Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The Best and Worst of 2007

Happy New Year. 2007 has come and gone and now is a good time for a very brief review….


Hawaii Superferry 12-13-07

The Hawaii Superferry arrived in the islands and finally set sail on a close to regular schedule on December 13 after an aborted start in late August. I was so luck y as to be on that “return to commercial service” trip as a freelance photographer for a media outlet. The bumpy ride going over to Maui was memorable and the return nearly as smooth as silk.

The voyage was the culmination of my personal documentation of the Superferry as it plowed through a sea of controversy from the time it was built, arrived in the islands and subjected to court orders and a special legislative session, which in the end, cleared it for service. Today despite bad weather, the Superferry is making regular trips between Honolulu and Maui in what hopefully will be a success story for the new year.

Another highlight of 2007 was the spectacular air shows offered by the United States Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Navy Blue Angels. Thousands of island residents turned out to watch the government sponsored aviation aerobatics as talented fighter pilots from these elite squadrons entertained the public in their own unique way to get young people interested in a military career. I was lucky enough to snap off several hundred photos at the Thunderbirds show from Magic Island Beach Park in Honolulu.

The University of Hawaii Warrior football team was certainly made big news for islanders as they went through their football season relatively unscathed while compiling an impressive and record setting 12 – 0 win-loss regular season…. the first for the U.H., and the best and only unbeaten regular college football team in the country. The U.H. Warriors put their unblemished record to the final test today as they play for the BCS Sugar Bowl title in New Orleans against Georgia.

I Flew Go!

The local inter-island airfare war continued throughout 2007. Mesa Airlines’ Go! set the agenda for low inter-island fares that came tumbling down to $1 on one occasion. I was lucky enough to make trips to the Big Island at fare levels of $9 and $19 each way this year. The big 2 airlines, Hawaiian and Aloha hated the fare war enough to take Go to court. Hawaiian won their case and Aloha’s set for trial in April 2008. Feisty Go! is still around, selling discount fares for $39. The fare war is good for consumers and the local traveling public.

The design for the Hawaii Quarter was unveiled. In late 2008 the last in the 50 states series will be minted and feature a design of the 8 Hawaiian islands and King Kamehameha on the reverse side. While Hawaii’s quarter was to have been the last in the series, another half dozen or so new designs will also be forthcoming to commemorate the territories and the District of Columbia quite possibly in 2009 and continuing to 2010.

In late August Hawaii sky observers were treated to a clearly seen and highly visible total eclipse of the moon. I was lucky enough to capture a series of photos of this heavenly phenomenon without pesky clouds blocking my view.

Apple introduced the iPhone, iPod Touch and new iMacs. Mac OSX version 5 was also released. Apple stock ended the year at $198 per share as they became the 3rd most popular selling computer maker in America. joined the digital music fray by offering DRM-free, downloadable tracks to compete with Apple’s iTunes, which this year also offered selected DRM-free tracks from mainly Capitol/EMI. Music downloads without DRM is a good thing. Let’s hope this trend continues into 2008 and beyond.


For those who are concerned about their pocketbook, 2007 certainly got off to a very bad start. On January 1 the State’s General Excise Tax climbed from 4% to 4.5% , hitting nearly every consumer in the wallet as the cost of final goods and services are rendered. What do the public get out of the .5% (more properly read 12.5%) tax increase?

2007 Small Business Hawaii Conference

Funding for a choo-choo train line to be built by the City and County of Honolulu to the tune of at least $6.4 billion dollars. This will be a rail line that will travel from West Oahu’s Kapolei community and finishing off somewhere in Honolulu near or at Ala Moana Shopping Center. The tax train to nowhere will become an even bigger headache in the years to come as more and more of our money are taken away to build a railroad that is supposed to alleviate traffic congestion but really won’t. The government knows that but they keep on moving with this choo-choo train fantasy.

Thanks Governor Linda Lingle for letting the tax increase bill get by without a veto in 2005. Thanks Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who has gone against his mantra of “do we need it” “can we afford it” and “can we maintain it”…. Our “mess-transit” nightmare will continue unless the Mayor and current council members up for reelection in 2008 are tossed out and replaced. It is my hope that groups such as Let Honolulu Vote and prevail in the ongoing issue of mass transit, the rail tax and the Mufi train to hell.

Other bad news for 2007:

Hawaii was still rattled by earthquakes long after the big one in 2006 shook us statewide on an early Sunday morning.

Big storms and heavy seas delayed the launch of the Hawaii Superferry. Humans bent on seeing the service not happen made worst storm waves by using the legal system to shut down operations in August before the legislature and governor intervened with a new law to exempt the service while a required Environmental Impact Study (EIS) is done.

Airline prices may climb in 2008 as Mesa Airlines lost its case against Hawaiian Airlines to the tune of $90 million in federal court. Should Mesa’s Go! leave the Hawaii market, island travelers and consumers will be whacked with severely increased costs to travel to another island.

Lastly property taxes continue to rise as we all get assessed for higher values as scores of developers and speculators push the cost of owning a home beyond what our dwellings are actually worth. Go figure.

Let’s hope that 2008 can be a better year where cost can be reigned in and more free market principles take root. Remember it’s an election year and it is another chance for the public to throw out the old cronies of the “tax and spend” generation.

Have a Happy New Year!

Hawaii Superferry Resumes Service December 1

Hawaii Superferry

Hawaii Superferry will relaunch its commercial service on December 1. It was announced on Friday afternoon by Hawaii Superferry as discount tickets went on sale at their website for $29 per person, each way during a promotional period from Dec. 1 to Dec. 20. After that Superferry will be pricing their fares at $39 each way to March 12. The fare structure only covers passengers but does not include the fuel surcharge which is being waived during the promotional period.

Superferry service will only be available between the islands of Oahu and Maui. Hawaii Superferry is not sailing to Kauai until potential secuirty problems can be worked out with the community there.

I hope it is smooth sailing for Superferry as they resume their interisland service to Maui and Oahu. The fare structure for now is good, right in line with the interisland airlines. I can understand them continuing to charge at least $55 for a standard vehicle since cars, vans and SUVs are fairly large.

Superferry service resumes after a long legal battle which included a convening of a special legislative session and a new law signed by the Governor in order to get the vessel running while an environmental study is conducted. The Superferry issue has been a galvanizing topic in Hawaii for several months with most of the public overwhelmingly supporting the service.

Tax Relief Not For All

The State Legislature finally got around to addressing the constitutionally mandated issue of providing taxpayers with relief. Under the State Constitution, the legislature is required to provide a refund back to the taxpayers after 2 consecutive years of “tax surplus.”

The problem this year is that the tax relief will not come in a form of a refund, available to all taxpayers. This year, if two bills pass out of the legislature this week, the tax relief will come in the form of tax credits for people who qualify at certain income levels. Taxpayers who make more than the stated amount will get nothing.

Everyone should get a tax refund this year, regardless of income level. Why? Because taxpayers at all income levels paid into the system.

More information at the following links:

Over the years many new taxes have increased the cost of living and doing business in Hawaii. The Democrats who dominate the legislature takes more money away from the taxpayers rather than allowing them to keep it in their own pockets.

Tax Burden Still High in Hawaii

Let Honolulu’s Paul Smith reports this week that Hawaii continues to have one of the highest tax burdens in the nation. Smith says, “the Bureau of the Census reports that, on a per capita basis, Hawaii, in 2005, was the number 1 state for collections of general sales tax, and in 2006, had the fifth highest percentage (11.7 percent) of state and local tax burden as a percentage of state income.”

The report does not take into account the new tax increase that started on January 1 to fund Honolulu’s $6.4 billion rail transit project. That will surely push our tax burden higher the next time another report is filed.

Keep an eye on the State Legislature. You can’t trust many of the politicians who work in that building. They may be pushing more legislation to increase our tax burden. More fees, charges, cost, taxes. When will it all end?

Tax hell is alive and well in the 50th State.

Smokers March to Overturn Ban

"Ban the Ban" Smokers Protest

Smokers and bar owners were protesting Hawaii’s new anti-smoking law at the State Capitol on Friday, February 9. Smoking should be allowed in bars and other adults-only entertainment and recreational establishments. Senate Bill 1970 will be heard in the Hawaii State Legislature on Feb. 12 to address the concerns of smokers and business owners. Several bar owners have been financially hit by the restrictive new law which has been in effect since November 2006.

I am a non-smoker but do understand their plight. The smokers need a public place to light up. Give them the bars.

Honolulu March for Life

The 34th annual Hawaii March for Life rally was heldon Monday, January 22 near the State Capitol in Honolulu, Hawaii. Hundreds of supporters of life came out to celebrate the sanctity of life — from conception to its natural end.

Participants heard inspiring speeches from clergy and political leaders of Hawaii who share in the common belief that “life is sacred” and must not be taken away even before it is born.

References to bills introduced in the State Legislature were acknowledged including measures that protect the unborn from partial birth abortion, parrental notification, and criminal acts. Several end of life measures will also be introduced to prevent physician assisted suicide.

Participants marched around the entire historic capital district in a march of unity that sent a strong message to the commuting public late in the afternoon.

Let Honolulu Vote!

We need initiative. Especially tax initiatives where citizens get the right to vote on any and all tax issues that effect their pocketbooks. Let Honolulu Vote is a grassroots organization created just for that. Their mission this year is to get as many as 60,000 registered voters to sign their petition to amend the Honolulu City Charter allowing voters to place tax issues on future ballots. Power to the people, let the people decide!

From their website:

What is LET HONOLULU VOTE doing?

The LET HONOLULU VOTE Petitions seek to amend the City Charter. The amendment would allow voters to place tax questions on future City ballots, using the initiative process (the same process as this Petition itself, i.e., gather enough signatures, and a question goes on the next election ballot). The current petition charter amendment would be voted on during the November 2008 election.

Put tax making decisions back into the people’s hands. Sign the petition today.

Additional links:

Photo: Taken at Rally/Press conference in front of Honolulu Hale (City Hall).

Hawaii’s Gift #2: U.S. Senator Barack Obama

senobama.jpgU.S. Senator Barack Obama (D – Illinois) was born and raised in Hawaii for a few years of his childhood before moving to Indonesia after his parents divorced. Over the years, he worked his way through school and college and graduated from Harvard with a law degree in 1991. From there he entered politics, served in the Illinois State Legislature before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. He is now in the middle of his Senate term and is frequently mentioned and speculated as a potential candidate for the U.S. Presidency in the 2008 election.

Hawaii residents and Democrat politicians have been watching Senator Obama with keen interest over the past year anticipating whether or not he will indeed enter the race for President. If he does, the Hawaii media will have a field day with this as they do with any Hawaii resident or ex-resident who rises to the world and national stage. We love our local sons and daughters.

That said, Senator Obama will indeed be a “gift to the world” who started in Hawaii and may probably have a chance to make a bigger impact on the world and national stage should he become President.

Additional references:

U.S. Senator Obama official website
Wikipedia: U.S. Senator Barack Obama

On Street Parking in Jeopardy

One of the most precious commodities in Honolulu and any other city is the availability of on-street parking. On-street parking in residential neighborhoods and business areas benefit all. Small businesses depend on the availability of on-street parking as part of their business plans, especially those located in buildings with no on-site parking.

A new City Charter amendment mandating that the City Transportation Department adopt a sweeping “pedestrian and bicycle friendly” stance into all planning is a bad idea. Most people like pedestrian and bicycle friendly neighborhoods and that is fine. However this should mandate should not be made as part of our city charter. Instead planning for pedestrian and bicycle access should be made on a case-by-case basis as it is now.

City Charter Amendment #8 should be defeated. Vote “no”.

No Cabins on Ka Iwi

No Cabins on Ka Iwi

Opposition to QRM development proposal across the Ka Iwi shoreline in East Honolulu remains high. Yesterday several dozen people who oppose the development of 180 cabins and a commercial recreation resort on preservation zoned land rallied at Honolulu Hale to voice their opposition to the proposed project. This latest rally is the continuation of several public gatherings in which people don’t support development.

While I don’t live in the Hawaii Kai area, I too am opposed to this development proposal. The land out there is quite dry, rocky and arid… did I say dry? There is also no infrastructure to support such a development, though I have heard that the developer would put in their own infrastructure.

Still the place is one of the last pieces of open space on East Oahu. It is also a flashpoint for previous, and successful protests against development. Anyone remember the “Save Sandy Beach” effort in the 1980s? That became a successful campaign in halting the development of high end, near beachfront homes across from the popular body surfing spot. As I recall the issue was put on the ballot and people ended up voting against the development.

Additional Links:

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