Transit review a good first step for city
Mayor Hannemann has returned from a tour to view transit systems in Japan.
MAYOR Hannemann and key members of the City Council returned from Japan brimming with enthusiasm about the technology of transit systems
that are up and running in Tokyo and Nagoya. Though taxpayers generally frown on government officials traveling on their dime, the cost of the tour appears to have reaped some dividends as the mayor and Council members saw firsthand the merits of three different designs.
The tour was just a narrow corridor along the route of broader issues through which Honolulu's leaders and residents must steer in choosing a transit system. Nonetheless, it was a good starting point.
No doubt Japanese transit industry officials, eager to build the city's system, put their best spins on the wheels they hope to set down in Honolulu, and no doubt Hannemann and the Council members know they got the showcase version of each. It would have been useful if they also had been able to talk to commuters to get their perspectives.
Back in the islands, opponents continue to challenge the need for rail transit, some still holding to the notion that adding more lanes to existing highways and building more roads would be better to relieve the city's traffic problems.
While those who fought the excise tax increase meant to pay for the system have quieted down, whatever proposals the mayor and the Council select will find further resistance. If the rails run on elevated tracks, a configuration that appears to have found favor among city officials, there will likely be objections.
However, that is only one of the myriad decisions that will have to be made and residents should not leave any of them to the power brokers, moneyed interests and politicians to determine.
The transit system will be the core of growth and progress for the city. The technology chosen is but one stop along the way.
Iraq vote doesn’t ensure peace, stability
Iraqis will vote tomorrow on whether to ratify a new constitution.
IRAQIS are considered likely to ratify a new constitution tomorrow, but major efforts will be needed to turn the document into a vehicle for lasting peace. Last-minute changes were made to mollify Sunni Arab leaders and gain broad support, but more compromise is crucial to end what has become a civil war and to begin bringing U.S. troops home.
The United States mistakenly ejected thousands of Sunnis who comprised Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from government positions after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Many of the Sunnis remain angry and understandably are fearful of further discrimination by the Shia and Kurd majorities.
Some Sunni parties boycotted January's election of a transitional assembly, leaving Sunnis underrepresented. The result was a constitution that gives greater autonomy to the southern Shia provinces and the northern Kurdish provinces, the main oil-producing regions.
The Sunnis are concerned that the federalist plan will result in a weak central government that will deprive them of future oil revenues. The transitional parliament agreed this week to suspend that and some other provisions until a new parliament is elected in December. The Sunnis then could try to change those provisions, but changes are not guaranteed. The largest Sunni political party has agreed to support the redrafted constitution.
Although jihadi insurgents have threatened to kill anyone who votes, most Sunni organizations are urging their members to take part in the referendum. Opponents are motivated by a stipulation that the constitution would be rejected if two-thirds of voters in all three of the provinces where Sunnis comprise a majority were to vote against it.
Washington has recognized the error of the de-Baathifiscation program following the invasion, but the Shiites and Kurds, who were brutalized by the Hussein regime, have been unwilling to compromise. U.S. persuasion is vital to achieve the goals of peace and stability.