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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 3, 2009

From outages to Obama to '09

By David Shapiro

flASHback — It was that kind of year as 2008 ended with rain, thunder, darkness and the Pro Bowl headed for Miami. Here's wishing everybody a better 2009 as we "flASHback" on the final week's news that amused and confused:

  • O'ahu suffered its second islandwide electrical outage in two years, and HECO spokespersons said the outages are impossible to prevent. Is it just me, or do they seem to employ more spokespersons than engineers?

  • The Advertiser headline after the latest blackout proclaimed, "POWERLESS." That one's usually saved for election night.

  • Already-hurting retailers were slapped around like a blues cliché when the loss of electricity forced them to close stores early on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. If they didn't have bad luck, they'd have no luck at all.

  • President-elect Barack Obama, vacationing in Kailua, was among those left in the dark. Fortunately, he was accustomed to that after four years as a junior member of the U.S. Senate.

  • Obama spent 12 days on O'ahu golfing, working out at the gym and hanging with family and friends as he prepared to move into the White House. From rubber slippers to rubber walls.

  • A Kona coffee company has concocted a special "Barack O Blend" to honor the first Hawai'i-born president. They'll brew a dash of hope with a pinch of hype and cross their fingers on the aroma.

  • Members of the media pool declined Obama's offer to buy them shave ice after he gave them the slip to take his daughters to Sea Life Park. They sure showed him.

  • Former state Rep. Kirk Caldwell is the city's new managing director, the fourth person Mayor Mufi Hannemann has named to the job since 2004. This is getting to be the political equivalent of speed dating.

  • Tax collections needed to build O'ahu's $5.3 billion commuter rail system were down 16 percent in November. If this keeps up, we're going to have to lower our transit expectations from steel-on-steel to sneakers-on-pedals.

  • A mobile veterinary unit will neuter pets all around O'ahu under a new city contract. Any dogs caught chasing after this van are going to be awfully sorry.

    And the quote of the week ... from Councilman Charles Djou on Caldwell's appointment as managing director: "Mr. Caldwell's record in the Legislature has ... been exceptionally partisan, and I hope to hear his views on how he will handle a nonpartisan position at City Hall." Good point. If Caldwell can't curb the politics, he could end up as ineffectual as Djou.

    David Shapiro columns are archived at www.volcanicash.net. Read his blog, Volcanic Ash, at www.HonoluluAdvertiser.com/Blogs.

    Reach David Shapiro at dave@volcanicash.net.