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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, December 12, 2009

Getting ready for the Obamas

By David Shapiro

December is Obama time in Hawai'i and the first family is packing for another holiday visit as we plant tongue in cheek and "flASHback" on the week's news that amused and confused:

• Mayor Mufi Hannemann has ordered city crews to clean up Kapi'olani Park in advance of the Obama family's vacation during the Christmas and New Year's break. Are they planning to make it a camping trip this year?

• Hannemann's proposal to waive city law and rename the Magic Island park for President Obama has won little support, with one beachgoer calling it "corn-doggish." Nah, the mayor's play for presidential political favor has more of a smooching sound to it.

• In local politics, the state Office of Elections is rushing to enact administrative rules in time to buy new voting machines for the 2010 elections. The governor's race could get so dirty that they'll need to count ballots with a washing machine.

• Brian Schatz is leaving his position as Democratic Party chairman to plan his run for lieutenant governor. That would be quite a change in job responsibilities, going from herding cats to counting sheep.

• A business group's study of O'ahu rail transit claimed the $5.5 billion project won't be as "green" as advertised. I wasn't sure if they were talking about pollution or the double- digit drop in tax collections intended to pay for the thing.

• Citing austere times, state legislators will dispense with the usual food, flowers and entertainment when they convene their 2010 session on Jan. 20. It's hard for the poor babies to get in a party mood when they don't get another 36 percent pay raise this year.

• Hawai'i residents are registering guns at a record pace for the fourth straight year. That's a sure sign the economy is entering its "reach-for-the-sky" phase.

• Travel agents polled by a magazine named Hawai'i the Sexiest Romance/Honeymoon Destination in North America. We also get a lot of return business for divorce flings.

• Some parents at Moanalua School are up in arms about a sexually explicit lecture a counselor gave their sixth-graders. At least the kids have something stimulating to talk about on "furlough Friday."

And the quote of the week ... from Peter Cunningham, a top Obama administration education official, on Hawai'i school furloughs: "Don't ever waste a good crisis." Not a problem for us. We treasure our crises and waste our young minds.