Editorial was too critical of mayor
The Star-Bulletin's Feb. 23 editorial
regarding Mayor Mufi Hannemann's State of the City speech was wildly off-base and demands a response.
The editorial said that the mayor's plan to help create affordable housing in Chinatown amounts to "acquiring another" housing property, and that this "doesn't square with the city selling its current holdings of a dozen affordable rental properties" because of widespread agreement that the city should not manage such housing.
That's simply wrong. The city already owns the property, and would not operate the new housing. As Hannemann stated in his speech -- a copy of which was provided to your newspaper -- the administration intends to partner with a nonprofit agency that would develop and manage the proposed River Street Residences.
This plan is consistent with our goal to transition the city's other housing properties to responsible private and nonprofit agencies. The River Street plan grew from community recommendations at our Chinatown Summit last year,.
Also, the charge that Hannemann's administration has "moved sluggishly" on curbside recycling was a sloppy distortion.
As you know, we're in the midst of a recycling pilot project that's proving highly successful, and the mayor announced in his speech that we'll soon expand the effort to two additional communities.
It's easy to say we should snap our fingers and launch an islandwide program all at once. But the real world is not so simple, and you owe your readers more than to casually parrot the tedious and predictable sniping of a few disgruntled whiners with dubious political agendas.
We have to implement curbside recycling responsibly if we want it to work, and our pilot project is designed to provide the experience and information that's necessary.
You will recall that the previous administration was forced to end one small pilot project, and couldn't expand recycling to other communities, because it tried to rush despite operational problems.
The editorial credited Hannemann's administration for our aggressive approach to sewer repairs, but suggested we moved swiftly only because we were compelled by lawsuits and federal intervention. The outstanding lawsuit by environmental groups was filed well before Hannemann was elected, and the dispute over calls for expensive secondary treatment at our wastewater plants has been an issue for decades.
A more honest assessment would note that this administration brokered an agreement with federal regulators that will produce $300 million in repairs and upgrades to our long-neglected sewage collection system.
The editorial stated that the Hannemann administration "has been criticized for being slow to resolve the landfill controversy," but made no effort to explain whether such criticism was valid, or to examine what we've done to resolve the controversy.
As your newspaper previously reported, we have announced our intent to begin shipping at least 100,000 tons of rubbish away each year, and to expand the H-Power garbage-to-energy plant.
Before Hannemann took office, the City Council chose to keep the landfill in its current location, after evaluating a wide range of potential options. Where would your newspaper have our residents send their opala? You have offered no meaningful solutions.
Finally, for you to suggest that Hannemann "adapted a musical motif" from the speech given by Gov. Lingle earlier this year was just silly. Hannemann briefly sang at his inauguration three years ago and has enjoyed doing so on many appropriate occasions.
Let's keep it real. Your readers deserve more than inaccurate and mean-spirited carping about issues that are important to all of us.
Jeff Coelho is executive assistant to Mayor Mufi Hannemann and director of customer services.