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LETTERS for May 28 issue

By Staff | May 28, 2015

Community supports LIS teachers and staff

Wow! We feel terrific! The Lahaina Intermediate School PTSA hosted a staff appreciation luncheon on Friday, May 8, and a wonderful time was had by all who attended! This event was made possible by the generous donations of delicious food and awesome door prizes from local businesses in our community!

The LIS PTSA would like to send our heartfelt thank you and appreciation to the following businesses who did not hesitate to support our staff!

Mahalo to Kimo’s, Westside Glass, Aloha Clean Pro Supply, No Ka Oi Deli, Lahaina Pizza Co., Hard Rock Caf, Starbucks Cannery Mall, China Boat, Paradise Grill, Kobe Japanese Steakhouse, CJ’s Deli, Star Noodle, Leoda’s, Aloha Mixed Plate, Fleetwood’s, Leilani’s and Teddy’s Bigger Burgers!!

Thank you for all your support!



Interesting no-shows at Democrats’ County Convention

Is anyone old enough to remember the days of the Kremlin when the analysts read the intentions of the USSR by who sat on the podium for the May Day parade?

In a way, the recent convention of Maui County Democrats was a bit like that, though most of the usual suspects were there. I counted more than 125 in attendance, including elected officials, precinct level leadership, union reps and party faithful.

But in some ways, the event was more interesting for who wasn’t there.

Once again, there was no “official” spokesperson for David Ige, now six months into his first term as governor and certainly a person of interest since inserting himself front and center into the Maui hospital issue.

The governor did send a brief letter on official State of Hawaii letterhead that was congratulatory in tone, if ever so obliquely evasive. And, except for Alan Fukuyama, an Ige stalwart and a volunteer who put substantial effort into Ige’s campaign here, the core of Ige supporters who worked so hard on his upset election were absent en masse.

Are they Democrats? Or are they not interested in the existing organization that did little to support (or even encourage) the Ige candidacy?

More troubling were the Maui “no-shows” who are currently elected Democrats. These are representatives who are now in office and took pains to proclaim their Democratic credentials before the election.

Just what are we to make of the absence of Shan Tsutsui, who captured the post of lieutenant governor, just one move from the top, and became simultaneously invisible? How long can one of Maui’s best advocates be neutralized by a staff job with little real clout?

He was not there.

Among the absent on the State House side were Kaniela Ing, Angus McKelvey and Kyle Yamashita.

It’s been a very long time since Yamashita has graced any public meeting with his presence, be it for a partisan or nonpartisan cause. One has to wonder just how comfortable he has to get in his job before people in his district notice he is seldom there.

On the Senate side, Kalani English was not in the crowd.

Of the County Council side, many of whom touted their Democratic “creds” prior to November, I saw only Gladys Baisa and Riki Hokama; all the rest were absent. Also not there was Joe Pontanilla, who, when seeking office last year, loudly proclaimed his loyalty to the party ideals. Perhaps his ties to the “Dems” are not so important now that the election is over. Despite Pontanilla’s loss at the polls, he’s still on the public payroll, working as an appointed special assistant to the mayor. He is also listed as a precinct official.

I also did not see Mike Molina, another who sought re-election to the council, wanted to be identified as a Big D Democrat, and is still getting a paycheck from the taxpayers as a staffer in the Mayor’s Office.

Among those who did show up, there were some encouraging signs of new blood and follow-through in the audience.

Terez Amato, who came close to beating Roz Baker for the West Maui Senate seat, was there; as was Tamara Paltin, an unsuccessful candidate for mayor in the last election; and John Fitzpatrick, who ran and lost for the South Maui council seat. Also there was Mahina Martin, whose Facebook page is widely followed. A good writer, a good presenter, she is a credible lady with genuine person charm.

Also in the room was Karen Chun, one of the more outspoken of the new breed of activists. Her skillful and rapid use of social media has helped to keep many issues – like cane burning, anti-GMO sentiment and the Big Island telescope – before a growing and increasingly vocal base.

Also there were Herman Andaya, chief of staff for the County of Maui, and Keith Regan, the county’s managing director.

Regan worked hard to support the hospital partnership, and of all the people I saw in the audience, had been among the most outspoken in favor of a restructured management for Maui’s only hospital.

He’s a man who hasn’t made a secret of his desire to run for Maui mayor, and to find out he was in his own words a registered Democrat was something of a surprise (at least to me).

The good news is enough people cared about their political affiliation to show up on a Saturday afternoon, the day before Mother’s Day, and get a post-session update from their leadership in a room that was freezing cold. I lasted an hour-and-a-half before leaving a hall the temperature of a meat locker. Next time I’ll bring a blanket.

The bad news is it was pretty thin soup, self congratulatory in tone, slim on details, and more haunted than inspired by the very long tail of a now mostly bygone era, making the whole organization seem (to be charitable) a little dated.

It’s makeover time in Maui County. Let’s see if the new Maui Democratic state chair – no slouch herself in playing the game – has the leadership ability, finesse and charm to breathe some life into one of the more tepid gatherings in a long time.