Sour Poi Awards 2009

Celebrating the best of the worst of 2009—the strange, the stupid and the scandalous.
Illustration by Kevin Rechin


Nice Going, Hawai‘i.

Faced with a budget crunch, the State Department of Education and the State Teachers Union somehow decided the best solution was to close the public schools for 17 Fridays, and send students and teachers home. So much for investing in the next generation.


When in prison, always watch out for the one named Butch.

A prisoner at the camp-like Waiawa Correctional Facility sued the state after a wild boar bit him on the hand. He said he was waiting in line for lunch when the pig ran up and bit him. The pig, known as Butch, was a regular on the grounds of the facility.


This is our surprised face.

The close-to-$1 billion budget shortfall facing Hawai‘i got a bit bigger in September—$44 million bigger. Thanks to a miscommunication between the state Department of Taxation and the Department of Accounting and General Services, millions of tax revenue dollars were counted twice.


Great, one more thing to worry about.

A Honolulu man was electrocuted in February after he stood on an electrical access panel at the intersection of Kapiolani and University Avenues and leaned against a streetlight. An investigation into the freak incident found that insulation for power cables under the metal cover had worn away, electrifying the panel.


Siren call.

Stealing a car isn’t a great idea at the best of times, but snatching an official emergency vehicle takes a special brand of chutzpah. It happened twice this past year, in unrelated incidents. In March, a 23-year-old woman hijacked an ambulance in Kakaako, while paramedics were still in the back treating a patient. Luckily, the EMTs were eventually able to stop her before they went too far. And in October, Maui police were chasing a man on foot when he jumped in their unlocked patrol car and sped off. In this case, he actually managed to make his escape and ditch the car, but landed in jail anyway later that month after crossing paths with police in Lahaina.


Illustration by: Kevin Rechin



In June, Waipahu fire fighters responded to a fire in an unexpected location: their own station house. The blaze, which caused $25,000 in damages, was apparently caused by food left cooking on an unattended stove during a previous emergency call.


Kicking them when they’re down.

The UH Warriors had a rough season this year. How rough? An anonymous critic at the Honolulu Police Department posted a fake incident report at the station in November, poking fun at the football team. The bulletin said that the FBI had been called in to investigate an unknown white powdery substance at the UH Manoa football field, which turned out to be the goal line. “Practice was resumed when the FBI decided that the team would not be likely to encounter the substance again,” deadpanned the report. To add insult to injury, KSSK’s Perry and Price repeatedly aired the bulletin as an actual news item before realizing it was a joke.


Illustration by: Kevin Rechin


Fowl Play

Makaha resident Sandra Maloney beat a peacock to death with a baseball bat in May, in a reported attempt to drive the noisy fowl away from her condominium. "I grabbed him by the tail, and I whacked him on the head," she told KITV. The vigilante action earned Maloney a criminal charge of second-degree cruelty to animals, but she apparently wasn't the only bird assasin in her condo building—the beaten peacock was the 11th one killed on the grounds in two months.


Marry us!

In July, a hair salon owner and two of her employees chased down and apprehended two men who allegedly tried to drive off with their minivan. Owner Tara Madijanon kicked off her heels and sprinted after the van, grabbing onto it by the rear wiper blade. When the van stopped, she opened up the passenger side door and ripped one of the men out. “What are you doing stealing my van?” she said. “You’re going to jail.” The two men fled, but salon employee Vera Close gave chase, hitting one of the men in the back of the head with a bottle of soda. Police later arrested the men nearby.


That’s one way to make the news. 

Former UH Manoa student newspaper Ka Leo news editor Kris DeRego was busted in June for allegedly fabricating sources and quotes. Ka Leo printed a correction saying that the paper could not verify the existence of 29 UH students that DeRego had supposedly interviewed for 14 stories. When confronted, DeRego denied having made up imaginary student quotes, and blamed the paper’s copy editors for adding mistakes into his stories.


An Imperfect Storm.

Navy cruiser USS Port Royal ran aground near the Honolulu International Airport in February, causing $25 million to $40 million of damage to the ship, scarring the reef below and dumping 7,000 gallons of sewage into the surrounding waters. The skipper, Capt. John Carroll, was promptly relieved of command. The Navy Safety Investigation Board later concluded that faulty equipment, a sleep-deprived skipper and an inexperienced bridge crew led to the accident.


We get plenty of other oversize visitors, and you don’t hear us complaining. 

The widely beloved Oscar Mayer Weinermobile caught flack from the Outdoor Circle in July. The local nonprofit, which combats visual pollution around Honolulu, called the vehicle “a billboard on wheels that “detract[s] from Hawai‘i’s unique beauty and lower[s] the quality of life for our residents.”



A sunbather laying on a Kauai beach got a nasty surprise in January when a family friend accidentally ran over her head with his lifted Nissan Frontier truck. The woman suffered multiple injuries, including a broken scapula and a contusion on the right side of her head, but was reportedly saved from death by a combination of the soft sand and the large size of the truck’s tires.



Hawai‘i got its own postal stamp last year, commemorating the 50th anniversary of statehood. Too bad it was misspelled. Local Hawaiian artist Herbert Kawainui Kane designed the stamp, but was chagrined to find that the U.S. Postal Service used an apostrophe rather than a proper okina when it spelled Hawai‘i on the stamp.


It all checked out.

A man robbed the Kalihi Bank of Hawai‘i in April, but not before depositing a cashier’s check made out to his real name into his own account. Police located the man within four hours based on the information, and arrested him.


Illustration: Kevin Rechin


What?!  We were assured this sort of thing stayed in Vegas.

Two HPD officers and a social worker on a Las Vegas softball tournament trip ran into trouble in August. They had been hanging out in a double-parked van in Desert Breeze Park, but when park police officers approached their vehicle, they bolted. Why? Maybe because, after a short vehicle pursuit and then a foot chase that ended with one of the Hawai‘i men being pepper sprayed, the Vegas officers found marijuana and an open container of alcohol in the van. The trio’s arrests for drug possession and obstruction charges promptly hit the front pages of Honolulu newspapers.

The bright light means the camera is on, McMackin.

UH head football coach Greg McMackin got into hot water in July when he described a dance performed by Notre Dame players using a homophobic slur during a speech to reporters at the WAC Football Preview. UH slapped him with a 30-day unpaid suspension and a 7 percent salary cut. McMackin tearfully apologized a few days later during a press conference, saying, “I just made a big mistake.”


What’s with Tam and foreigners?

The Honolulu City Council considered a bill in September that would have made it illegal to be stinky on the bus. Bill co-sponsor Rod Tam, who last year caught flack for his use of the ethnic slur “wetback,” explained the bill this way: “As we become more inundated with people from all over the world, their way of taking care of their health is different. Some people, quite frankly, do not take a bath every day and therefore they may be offensive in terms of their odor.” Cooler council heads prevailed, and the bill failed to pass.


We demand an Apollo-gy 

It was reported in October that the state had lost track of five moon rocks given to the people of Hawai‘i as a gift in the 1970s, last seen on display in the state Capitol’s fifth-floor public reception room. A former NASA senior special agent who makes a hobby of tracking down moon rocks said that the two Lucite globes holding the five rocks are each worth $5 million.


Aloha means both “hello” and “stay the hell away from me.”

One of the weirdest press releases we received this year was for an Aloha Mask—a safety-rated respirator mask intended to protect against transmission viruses such as the flu, and printed with aloha designs. As the release says, the idea was intended to “put a little fun and ‘aloha’ into staying healthy.”


Apparently, it also means “screw you.” 

Go! Airlines owner Mesa Air Group tried to license the trade name of Aloha Airlines in order to re-brand itself this past spring. The move drew disgust from many in Hawai‘i, as the airline was widely considered to have driven Aloha out of business in 2008. Judge Lloyd King denied the re-naming plan, saying, “Mesa succeeded in inflicting great harm, not only upon the Aloha corporate entities but also upon thousands of Aloha employees and families.”


We’ve got our hands full.  

According to a study released by Benjamin Edelman of Harvard Business School in March, the state of Hawai‘i boasts the second-highest rate of online pornography subscribers in the U.S—with 2.19 subscribers per 1,000 homes with Internet access. Utah beat us to the top.