The Sunshine Blog: Bring On The Tourists. Or Not - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair, John Hill and Richard Wiens.

Short takes, outtakes, our takes and other stuff you should know about public information, government accountability and ethical leadership in Hawaii.

Reality check: Two of the hosts of the popular CBS show “Entertainment Tonight” have been visiting the islands in recent days. Nischelle Turner and Kevin Frazier joined Hawaii News Now’s “Sunrise” program last week to yuck it up with HNN’s Billy V (“We’ve, like, officially adopted him”) and talk about what they’d been doing in Hawaii. And, of course, promote their show on KGMB.

Turner spent some time on Maui while Frazier helped plant trees up in Waimea Valley on Oahu.

Turner raved about her visit with Maui residents who she glowingly described as resilient and eager to get back to business as usual. And that, she said, means they need all you mainland tourists and your credit cards to come back to Maui.

“The best way for people to help now is go spend money,” Turner enthused.

Frazier added: “Come to Maui. Everybody come to Maui, it’s now OK to come to Maui and visit.”

“Entertainment Tonight” hosts joined Hawaii News Now reporter Billy V for a “Sunrise” segment in Waikiki. (Screenshot Hawaii News Now)

And yet … that might not sit so well with some Maui residents who are having a harder time rebounding from the August fires. The day after ET’s enthusiastic thumb’s up for Maui tourism, a coalition of local organizations led by the activist group Lahaina Strong planted Hawaiian flags on Kaanapali Beach and declared they weren’t leaving — they’ll be fishing instead — until the feds or the state or the county provides better housing for people displaced by the Aug. 8 fires.

The Sunshine Blog has to wonder how all those tourists the ET stars are urging to come visit will like playing in the surf among yards of fishing lines and those nasty hooks. And where will they put their beach chairs?

Meanwhile, just up the road in Upcountry Maui, county officials on Wednesday declared a Stage 2 water shortage and are telling people to curb their water usage. They fear that the taps will run dry in just a few weeks if they don’t get a whole lot of rain or cut water use by 20% or more.

And then the next day, the county issued a press release advising of a water shortage in South Maui. That’s another place tourists like to go, to the resorts at Kihei, Wailea and Makena. The county has ordered a mandatory conservation effort there.

Between a less than warm welcome in West Maui and a drought-fueled lack of water in Upcountry and South Maui, the high season for visitors (mid-December to March) may not be getting off to a real great start.

ET, stay tuned.

  • A Special Commentary Project

Strapped for cash: Steve Alm has not officially said whether he’s running for a second term as Honolulu prosecuting attorney. But he is raising money for 2024.

Alm’s campaign has scheduled a fundraiser at the Pacific Club for Nov. 28. The suggested contribution starts at $500 and goes up to $4,000.

If Alm is running for reelection, he sure could use the kala. He reported a mere $3,000 in cash on hand as of June 30 and not a single donation in that reporting period.

But he still spouts his tough-on-crime creds, like when he demanded earlier this month that former Mililani High School teacher and athletics director Glenn Nitta get 10 years in the slammer for stealing more than $400,000 from the school’s booster club.

A judge decided to sentence Nitta to probation and to pay restitution instead — possible fodder for an Alm political ad, no?

Private matter: State Sen. Glenn Wakai has long been an outspoken champion of rebuilding Aloha Stadium. The latest plan has attracted plenty of controversy and hit a bunch of speed bumps but appears to still be on track.

Still, the drawn-out process has some folks growing impatient. Sports fans recently took to the social media site formerly known as Twitter to ask why Wakai recently took his X account private.

“Doesn’t that violate some sort of ethics law/rule?” wondered Kyle Galdeira, a football aficionado and host and producer of “The Galdeira Show Podcast.”

“Yes it does violate some sort of ethics rule,” replied keepersoftheland. “The, I do what I like cause I can rule. Isn’t he in charge of getting us taxpayers a new stadium? Instead HE got us a field. You can’t even call it a stadium. Ching field is for kalani vs kalaheo football not 4 Oregon, or Stanford.”

“I don’t think politicians believe that ethics rules apply to them,” said maukaman808.

“I guess we’re all learning at the same time that we’re all blocked by the same Hawaii senator,” wrote Tanner Haworth, sports editor at Ka Leo Sports.

The Sunshine Blog will leave it to the Hawaii State Ethics Commission to decide whether Wakai’s X account runs afoul of the rules. The commission does offer tips to lawmakers on how to best use social media, however (e.g., “DO NOT post campaign or candidate information on an official account”).

And the winner is: We regret to inform those of you who sometimes gripe about The Sunshine Blog and its often pointed skewering of politicos and their politics that we’ve just been named the best political blog in the country for smallish news sites (fewer than 1 million unique visitors per month) by Editor and Publisher magazine.

Yes, The Sunshine Blog has won a coveted EPPY Award and we couldn’t be more tickled. The judges said: “Really appreciated the informal tone, the hyperlinks, and the transparency of the reporting process in this blog.”

We get a cool trophy that has yet to arrive or we’d post a photo.

Civil Beat columnist Denby Fawcett accepting her award for coverage of anti-vaping and nicotine moves by the Legislature. (Denby Fawcett photo)

Meanwhile, The Blog is even more pleased to report that Civil Beat columnist Denby Fawcett has been awarded an “Outstanding Media Champion Award” by the Hawaii Public Health Institute/Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii for her coverage this year of the Legislature finally passing — after students advocated for years — a bill to make it more difficult for tobacco companies to hook kids on nicotine with vaping products. This column in particular caught their eye.

That deserves congratulations for sure, but an even bigger round of applause to Denby for her 10-year anniversary at Civil Beat. She has written a column nearly every Tuesday since October 2013, and The Blog means she has rarely missed a week unless she has been on vacation. That makes her Civil Beat’s longest-writing regular columnist (although Neal Milner is coming up on 10 years too in a few months).

Here’s to another decade for all of us.

Read this next:

Denby Fawcett: Finding 'Dignified Housing' Is A Pipe Dream For Many In Hawaii

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About the Author

The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair, John Hill and Richard Wiens.

Latest Comments (0)

Sounds like there is a lot of entitlement on Maui. Everyone demanding Federal and State support, but then wanting both those agencies to keep out. You can't have it both ways and it surely wasn't any Federal liability for the disaster, yet the Fed's are the only entity with the cash. Kinda like the pandemic relief.

wailani1961 · 1 week ago

Is that an official Twitter account or not? Seeing as how it links to a private business, I’m guessing not and therefore not an ethics violation to be private.

Keala_Kaanui · 2 weeks ago

When the state took all of the Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT) revenue from the counties in 2021 (House Bill 862), it made high end tourist districts like West Maui (Kaanapali, Kapalua) major revenue sources for the state coffers. The state needs the money and the opinions of the residents in those areas are secondary. This is the unfortunate byproduct of the bill that many were worried about.

Downhill_From_Here · 2 weeks ago

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