Mayor tells Council to toe the steel line
Hannemann threatens to veto anything other than his transit choice
The City Council could reconsider a bill selecting the technology for the $3.7 billion mass-transit project at a meeting Wednesday that Mayor Mufi Hannemann called a mere "formality" as the city moves forward with its preferred choice of steel wheel on steel rail.
Hannemann offered sharp words of criticism yesterday after watching Wednesday's meeting drag on for nine hours, during which the City Council deadlocked on nearly every vote in the absence of Chairwoman Barbara Marshall.
"This is the most dysfunctional Council session I have witnessed in all my years," Hannemann said yesterday at a news conference. "I never saw a session where some members were deliberately trying to confuse, obstruct and delay an important decision that the City Council needed to make."
At Wednesday's meeting the Council failed to make its final decision on the technology among steel on steel, rubber-tire bus or magnetic levitation for the elevated system running from Kapolei to Ala Moana.
Hannemann has instructed the city Department of Transportation Services to use steel rail as the technology as it continues its draft environmental impact statement, which is scheduled to be completed this summer.
"We are proceeding," Hannemann said. "Next week, in my mind, is a formality. I will not put this city in a position of financial disaster. If it's not steel on steel, I'll pull the plug."
While the bill could die at the next City Council meeting, Hannemann said he will veto any measure that includes anything but steel on steel or with unreasonable conditions.
"If (they come up with a scenario) that did not include steel on steel or it was steel on steel with some very egregious positions, I will veto," Hannemann said. "And there are not six votes to override a veto."
Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, one of the four votes against steel on steel, said she was disappointed that Hannemann was moving forward with the technology despite no final Council decision.
"He's been waiting for the right excuse, and I guess he found one," Kobayashi said yesterday. "The mayor has certain tactics. I don't dwell on that. I will continue to work for the taxpayers to make the right choices when we're going to spend $5 billion of taxpayer money."
Hannemann accused several councilmembers of playing political games in tying the votes. Hannemann singled out Councilman Romy Cachola, who was seen as the deciding vote.
"All eyes are on Romy Cachola," Hannemann said. "Ann Kobayashi has a lot of influence on him. Ann Kobayashi is controlling his vote."
Cachola did not return messages last night. Kobayashi dismissed the claim, saying she and Cachola are friends but that he votes on his own accord.
DLNR is pressed on stop at UH-West Oahu
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has until Monday to indicate whether it will allow the city's mass-transit system on its property to accommodate a desired stop at the University of Hawaii-West Oahu campus.
At a news conference yesterday, Mayor Mufi Hannemann said there is a possibility the city would consider building a transit stop the UH-West Oahu campus chancellor had requested if there is a strong assurance from the DLNR that it will allow its property to be traversed.
The city needs the assurance before a City Council committee meeting Tuesday to plan its transit stops.
Deborah Ward, DLNR spokeswoman, said there will be a letter given to the mayor by Monday but declined yesterday to say what the DLNR has decided.