Sour Poi Awards 2011
Celebrating the best of the worst of 2011—the strange, the stupid and the scandalous.
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Honolulu put its best face forward for the international dignitaries who swept into town for the November APEC conference. In addition to clearing out the embarrassing homeless population in Waikiki, the state gussied up Nimitz Highway with a $1.3 million beautification project that included transplanting 87 trees yanked from Farrington Highway (maybe they considered the West Side a lost cause already?), and, in general, slapped a fresh coat of paint on the city. The stage dressing seemed to go off well, although many residents were less than thrilled about the week-long series of random roadblocks and security checkpoints that led to gridlock all over town.
School of Hard Knocks
In April, Kailua High School woodshop teacher David Izume threw a hammer in his classroom, hitting one of his students on the head hard enough to require four stitches. Izume later pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault, saying that he had been under a lot of stress.
But Sour Poi Never Forgets
If Sour Poi had a hall of fame, former Honolulu Councilman Rod Tam would surely be its first inductee, thanks to years of weirdly inappropriate gaffes, snark-worthy legislation and financial misdeeds. After all of it, though, Tam is getting off easy. In November, he was sentenced to two days in jail and 300 hours of community service in exchange for pleading guilty and no contest to 34 charges of theft, falsifying documents and violations of campaign spending laws. In addition, if Tam manages to stay out of trouble for an entire year, his record will be cleared.
Good Start, No Follow-through
In May, a man suspected of two hit-and-run crashes tried to elude police by jumping 20 feet off the H1 Freeway onto the roof of the Makiki Post Office. He had to be helped down from the roof by firefighters.
If You’re Going to Invade Our Privacy, at Least Be Good about It.
In June, the Transportation Security Administration gave “proposed termination” notices to 36 of its workers and suspended 12 more, after an investigation found that pieces of luggage at a local airport were not being properly screened for explosives. The shakeup followed a March sting operation in which a TSA employee at the Kona airport was arrested for allegedly stealing cash out of the bags of Japanese tourists.
We Interrupt This Aquittal for a Word From Our Sponsor
Farmer Alec Sou scored the most regrettable quote of 2011 when, in August, a judge dismissed the forced-labor charges against him and his brother, Mike. Walking out of the courtroom, Alec was, in his words, super elated. “It’s like 10 tons of watermelon lifted off my shoulder.”
Friends in Low Places
Robert R. Titcomb, a close friend of President Barack Obama, was nabbed in April for solicitation of prostitution. The charge was wiped from his record later in the year, after six months of good behavior. Obama didn’t seem to hold the legal problems against his buddy—the two were seen golfing together in November during Obama’s APEC visit. As Titcomb said in a 2007 Punahou School tribute to Obama, “He’s honest, he’s truthful and he’s always encouraged the better things in you. And you always go back to those people who water your plant, who water your garden.”