The Sour Poi Awards 2012
Celebrating the best of the worst of 2012—the dumb, the deranged and the indefensible.
I JUST CALLED TO SAY, I HAVE NO IDEA WHO YOU ARE…
The University of Hawaii had already sold 6,000 tickets to a Stevie Wonder concert at the Stan Sheriff Center before it learned in July that it had been dealing with a fake agent, and that the real Stevie Wonder had never been involved in the booking. The school lost its $200,000 advance fee, and the ensuing investigation into the affair would bring the total cost of the fiasco to more than $1 million, and call into question the judgment of everyone from (now former) athletic director Jim Donovan to UH president MRC. Greenwood. Two men, from North Carolina and Florida, were eventually indicted in the case, but Hawaii never got its Stevie Wonder show.
In October, as he was awaiting sentencing at Circuit Court, local resident Darius Punimau escaped through the ceiling of the holding room, leaving behind only a few broken ceiling tiles and one of his slippers. After crawling through the space between the floors and dropping into a nearby closet, Punimau managed to slip out of an exit. Freedom didn’t last long, though: The sheriff’s department caught him a day later in the Pali Safeway parking lot.
WE ARE OFFICIALLY FREAKED OUT.
In February, a woman looking for recyclables in a Liliha dumpster instead found six little fingers in a ziplock baggie. She brought them to police, who, after analyzing the fingers, said they likely belonged to a girl 2 1/2 to 4 years old. Almost a year later, the case remains a mystery: Police spokesperson Michelle Yu says, “We weren’t able to identify the fingers or determine how they got there.”
WELL, WE’RE REASSURED.
For six months, UH West Oahu officials gave out the wrong address for their newly opened campus—91-1000 Farrington Highway instead of the real address, 91-1001 Farrington. Apparently they had gotten the incorrect number from the city Department of Planning and Permitting. The fallout for the school was apparently minimal—about $1,000 worth of brochures that needed to be reprinted. “We don’t have letterhead, we didn’t order business cards yet. There are some good things about being a government agency and moving slowly,” spokesperson Kalowena Komeiji told the paper.
After Hawaii County clerk Jamae Kawauchi bungled the primary elections on the Big Island, with 13 out of 40 polling places opening late, the state Office of Elections took over the county’s general election operations. “This has never been done before. But this is something we decided … gives us the best opportunity to conduct a successful general election,” said chief election officer Scott Nago. Come election day, though, the state Election Office had egg on its own face: At least 70 Oahu polling places ran short of paper ballots, creating huge lines that frustrated many voters.
YOU KNOW YOU'RE IN BAD SHAPE WHEN NEWS ORGANIZATIONS ARE MAKING FUN OF YOU.
Hawai‘i residents got criticized this past election season—by CNN, no less. The news organization created a Tumblr blog to draw attention to Hawaii’s voter turnout rate being the lowest in the nation, interviewing residents to find out why they don’t vote, and exhorting CNN readers to change their minds by tweeting at them.
It’s not your imagination—Hawaii really has been getting voggier and less breezy. In October, UH scientists released a study showing that trade wind frequency in the state has been declining for the past four decades. In 2009, for example, Honolulu saw 210 days of cooling trade winds—81 fewer than in 1973.
GET A ROOM!
In the space of about a month, A Big Island man was arrested twice for having sex in public, each time with a different woman. The first time, Dylan Trask Wheldon was apprehended with a woman on the sidewalk in front of a Kona business; the second, he was caught in flagrante delicto on a soccer field extension near downtown Hilo. They weren’t the only Big Islanders getting freaky out of doors. In October, another couple was arrested and charged for open lewdness for having sex in front of a homeless shelter on Pawai Place.
WORST. IMPORTS. EVER.
Debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan began to show up on Hawai‘i shores this past fall. First sighted: a blue plastic bin encrusted with barnacles, and then a fiberglass fishing skiff. Then, in October, a large yellow metal container more than 10 feet tall washed up on the Big Island. Officials said it might cost as much as $100,000 to remove the container, more than twice the total amount of federal aid the state received to clean up tsunami debris. It’s estimated that there are 1.5 million tons of debris floating in the North Pacific, and, while Hawaii is expected to escape the main path of the garbage stream, scientists predict more stuff will be hitting our shores in 2013.
EASY COME, EASY GO
A Waikīkī man became an unexpected—and temporary—millionaire in November, after a First Hawaiian bank teller mistakenly entered a deposit of $17,346 as $1,734,600. “It adds a little sparkle to your day when your accountant calls you up and says you have an extra $1.5 million you weren’t expecting,” said John Wollstein. Sadly for Wollstein, the bank caught the error that same day.
NOT VERY COMMUNITY MINDED
In May, it was reported that Kapiolani Community College was as much as five months overdue in paying some of its Continuing Education instructors, with amounts of as much as several thousand dollars. The administration blamed the delays on personnel turnover and misfiled and unprocessed employment documents. After continued media exposure, the school finally cut checks for 16 of the instructors in October.
LIKE A GOOD NEIGHBOR…
An out-of-control city bus smashed into the stone wall fronting Kawaiaha‘o Church in April, creating a dramatic pile of rubble right across the street from Honolulu Hale. (Mayor Carlisle was seen standing on the sidewalk, shaking his head.) And yet the wall sat broken for more than four months, while Oahu Transit Services, the city and the church’s insurance company figured out who was going to pay for the repairs.
AXIS OF EVIL
The Big Island is now home to axis deer, an invasive species that has long overrun Maui. The invasion turns out to be the fault of Big Island hunter Daniel Rocha and helicopter pilot Thomas Leroy Hauptman. In August, Hauptman pleaded guilty to flying several deer from Maui to the Big Island, where Rocha released them into the wild. On his return trip, Hauptmen delivered 14 mouflon rams—also considered an invasive species—to a Maui rancher.
SMOKING THE COMPETITION
The 2012 mayoral campaign between Kirk Caldwell and Ben Cayetano was a heated one. Even Caldwell’s 18-year-old daughter Maya couldn’t resist getting in on the action. Photos posted on Instagram showed her and a friend setting fire to a Cayetano campaign sign and then trying to smoke it with a bong. Caldwell apologized on Maya’s behalf, and said he planned to have a serious father/daughter talk with her.
A CRAPPY SITUATION
Both the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Civil Beat ran stories this past year on the uniformly horrible conditions of the city’s beach park bathrooms. Common problems included bathrooms with no soap or paper supplies, broken and overflowing toilets, stalls with no doors, broken sinks and really really bad smells. The city Department of Parks and Recreation oversees 282 parks across the island, but has only about 190 groundskeepers to clean them, meaning many park bathrooms just don’t get the attention they need.
THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEANT BY “TAKE OUT”
The Joyful Garden Chinese Seafood Restaurant in Windward City Shopping Center got a nasty surprise in October when a truck smashed through the glass of its front window into a VIP room. No one was injured.
In October, a tow truck hauling a forklift collided with a pedestrian overpass in ‘Aiea, ripping down a 30-foot, 5-ton section of the bridge. (The forklift was taller than the 15-foot-6-inch height of the walkway.) No one was injured, but the accident snarled traffic for hours, and the state Department of Transportation estimated that repairs would cost as much as $300,000.
WHAT THE HAIL?
A heavy thunderstorm battered the Windward Side in March, bringing a tornado through Lanikai and dropping hail of record-breaking size in Kailua. One resident collected a piece of hail 4.25 inches long—the largest ever recorded in Hawaii.
POOR HAWAII 🙁
The U.S. Census Bureau last year revised the way it measures poverty. The new method, which takes into account the varying costs of living in different states, reports that 17.4 percent of Hawaii residents live in poverty—the seventh highest rate in the nation. It had previously been the 18th lowest.
THE KICKER? THE GUY LECTURES ON LABOR RELATIONS.
Hawai‘i Reporter journalist Jim Dooley went undercover in January to report on an escort service being run out of the Waikīkī apartment of a UH Mānoa professor. Dooley booked an appointment with one of the nine women listed on the Volcano Girls escort website, and met her at the apartment. Lawrence Boyd Jr., a doctor of economics, denied any knowledge of escort activity, saying a tenant of his might be responsible.
CLOSE CALL, KAILUA
In April, the City and County of Honolulu announced a ranked list of potential sites for a new landfill, naming Kailua as the No. 1 pick. Alarmed Kailuans were relieved the next week, though, when the research firm that assembled the list said it had mixed up the ranking, and that Kahuku was the actual No. 1 recommended site. The firm blamed data entry errors for the mistake, and said the switch had nothing to do with political pressure.
HAVE YOURSELF A SLUGGY LITTLE CHRISTMAS.
Half of Hawaii’s annual shipment of Christmas trees was delayed after inspectors discovered that the batches were widely infested with slugs, wasps and other invasive species.
THE INFINITE PROVACATIONS OF GENSHIRO KAWAMOTO
Real estate billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto continued to be a thorn in the side of Kāhala residents, letting many of his roughly 20 properties in the neighborhood lie vacant, neglected and overgrown for yet another year. At other lots, though, he has begun to take a more active interest—turning five adjacent lots into a garden that features marble and bronze statues sprinkled throughout its grounds, and transforming the old Hemmeter estate into a Japanese tea garden of sorts. Richard Turbin, who lives next to the Hemmeter estate, was quoted as saying, “It’s something a child would design. It’s not tasteful. It’s not elegant … It’s a mess.”
A SOUR NOTE
In August, police arrested a 58-year-old man for beating his 56-year-old roommate with an ‘ukulele.
WELCOME TO THE LAND OF ALOHA
An elderly Colorado couple visiting Kaua‘i to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary got kicked out of the Līhu‘e Airport after their flight home was cancelled because of stormy weather. It being after midnight, and raining, the couple and several others wanted to stay at the airport till morning, but a security guard threatened to call the police if they didn’t leave. The stranded group of travelers ended up sleeping on the concrete floor of a local shelter.
WE DON'T WANT TO SEE HOW HE DEBRIEFS HIS CLIENTS.
A Kauai lawyer was fined $250 in July after he was found guilty of licking the ear of a 21-year-old female client during a hug. In his sentencing, Judge Frank Rothschild said, “Quite frankly, these are the actions of a dirty old man.”
THANKS, AND BUH-BYE.
City Council member Nestor Garcia got fined $6,500 in July—the largest amount ever for a city official—for failing to disclose potential conflicts of interest generated by his position as executive director of the Kapolei Chamber of Commerce. While he served on the City Council, the Chamber provided supporting testimony on 52 bills and resolutions, ranging from the rail project to Kapolei rezoning measures, a situation the Ethics Commission called a basic financial conflict. Garcia did not win reelection in November.
AT LEAST HE DIDN'T PADDLE THEM…
The owner of a Kailua kayak shop was arrested in July after he hosed down people who were protesting his store’s commercial activity on Kailua Beach. “It looked like they wanted to be cooled off, so I obliged,” Bob Twogood said later of the incident, in which he sprayed water on four people in front of his store for about a minute and a half. “It’s probably not a good idea to provide aid and comfort to protesters,” he added.
BUT, OH, THE SCENERY!
A national study released in May found that Honolulu had the single worst traffic congestion in the nation, with the average driver losing 58 hours a year stuck in traffic. The worst time to be driving in Honolulu, according to the study? Tuesdays between 5:15 to 5:30 p.m.
HARD KNOCKS 101
A Maui man was sentenced in June to probation and anger-management classes after he repeatedly bashed a teenage polo player on the head with a mallet during a match, causing injuries that required stitches. The Associated Press report on the incident noted, “Decoite apologized in court but said the teen should have been wearing a helmet.”
THE BEST MOVIES ALWAYS HAVE A TWIST.
Dog isn’t the only bounty hunter with smooth moves. In May, a Pennsylvania bounty hunter named Scott Bernstein managed to convince Hawai‘i resident Joshua Garlathy, who reportedly owed almost $43,000 in child support and had a Pennyslvania warrant out for his arrest, that he would be perfect for the role of a guitar-playing bank robber in a (non-existent) Jennifer Aniston movie. When Garlathy arrived at Philadelphia International Airport to chase cinema stardom, cameras were indeed rolling, but instead of movie cameras, they were for a TV reality show on deadbeat dads. Police arrested him on the spot, and Garlathy later pled guilty to the charges against him.