Go on, raise fees -- people will still stay
What do the following gentlemen have in common: Mayor Mufi Hannemann, former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Adm. Horatio Nelson and Attila the Hun?
A) They are/were all left-handed; B) They are/were snappy dressers; C) They all do/did control a large, heavily armed police force/army/navy; or D) They all like/liked to make tough decisions affecting the lives of millions without giving two hoots about what anyone thinks about it.
Adm. Nelson: "Forget the maneuvers, go straight at 'em!"
Mayor Daley: "Do me a favor, police chief, send your guys outside the convention center and beat the hell out of some of those hippies for me."
Frank Fasi: "Hare Krishna, my okole. They aren't selling T-shirts on MY sidewalks. Send 400 large cement planters to Waikiki, pronto."
Attila the Hun: "We'll put the road through there -- burn that village over there."
Mayor Hannemann: "I don't care if we don't have the money or land and we haven't even applied for federal funds yet, we're breaking ground on that rapid transit system in 2009!"
Let's be straight: Mufi is no Nelson, Daley or Attila the Hun. Or even Frank Fasi. But he's getting there. He's figured out Fasi's secret to being mayor of an island city and county: If they don't like what I do, they can leave. They yell, scream, cry, pull their hair out, beat themselves with branches (and that's just in the City Council subcommittees). They write letters to the editors. They pester my staff. They burn effigies of me on the lawn of Honolulu Hale. BUT THEY DON'T LEAVE! HAHAHAHA! Once you realize you can raise fees, taxes, charges, rates, costs, dues, levies and tolls and the entire population of Oahu doesn't decamp to Las Vegas or Arizona, you have become MAYOR OF THE WORLD! HAHAHAHA!
Because people don't leave. Raise the sales tax? They stay. Raise sewer fees? They stay. Raise garbage collection charges? They stay. Impose a $10 puppy tax? They stay. Make them pay for a rail system that no person alive today will ever ride on? They stay. It's a beautiful thing.
I knew we had a world-class leader of the Fasi/Daley/Nelson/Attila kind when Mayor Mufi said in his State of the City address that he will break ground for the Kapolei to Oakland, Calif., Rapid Transit System (the actual route is still being worked out) in 2009.
That takes "burn that village" confidence, considering we couldn't even break ground for a bike path in 2009 if we had the money today. HAHAHAHA! It is so Frank. So Daley. So Nelson. And so -- sort of -- Attila (he didn't need money or permits).
And let's face it. The sewers are wrecked. They need to be fixed. And the good people of Papua New Guinea aren't going to pay for it. Ditto on garbage pickup. And rapid transit. Cough up the bucks, partner. What are you going to do? Leave? HAHAHAHAHAHA.
Buy Charles Memminger's hilarious new book, "Hey, Waiter, There's An Umbrella In My Drink!" at island book stores or online
at any book retailer. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org