It was a whale of a week, both for Civil Beat and for the people who spotted a floating whale carcass.

Our reporter Alia Wong delivered an eyebrow-raising report on New Hope Church’s founding pastor, Wayne Cordeiro. The investigative piece delves into the prominent religious figure’s markedly high salary and family real estate dealings even as the churches are embroiled in a lawsuit alleging they underpaid the state for their use of public school facilities and utilities.

The story sparked a lively — and, unfortunately, not always civil — debate with hundreds of comments on the article and our Facebook page. The article drew impassioned supporters and detractors, with some of the latter highlighting the timing just before the Legislature’s special session on marriage equality next week. While Cordeiro has been particularly outspoken against legalizing same-sex marriage, Alia’s article was actually a natural in-depth follow-up to her previous reporting on a lawsuit that was filed earlier this summer. And the same-sex issue is not addressed in Alia’s deeper dive into the pastor’s finances.

Speaking of same-sex marriage, we published our fresh polling on the issue. We found that support for gay marriage has grown since the last time we checked, and that voters are increasingly frustrated with Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

And then there was the rest of the colorful news of the week.

Sunday, Oct. 20

Hawaii’s Michelle Wie, 24, finished strong in the final round of the KEB-HanaBank Championship in South Korea, recording her best finish in the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour in two years. She tied for third.

“Like I said, at the beginning of the season, it’s coming along,” Wie told reporters after playing a flawless round. “I feel like my game is finally coming together slowly, I have just been patient with my game and working hard at it.”

It was also an active day for another notable woman from Hawaii, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

She participated in the Army Ten-Miler in Washington, D.C. with family. The Army Ten-Miler is produced by the Military District of Washington, which has had more than 20,000 service men and women participate in the annual race.

Monday, Oct. 21

Alvah A. Scott Elementary School and the state Department of Agriculture participated in National Farm to School Month this past weekend. State volunteers helped prepare the school’s raised beds for planting and to help clear their loi (an irrigated terrace, often for taro) on campus.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa also volunteered, and posted this picture on Monday.

Robert Ballard was the National Weather Service meteorologist who became somewhat famous locally for his plain-speaking layman’s way of explaining the recent Tropical Storm Flossie in July.

So it’s fun to see him geek out on weather-related gadgetry, particularly this Doppler on Wheels radar truck. The Doppler on Wheels program is part of the Center for Severe Weather Research. Ballard says the truck will be showcased this Saturday at the University of Hawaii’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.

Tuesday, Oct. 22

The wildest news this week out of Hawaii came from Lihue, Kauai, where surfer Jeff Horton punched a shark in the eye.

The Garden Island in Kauai broke the news. The Associated Press later picked it up and the story went viral.

Wednesday, Oct. 23

No shark-punching here, just a smooth ride through a barrel on the North Shore.

Wednesday also saw the return of Civil Beat’s live forum events, this time under the “Civil Cafe” banner. It featured Randy Roth, most recently known for his anti-rail stance, but far more famous for his “Broken Trust” essay that upended Bishop Estate in the late 1990s.

It was a packed house with a rapid-fire back-and-forth discussion that was underscored by Roth’s eloquence and intelligence as he spoke about the risks and consequences of speaking out on difficult issues in Hawaii. Read more about the event and watch the video recording and online chatter here.

Thursday, Oct. 24

A huge 30- to 40-foot whale carcass was spotted off the shores of Windward Oahu. Photographer Brad Peebles told Hawaii News Now that it “kind of looked like Swiss cheese,” riddled with holes and attracting shark and other fish.

Federal and state authorities continued to monitor the sperm whale carcass, which was noticed about four or five miles off Oahu.

The special session on marriage equality begins Monday, and there’s been plenty of activity on both ends of the debate. Signs of residents opposed to same-sex marriage have been cropping up across Oahu.

And state Rep. Della Au Bellati volunteered her time for the Hawaii United For Marriage phone bank on Wednesday. Hundreds of University of Hawaii students also rallied in support of marriage equality.

Friday, Oct. 25

It was literally a blazing day in Honolulu. KITV’s Instagram showed two separate fires. This one was in Waikiki.

And there was a vehicle fire on Kapiolani Boulevard, which signaled bad traffic in the area.

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