Questioning The Value Of APEC

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - November 09, 2011
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Brett Jones with President Bush at APEC ’05 in Hanoi. Photo from Bob Jones

I guess I’m supposed to be saying, “Welcome, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) delegates and the $120 million you’re contributing to the Hawaii economy.”

Instead, I’m wishing I had booked plane reservations to Tasmania, and I suspect we’ve long ago spent that $120 million on street and sidewalk work, medial strip treeand grass-planting and unreimbursed security expenses.

The city spokeswoman saying APEC delegates will be wowed by our beauty is ignoring Nimitz Highway’s ugly smallbusiness frontage, Ala Moana Boulevard’s car lots, traffic and homeless encampments.

Delegates may say, “Whoa, this Waikiki is so much towering cement we can’t see the sun!” And what if it rains or we have vog for an entire week?

They’ll probably get a chuckle out of that woman who regularly sits on the sidewalk outside Pacific Beach Hotel with a sign that says, “Help. Need $$ For Pot.”

The National Guard closing and taking over Diamond Head for security is ridiculous. It has that huge armory area on the backside. This is a power play to say, “we need to keep Diamond Head. Don’t turn it into a public park.”

APEC spreads the meetings around to inconvenience everybody. There are 21 member nations. Most are important. Then there are Brunei (pronounced “ny,” not the Hawaiian “nay”) and Papua New Guinea. We’ll not even close roads for their heads of state this week.

It is interesting that both China and what APEC calls “Chinese Taiwan” are in. South Korea’s in; North is not.

I’d never heard of APEC until my daughter Brett Jones (Punahou ‘91) was assigned by the State Department to coordinate George W. Bush’s events at the Hanoi session five years ago. GW told the White House photographer to take his picture with her. She’s now serving her country as a foreign service officer at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan and living in an 8-by-8foot sandbagged steel shipping container.

I’m not persuaded expensive meetings of all these staffs and retinues are necessary. They have email and every secure telecommunication facility. Why does President Obama need to personally meet Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin of Malaysia, since a new sultan takes over Dec. 13? Or Michael Ogio, governor-general of Papua New Guinea?

Do we have any read on the total cost for President Obama to zip in for two days? OK, maybe his Blackberry’s been on the fritz and he could not talk to Russia’s Medvedev, who’s coming. It doesn’t matter because Vladimir Putin is going to be the new president, and he’s not coming.

Joe Biden is not attending. Just as well. He has foot-in-mouth syndrome. He said in a recent speech that murders, rapes and burglaries will increase if the GOP doesn’t pass President Obama’s jobs bill.

A reporter asked if he really thought rape is connected to joblessness.

“Look, don’t screw with me,” said the vice president of the United States of America.


three star

The scuttlebutt is that Alex O’Laughlin (Steve McGarrett) has a fullwaist tattoo that had to be either manually or digitally covered for a recent shirtless fight scene on Hawaii Five-O.

How about it, Alex? Let’s see an unretouched photo.

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