Category Archives: Politics

State calendar a useful tool for reporters and activists

I doubt many of you keep an eye on the state’s official calendar, which includes the public meetings of all manner of state boards and commissions.

It’s a simply way to monitor the pulse of state government through its many bits and pieces.

For example, here’s a link to the coming week’s meetings.

Browse through the lists of meetings. If you see one of potential interest, click on the “Details” link to get the time, place, and agenda of the meeting.

And from the main page, you can choose a different time frame (for example, the following week, or the whole month). You can also use the dropdown menu at the top to focus in on a particular agency, board, or commission, and see the list of their scheduled meetings.

This is, or should be, a basic tool not only for reporters but for concerned citizens.

Unfortunately, most of these meetings proceed “under the radar,” without any reporter present, and with no outside scrutiny. And, I would guess, the number that are part of any reporter’s beat has likely dropped dramatically over the past 15 years.

I can say from past experience that being the only “outsider” sitting in on a normally anonymous board or commission meeting can be a very interesting experience. I highly recommend it.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found a comparable calendar for Honolulu’s many boards and commissions. There’s a calendar for City Council meetings, and one that lists neighborhood board meetings, but if there’s an overall calendar, it is mighty elusive. And I still have to check the situation on the neighbor islands.

In any case, browse and share any nuggets of info on upcoming meetings you think would be of interest.

HBO movie goes “All the way”

Political junkies take note.

If you subscribe to HBO in any form, or can beg or borrow access from a friend, be sure to watch the HBO movie, “All the way.”

It’s a movie adaptation of Seattle playwright Robert Schenkkan’s stage play which follows Lyndon Baines Johnson through the intense period from the beginning of his presidency in November 1963 through the 1964 election, where “All the way with LBJ” was the Democratic candidate’s campaign theme.

Count me on the side of critics who called Bryan Cranston’s depiction of LBJ “mesmerizing.”

We stumbled on the movie by accident a few nights ago while looking for something to watch, and were unaware of all the press attention it received following its debut earlier this year.

If you lived through those years back in the 1960s, it’s powerful and disturbing. If you’re way too young for that, it’s a pretty close-to-real-life look behind the scenes of hardball politics.

“Politics is war by other means,” LBJ muses at one point. Then he quickly circles back. “Politics is war.” Period.

I’ve read several of the books about LBJ, including a couple of valumes of Robert Caro’s intimate portrait of the man and his career, and collections of the secret White House tapes compiled by historian Michael Beschloss. I thought “All the way” captured much of what’s there in the historical record, and made it very human.

Johnson was being hit by competing political forces on all sides, the growing civil rights movement, the overt racism of the formerly solid Democratic South, a conservative challenge by GOP candidate Barry Goldwater, a deteriorating political and situation in Southeast Asia. We watch as he alternatively cajoles, bluffs, arm twists, horse trades, and outright bullies those who stand in his way, resorting to temper tantrums where necessary.

And there were great performances by those playing the other characters, from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to Minnesota’s Hubert Humphrey and Georgia’s Richard Russell.

Good entertainment and engrossing history at the same time.

Monday miscellany

I decided to start the week by checking out a few blogs that I haven’t visited for a while. Oooh, there’s lots of good stuff out there waiting to be seen.

Horsesass.org is based in Washington State and has a caustic view of the state’s politics and, by extension, the national scene.

Check out its Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!, featuring links to a wide variety of items.

Buried down the list is this one: Democratic National Convention–A bad lip reading. Lots of fun here!

I then wandered over to Seattle-based Crosscut.com, which bills itself as “news of the great nearby.”

Several of the current stories sound very similar.

Examples:

Why huge cost overruns are so common in Seattle.”

Homeless in Seattle: The roots of a crisis.

As Seattle booms, we’re trashing our history.

Finally, I stopped by Crooks And Liars. Always interesting.

For example, here’s one featured story: “Memo To News Media: Consumers Crave Truth, Not Balance.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Our most popular clips and posts are not ones where we simply highlight and correct lies people tell on television. Those gain attention for sure, but they’re not the ones that people talk about, share, and appreciate.

Our most popular clips are the ones where the host or journalist takes on the lie head-on. Like when CNN’s Brianna Keilar refused to allow Trump surrogate and lawyer Michael Cohen bully her.

CNN reporter Kate Bolduan’s emotional report on the Syrian boy, Omran, whose family home was devastated by bombs was a moment of truth we all needed to see.

MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid had several moments this week. The video at the top where she told the Trump pastor he couldn’t come on her show and lie was a great one. Or when Trump surrogate Steve Cortes found out she doesn’t suffer fools lightly, as did Jack Kingston on Friday. Earlier last week, she also let Cortes have it for whining about “liberal media.”

Anyway, it’s a good way to start a week!

A call for moratorium on state seawalls along West Maui coast

Here’s a Maui issue that deserves wider attention. I’ve taken this information from a petition posted at change.org.

Stop the SEAWALLS at Olowalu and Protect our Beaches, Reefs, Manta Rays and Monk Seals!

In 2012, we were horrified to watch a $7M seawall get built by the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) adjacent to a rare manta ray cleaning station and some of the nicest coral reef structure left on Maui. The beach was destroyed as well as the coastal access. A massive mud plume blanketed the reef for many weeks and the sediment continues to get resuspended with each new wave event, stressing the reef and preventing new corals from settling. The manta ray sightings have decreased by more than 75% and the waves toppling over the seawall threaten motorists that transit our only highway to the West side. All of this was expected since the destructive nature of seawalls have been known for decades and even banned in many coastal states.

The people of Maui have a vision of an 8-mile stretch of publicly accessible beaches and coastline from the Pali to Pumana, a dream that is being threatened by additional shoreline armoring by HDOT including a $6M seawall erected near mile marker 17 (Launiupoko) in 2013 and a $2.2M seawall near mile marker 13 (Ukumehame) early in 2016. A $3.2M shoreline armoring project near mile marker 16 (north Olowalu near the popular surf spot) is slated to break ground in mid-August 2016 and a $20M seawall is currently being planned by HDOT near mile marker 14 (south Olowalu near the world famous snorkel spot and endangered monk seal haul out beach). This amounts to nearly $40M of tax payer money going to seawalls, blocking public beach access and supporting the destruction of beaches, coral reefs and coastal habitat for endangered and vulnerable species while decreasing the safety of motorists.

So what is the solution to the Honoapiilani highway that is being undermined by rising sea levels? Realign the highway inland, a logical solution that has been in discussion now for over 20 years. Despite the County of Maui purchasing lands inland specifically for realignment purposes and private landowners offering land repeatedly for the realignment in order to preserve the coastline, HDOT continues to add seawalls and delay the realignment. In fact they recently stated that they will be deferring all major highway capacity projects (including the Honoapiilani Highway realignment) for up to 20-years!

Protecting the Pali to Puamana coastline does not require the $600-800M to tunnel the road through to Maalaea as HDOT claims. The 2.7 mile realignment stretch from Puamana to Olowalu contract has already been awarded with a target completion date of 2018. That leaves a 5 mile stretch from Olowalu to the start of the Pali, for which land is available for realignment and for which several routes have been assessed by the County. When we are this close to realizing the Pali to Paumana Parkway Vision there is no need to continue to destroy more coastlines and waste millions of dollars of taxpayer money.

What may be most troublesome to comprehend is that for each of these armoring projects, HDOT realigns traffic inland in order to carry out the construction, only to move the traffic back into harms way. These short, sectional realignments inland are sufficient to get motorists in a safe area for at least another 10 years while the permanent realignment solution is being finalized. This keeps people safe, allows the coastline and its beaches to recede naturally and enables HDOT to put those millions of dollars towards the permanent solution.

We owe it to the next generation to provide them with 8 miles of public beach access, healthy coral reefs and fish, thriving manta ray populations and beaches for our beloved monk seals. We ask that you please place a moratorium on all future seawalls along this coastline and shift the focus on putting the final realignment section back on the Statewide Transportion and Improvement Plan (STIP) and getting it completed.

Thank you for putting our children, our natural resources and the safety of our motorists first and respecting the vision of the people of Maui.


No More Seawalls in West Maui! from Mark Deakos on Vimeo.

Polls show shift back towards Clinton

Yesterday was full of news about the substantial “bounce” Hillary Clinton got in the polls following last week’s Democratic National Convention.

Of course, her “bounce” benefited from the Donald’s shooting himself in the foot, repeatedly, and without remorse.

This graph from Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com tells the story of the Clinton bounce.

From Nate Silver

I searched Google News for stories on the latest presidential poll results. I imagine these results will be updated by the time readers check out this link.

No doubt this is still a close election. But I’m breathing slightly easier.

And there’s a funny thing. One old friend who I keep in touch with via Facebook appears to be a Trump supporter. And others may be flirting with Trump as well. But I’m not severing contacts with them over this difference, despite the seriousness with which I view the dangers of a potential Trump presidency.

We can argue over our differences, but we still have so much in common. I’m not willing to terminate friendships over such differences, especially when we’re only able to argue indirectly and at a distance.

Perhaps I’m just too much of a softie.