Wednesday, December 17, 2008


BUT DID IT HAVE TO BE A TOOTHLESS HOUND AND AN OLD GRAY MARE?: The blurry line between journalists and public relations hacks and flacks is getting more indistinguishable every day with reporters who started out afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted downsized into suckling on the teat of corporate conniving to sell you what you don’t want and never needed.

But those few who are left working for mainstream publications and TV news outlets are under more and more pressure to swallow any dog and pony show that provides innocuous and subservient news-hole fodder.

So it should come as no surprise that the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders have nothing on the Hawai`i press corps when it came to swallowing whole Linda Lingle’s latest PR stunt- her supposed economic stimulus program comprised of already approved projects repackaged with a shiny new bow.

You really have to search hard to find out anything that is actually being done in the supposed “fast tracking” and as a matter of fact no one in Honolulu that we can find has actually uncovered the fact that there is actually nothing being done this week that wasn’t being done last week except for the grin and grip for three neighbor island mayors seeking to appear as though they are “doing something to fix the economy”.

A look at the two major Honolulu dailies shows piss poor journalism in ballyhooing Lingle’s application of porcine makeup with not a one actually asking- much less reporting on- exactly what kind of “fast tracking” will actually be done.

The Advertiser’s Peter Boylan is particular smitten, leading his report by saying.

The state is looking to fast- track $1.86 billion worth of capital improvement projects to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

The 1,521 projects include highway improvements; maintenance and new construction at public schools and university and community college campuses; public library upgrades and repairs; small boat harbor upgrades and expansion; Hawaiian Homes construction; public housing facility repairs and renovations; and hospital and healthcare facility improvements.

After a paragraph saying Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann refused to show up for the farce he continues to describe the sow’s ear as a silk purse, saying

The projects identified by Lingle have already been budgeted and approved by the Legislature, and construction could begin within the next 18 months. The projects are set to be put out to bid by September 2009 and awarded by June 2010, Lingle said.

Lingle said she wants to stimulate the economy because "no one is coming here to rescue us. It is up to us."

She added: "My bottom line is it can't be business as usual. That won't work in these times."

The state will pay for the projects with a series of bond issues or by taking money from $3 billion it has in the bank, Lingle said.

Then he’s off on a tangent of Honolulu’s need for other projects turning his piece into a he said/she said political battle between the mayor and governor, never getting back to exactly what the real “news” is

The Star Bulletin’s usually astute Nina Wu was even more vapid. She not only fails to report what specific “fast tracking” there will be she doesn’t even mention that phrase much less explain that they are just a recycled and repackaged list of projects.

Wu simply regurgitates Lingle’s PR crew’s descriptions of the wondrous amounts of money Lingle will single handedly be bestowing on we commoners saying

Calling it an unprecedented initiative, the governor said the main goal was to create jobs.

"It's about real families," said Lingle. "When I talk to our team, I don't talk about it in terms of CIP or projects; I talk about it in terms of your neighbors, your friends, your family being able to have a decent life, being able to make their mortgage payments. That's what the effort is all about."

And that’s nothing compared to the editorial in today’s Star-Bulletin which proclaims “Lingle stimulus plan should work, in time” saying

GOING forward with state construction projects in an expedited timeframe announced by Gov. Linda Lingle should help the state climb out of its current financial ditch but not overnight. The move to hurry along approved state projects in cooperation with federal and county actions is laudable but limited by processes that cannot be sidestepped.
Lingle said more than 1,500 projects statewide that were approved by the Legislature will be put on a fast track, an 80 percent increase of projects previously put on such a schedule. Even then, she said at a news conference, the projects will be put out to bid by next September and contracts awarded by a year-and-a-half from now.

Want a more pantingly pedantic point of virew? Try today’s blog post from Advertiser columnist Dave Shapiro who has apparently been looking for something to butter up his fave on the fifth floor after being forced more and more recently to acknowledge her failed administration.

Instead of pointing out the emperor’s lack of appropriate apparel he pushes to what appears to be the Advertiser’s party line, turning the story into a hit piece on Hannemann. He wrote:

So what happened when Lingle called Hawai’i mayors together to work on an economic plan? Hannemann skipped out, and he deserves as much criticism as he earlier heaped on Lingle.

Before puking out political punditry that praises the Governor and the neighbor island mayors and faults His Mufiness for having more important things to do than participate in ding-a-Lingle’s no-news news-event.

Of course none of the TV news programs had anything more in their fleeting coverage than what they were spoon-fed and most were decidedly worse in terms of not reporting the deceit itself much less details of it.

But credit where credit is due- even if it is from what is usually the worst paper in the state- or country for that matter- The Garbage- er, Garden Island (TGI) on Kaua`i.

In reading relatively new reporter Michael Levine’s article you get a feeling that he wasn’t buying the gift wrapped turd.

Apparently he actually asked some of these questions and after describing the already-in-the-pipeline nature of the projects and listing some of the amounts of money to be spent he writes

However, the announcement should not be seen as Lingle actually releasing the funds from the state’s coffers — Pang said projects in which bids have not yet been awarded are not ready for release, and that the standard process, including planning and permitting, still has to occur on a case-by-case basis.

As an example of what’s not new he reports that

Nearly half of Kaua‘i’s funding total is expected to be used to widen a two-mile stretch of Kaumuali‘i Highway between Anonui Street and the Lihu‘e Mill Bridge.

According to information on the CIP Web site, that project alone is projected to cost just over $70 million.

The project is expected to go out to bid in June 2009, to be awarded in September 2009, and to begin construction in February 2010. The contract time is projected to be 825 days.

So the project, which was always scheduled for that timeframe as he reported previously, will now be scheduled for that same time... only this time it’s thanks to Lingle with an assist in doing nothing from Kaua`i Mayor Bernard Carvalho

According to Levine there’s nothing specific they will be doing to fast track anything except for determining what if anything they can do- which is probably nothing.

“These projects will help in getting our construction and building trade sectors moving,” Mayor Bernard Carvalho, who pledged support for the program at an afternoon press conference with Lingle and other county mayors, said in a release.

Beth Tokioka, executive assistant to Carvalho, said the mayor’s staff was continuing to look through the list to determine what assistance the county can provide to help speed up the process.

Additionally, Carvalho said in a press release that the county is compiling its own list of high-priority CIP projects for immediate and near-term implementation.

“Millions of dollars at the county level are already in the pipeline or are ready to be awarded,” he said.“We are currently preparing for a bond float so that we can fund additional CIP projects.

Supporting our economy during these difficult times remains a top priority for my administration.”

So let’s get this straight- even the fast-tracking is a con job because there’s no guarantee from Lingle that this will speed up her “release” of the funds or that she’ll do it any differently than what is proscribed by laws and rules. And, Carvalho will also be following the law and rules at the county level for permitting and planning approval.

We can only hope that someone like Levine- if not him- is named to replace the departing TGI Editor Adam Harju who is reportedly moving on to- believe it or not- “The Cambodia Daily”.

Levine has done some really exceptional reporting even though Harju has been a stalwart of censorship and drivel in service to publisher Mark Lewis.

But it appears, despite Harju’s denials when he took the job that he was “here to stay”, Kaua`i was for him just “another stop on the circuit” of small but increasingly larger community papers that younger mainland reporters ride to professional legitimacy.

Well the community’s gain is Harju’s loss- As everyone knows the only reason he was here was for the surfing anyway. We’ll most likely be looking forward to an even more out of touch malahini from “the circuit” taking the TGI reigns.

Keep it riel Adam and don’t take any bamboo ones. We’ll let Pol Pot’s living henchmen know they have nothing to worry about in the way of investigative work from you.

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