Category Archives: History

Another bit of history: An “Open Letter” from “The Hawaiians”

I just ran into this scanned image while going through files on a misplaced flash drive that I unexpectedly found.

It’s a large ad that appeared in the Hawaii Free People’s Press, an underground newspaper published several issues between mid-1969 and the end of 1970.

The open letter is signed by Pae Galdeira, leader of a very early activist group of Hawaiians. Galdeira died in May 2015.

It reflects one of the roots of today’s Hawaiian movement.

Click on the image to view a larger version.

December 1970

Throwback Thursday: Sharing a meal c.1985

Another cat photo for this Throwback Thursday.

This is proof that we’ve shared our table with cats for an awful long time.

I believe this dates back to about 1985 or 1986. This was our #1 cat, who lived to be about 19 years old. She routinely took a spot on the table, usually right next to my plate. She tried to be patient and wait to be offered tidbits, but often a gray paw would shoot out to snatch a bit off my fork somewhere between plate and mouth.

She died in the summer of 1988, not long after we moved to Kaaawa. She was an indoor cat in Kaaawa, but did get to visit the yard a few times before she was gone. She taught us a lot about cats, that’s for sure.


Looking back at the roots of Hawaii’s prison crisis

My Civil Beat column this week tries to explain the modern history of Hawaii’s prison system, which began in the 1960s and 1970s as a plan to create a modern and humane way to deal with crime (“Ian Lind: Falling Short Again On Prisons“).

It’s a sad story of bureaucratic inertia, administrative infighting, and political opportunism destroying what was seen at the time as a remarkably innovative plan to recreate and modernize the state’s prison system.

I’ve gotten just one comment so far on the column, an email from an old friend who has spent his life dealing with prison issues. Russ Immarigeon wrote:

I just read your recent column about prison-building plans in Hawaii. What a terrific column! Man, it’s so rare to hear someone with such a fine sense of the history of failure of prison-building proposals. Not only that, I think you hit the target on why past plans failed and future plans are likely to fail.

Here are the first few paragraphs of the Civil Beat column.

Forty years ago, Hawaii tried to re-envision and reform the state’s old and obsolete prison system. The aim: to create a prison system second to none.

The magazine of the American Correctional Association, an organization of prison professionals, reported that Hawaii’s new prisons were expected to be “the most modern, the most humane and the most sophisticated anywhere.”

But even as the new buildings were going up, the widely hailed vision was being undermined by bureaucratic inertia and infighting, and by the Legislature’s failure to fund key parts of the system.

And with a surge in crime brought about, in part, by the unprecedented size of the the baby boom generation, we saw the arrival of a new political era that leveraged the fear of crime into a potent campaign issue, first nationally and then locally.

Instead of leading the nation, Hawaii’s new prison system was overcrowded on the day it opened. The state has spent much of the past several decades struggling with chronic overcrowding and administrative woes, continuing allegations of civil rights violations, lawsuits, and repeated periods of direct federal supervision of several of its facilities.

In the process, the explosive growth of the prison population has become a huge drain on the state’s budget, pulling money away from desperate needs in education, health care, family services, and on and on.

This history is rather depressing.

But the current reality is even more depressing.

The prisons have become a sacred cow. The public knows little about what goes on in them because they have become closed institutions and because most of us don’t want to know.

We’ve lost the understanding that these aren’t simply “criminals”, but are sons, brothers, uncles, and friends who have gotten into trouble and need a way out.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, there was more community concern about what went on in our prisons and jails. There were community groups with considerable social and political clout that were actively involved in prison issues. Things didn’t go totally unnoticed.

Today it seems quite different. The prison and jails are far more isolated from daily life of the rest of the public. Weak administration allows chronic conditions to continue (poor health care for prisoners, excessive overtime and favoritism among guards, inability to staff family visits, etc, etc).

And now, with preciously little attention to the deeper issues, Governor Ige is pressing for approval to commit half a billion dollars to moving the Oahu Correctional Center so that developers can access the current site in Kalihi, and other private interests can profit on constructing a new facility. All with little, if any, public discussion of why we’re doing this and, far more importantly, where this is taking us.

I hope that some of you have access to CB and can check out the column.

Missing links to Honolulu Advertiser stories

I started writing back at the beginning of 2000, while still working at the old Star-Bulletin. It’s been a long time.

And, over the years, I’ve linked to tons of articles that appeared in the S-B or the Honolulu Advertiser.

Since the merger of the two newspapers in 2010, the joint online archive has been maintained by the Star-Advertiser.

The old Star-Bulletin links still work, displaying the articles in their original online format.

But the Advertise links are broken. Well, I don’t know if all of them are broken, but that seems to be the case. All the ones I’ve tried have returned this error message.

Missing links

Google searches will still find the old articles, but the links don’t work. If the Google item includes the date the story appeared, you can visit the Star-Advertiser archive page, locate the issue by publication date, and manually search for the article.

I suppose that’s still a lot easier than in the pre-digital world, where you first searched for stories by subject in a printed index, and then retrieved the microfilm for that publication and time period, loaded it into a microfilm reader, and then fast-forwarded the microfilm to the publication date.

The broken links are a reminder of the difficulties we face in keeping digital history alive and well.

Throwback Thursday: Powell’s Books c.1985

Powell’s Books in Portland has been one of our favorite places for what seems like forever. The store opened back in 1971, and we started dropping in soon afterwards whenever we visited Portland, where Meda’s mother lived. We would see Mr. Powell at work, buying and selling, always willing to stop and talk to strangers. The place was political. Like Kepler’s bookstore in Menlo Park, Powell’s drew activists as well as intellectuals. Books and people were stacked everywhere.

In the early 1980s, Powell sold the store to his son, Michael, but the senior Powell could still be spotted at the store. He died in 1985, just about the time this photo was taken.

Powell’s has kept growing, kept getting better, and has defied the odds by surviving as so many independent booksellers have joined the many newspapers that have gone out of business.


The Life and Tomes of Michael Powell,” University of Chicago Magazine.

Powell’s Books, Wikipedia.

The history of Powell’s Books,” from the company website.