Sour Poi Awards 2006



Published:

Celebrating the best of the worst of 2005 – follies, foibles and bizarre moments.

By Michael Keany
illustrations by Michael Austin

FAHRENHEIT 451–THE TEMPERATURE AT WHICH VANITY BURNS

In June, the Honolulu City Council debated how to best dispose of the roughly 3,500 unsold copies of Renaissance of Honolulu, the book former mayor Jeremy Harris published on the taxpayers' dime as an ode to his own tenure. Council member Barbara Marshall suggested giving them away to visiting bureaucrats at the National Association of Counties conference, but budget chairperson Ann Kobayashi nixed that idea. "It's embarrassing," she said. City managing director Jeff Coelho then had a bright idea: burn the books for fuel at H-Power. "At least the city will derive some income from the burning," he joked.

HEY, HOW 'BOUT: "THE BOWS?"

In May, the University of Hawai'i was forced to defend its use of the "Warrior" nickname for the men's sports teams, during an NCAA investigation of about 30 schools using names or mascots "often associated with Native American imagery." UH Athletic director Herman Frazier stood up for the Warriors, and their unofficial mascot Vili the Warrior, saying, "The term 'warrior' is associated with cultural traditions that are unique to the Islands."

VENDOR: 1, TAILGATERS: 0

In August, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona proposed a total ban on alcohol for UH football games at Aloha Stadium, to cut down on unruly behavior. Bad news for tailgaters, and bad news for Center-plate, the vendor that holds exclusive food and beverage concession rights in the stadium. But in a closed meeting on Sept. 29, the Aloha Stadium Authority approved a compromise solution: no drinking in the parking lot, but all the $5 cups of beer you want to buy inside.

A HUNKA-HUNKA BURNING BUS

O'ahu Transit Services pulled all 10 of its new $749,000 hybrid buses off the road in October. Turns out the buses' Earth-friendly engines tend to catch fire–there have been three incidents in the year the buses have been in service. The hybrids are out of service until officials can figure out how to keep them from igniting while out on the road.

IT'S ALMOST ENOUGH TO KILL OUR APPETITES. ALMOST.

2005 was a sad year for Hawai'i foodies. Free pizza delivery became a thing of the past, Punahou School raised the prices of its famous malassadas from one to two scrip, Subway nixed its long-running Sub Club program and researchers found that eating Spam, Portuguese sausage or other delicious processed meats can lead to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

IN OTHER CULINARY NEWS...

Rep. Glenn Wakai introduced a House bill in January that would have outlawed the killing and eating of cats and dogs. Although the bill was approved by the House Judiciary Committee, it eventually died under fire from critics who charged that the bill perpetuated ethnic stereotypes about Filipinos and Koreans.

COULD I GET THOSE DOILIES IN TRIPLICATE?

The State Ethics Commission fined a state employee $500 in May for running a small crafts business out of her office. She had been making crafts while on the clock, and would also sell items to agency co-workers and take orders over her work phone. Daniel Mollway, the Ethics Commission's executive director, said, "As far as I know, this is still somewhat of a common problem. You have state employees who have an awful lot of down time who are basically sitting around large tables making things."

AH, THE ALOHA SPIRIT!

In July, a Connecticut tourist walking along Ali'i Drive in Kailua, Kona, was assaulted by three men who pulled up beside him in a dark SUV and jacked him for his wallet. Five minutes later, four different guys jumped out of the bushes and demanded the tourist's wallet. He no longer had one, so the thugs punched and kicked him, then ran off.

ZIP-A-DEE-DO-DON'T

Earlier this year, the U.S. Postal Service decided internally to change all of the 967 ZIP codes on O'ahu to 968 ones by June 1. In preparation, district manager Edward Broglio notified the mayor's office with details of the plan. From there, news of the change erupted through the coconut wireless, sparking a small fire-storm of complaints and worry from citizens in the 18 affected areas. The day after the public's freak-out, the U.S. Postal Service announced it was scrapping the ZIP code reshuffle.

IT'S LIKE A DOVE BAR, ONLY NUTTIER
Gov. Lingle appointed Beverly Harbin to fill a mid-term opening in the state Legislature. But after a gang of skeletons jumped out of Harbin's closet, including a $125,000 unpaid state tax bill, several bounced checks and a count of reckless driving, Lingle and just about everyone else asked her to step down. Harbin refused, and has since declared she will run this year to keep her House seat. She did say she would consider resigning if every other lawmaker who had been convicted of a misdemeanor did the same. The new standard of conduct, she said, would be called, "The Bev Bar."

NAKED AMBITION

A thief got more than he bargained for when he boosted a car from Mokule'ia Beach one August morning. The owner, hearing her car's engine starting, burst out of her nearby tent, naked, and jumped on the hood to try to stop the thief. Instead, he took off, swerving back and forth to shake off his nude cargo. She finally fell off the car near Camp Erdman, down the street from Mokule'ia, and the thief sped off.


ALOHA UNDER FIRE

Use of the shaka by Hawai'i National Guard soldiers in Iraq was restricted in August after a general took offense when he received one at a guarded checkpoint at Camp Victory. A total ban on the friendly hand signal was later relaxed to allow soldiers to shaka each other, as long as they weren't on duty, and as long as the shaka wasn't directed at a senior officer.

HOW WILL HE AFFORD TO FLY INTERISLAND NOW?

After helping shepherd Hawaiian Airlines though its bankruptcy last year, former Hawaiian Airlines trustee Joshua Gotbaum asked for a bonus of $8 million. This on top of the $50,000-a-month salary he had received, not to mention the $10,000 per month he had gotten for expenses. U.S. bankruptcy judge Robert Faris wasn't sympathetic, and awarded Gotbaum just $250,000.

THE WAR ON COMMON SENSE

The Lingle administration spent at least $500,000 from a federal anti-poverty fund to pay for anti-drug-abuse advertising. A public service campaign run by Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona's office spent Temporary Assistance for Needy Families monies on print ads and television spots featuring local celebs Bryan Clay, Jasmine Trias and Bethany Hamilton. Lillian Koller, the state human services director, defended the ad campaign as "a good way to get people out of poverty."

SMILE, YOU'RE ON MORON CAMERA

After pulling over a man in Ko Olina, police officers noticed a video camera in his car fitting the description of one that had been stolen in a Makakilo burglary the night before. When the officers returned the camera to its owner, he discovered some new footage: The burglar had used his newfound toy to videotape the rest of his heist and escape, and his voice could be heard on the tape describing the burglary. Police promptly arrested the burglar.

GREAT START, NO FOLLOW-THROUGH
Waikiki police were called about a car blocking a Kuhio Avenue driveway. The officers ticketed the offending Lexus and called a tow truck, but while they were waiting, the car's owner showed up, jumped in the car and sped off, hitting a parked Ford Probe along the way. He then rammed a pursuing police car three times before ditching the Lexus and diving headfirst into the Ala Wai Canal. He got tired, though, and swam back to shore to be arrested.

NO DANISH LEFT BEHIND

A proposed House resolution would have urged the Board of Education to establish an obesity database to track the weight of public school teachers in the state. State Rep. Rida Cabanilla, who introduced the resolution in March, wanted teachers to weigh in every six months to set a good example for their students. The resolution died quickly.

U'S ALL AROUND

After five years of extensive consultation, design and pilot testing, the Department of Education unveiled new "standards-based" report cards for elementary schools this fall. The cards replace the traditional A-F grading system in favor of M's (meets with excellence or proficiency), N's (approaching proficiency) and U's (well below proficiency). The Hawai'i State Teacher's Union promptly rejected the cards as confusing, complicated and bulky.

WE BELIEVE THE CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE

In September, a 13-year-old Central Middle School student missed the point of the school's "good behavior" token program when he tried to take a younger student's tokens by punching him. When an adult teacher's aide stepped in to stop the fight, the 13-year-old shoved him, too, and was eventually arrested by police.

COPS BEHAVING BADLY

In October, it was revealed that Honolulu police had managed to solve only 9.6 percent of the Island's felonies in 2004.

A few of them even added to the crime rate in 2005.

HE PUTS THE ICE IN POLICE

A Honolulu police officer, a 22-year veteran of the force, was arrested in March after dealing crystal methamphetamine to an informant three different times in an undercover sting operation. The last time, he met the informant at the Ward Marukai 99 Cent Superstore, and sold him three ounces of ice while in full uniform. Location notwithstanding, the officer charged $5,400 for the drugs.

AND YOU SHALL KNOW HIM BY HIS...

An off-duty police officer got belligerent when a tire store owner refused to replace a damaged tire he had bought a couple of months earlier. The officer pushed the owner with his hands and belly, and said that he was a policeman and could do whatever he wanted. When the store owner asked to see his badge, the man grabbed his crotch and said, "This is all I need for identification."

BIRDS OF A FEATHER

The Honolulu Police Department made headlines this year for cracking down on cockfighting. By March 21, police had arrested 87 suspects, the same number that had been apprehended in all of 2003 and 2004. But, in April, federal agents raided the homes of six Honolulu police officers who allegedly had been setting up and protecting illegal cockfights of their own.

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