Editor’s Page: Dinner, and a Departure

This month, we pulled together our Restaurant Guide, and say goodbye to one of the family.

Photo by Linny Morris

City magazines such as HONOLULU specialize in helping readers in a few different ways. One is to lead you to the best experiences to be had around town. The other is to introduce you to the people who make things happen in the city and find out what drives them.

You’ll find all of these represented in this issue. Our Annual All-Island Restaurant Guide leads you to 24 perfect pupu, uncovers the most innovative new cocktails, reveals the art of Hawaii’s sushi masters and locates the best restaurants for parents who don’t want to shortchange their dining experiences just because they have toddlers in tow.

If you like cooking at home, our 16-page Gourmet Style section presents eight recipes for comfort food from Hale Aina Award-winning chefs.

Real life offers worries, however, as easily as it does pupu. When people end up in the hospital, or have to place a loved one in a long-term-care facility, we hope there will be enough qualified caretakers to look after them. But what if there aren’t? In “Our Disappearing Nurses,” page 61, Joan Conrow reports that Hawaii doesn’t have enough registered nurses to keep up with demand. Is anyone doing anything about it? Read on to find out.

This spring, we all followed the horrific details of the Kirk Lankford case. You remember it, no doubt. Shy, Japanese national Masumi Watanabe encountered Lankford, and was never seen again. City prosecutor Peter Carlisle led the prosecution of Lankford on murder charges, securing a guilty verdict. One of the things we were struck by throughout the trial was Carlisle himself. What’s his job like? What makes him tick? What does it take to be a prosecuting attorney?

Carlisle and his office granted senior editor Ronna Bolante incredible access, allowing her into their workspaces, even into Carlisle’s home, to find out who “Peter the Prosecutor” really is, page 42.

The resulting profile is one of my favorite articles from Bolante. I’m sad to report that it will be her last major feature for HONOLULU Magazine—sad, but proud and pleased, because Bolante is moving to Philadelphia, in search of bigger opportunities to challenge her reporting and writing skills.

Since joining HONOLULU in 2002, Ronna—I’m dropping the AP style “last name on subsequent reference” rule here—has taken on our investigative reporting beat, and more. I was especially pleased at the confident way she carried forward our coverage of Hawaii’s public schools, which I used to cover myself. This includes the annual “Grading the Public Schools” chart and major pieces, such as “Our Schools: Has Anything Changed?” and “Ready for the Real World?”

Ronna broke the news of how mentally ill juvenile offenders get shunted into detention facilities instead of mental health facilities in “Nowhere Else to Go.” She offered “9 Ways to Save the Democratic Party.” She interviewed a local vet returning from Iraq in “Soldier’s Home.” She explored how Native Hawaiian remains were not being handled the way everyone thought they were by the state, in “Bones of Contention.”

It hasn’t always been heavy stuff. Last year, she interviewed the homeless family that had been given a Kahala mansion by Japanese billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto, and even landed an interview with the elusive billionaire himself. Along with associate editor Michael Keany, she co-wrote the "Hawaii Music” issue and “The 50 Greatest Hawaii Songs of All Time,” which resulted in a book by Ronna and Mike through our sister company Watermark Publishing and a series of music CDs from Mountain Apple.

Along the way, Ronna amassed a box of awards from the Hawaii Publishers Association and the Hawaii Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for her writing. On top of that, for the past year, she has edited our Calabash section, giving it great focus and variety—one of those behind-the-scenes duties that readers aren’t even aware of because it goes uncredited.

It ain’t a cliché when you mean it—Ronna, good luck. We’ll miss you. We wish you all the best.

Oh, and Philadelphia? It’s pronounced RAH-na, not ROW-na. Get used to it; you’ll be seeing it a lot.