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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 2, 2009

Swine flu gets some attention at Capitol

By David Shapiro

The worldwide flu scare had everybody's nerves on edge, but the story had to compete for attention with the Legislature as we "flASHback" on the week's news that amused and confused:

  • No misplaced priorities here: U.S. officials and the World Health Organization stopped using the term "swine flu" to protect the good name of pigs. Maybe we should give the little porkers our supply of Tamiflu, too.

  • Even the Lingle administration picked up the official new name of the influenza strain: 2009 H1N1. Do they really think we'll feel safer if they make it sound like something we can cure by changing its oil?

  • State Sen. Mike Gabbard said he's "outraged" that state health authorities aren't doing more to screen arriving airline passengers for swine flu. Boy, this flu must be serious to distract Gabbard from being outraged by the existence of gay people.

  • Speaking of senators, legislators are having so much trouble balancing the budget that they won't be able to adjourn on time. We'll see if the extra two days helps them remember any taxes they forgot to raise.

  • Lawmakers voted to let out-of-state donors contribute more to Hawai'i political campaigns. Are they kidding? In this economy, Mainlanders can barely afford to buy their own politicians, much less ours.

  • Legislators are advancing a bill to severely punish electronic harassment. Does that mean they can't e-mail me copies of their speeches anymore?

  • Visitors to Hawai'i were down 16 percent in March and their spending was off 24 percent from a year ago. The Legislature's plan to sock them with a 28 percent increase in the hotel room tax is sounding just brilliant, isn't it?

  • Hawaii Superferry is being sued for failing to pay the rent on its Downtown offices. The company is advising its creditors to send their bills to the Supreme Court.

  • A "hunter" was arrested for killing a pet baby pig at a Hawai'i Kai animal sanctuary. His best chance to beat the rap is to get the judge to depersonalize the poor animal as an H1N1 Mini.

    And the quote of the week ... from Sen. Gary Hooser on tax increases voted by the Legislature: "In the end, there is no doubt that all in our community, public and private alike, will shoulder a portion of the burden in helping to resolve the budget crisis now before us." All, of course, except legislators with their 31 percent pay raises.

    Reach David Shapiro at (Unknown address).