Sour Poi Awards: Celebrating the Strange, the Stupid and the Scandalous of 2015
Honoring the best of the worst new stories from 2015.
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Illustrations: Dana Paresa
In 2015, Hawai‘i got a whole lot of new stuff it didn’t want, including a record number of tropical storms (which happily all missed us), record-breaking crazy-hot weather and traffic jams that stretched out longer than ever before. In such an unprecedented kind of year, it was almost comforting to realize that the Islands still have to deal with our share of the usual wacky news—bumbling criminals, embarrassing gaffes and, of course, rascally elected officials such as Big Island mayor Billy Kenoi, whose ill-advised pCard adventures made him the year’s favorite whipping boy for journalists and political wags alike. It somehow just wouldn’t be Hawai‘i without some lolo stuff every now and then.
Hey, pCard Spender
Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi admitted that he had charged more than $129,000 worth of personal expenses on his county pCard over six years. The charges included an $892 tab at Honolulu hostess bar Club Evergreen, a surfboard, a bicycle, as well as a pattern of lavish hotel and dining expenses. He also paid his Hawai‘i State Bar Association dues with the county card. Asked why he didn’t use his personal card, he told reporters he didn’t have one.
Florida-based NextEra Energy’s bid to buy out Hawaiian Electric Industries won’t be settled anytime soon. But last month’s hearings before state regulators turned up at least one fascinating aspect of the proposed mega-deal. How much would this big deal save HECO customers? $1 a month.
Dial it Down, HPD
In late March, 65 motorists stuck in the year’s largest traffic jam got a double whammy when police ticketed them for using their cell phones. HPD later apologized, and Mayor Kirk Caldwell provided the drivers with letters asking the court to dismiss their tickets, given the circumstances.
who’s the one who needs a heart, again?
A Pāhoa man was arrested in February for stealing a donation jar intended for an 8-year-old girl who needed a heart transplant. Store surveillance footage showed Jeffrey W. Kleinschmidt stuffing the jar, which contained about $200, down his pants.
too much violence on tv these days
In June, a man was arrested at the Kona Wal-Mart after allegedly smashing a dozen television sets on display with a bat, also taken from the store.
gone with the wind
In September, the owner of two Maui wind farms asked the government to be allowed to kill more endangered Hawaiian hoary bats and nene with its turbines. Under federal Forestry and Wildlife regulations, SunEdison Inc. is permitted to kill 14 bats and 30 Hawaiian geese over the course of 20 years—a level the company said was not enough to account for the rate of accidental fatalities at the wind farms. The Endangered Species Recovery Committee gave the proposed increase an initial OK. In somewhat related news, earlier this past year, the Hawai‘i state Legislature named the hoary bat as the official state land mammal. Guess that’s more of an honorary title.
His Glass is Always Half Full
Jon Riki Karamatsu resigned his position as deputy prosecutor in April after getting arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, and refusing to submit to alcohol testing. It was his second DUI arrest, the first one in 2007 after running his car into a freeway overpass pillar. This time, the state suspended Karamatsu’s license for two years. He continued to help promote the rave Love Fest, and updated his personal blog with a self-help series called “Positive Living Practice,” on how to “achieve a more happy and fulfilling life.”
Wrong club, mate
Australian pro golfer Robert Allenby went out on the town after he missed the cut at the Sony Open. What happened next depends on who you ask. He told police his evening began at a wine bar, but ended in his being drugged, beaten, robbed, thrown in the trunk of a car and dumped in a park. However, a homeless woman named Charade who went to his aid says she found him dazed and lying on the sidewalk in front of the wine bar. If that wasn’t enough confusion, a Golf Channel reporter popped up saying that Allenby had run up a $3,400 tab at the Club Femme Nu strip club that night.
The Life of a Street Banger
Remember state Rep. Tom Brower’s 2014 sledgehammer adventures, when he made national news for smashing shopping carts he found on the street? His clashes with Honolulu’s homeless continued in 2015. In June, he went to Kaka‘ako and started recording video of the homeless encampment there. A couple of teenagers, who say that Brower laughed at them and refused to stop filming, allegedly hit and kicked him, with the help of several other kids, sending Brower to the hospital with a concussion and two swollen eyes.