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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no trip, teach
In August, the state Ethics Commission issued a memorandum warning public-school teachers that they could face sanctions under the ethics law if they accepted free travel as part of volunteering as chaperones on school trips. The Board of Education vowed to change its policies to ensure that teachers would be able to chaperone students without having to pay their own way, but, as we went to press, the situation remained unresolved.
just the tip
In September, the top section of the spear from the statue of Kamehameha in Hilo went missing—sparking the ire of locals who saw the vandalism as desecration of an important cultural icon. Police later recovered the spear tip from nearby brush, and arrested and charged William Roy Carroll III with the crime.
In July, a cow escaped from a Makakilo ranch and wandered onto Farrington Highway, where it panicked, running into cars and charging pedestrians. Police who responded to the resulting traffic jam shot and killed the animal. Bud Gibson, the ranch owner, lamented the loss, but said, “There’ll be some families that have some good meat.”
we lava to fly
Early in 2015, a Kīlauea lava flow threatened the town of Pāhoa, as well as Highway 130, which connects the Puna district to the outside world. What if the town became cut off? One Hilo attorney had the solution: blimps. Steve Strauss proposed an airship ferry service that would float passengers up and over the lava flow, at $15 a head. He got the support of state Sen. Russell Ruderman, who said he was excited by the idea, but Strauss didn’t get the chance to make his blimp dreams a reality—the lava flow petered out before crossing the highway.
Just Think of It As More Aloha on Every Flight
Interisland travel got a little more cramped this past year—Hawaiian Airlines installed new, lightweight seats that are about an inch closer to each other, and are not able to recline. The new seats will allow Hawaiian to fit five to 10 more passengers on each of its interisland flights.
Fox, Henhouse, Yadda Yadda
In April, the state Legislature confirmed Suzanne Case, previously director of Nature Conservancy Hawai‘i, as the new chairman of the Board of Land and Natural Resources. It was a savvy nomination on the part of new governor David Ige. Unfortunately, it wasn’t his first nomination for the position: That would be Carleton Ching, a long-time lobbyist for local developers. Critics quickly and loudly panned Ching as a bad fit for a position tasked with protecting Hawai‘i’s natural resources, and Ige withdrew the nomination two months later.
Hey, At least they’re not napping
ILLUSTRATIONS: DANA PARESA
In August, the state officially banned its workers from watching online video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, saying that public workers had been “monopolizing a significant portion of our state’s available Internet bandwidth” by streaming during work hours.
One unexpected side effect of the protests against the Thirty Meter Telescope project: invasive black ants. Mauna Kea is one of the only places in Hawai‘i free of ants, at least at elevations above 2,000 feet, but, in April, the tiny insects were discovered in a pile of palms used by protesters to thatch a hale around 9,400 feet.
The flop of the year had to be Cameron Crowe’s latest movie, Aloha. In addition to scoring a dismal 19-percent critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie also drew howls from Hawai‘i residents for its ham-fisted attempts at authenticity, and its almost completely haole cast. Most egregiously, the part-Hawaiian/Chinese character Allison Ng was played by blonde Emma Stone. Crowe later apologized for his casting choices, saying his movie had been “misunderstood.”
Does Not Compute
In April, Gov. David Ige pulled the plug on a project to replace the aging computer system of the state Highways Division, saying it didn’t make sense to continue after eight years of vendor delays and complications, and $13.88 million in spending. After all that, the vendor failed to produce a system that actually worked. The debacle’s official title? The Financial Accounting System Transportation, aka The Fast Project.