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Editorials

Friday, November 26, 2004



[ OUR OPINION ]


Tam’s latest proposal
for landfill site is as
trashy as previous one

THE ISSUE

The City Council's public works committee chairman floats Koko Crater as another option.

IF City Councilman Rod Tam hoped to quiet public outcry about his committee's choice last week for a landfill site by introducing another off-the-wall location, he failed.

Tam's bizarre suggestion to pack Koko Crater with trash has only turned up the volume and heaped more public scorn on himself as well as the rest of the Council.

Tam must come to grips with the fact that no matter where the landfill is placed, someone will be unhappy and the Council members, though loathe to anger constituents, have to make a decision based on what is best for the entire city, not just their individual districts.

The public works committee chairman -- aided by the machinations of Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi -- drew fire last week by selecting unsuitable city property at Campbell Industrial Park, ignoring more than a year of reviews to identify feasible sites.

Tam topped that when he tossed in Koko Crater as another option, catching Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz, who accompanied him at a news conference Tuesday, completely unaware. Besides adding to the Council's dysfunctional image, the move further fuels speculation that Tam is merely putting off the inevitable.

Tam contends his proposal is a serious one. In that case, he should have considered seriously a number of factors.

First and foremost, property transfer covenants will not allow the crater, which houses a botanical garden and riding stables, to be used for anything other than recreational purposes. By no measure could a landfill be regarded as recreational.

If that's not enough to end the discussion, access to the scenic area is restrictive with only a two-lane residential road running to the crater from Kalanianaole Highway or Hawaii Kai Drive. In addition, questions about environmental effects and site size will need to be answered.

Councilman Charles Djou, who represents the East Honolulu district, suspects that Tam's proposal is an attempt by other members to force him to accept the Campbell site where the city's HPOWER plant sits. Mayor Harris, who also criticized the Council's antics, senses some back-room scheme brewing with site selection.

Tam's refusal to say how the idea of Koko Crater came to him -- other than that he received the suggestion from someone he won't name -- does not discount such scenarios.

Meanwhile, Kobayashi, who says she also was surprised by the crater proposal, stubbornly clings to an unrealistic vision that some vague new technology will free the city of the need for a landfill, introducing with Tam a laughable bill to ban dumps from Oahu altogether.

What she and her cohorts are more likely seeking is to be relieved of their obligation to do their jobs. Voters may well want to consider that option when these Council members run for re-election.

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