The entrance to the building clearly belonged to another era and I asked what it had originally been.
Turns out that it was part of the old Hilo Hotel next door, which from 1908 until 1969 was owned and operated by the same Lycurgus family which ran the Volcano House. King David Kalakaua once had a home on the site.
In the old days, you walked up these entrance stairs into a large room, and off to the left was the hotel’s swimming pool. Now only a concrete courtyard remains.
There are many other buildings in downtown Hilo reflecting what was once a much more prosperous community. All this a reminder that Hawaii’s economy and politics have changed dramatically in the 50 years since statehood.
Back then, sugar was still king, the Big Five plantation factors still wielded disproportionate power, as did the ILWU, the union representing plantation workers. Neighbor island legislators had the power to deliver the goods to folks back home. And Hilo was a thriving commercial center.
After the devastating tsunami destroyed the downtown area for a second time in 1960, state aid poured in. UH Hilo was envisioned as an economic engine as was Hilo airport, which was expanded to accommodate direct flights from the mainland, and the city was poised for dramatic growth.
But it didn’t happen. Sugar declined, Kona became the favored visitor destination, neighbor island political clout became less formidable, and Hilo’s dreams have languished for decades.
Don’t miss the Honolulu Advertiser story today by Christie Wilson reciting the costs to the public of providing the infrastructure and support needed to service the Superferry.
Irene Bowie, executive director of Maui Tomorrow, one of the groups involved in the legal case, said the DOT list of ferry-related costs shouldn’t be considered a comprehensive accounting of taxpayer costs. Missing are such expenses as the cost of convening a special legislative session, public meetings and a state auditor’s investigation.
“The meter is running on this thing, and in these really tough times it just seems more and more that it was a mistake to go forward without really factoring in what was needed,” Bowie said. “A lot of this stuff they were warned about by their own DOT staff. Everything about this operation was a rush when no real rush existed, and we’re paying for it now, literally.”
Let’s see. For Sunday reading, you might want to read the Freedom of Information lawsuit filed against the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WESPAC) and related agencies by several environmental groups.
The lawsuit was filed to gain access to documents requested by the plaintiffs in a November 14, 2007, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted to WESPAC seeking basic budget, grant, and contract information. Tina Owens from the LOST FISH Coalition said, “In addition to shedding light on the long-hidden and most basic internal operations of this controversial federal entity, the documents may also shed light on how WESPAC funds may have been used in what appears to be various lobbying campaigns to influence state and federal legislative and executive branch decisions related to marine conservation in Western Pacific waters.” Miwa Tamanaha, KAHEA Executive Director noted, “Wise, sound, community-based management requires accountability and transparency. If there is nothing improper, then there should be nothing to hide. With the situation of our ocean resources so imperiled, it is ridiculous that citizen groups should have go to these lengths to get basic information about use of our public dollars.”
After that, tackle OHA’s brief filed with the US Supreme Court in the ceded lands case, courtesy of the legal blog, inversecondemnation.com.