Sour Poi Awards 2010

Celebrating the best of the worst of 2010—the strange, the stupid and the scandalous.

Aloha! 2010's election season saw us bidding farewell to a number of familiar faces (for now, at least).

Illustration: Tom Richmond

We miss you already, Rod.

2010 was a banner year for perennial Sour Poi favorite, now-former city council member Rod Tam. In March, he agreed to pay $13,700 to settle an Ethics Commission report that he had improperly billed the city for hundreds of meals with his wife and friends, unrelated to City Council business—more than $22,000 worth. Tam never admitted wrongdoing, saying only that his record-keeping and math had been sloppy. Despite a unanimous censure from the City Council, Tam decided to run for mayor. His campaign slogan? Lightning Rod Tam.


When life gives you lumber …

A Kauai couple got an unpleasant surprise in March when a large piece of lumber dropped out of the sky and crashed through their lānai roof. The wood was being transported by helicopter to a nearby botanical garden when several lengths became dislodged and fell to earth. No one was hurt.


High Times

Seven teenagers had to be rescued by firefighters in September after they climbed up on a roof during a night of drinking and then couldn’t get down.



A military public affairs officer got canned after posting snarky remarks about RIMPAC on her blog for the Military Officers Association of America. Gina DiNicolo described the naval exercises as “the world’s largest floating cocktail party,” writing, “Snoozepac is 38 days of too many visitors gorging themselves on foreign and U.S. naval delicacies.” The flub cost DiNicolo her Marine Corps job .


The better part of valor is what, now?

In August, A 17-year-old walking down the street with a case of beer he had allegedly just stolen from a Kalihi store thought it would be a good idea to yell and throw a rock through the window of a nearby police car, showering the officer inside with cut glass. The boy then ran away, but was quickly arrested.


Thank God You're Ok; We've been looking for you.



In a busy, budget-crunched year, the state Legislature spent time debating whether to officially recognize the cultural merits of cockfighting. The resolutions, introduced by Rep. Joey Manahan, D-29th, actually passed the House Tourism, Culture and International Affairs Committee with a 4-2 vote, but, in the wake of heated protest by animal rights groups, lawmakers eventually sent the resolutions back to committee, effectively killing them.


For once, jumping the shark is a good thing.

When a shark attacked a Kaua‘i surfer in April, not only did the board go flying in the air, but the surfer landed right on the shark’s back. The surfer said he rode the shark like a cowboy for about 10 seconds before retrieving his board and swimming to safety.


We send our egrets

In September, the state shot about 80 cattle egrets in Keaukaha. Officials said it was a safety measure to protect planes at the nearby Hilo International Airport, which could have sucked the birds into their engines.


Kenya quit it?

The state Legislature passed a law in May allowing state government officials to ignore repeated requests for President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. The Hawai‘i Department of Health had been receiving 10 to 20 e-mails every week from “birthers,” who believe Obama was born in Kenya.



After months of red tape and delay, the City and County of Honolulu trashed a three-year contract with Hawaiian Waste Systems to ship solid refuse to the state of Washington. The 20,000 tons of opala that had piled up was instead trucked to the H-POWER incinerator.


How Godzilla got started

Not only have coqui frogs taken over the Big Island with their loud, piercing calls, but state agriculture officials said this past year that the invasive hoppers are getting bigger. Normally, the frogs are about the size of a quarter, but reports started popping up this year about coquis an inch and a half wide—a growth spurt of more than 50 percent.



Illustration: Tom Richmond

The Garden Isle … of Avian Doom!

Kauai County came under fire for killing 18 ‘a‘o, or Newell’s shearwater birds, through the bright electric lighting at its facilities, including the football stadium. As a partial solution, Kaua‘i school officials canceled the traditionally popular Friday night high school football games, rescheduling them for Saturday afternoons. Sports fans protested with shirts saying, “Let the boys play” and “Buck the firds.”


Photo: Courtesy MidWeek

Milk it for all it’s worth?

Meadow Gold’s Lani Moo mascot costume was stolen in April from an employee’s vehicle. The head was recovered a few days later, but, in the wake of the initial disappearance, Meadow Gold advised the public not to approach the mascot if it was not at an official Meadow Gold event. “Who knows what they might do in the costume,” said spokesperson Mia Inoshita.



Political wags had a field day in October when it came to light that although lieutenant governor  and gubernatorial candidate Duke Aiona had been pushing flu shots for the public, he had never been vaccinated himself. “I am not convinced that vaccines are more beneficial than harmful,” he told KITV. Aiona buckled a few days later and got the shot, but the gesture didn’t heal his ailing campaign—he ended up losing every district but one to Abercrombie on election day.


Hot porn ruled too dirty

Prison officials at the state Kulani Correctional Facility on the Big Island got in trouble in April for burning a large collection of porn and other documents in an open-air pit. The porn had been used in the treatment of sex offenders and was no longer needed, as the prison was being shut down; the outdoor burning violated Clean Air Act regulations.


Return to sender

In July, the late U.S. Rep. Cecil Heftel’s widow put a stop to a proposal to rename the Makiki Post Office after him, because the congressional bill’s author, then-U.S. Rep Charles Djou, was Republican. “Mr. Heftel would want such an honor initiated by someone whose politics were more closely aligned with his own,” Rebecca Heftel wrote.


For double parking—maybe. for Stealing $300,000—nope.

In May, federal and state law-enforcement officers extradited a Honolulu man from New York City to Hawai‘i, to stand charges he had embezzled at least $300,000 from local law firm Winer Meheula and Devens while he worked there as an office manager. The man’s defense? He claimed he thought his father’s former job as a Philippine diplomat gave him diplomatic immunity.


No stone returned

In June, a group of Hawaiian nationalists used jackhammers to remove a large sacred stone from a display platform on California Avenue, where a local Hindu group had been tending to it as an embodiment of the god Shiva. The Hawaiians reportedly moved the stone to an undisclosed location, to let it “rest and gather its energy in private.” No word on whether the Hindus plan to stage a similar commando mission to reclaim the rock.


Illustrations: Tom Richmond

Nah, just excited about learning.

A University of Hawaii student got caught posting online photos of himself posing in UH M-anoa classrooms, clad only in a Speedo; he had also recorded a video of himself masturbating in a classroom. The Speedo Student, as he became known nationwide, received academic probation for his after-hours hijinks, but also got an apology from school newspaper Ka Leo, which had suggested he had committed a crime, and that he was dangerous.


In other news, the line to Hell is extra long this year.

Theft is always a bad thing, of course, but some thefts seem especially gratuitous. Thieves made off this year with a bunch of unexpected items, including: The cross from St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, the brass fittings from the City and County’s fire-prevention standpipes, custom-designed trophies from a children’s gymnastics club, $11,500 from the Makakilo-Kapolei-Honokai Little League, and two separate crematorial urns. Luckily, one of the urns was returned, and the other was recovered by police from a suspect’s car.


Nude. James Nude.

In June, police responding to a Kalihi business’s early-morning burglary alarm discovered a 17-year-old hiding inside, clad only in his underwear. He had apparently shimmied in through an air vent, leaving his clothes on the roof.


Making “A”

A pack of 50 to 100 feral donkeys have been causing a ruckus in Waikoloa Village, walking on the roads, drinking out of swimming pools and making a general nuisance of themselves.  This past year’s drought has intensified the problem, and raised fears that 400 to 600 more donkeys on ranchland surrounding the village might break through their fences in search of water.


Not so much

Hannemann played the race card more than once in his unsuccessful gubernatorial run: A “Compare and Decide” brochure mailed out to voters across the state pointed out that Neil Abercrombie was born in New York, and seemed to list as a negative that Abercrombie’s wife is haole. In a speech to the Hawai‘i Carpenters Union, Hannemman again played up his local credentials, saying, “When I look in the audience, I look like you, you look like me. Is that a right thing to say?”


Department of Public Safety

In 2010, some of the men and women tasked with keeping us safe decided to do some lawbreaking of their own. Among the charges: faking overtime reports, promoting drugs, fighting with a civilian, assaulting a Waikīkī prostitute, stealing a video game from Walmart, and hitting a 61-year-old woman in a crosswalk near A‘ala Park while under the influence. In September, Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha said that, all in all, five officers out of the 2,000-member force were being investigated for major crimes, and there were an additional 17 officers with cases at the prosecutor’s office.