Monday, October 21, 2013


MEANWHILE I WAS STILL THINKIN': With the exception of a few brief shining moments, the local newspaper has been a horrific example of a journalistic train-wreck ever since the 1982 departure of legendary editor Jean Holmes.

And while during the last 30 years the relative proximity of various editorial-publishing regimes to the bottom of the proverbial barrel has been subject for debate, few dispute the fact that the current iteration is would be pitiful if indeed it was worthy of pity.

Seemingly there hasn't been an actual "news" story in the year or so since Editor Bill Burley took over- he of the "all dogs, all jogging, all the time" feature story. Because Burley apparently insists that even island-shaking news must be written as if it were the perennial favorite (and archetypical cub reporter initiation assignment) story about the opening of the flower show.

But today's has to take the proverbial Sweet Marie's cake.

We almost missed the story about the Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT)- a state tax on tourists that is "returned" to the counties each year in varying- and usually inadequate- amounts. Why? How about starting with the fact that the headline was "The Business of Aloha" with"Tourism" above the headline.

In recent times the TAT has been the issue that stirs the drink of Kaua`i County's finances and other issues too because the state has been keeping inordinate amounts of it, supposedly due to the "financial crisis." But the county has literally been afraid to ask for their fair share of the TAT- an amount that allows us to provide the infrastructure to "accommodate" all those tourists- so as not to anger the legislature and have them, not just take a bigger share but retaliate by not passing other legislation considered vital to the county.

Yes- it's a bit of Mafioso extortion. "Oh, you want us to help you with you Uncle Joey's funeral (after they just whacked him). Oh, did we mention that protection money might be going up next month? We're sure you wouldn't want someone to steal all your merchandise, oh, let's say, next Thursday at 3 a.m. (don't be here)?"

The county can't impose its own taxes without the legislature's permission. Right now the only tax the county can impose is the real property tax.

But, if the information in the article is correct- and that's a big "if" with this paper- apparently this year the county is going to ask. It's a huge story for anyone who follows such things (probably us and a handful of other Lihu`e Lookie Lous, as the government officials see us).

So it's excusable that we missed the story until we saw the Honolulu Star Advertiser's re-write with the headline "Kauai County Seeks Higher Share of Hotel Tax." and then went back and read the local story we had skipped.

The local paper's actual "lead" of this vitally important story had been "featurized" beyond recognition, beginning the article by saying:

Marie Cassel, owner of Sweet Marie’s Bakery, opened her bakery in Kapaa a few years ago.
In 2011, she moved her glutten-free specialized desserts to a bigger location in Lihue, about a mile from the airport.

Since the beginning, Sweet Marie’s has had a steady flow of visitors, Cassel said, many of whom are tourists.

I have a lot of visitors who come here, and many are repeat customers,” she said.

Those 72 words were followed by another 62 words of ambiguous "transition" verbiage that still didn't mention the TAT.

In all 134 words to get the the point- something that is, in the news story, supposed to happen in the first 25 or so words.

We can't overstate how important the TAT is to the county budget and, as we said, other legislation. The county has been walking on egg shells for years and forgoing asking for all sorts of enabling legislation that only the state can provide, like getting us out from under liability for providing lifeguards which took years of pussy-footing to get passed in the legislature.

The discussion around the council table when it has comes to Hawai`i Association of Counties (HSAC) "wish list" each year- a list of requests for legislation approved by all county councils- as well as the Kaua`i County list of items the mayor and council want to ask for in the upcoming session, is usually focused around the question "should we ask for 'this' or 'that' or will they be less likely to give us more money through the TAT because we asked?"

We kid you not.

Back to the way the local paper covered the story today. We can just imagine what their "local take" on some past "big stories" might have been had the current "No News (Is Good News) Here," "everything is a feature" regime been in charge.

Local Man Likes His Target Practice

Wendell Duarte of Waimea loves to shoot his guns at the target range in Kekaha. And is wife Yukie loves it too.

Every morning you'll find Wendell with his collection if pistols, rifles and even bows and arrows, taking practice at the county range.

"It's a hobby I picked up in the war and my grandson Keikikane loves to come along with his gumpa to the range" said a proud Duarte, mo`opuna at his side.

"I just want him out of the house in the morning so I can do my Pilates," giggled Yukie.

But even though Duarte likes guns he is still upset about last night's assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis who was felled by a bullet... a bullet fired from a gun.....

Yes, yes- everyone wants to see their picture in the paper. And the paper is likely to sell 25 copies when someone is mentioned. And when it’s a business having smoke blown up it''s `okole you can bet it's either a pay-back or come-on for an ad spread in the paper.

But when we have to turn to the Honolulu paper to tell us to go back and read the big story that had originated our local Kaua`i paper it's time to declare a winner- the all time worst paper, certainly in Kaua`i history if not the history of the world.

Who needs plastic grocery bags? The bottom of the barrel has found a new perma-liner.

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