Ten made mighty
difference in 2004


Two groups and eight individuals made a large difference in the state in 2004.

OVER the last week and a half, the Star-Bulletin has paid recognition to the "Ten Who Made a Difference" in Hawaii during the year past. None deserves the accolade more than the military personnel -- 50 of whom made the ultimate sacrifice -- in the war against terrorism and the effort to bring freedom to Iraq.

More than 15,000 uniformed soldiers and Marines based in Hawaii have been deployed in Afghanistan or Iraq or are on their way. They include nearly 2,200 soldiers of the Hawaii Army National Guard's 29th Infantry Brigade who are scheduled to arrive in Iraq in February.

Our hat goes off to those brave men and women, and to the others who made a difference in the islands in 2004:

» Donne Dawson, the state film commissioner, who brought unprecedented attention to Hawaii with three prime-time television network series -- NBC's "Hawaii," Fox's "North Shore" and ABC's smash hit, "Lost."

» David G. Watumull, president and chief executive officer of Hawaii Biotech, which produced synthetic vaccines for West Nile virus and dengue fever.

» Joshua Gotbaum, bankruptcy reorganization trustee of Hawaiian Airlines, who guided the airline through 17 straight months of profit.

» Jasmine Trias, who captured the hearts of television viewers in finishing among the top three finalists in the "American Idol" competition.

» Russell Okata, head of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, which -- for better or worse -- was a major factor in Democrats gaining strength in the Legislature in the November election.

» Edgy Lee, a filmmaker who produced a second acclaimed documentary about the dangers of crystal methamphetamine, simulcast on 11 Hawaii TV stations.

» The University of Hawaii's Board of Regents, which fired UH President Evan Dobelle after a critical second-year evaluation of his job performance.

» Bryan Clay, former track star at Castle High School, who won a silver medal at the Olympic Games in Athens.

» Timmy Chang, UH quarterback, who accumulated an NCAA career record of 7,072 yards passing, capped by a Hawaii Bowl victory over the University of Alabama-Birmingham.


New year brings
major challenges


Hawaii's economy is sound entering the new year, but major challenges exist abroad.

HAWAII's economic recovery took hold in the past year and is expected to continue through 2005, but the state remains saddled with the problems of traffic congestion, drug abuse and educational needs. Meanwhile, the United States continues to be embroiled in war and the world copes with the destruction caused by a year-ending tsunami in countries around the Indian Ocean. The challenges locally and worldwide are immense.

Although economists see a significant slowdown in the U.S. economy and slower economic growth in Japan, Hawaii's visitor industry can expect another healthy year. The state's economy will be aided by military and civilian construction projects.

Governor Lingle and Mufi Hannemann, who will be sworn in as Honolulu's mayor this month, will be faced with traffic problems that are certain to worsen as the economy grows. Hannemann has said his priority will be to make city government do its job in such mundane chores as filling potholes and picking up garbage, but pressure should mount at city and state levels for a mass transit solution on Oahu.

The Akaka bill providing federal recognition of Hawaiians similar to that afforded Indian tribes is due to be considered by Congress. If enacted, it could start a new round of court battles over the constitutionality of special treatment of Hawaiians.

Those concerns are overshadowed by the challenges in Iraq and the staggering job of providing humanitarian aid to 12 countries following one of the worst natural disasters in world history.

The most positive developments abroad in 2004 were the Rose Revolution in Georgia and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, resulting in the presidential election victories by reform-minded centrists over holdovers from the Soviet era. People power remains alive.

Oahu Publications, Inc. publishes
the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, MidWeek
and military newspapers


David Black, Dan Case, Dennis Francis,
Larry Johnson, Duane Kurisu, Warren Luke,
Colbert Matsumoto, Jeffrey Watanabe, Michael Wo

Dennis Francis, Publisher Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor
(808) 529-4762
Frank Bridgewater, Editor
(808) 529-4791
Michael Rovner, Assistant Editor
(808) 529-4768

Mary Poole, Editorial Page Editor
(808) 529-4748; mpoole@starbulletin.com

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