It wasn’t the first legal challenge to Hawaiian entitlements, but when Big Island rancher Harold “Freddy” Rice sued the state of Hawaii to allow non-Native Hawaiians to vote in elections of the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, it was arguably the most far-reaching.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s February 2000 ruling in favor of Rice would pave the way for a string of lawsuits attacking the idea of programs or distinctions based on Hawaiian ancestry, including Arakaki v. State of Hawaii and John Doe v. Kamehameha Schools.
“Whether you see it in a negative or a positive light, it redefined the whole conversation,” says UH law professor and author Randall Roth. “It was the first time the U.S. Supreme Court said that distinguishing between two groups based on one group being Hawaiian and the other group not being Hawaiian is unconstitutional. It’s not really that simple, of course, but it started that conversation.”
The passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, popularly known as the Akaka Bill, may yet restore equilibrium to Hawaiian entitlement programs, but the bill has been in limbo since Sen. Daniel Akaka first introduced it in 2000.
When Linda Lingle first took office she broke ground in numerous ways. She was the state’s first female governor, the first governor of Jewish ancestry, and the first governor to be unmarried and without children.
Most widely noted at the time, Lingle was the first Republican to win the governor’s seat in more than 40 years—since Gov. William Quinn in 1962. As she took office, some pundits predicted a Republican revolution, with new conservative politicians riding on her coattails. But the swing to the right has failed to materialize—the number of Republicans in the state Legislature has actually shrunk since she took office—making her victories all the more notable.
It may have been a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling that ultimately shut down the Superferry’s operation in the Islands earlier this year, but when people remember the saga of the embattled interisland ferry, they’ll remember the cinematic moment in August 2007 when a row of about 50 surfers and paddlers blockaded the entrance to Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai, stopping the 3,600-ton Superferry from entering.
It was the second evening of protests—on the previous day, the Coast Guard managed to clear a path for the ferry to dock—but this time, the risky maneuver worked. After idling outside the harbor for three hours, the ship turned around that day, never to return to Kauai.
Barbara Wiedner of the Kauai chapter of the Surfrider Foundation remembers the excitement: “The moment when that boat turned around and left, it was indescribable, we couldn’t even believe it. I didn’t know what I thought was going to happen, but I didn’t think that was going to happen.”
After achieving a perfect 12-0 regular season, earning the team the Western All-Conference Champion title for the first time ever, the Warriors headed to New Orleans for the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Georgia in their first BSC game. They lost to the third-ranked Georgia 41-10—but proved to the nation that they could make it that far.
“It was something that people said could never happen,” says Bobby Curran, the sports director at ESPN 1420 AM radio station. “Never could you get a school 3,000 miles out in the middle of the Pacific ocean playing in one of the major bowl games in the country. People couldn’t believe that Hawaii was there.”
Curran commentated the game with Robert Kekaula, and, although the mood grew somber as the Warriors failed to put points on the board, the culmination of playing in the bowl after staving off defeat for an entire season was reward and inspiration enough for Warrior fans, says Curran.
Aloha Airlines’ announcement that it wouldclose its passenger service on March 31 sent shock waves throughout the state—and through the ranks of the company’s own crew and pilots. “It was very sudden and unexpected. We had no idea at all what was going on, or that it was that bad,” says Stafka Poweleit, who was a pilot for Aloha for six years.
The state’s second largest airline blamed go! Airlines for its demise, a Mainland company that had entered the market with aggressive discounting.
The end of Aloha meant the end of 1,900 jobs for its employees. “Aloha went the extra mile, that made us stand out,” says Poweleit.