Election won’t have an effect
I'm not sure what it says about local politics, but the most common reaction in our boating community to last week's elections I've heard has been, "Thank goodness they're over!" And that was usually followed by, "If I got one more campaign mailer or recorded phone message, I would have screamed."
Perhaps many boaters, like me, have become somewhat jaded as we have learned that historically it hasn't made much difference who holds political power in Hawaii when it comes to creating and/or maintaining our recreational boating facilities.
For instance, when the previous governor -- Ben Cayetano, a Democrat -- was first running for office, he proposed a five-step plan to boaters, "to create a world-class boating program within the Department of Land and Natural Resources."
First, he promised to put major emphasis on a more direct operational management for DLNR, with appropriate support for all state boating facilities. Second, he vowed to release "previously appropriated priority funds" to jump-start the maintenance needs of all the state's boating facilities.
Cayetano's third step was to initiate an investigation to determine how the lands and facilities under the boating program's jurisdiction might be more efficiently and appropriately used to make the program truly self-sufficient.
Step four was to evaluate the need for providing the state's harbor agents (harbormasters) with some law enforcement authority to assure appropriate response and security for boaters.
The fifth step was to create a comprehensive statewide boating program that would include "clearly defined responsibilities and operational standards" for all boaters and facilities.
Clearly, time has shown that Cayetano's five-step plan was political rhetoric at best, and his "world-class boating program" was certainly not established within the DLNR during his administration.
Repeated state audits of the DLNR's Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation -- or a visit to nearly any state marina -- confirm instead that our boating program has substantially deteriorated over the years.
Our newly reelected Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, perhaps wisely, has never offered a comprehensive plan for rehabilitating our recreational boating facilities. Nevertheless, their deterioration has continued on her watch as well.
But is the governor alone responsible for the sad state of our marinas? The easy answer might be to point also at those DOBOR bureaucrats at the operational level of things. After all, they are usually there no matter which political party holds office.
But, giving it more thought, some might look higher on the food chain to the politically appointed Board of Land and Natural Resources, and particularly its chairman.
It's our 76-member Legislature that is ultimately at fault because in Hawaii, as in no other state, our recreational boating facilities are controlled by its direct, committee-like supervision.
And as the old joke goes, "A camel is a horse that was designed by a committee."