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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, July 25, 2009

It's getting crowded on the USS Ainokea

By David Shapiro

Is our governor auditioning to be Governator II? Find out as we "flASHback" on the week's news that amused and confused.

• Gov. Linda Lingle apologized for notifying some state workers they're on the layoff list by automated message. Well, Robo-Guv is more flattering than some of the other things they call her.

• U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said the governor should drop her layoff plans because state unions have given enough. They've given enough to his campaign, anyway.

• Hawai'i had the nation's lowest voter turnout last year, despite a local-born candidate for president. Wake us when Obama competes on "American Idol."

• Or was he local-born? Conspiracy buffs known as "birthers" continue to insist the president was really born in Kenya. Hawai'i hotels tried to get them to hold their annual convention here, but they felt more comfortable booking rooms in La La Land.

• State elections chief Kevin Cronin said next year's balloting could be "ugly" because of a lack of funding. Fortunately, few people show up to notice.

• With the state in fiscal crisis and workers facing layoffs, 16 legislators thought it was a dandy time to spend thousands each to go to a conference in Philadelphia. They must figure with no money for elections, they don't have to worry about being voted out.

• It was an exciting week at Pearl Harbor with the arrival of the submarine USS Hawai'i. Next year we get our state's other namesake ship, the USS Ainokea.

• Honolulu's rail-transit project is entering a new phase called preliminary engineering. In other words, this is where they ring the dinner bell for contractors.

• The Hawai'i Tourism Authority canceled two meetings for lack of a quorum and delayed presentation of its new marketing plan until Aug. 28. Tourism is only in its worst slump ever. No rush, guys.

• A $1.2 billion telescope planned for Mauna Kea can see so far back in time that scientists will be able to watch the first stars and galaxies forming. Wouldn't it be cheaper to ask our two Senator Dans to recount their boyhood memories?

And the quote of the week ... from Bob Loy of the Outdoor Circle on the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile: "The Wienermobile is little more than a mobile billboard. It's the kind of inappropriate advertising that is not permitted in our beautiful state." Good grief. Sounds like somebody's tree forgot to hug him.

David Shapiro, a veteran Hawai'i journalist, can be reached by e-mail at dave@volcanicash.net.