Mayor offers modest proposals in a splash of a speech
Mufi Hannemann has set out nuts-and-bolts proposals for the city as he closes his first term.
Adapting a musical motif from Gov. Linda Lingle's State of the State address earlier this year, Mayor Mufi Hannemann preceded his annual remarks about the condition of city affairs with a singing performance of his own.
Set on the stage at Hawaii Theatre and accompanied by high-tech visual aids, the mayor's speech foreshadowed his re-election campaign.
As he moves toward completing his first term, Hannemann is sticking with his nut-and-bolts approach toward running a city that has seen better days.
With a mass transit system crowding his agenda, the mayor kept new enterprises to a minimum. Instead, he emphasized issues that resonate with voters, such as crime prevention, park maintenance and fixing potholes.
There is much more, however, that continues to encumber the city. Waste disposal -- sewage and trash -- and voter-mandated curbside recycling remain unsettled. Hannemann described fixes in financial terms, saying that his administration by the end of fiscal 2009 "will have invested more that a billion dollars" for sewers, more than the previous administration spent in 10 years.
To be fair, he has given the sewage system considerable attention. But much of it was compelled -- by a massive spill in Waikiki and scores of smaller discharges as well as lawsuits and federal intervention.
The administration has moved sluggishly on establishing an islandwide recycling program -- only two more districts will get service by early 2009 -- and has been criticized for being slow to resolve the landfill controversy.
Hannemann's park maintenance program has cleared beaches of tents and people, and he intends to reinforce the effort with new police patrols. Nearby residents and beach-goers are pleased, but the problem of homelessness hasn't gone away and the mayor's contention that solutions should come from the state belies a responsibility on the city's part.
Perhaps that's the reason Hannemann is proposing a small affordable housing development on city land downtown. That doesn't square with the city selling its current holdings of a dozen affordable rental properties. If both the mayor and the City Council agree that managing housing units are beyond government's expertise and purpose, then acquiring another makes little sense.
Hannemann came to the job with a host of problems his predecessor had put on the back burner while opting for grander schemes in line with political ambitions. The mayor has resisted such tendencies, but not the comparisons of the before and after. One term under his belt assigns him ownership of the good and the bad. Like his singing, Hannemann stands for re-election as a solo performer.