Sell Outs

Illustration by Bob AulHa'iku resident Abby Grochowski doesn't recall seeing a “For Sale” sign out on Maui's county building. But, Grochowski wrote in an Aug. 16 letter to the editor of the Haleakala edition of The Times (“Maui's free press”), the county council sure seems to have been “bought out by big businesses and developers.” Fellow Times reader Bill Hannan decried private-resort developers carving up Maui's public beaches like so many luau pigs. “WHEN IS THIS GOING TO STOP?” he wrote before discovering the caps-unlock key on his keyboard. A county government in the pocket of developers and public beaches swallowed up by private resorts?

TRAGIC KINGDOM The proposed $20 million Maui Nui Park, the centerpiece of which would be a dolphin-research facility, might be a welcome addition to little Kihei. But the last thing the sunny if somewhat sleepy condo town needs is “some Disneyland extravaganza,” editorializes the Aug. 20 Maui News daily newspaper. Ouch! Even Maui is talking smack about Anaheim.

BOXED IN Home Depot will add another “big-box retailer” to big-box-retailered Kahuli, muckety-mucks announced on Aug. 21. In addition to banks, restaurants and light industrial parks, the giant hardware store will be just down the street from another giant hardware store, Eagle Hardware N Lumber. This big-box bonanza pisses off Kahulians who say their town's first large retailer, Kmart, was approved a decade ago only on the condition that roads funneling into busy Kahuli Airport would be repaved and widened. Well, Kmart came, but the improvements didn't. Costco, auto dealerships and other traffic magnets popped up in the ensuing years, but the roads remain the same. The Home Depot project's developer reportedly says the roads are just fine the way they are. Note to Abby of Ha'iku: Are you sure a jolly “Sold” sticker isn't slapped over that “For Sale” sign?

BRUDDAH CAN YOU SPARE A DIME? A study released on Aug. 22 shows that nearly two-thirds of Hawaiian jobs don't pay enough to support a single mother and child, let alone a larger family. Crunched by a University of Hawaii social-work student and examined by the Quakers' American Friends Service Committee, the cost-of-living figures show that a single adult must work full-time and earn between $8 and $11.13 per hour to make ends meet. For a parent with three keikis, that shoots up to $12.63 to $23.74 per hour. Minimum wage in Hawaii is $5.25 per hour—and any more than that would kill the economy; just ask a Republican! Maui joins Kauai and Molokai as the most expensive islands to live on—but at least there are a wealth of places to get socket wrenches and duct tape.

BOMBS NOT AWAY The Navy revealed at an Aug. 24 meeting that it doesn't have the money to finish cleanup of bombed-out Kahoolawe island. Just off Maui's southwest shores, Kahoolawe is called “Target Island” because the military used it for bombing practice. Spent and undetonated weapons have littered the uninhabited island since the 1940s. Two years ago, President Bill Clinton announced that Kahoolawe would be turned over to native Hawaiians. With a bill in Congress recommending that Hawaiians be given the same status as American Indians, Kahoolawe could evolve into sovereign territory—aloha, casino gaming! The Navy originally agreed to return Kahoolawe to its natural, pre-bombing state but now says it can't get to buried explosives. The Navy failing to make a former military site completely safe?

MAHALO AND GOODNIGHT! A county government bought and paid for by developers. Public beaches swallowed up by private resorts. Disneylandification. Developers cutting corners. Lifelong residents priced out of their hometowns. The Navy reneging on a cleanup of potentially deadly land. What all this proves, wahines and germs, is you can take Clockwork out of OC, but you can't take OC out of Clockwork's pleasant Hawaiian holiday.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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