Many people who live in Honolulu know where the 44th president of the United States was born, where he lived, where he worked and where he went to school.
Now, four Hawaii state senators want the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to post signs at those very places and others stating as much, presumably to inform tourists.
Senate Bill 269 says DLNR shall place historical markers at “significant sites” in Hawaii tied to Obama:
“The sites shall include but are not limited to Baskin-Robbins on King Street, Island Snow, Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, Koko Crater Trail, Punahou Circle Apartments, Punahou School, and Sandy Beach; provided that the private businesses agree to have the marker placed at the business or, if a private business does not agree, that the marker shall be placed on public property nearest to the site.”
SB 269, which has a hearing scheduled Feb. 14, was introduced by new state Sen. Stanley Chang and is co-sponsored by Sens. Josh Green, Karl Rhoads and Maile Shimabukuro.
Like the president, all are Democrats.
It’s not clear from the bill what the signs would look like, should the legislation pass.
The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, which contracts with the state to market it, already produces those red-and-yellow “warrior” signs that mark sites of historical, cultural or scenic interest.
Some locations identified in SB 269 make sense, such as the hospital where he was born. Where young Barry scooped Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream seems less worthy.
Efforts to name something in Hawaii after the former president, meanwhile, have not gone well — although a new species of fish at Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument was recently so christened.
Chang was behind an unsuccessful effort to rename Sandy’s as Barack Obama Beach, where Barry Obama bodysurfed.
The Washington Post reported in December 2015, “Since 2009, Hawaii’s politicos have sought to name two schools, an abandoned lot, a scenic overlook and two state holidays after Obama. An effort to put the 1960s-era, cinder-block apartment building where he lived on the national historic registry fell short.”
The Post noted that “the most famous thing” that bears Obama’s name in the state is the “Snowbama,” a shaved ice mix of lemon, lime, cherry and passion guava.
Last year, 20 state senators backed resolutions to name a state road, school or building after Obama. The measures died.
Also dying last year were House of Representative resolutions calling for a President Barack Obama Birthplace Garden. The measure sought to establish a working group to “identify and dignify” a potential site. It had 20 members backing it, all Dems, including Rhoads who was then in that chamber.
Should SB 260 fail, there are resources for locating Obama sites in the islands.
They include the Hawaii Tourism Agency, which lists a number of locations, including the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl where the president’s maternal grandfather is buried.