator is to keep the beds full. This bill would reward operators who can actually prepare inmates for parole and then help them to avoid violating their parole.

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Hemmings takes friendly fire

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 7:40 am
From letters to the editor in todays SB I found this interesting missive:

Senator should put aside partisanship
During the campaign, I received a disturbing mailer from GOP Sen. Fred Hemmings. The mailer asserted that Democratic state Rep. Tommy Waters “has tried to take credit” for district capital improvement projects which, it is implied, should be credited to Sen. Bob Hogue, Hemmings and other community members.

I am ashamed that a legislator in my own party would use false information. With the legislative session now under way, I think it is important that taxpayers understand how the state budget process works.

The budget originates from the governor’s office and then goes to the state House. It then transfers to the state Senate, and finally back to the House and on to a joint hearing.

The governor requested more than $18 million to upgrade the Waimanalo wastewater treatment plant, and Waters ensured that allocation stayed intact when the House passed the budget to the Senate. When the bill returned to the House with less than $2 million of the $18 million-plus request, it was Waters who successfully persuaded Senate Ways and Means Chairman Brian Taniguchi to restore the full funding.

I say to Hemmings: Put partisanship aside for the sake of your district and take Waters up on his offer to work together.

Whitney T. Anderson
Former Senate minority leader
Waimanalo

Such a public scolding from a respected figure within his party must be embarrassing for Hemmings. Very odd stuff.

I wonder if something more than civic didacticism motivated Anderson to comment.

Comments (0)
Big Isand to try a new tack on affordable housing

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 7:20 am
I had a look at this article in the HNA about a proposal to ask more from developers on the Big Island to deal with the need for “affordable” housing.

Currently they need to make 10% of all new units “affordable” or to pay a fee. (anyone know how affordable is defined and what that penalty fee is?) The proposal is to increase the fee or have them make 20% “affordable” or to pay for infrastructure improvements.

As one who has little hope of buying a home in this market I applaud the attempt. However, I think that unless the fee is so high as to drive away the real-estate-mad potential buyers of new homes, the developers will continute to not produce enough “affordable” units and just pass the penalty fee on to the buyers of the market rate units. If this is true, then home prices just go that much further out of reach for folks like me.

Comments (0)
Blue Tropix nightclub to be rid of flung feces from now on

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 7:08 am
Primates everywhere rejoice in the news that 3 monkeys who used to live in an enclosure at a Honolulu nightclub have been transferred to a Big Island zoo.

The article does not mention if the threesome (two females and one male, wink wink) are adapting well to their new, non-hip environment without DJs, velvet ropelines, thong underwear, and low-rider jeans. The cessation of their nocturnal habits, however, might drive them to adapt to wearing sunglasses.

It is thought that the proximity to better marijuana has them quite excited. Just look at them!

Comments (1)
1/23/2005

What have you done for us lately, Ko Olina?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:32 am
Following up on a previous post is this HNA article by Andrew Gomes. The article notes that so far the tax credit granted to Jeff Stone has not produced much benefit for the state. Also, as I feared in my earlier post, in this article Stone confirms my gut reaction:

Stone has described the Grand Ko Olina Resort Hotel & Spa design as “the Grand Wailea times 10,” referring to the Maui hotel, and says he expects construction will start by the end of the year.

Investors looking for opportunities involving exotic luxury resorts in impoverished areas might consider the tax break a small incentive. However, it doesn’t take a cynical genius to see that (once the cleanup is complete and the memories fade) the areas decimated by the recent tsunami are even more ripe for resort (re-)development and have a greater supply of impoverished residents desperate for (re-)employment. Thus, the question before potential investors becomes this: can Hawaii politicians, hoteliers, and real estate developers out-Third-World the Third World? Pathetic.

Comments (1)
Make ready the Kevlar® adult diapers!

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 9:03 am
I got a chuckle from the op-ed in the SB today from this hard charger who wants people in their 40s and beyond to be able to volunteer for the military.

I’m a Marine veteran of the first Gulf War, so I can understand when he writes that having a salty, experienced veteran join your outfit is preferable to another young kid straight from boot camp. However, from there the article slips into farce.

Combat is incredibly hard work, and the few cases he provides of chaplains, MDs, etc, who are in their 60s are not exactly making his case as he wants them to. Those old members of the military are there to perform highly-skilled professions, not to kick down doors and hump a full combat pack for many days with hardly any sleep. The reasons young people fight wars are numerous, but it’s obvious that the younger troops are in peak physical condition, recover more quickly when injured and fatigued, and, most importantly, are better able to divert their thoughts from the dangers and moral questions that arise in combat. I’m not saying those abilities are all good things, but they are true.

Perhaps there is a pool of physically fit, gung ho volunteers over 40 who can fill that bill. Surely there are elite athletes of that age, but I really question how many of those who could pass the muster are also those that would give up their career, family, and all the rest to go fight alongside people that are the age of their children (or even grandchildren). It would certainly be an interesting experiment, but in this case I think the traditional reluctance of the military to accept change is a good thing.

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UH scientists describe huge landslide & tsunami

Filed under:
Science
— Doug @ 8:34 am
It’s unfortunate that it probably took the December 26 disaster to get it any exposure, but I was please to see this SB article that describes a huge landslide event and resulting tsunami that some scientists believe struck the state a very long time ago. According to the article, another landslide of this type is likely to happen again but, geologic time scales being so incredibly long, “again” may not be while humans are still on the earth—or it could be this year.

If the destruction is a bad as the scientists predict, we can only hope it occurs after the human race has already become extinct.

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Very cool opportuntiy for Big Island children

Filed under:
Science
— Doug @ 7:07 am
Just read this report about a week of visits from varios space scientists to schools on the Big Island. If you’re in the area to see them, they sound fantastic.

I am slightly surprised the article did not mention the late Ellison Onizuka, since the organizer of the project is a group named after Challenger. Too bad these types of programs can only visit so few students.

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Mainland visitor

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 6:59 am
I spent yesterday hanging out with a couple from Wisconsin who are staying at a vacation rental near Waiahole. He is my brother’s business partner, but I had never met him before. A friend of mine agreed to take us all on a sail to the Kaneohe Bay sandbar, and then we had a great dinner at Haleiwa Joe’s in Haiku Gardens. The weather cooperated perfectly and it was a altogether great day.

Which is more than most of our mainland friends can say. Heh.

Comments (0)
1/22/2005

Consultant plays both sides of gas cap issue

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:30 am
I wish I could say I was surprised, but kudos to Sean Hao who reports in todays HNA that a consulting firm contracted to help the PUC implement the gas cap law also has a contract … with ChevronTexaco.

Fairfax, Va.-based ICF Consulting was hired Nov. 30 to help the Public Utilities Commission figure out how best to put the caps into place this September. Among other things ICF will review a formula that caps wholesale gasoline prices and will gather information from Hawai’i’s two refineries, which are owned by ChevronTexaco Corp. and Tesoro Petroleum Corp.

—-

Kris Nakagawa, chief legal counsel for the PUC, said ICF was hired in part because of its experience and familiarity with the oil industry.

—-

Because of the connection between ICF and ChevronTexaco the new report may come under greater scrutiny.

Sheesh. What more can I say? I can’t help but think that this little revelation is intentional, to give the whole program a(nother) black eye. The gas cap (like the beverage container recycling program) is a program that the administration really doesn’t want to work. So they just go about it so incompetently that it becomes nearly impossible for the effort to succeed—then stand back and act surprised when it fails. We’ll see.

Comments (0)
I get my first link!

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 10:56 am
Thanks to Ian Lind, who has linked to me on his blog today! If you’re here from his link please look around and give me some feedback—good or bad.

Perhaps I’ve added the hit counter just in time, ha ha.

Comments (1)
1/21/2005

Maui legislators want empty seat filled sooner

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 7:10 am
Lingle should have named 13th District successor by now, Maui legislators say. But she has been away on travel to attend W’s inauguration.

February 7 is over 2 weeks from now. It really seems odd that it would take so long to make this selection. It’s not like those people of the 13th district interested in the seat were going to be coy about coming forward. Pick ‘em already!

Also interesting to note that Sol Kaho`ohalahala (who resigned the seat to become ED of the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve Commission) has endorsed Mele Carroll to take his place. We’ll see if she percolates to the top of the selection list now.

Comments (0)
Hawaii’s biggest export: prisoners

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 6:55 am
Hawaii will send over 500 more inmates to mainland prisons, according to this SB article. This would put the total number of Hawaii inmates on the mainland to more than half of the inmates in the Hawaii corrections population. Furthermore, the administration proposes to more than double the number of Hawaii prisoners housed in the federal detention center near the Honolulu airport.

The article mentions that this is being done to relieve overcrowding, and to avoid lawsuits that are likely to occur if prisoners are regularly triple- or quadruple-bunked. The director of DPS is quoted saying, “The prisoners are coming in faster than they are going out.”

This all begs the question, why is the state sending so many people to prison? Are these mostly new offenders, or people on parole (or probation) being sent to prison for technical violations (such as failing a drug test)? Sending inmates to the mainland is a recipe for even more recidivism, since mainland inmates lose almost all contact with their families and have few or no visits.

Just this week the administration announced new plans to get tougher on drug interdiction and mandatory sentencing—these things can only add to the strain on the prison system. Those policies have costs that are revealed in the expense of housing prisoners on the mainland. The article anticipates the state will pay $22M more next year to do these transfers. The HNA editorial today said that the state proposes to spend an additional $4M on treatment.

Which is the more cost effective approach?

Comments (0)
1/20/2005

Opening day at the Lege

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 6:48 am
This Honolulu Advertiser article is a fair description of what happens on opening day from the citizen perspective.

In our office we were chuckling over a guy who came in, looked at the spread of food we had to offer, and then shamelessly asked (after not seeing what he was looking for) if we had any icecream. We did (in the freezer) and served him a scoop, and he promptly walked out.

No hello to the legislator, no introduction to the staff, no packet of special interest information. He only came to the Capitol to grind!

Comments (0)
1/19/2005

Original Hawaii SPAM distributor dies

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 9:52 am
No, not the electronic mail that we all hate, but the so-called “meat” in the brickshaped can. The West Hawaii Today (free registration required) carries an obituary for Les Gamble, the man credited for bringing SPAM to Hawaii.

I’m raising an artery-clogging spam musubi to you, Sir. RIP.

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Lingle and Aiona shift drug focus to law enforcement

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:38 am
Read today in this SB report that Governor Lingle and LGov Aiona are going to focus on law enforcement to fight the crystal methamphetamine problem. Last year the Lege was finally able to pass a bill to fund drug treatment which became law without her signature, although the funding appropriated in the bill was not disbursed until very recently. Can you say “half-hearted” support for drug treatment? Yesterday Aiona said, “Law enforcement has been neglected for far too long.” Translation, “we funded treatment last month.”

Given the hostile reaction from Senator Hanabusa (who chairs the Judiciary Committee), I would expect a tough road for some of these proposals. In particular I would expect some opposition to the restrictions on over-the-counter pseudoephedrine.

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km0419 photos

Filed under:
General
Science
— Doug @ 6:57 am
Finally, I’ve gotten around to gathering up some photos from my trip on the R/V Kilo Moana last November and December. These photos are big and slow to load, so I’ll put them after the ‘more’ click-through. If I can figure out how to resize them in the blog I’ll do that.

(UPDATE: Art helped me with the re-size, so it won’t take so much bandwidth now. Mahalo, Art! )

(more…)

Comments (1)
1/18/2005

DPS loses another director

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 2:52 pm
According to this Advertiser article Governor Lingle has named Richard Bissen to a Maui Circuit Court judgeship, subject to Senate confirmation.

This means that once again the Department of Public Safety is going to be left without a director. For the third time, the governor is going to have to try to fill that unenviable post. The Department is constantly dealing with overcrowding, and recently has had some disturbing sexual and physical abuses exposed.

Lingle’s first appointee, John Peyton, never really warmed to the job and a reliable source tells me that he was not even giving the job his full attention since he was concurrently working as an official of the government in Bosnia!

We’ll see who the next person on the firing line will be…

Comments (0)
1/17/2005

Michael Moore ruckus at his HS alma mater

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 8:32 am
Brandon at the 50th Star News blog put up this post with a link to an AP story about a dispute at Michael Moore’s former high school.

It seems that an alumnus is campaigning to have him inducted into the schools hall of fame, and a Mr. Don Hammond (who sits on the committee that makes the selections) is opposed. Lemme guess, I bet Mr. Hammond is given some sort of small committee and they make the decisions arbitrarily. Hell, maybe he even gets to make unilateral decisions that the board rubber stamps. I very much doubt that it is up to the actual students/graduates of the school to vote.

Typical.

In any case, Brandon is too optimistic when he writes that Moore will never be admitted. He doesn’t have to like it, but here it is: Hammond won’t hold that post forever, but Moore’s films will last for a generation and Moore will always be an alumnus. Not good odds for Hammond.

I’m reminded of the early screen calls for Astaire that said something like “can dance a little.”

Comments (0)
1/16/2005

More egg on government’s face

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:46 am
Major kudos to Rob Perez for his SB story describing how Unity House used their influence at the legislature to pass a bill which they then used as a means to carry out some really shady operations.

Former Representative Mindo is left in a very indefensible position, and the rest of the legislature looks, at best, like they were caught flat-footed. Governor Lingle and Bob Awana are not looking much better than Mindo, however.

I must say that at the time the bill did not seem like it was a nefarious scheme, and it did indeed “cruise under the radar.” One interesting lesson here is that sometimes the high-profile bills with lots of testimony and column-inches in the media are sometimes not the issues that should have caused so much worry.

Begrudging respect (if that’s the right word…) is due to Mindo and to Unity House for calmly sliding this bill throgh the whole process.

Comments (0)
1/15/2005

Death with dignity opponents in a tizzy

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 1:51 pm
According to this article at the Hawaii Reporter, the Democrats are going to make another push for death with dignity, or “physician assisted suicide,” or euthanasia (take your pick of terms).

It’s a bit odd, since they talk as if this effort is already underway. The legislature is not in session yet, so no bills have been filed. Before bills are filed they can’t be referred to committee. These two facts make it quite puzzling to consider how it is that Zimmerman writes with confidence (but without any cited source) that the effort is underway and that the referral wil be bypassing the Health committee and going directly to the Judiciary committee.

We shall see how clear her crystal ball is, I suppose.

Comments (0)
Happy Birthday, Dad!

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 7:44 am
I’m crap for sending the man a card, but I am thinking of him and wish him the best. Right now he is nursing my mothers broken arm and doing much more domestic work than he is used to, but in a few months they will descend from the frozen tundra to visit me. I can’t wait.

Aloha nui, father!

Comments (0)
1/14/2005

Bainum exploring a run for Congress

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:50 am
Slightly surprised to read in this SB story that Duke Bainum is considering a run for US Congress.

In my opinion, none of the incumbents (Akaka, Abercrombie, and Case) are weak candidates, but the wildcard is that Bainum has a personal fortune that he is willing to spend on his campaign. In races for Congress money talks loudly.

That said, Bainum spent almost $3M to lose a Honolulu Mayor race, so obviously money alone is not enough. The Hawaii Reporter must be salivating at the prospect of rehashing the Toma lawsuit again. If Bainum does run in 2006, it will be interesting to see if/how the dailies treat that issue.

Comments (0)
West Maui hospital summit

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:41 am
The Maui News announced today that West Maui hospital leader Pluta has called for a meeting of the minds to try and come to terms with the many competing plans for a new medical facility. I don’t know Pluta or if he has an agenda, but it certainly sounds like a good idea before any one facility gets momentum before it should.

I posted on this topic previously here when I first noticed the issue.

Comments (0)
1/13/2005

Tsunami Warnings and CYA

Filed under:
Science
— Doug @ 8:27 am
The SB defends the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in this editorial today. It’s a rather weak defense insofaras the Center did not have contact information for key officials in the stricken areas, but those that could be reached were notified within 15 minutes that the large quake was potentially dangerous.

Stepping back a bit, some of the areas that were devestated really never had a chance; with or without a warning. Many places are wide coastal plateaus with little elevated ground to seek refuge. Few had adequate roads leading inland that could have handled a huge crush of evacuation traffic. Civil defense sirens are rare or non-existent, and in the early morning the day after Christmas it is not unlikely that radio and television reports would have reached a large audience.

There’s a lot to be learned, no doubt. The CYA (cover your ass) mentality is predictable but counterproductive.

Comments (0)
Luxury Resort on Maui – yawn/groan

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 8:26 am
Kapalua Maui will get yet another luxury resort according to stories I read here and here today.

Okay, to be cynical I’m glad these luxury resorts are popping up on Maui instead of Oahu, but in either case all this gentrification is making it steadily harder for young people and those with semi-skilled jobs to have any hope of owning real estate in Hawaii.

Rent seemingly forever or live with your extended family is our lot. Sigh.

Comments (0)
Ha’iku Stairs – no can swap

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 8:15 am
I’m lucky that I’ve already illegally climbed the Stairway to Heaven, because another problem has come up in the saga to provide (legal) access to the trail.

I’m actually of mixed feelings on this, because the hike experience will be much worse if they set up a parking lot and big tour groups start to tromp up and down the ladders. It is hard enough to do the hike contending with passing (or being passed by) the few illegal hikers on the narrow ladders. It leads to bottlenecks and if someone were to decide to have a panic attack and freeze up, well, you’d be screwed. However, the views are amazing and I think everyone who has struggled up there will never forget them.

We’ll see if the City Council can hammer out a workaround for this latest legal hurdle. Actually, the reason for the delay (the land swap involves land that is required to be used for housing) is something that I feel is worthy of a careful look before just willy-nilly making it work. Swapping another parcel of land not set aside for housing would be a much better solution than carving out an exemption and giving up 52 acres of housing land.

Comments (0)
‘David Carradine Not Chinese’ playing at Kumu Kahua Theatre

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 8:04 am
I’m trying to arrange my schedule so a group of my friends and I can see this play before it stops showing. I will try to post a review if I manage to herd the cats together and make it to a performance.

Given the rising price of movie tickets, seeing live theater for less than $20 seems like a much more rewarding entertainment experience.

Comments (0)
1/12/2005

Semantics of ‘Jail’ vs. ‘Prison’

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 7:59 am
The State will try another time to build a new correctional facility according to this article in the West Hawaii Today.

“This is not a prison, it is a jail. It is not a semantics game. There is an important difference. This would be for pre-trial and short-termers,” Kim said.

Sure, whatever you say, Mayor Kim. Just like the Oahu Community Correctional facility is for pretrial detainees and the Halawa Correctional Facility is for convicted felons. Mostly. Kinda. Sorta.

If this facility is ever built it will house people in the same haphazard, ad hoc manner as all the rest of the facilities in the system.

Comments (0)
Oops, our job isn’t done

Filed under:
Science
— Doug @ 7:50 am
Worth repeating: The vast majority of the ocean floor is not mapped. For example, this submarine accident seems to be directly attributable to operating in poorly- (or un-) charted waters. Why the boat would have been going so damn fast in “the dark” is another question.

SHAMELESS SPAM FOLLOWS:

So, US Navy, let us know and we can hook you up!

Comments (0)
1/11/2005

Hawai’i tsunami zone maps may be flawed

Filed under:
Science
— Doug @ 7:48 am
According to this HNA story the civil defense map published for years in the front of the Hawaii telephone books may not be accurate. Another SB story focuses on the lack of funding for a prompt completion of the update.

I took a personal interest in this story for 3 reasons: 1, I live at sea level on the waterfront; 2, I make bathymetric maps for a living; and 3, the story mentions my friend’s boss, Kwok Cheung.

Cheung is working at UH with a new computer model to better predict the tsunami inundation zones so a more accurate map can be generated and published. The existing maps did not account for the bathymetry around the islands and the effect that can have on amplifying or mitigating the damage of any tsunami. Seems to be a no-brainer, but in the past the data just weren’t there like we have now. For example, just in the last 2 years we have greatly improved (and in some cases created wholly new) the bathymetric charts of the island chain.

I saw some models last week on television that Fryer was working with, and they show where I live to be a pretty sketchy area if another big slough/landslide event were to happen on the Big Island. Spooky, but I’m actuarily much more likely to be killed by a drunk driver or fall in the shower.

Comments (0)
Don’t like global warming? Just deny it

Filed under:
Science
— Doug @ 7:18 am
Today’s little nugget of sophistry comes from the, ahem, esteemed Grassroots Institute of Hawaii “thinktank.”

First, the piece conflates local weather forecasting with global climate forecasting. These are not the same, and the (in)accuracy of the former implies very little about the latter. He asserts, with zero evidence, that forecasting climate a week or a month ahead is “well nigh impossible.”

Next he trots out the argument that global warming is little more than a meal ticket for scientists to win research grants. No doubt that many people make their careers studying the topic, but if there were any scientists with worthy competing hypotheses to test by experimentation they would be funded, too. The Bush administration, opposed to the Kyoto protocol and dubious of global warming, would be happy to fund those experiments—if only a sound competing hypothesis were out there.

Taxpayers are being soaked to pay for science research. Yup, that’s certainly true. I don’t agree that it is a bad thing, however. Heck, it even pays my salary most of the year if you didn’t know.

He bemoans the fact that scientists continually discover that current theories are incorrect and new ideas ascends into acceptance. Then a few paragraphs later he applauds Galileo and Einstein for their breakthroughs. If long-held theories being shattered are a “problem,” and too much of the “wrong” research is being done at present, how will global warming ever be eclipsed as the accepted theory for climate change? [Maybe by opinion pieces or bloggers.]

He wants to have his cake (a new theory of climate change) and eat it, too (less government funded research). At least he gets paid (I assume) to write his column. I should be so lucky.

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Competing plans for additional West Maui health care

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 6:15 am
Over on Maui two different approaches to the same problem are described in this Maui News article. West Maui does not have a 24-hour acute care facility, and as the area grows rapidly (and traffic gets worse) it is becoming more dangerous to rely on Maui Memorial hospital to handle the emergency care needs for the whole island.

I’m not sure I understand exactly why these two groups don’t work together, but they are both hell-bent for leather to be the first with something on the ground after hurrying through the permitting and planning process. Anybody want to lay odds which one wins?

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1/10/2005

Zimmerman defends herself

Filed under:
HI Media
— Doug @ 3:40 pm
The Hawaii Reporter editor defends herself against the claim that her website smeared Duke Bainum’s wife during the 2004 Mayoral campaign. Definitely worth a read, even if for no other reason than the insights it provides on the operation and history of her site.

I often (okay, usually) disagree with her columns and the columnists on her site, but I certainly do not want her to stop publishing them. The “truth” of the whole Bainum story probably lies somewhere in the middle, but what else is new?

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‘Plan B’ on workers’ comp

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:35 am
Another good article (actually, an exclusive) in the online PBN. Kudos to their reporter Natarajan!

It seems that the Gov has acknowledged that with her diminished/vanishing strength at the Legislature that other tactics will have to be put in play. The story is short on details of what she intends to do to workers’ compensation rules, but the notable thing is how she intends to go about it.

The rulemaking process is controlled by the Executive branch, and quite a lot can be done at that level. The Legislature can trump those actions, but often only in the breach, i.e. after the policy has been put in place. The legislative session proceeds rapidly and has strict deadlines, so stopping her this year may be impossible. Quite an akamai strategy given her political vulnerabilities at this time.

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Political ‘Help Wanted’ inquire with Gov

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:14 am
A few more details have emerged in this column about the selection process to replace Sol Kaho`ohalahala in the state House.

She will be taking resumes until January 19 (opening day) and a panel will screen them to choose 6 by January 24. Another panel will cull that list to three, and Lingle will choose the new representative by February 7.

Internal House documents show that this replacement will be Vice-Chair of the Committee on Hawaiian Affairs and will be a member of the Finance Committee, the Energy & Environmental Protection Committee, and the Water, Land and Ocean Resources Committee.

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… no three dot columnists …

Filed under:
HI Media
— Doug @ 7:30 am
The “Looking Back” post from 1/7/05 at Check6Honolulu mentions that the two Honolulu dailies are changed for the worse now that neither has had a “three dot” columnist for some time.

Um, that’s where bloggers fill in the gap, sir! Blogs can provide a, “catch-all for news items that don’t justify a full story, but are of interest to readers, and they reflect the times better than most of the ’serious’ newspaper stories.”

Sort of funny that Burlingame doesn’t realize that as a blogger himself… <— gratuitous 3 dots!

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Winter Maintenance

Filed under:
General
Sailing
— Doug @ 7:03 am
A busy weekend of helping friends complete their projects. But first I made a commando visit to the KARC meeting at Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden. Then it was off to help test a new mainsail and .5oz spinnaker on Seafire at KYC. That took about 90 minutes, then I scurried over to help re-install new jibsheet tracks on Mugquomp (a Santa Cruz 27) for the next 4 hours.

Sunday I had hoped to sail my boat, but overnight the very gusty winds had damaged the floating dock I use. After resolving that dock problem it became apparent that the wind was not suitable for sailing, so I went to exchange a Christmas gift and then helped another friend who was building molds for battery boxes on his electric pickup truck conversion project. Whew!

Comments (1)
1/7/2005

Another telescope controversy

Filed under:
Science
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 10:00 am
Well, here we go again. Another telescope project on the summit of Haleakala is being advanced. In the past similar projects have met opposition from Native Hawaiians and some were ultimately abandoned. It is still very early, but it appears as if this telescope could meet the same fate.

From a science standpoint, the project sounds pretty cool: A big (4 meter) instrument for solar observations that would be of great help in understanding magnetic storms on the sun, i.e. events that impact radio propogation here on Earth. As an amateur radio operator AND a semi-professional science geek, this is a double shot of cool for me. Okay, triple shot, if you throw in the political angle of getting the plan approved and fully funded.

I’m not sure what the concerns of the Native Hawaiian opposition are, but hopefully they can be accomodated without jeopardizing the project.

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Kaho’ohalahala resigns

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 7:44 am
In a somewhat surprising development, Representative Sol Kaho`ohalahala resigned his House seat yesterday. As a result, the Governor now has 60 days to choose a replacement for appointment to his seat.

He left to take the Executive Director position at the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve Commission, and I am quite confident that he is an excellent choice for that post.
I’m fortunate to have had a chance to visit Kaho`olawe in 1991. While in the Corps I was part of a ten-day mission to locate and gather military waste and unexploded ordnance. (That restoration job was really never completed as well as it should be, but that’s another story.) Sol has a much more spiritual and cultural connection to the islands than I, so I know he will be a great steward for the site.

I’ve worked with Sol before. He is a good man, so the people of his district should be concerned that a worthy replacement will be chosen. Unfortunately, the choice of the replacement is left to our Republican Governor (though she must choose a Democrat, since SK is a Democrat). I am not very familiar with any of the names mentioned in this article, but I will try to learn more and report back.

Comments (0)
Torture. It’s funny, right?

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 7:12 am
I probably shouldn’t have, but I got a chuckle from this little bit of photo fun.

“No dessert,” ha ha.

No really, dammit, that’s not funny!

Comments (0)
1/6/2005

Synchronicity!

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 1:01 pm
How timely is this?! A blog that is compiling a list of local politics blogs across the USA! I guess my timing is auspicious for beginning this week.

I also plugged Hawaii Reporter and iLind while I was at it. We’ll see if it leads to any traffic. If you are here from that referral, please post a comment and let me know.

Also, another mahalo to Art for plugging my blog to his email listserv. Good idea.

Comments (0)
1/5/2005

Why we STILL need discretionary sentencing

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 11:57 am
Dave Shapiro’s column today was quite good. In the piece our Honolulu Prosecutor, Peter Carlisle, is revealed (once again) to be an unreasonably punitive person.

Disclaimer: I’m a bit biased on the subject due to counting DUI felons among my family and close friends, but if the offender in this article doesn’t deserve a break from the Parole Board then I’m not sure a more deserving case could ever be found.

Beyond the deterrence message that he cites arguing against a prompt parole, Carlisle needs to consider the message that his suggested harsh treatment for such a model offender sends to others. Of course, prosecutors are typecast as “tough guys” and few ever lose re-election for being too harsh. Hopefully the Parole Board will make a just decision and give this man another chance.

Comments (1)
Nickelback in HI

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:55 am
As I read in this HA editorial the bottle recycling/deposit program is finally getting underway in Hawaii. I don’t drink very many bottled or canned beverages, so it really isn’t a big issue for me. Getting the litter off the roadside does interest me, though.

The one thing that struck me about this was

Limited hours and short staffing at many redemption centers in recent days resulted in long lines. If that continues, folks may well go back to recycling at their local school campus containers.

It seems to me that should be amended to read “folks may well take to stealing all the containers from school recycling centers.” Maybe I’m too cynical, but if containers are now worth 5 cents each it could become worthwhile for people to consider a dumpster dive or two.

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Small World

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 6:28 am
I received a telephone call that caller ID showed was from the mainland US. The name in the display seemed vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t quite figure out why. Anyway, when I answered the phone the caller asked for “M*” and then I realized that the last name on the caller ID was the same as a woman who shares office space with me (though she works for a different employer). I stunned the caller by saying that “I work with her and know who she is, but she doesn’t live here.” By this time my interest was piqued, so I had to ask how they came to call me instead of her.

It turns out that her home telephone number and one of my two phone numbers only differ by one digit.

This whole sotry is a series of pretty huge coincidences. Out of all the people on Oahu that I could share an office with, I share the office with a person who has almost the same phone number. Then, out of all the people on Oahu, this mainland caller misdials a number and reaches a person who actually knows the woman the caller was trying to reach.

There are more than a half-million people here, after all. Weird.

Comments (0)
1/4/2005

Ko Olina II?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 1:30 pm
This SB story describes a new plan by developer Jeff Stone to begin a new resort area in Makaha.

In the article Stone claims that his Ko Olina resort near Kapolei has contributed $30M to State revenues in 2004. Which makes me wonder if he calculated this amount before or after the huge tax incentive the resort was granted in 2003. My hunch is before.

The Leeward coast desperately needs jobs, but I have my doubts whether another resort like Ko Olina, so close by to the existing resort, is really a good idea. Ko Olina caters to high-end travellers and the homes built on the property are not affordable. The resort workers at the Ko Olina certainly won’t be living on site anytime soon, where they could be neighbors with management and even a State Senator.

Interestingly, Stone’s plan for Princeville, on Kauai, includes building housing for the workers. This story does not mention if he has a similar arrangement in mind forMakaha.

I consider the new scheme in Makaha as evidence of creeping Maui-ism arriving here on Oahu. Luxury vacationers and homeowners being served by employees who have to commute long distances because they can’t afford to live nearby. It may be impossible to stop it, given Stone’s political connections, but I will watch this story with interest as it develops.

Comments (1)
Hello, world.

Filed under:
General
— Doug @ 7:35 am
First, a huge mahalo to my friend, Art, for hosting me and helping with the WordPress setup!

My intent with this blog is to focus on writing about what I know and what interests me, so it may seem rather provincial at times. If you care about Hawaii politics, then this blog should be of interest to you. I’m going to dabble in other topics (such as my sailing obsession), but I am going to try to limit my posts to keep this manageable.

Fair warning: I go to sea fairly frequently, often for weeks at a time. Sometimes out on the ocean I have net access, but not always. Therefore, if this blog goes dormant for a long time, that would probably be the reason. Also, don’t expect many (if any) posts on my weekends. After all, I can’t write about sailing if I don’t actually GO SAILING now and again, can I?

For now, during the infancy of my blog, I am especially interested in reader comments that can tip me off to similar blogs, or to useful links for Hawaii political wonks.

Aloha.

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