City forgot 3 little words: We the people
Come on people, remember what it says.
The city has a charter, the state has a Constitution, but it is from the preamble to the United States Constitution that we draw our strength: "We the people ... in order to form a more perfect union."
The phrase is so simple and forms the cornerstone of our democracy, so why is it so hard to remember?
The City and County, for instance, appears to be forgetting this whole "We the people" thing.
The city has again managed to ensnare itself while trying to help the people just move around town.
Although most cities let the electorate decide in one form or another about issues as big as building a new transit system, Honolulu plunged ahead without any citizen approval.
First there was the jerry-built coalition stapled together by Mayor Mufi Hannemann to convince the Legislature and the governor to allow the city to raise taxes to fund a transit system. Implied in the tax increase was the acknowledgment that Honolulu wanted a transit system, but nothing letting the people say yes or no.
Then the Council busied itself for a year with the "whither rail" question and never said "Hey, what do you people think?"
Hannemann loomed over the Council essentially saying "Tick, tick, tick -- we are running out of time, say 'Yes' or forget it."
Now, while we are in the third year of Hannemann's hurry-up offensive it was left to a bunch of semi-permanent transit scoffers to call for a vote via a citizen-sponsored initiative.
Opponents were hoping to place the question of whether or not to build a rail system on the November ballot until the city clerk, under the guidance of Hannemann's corporation counsel, said the petition was worded incorrectly.
The folks wanting the vote, who want to stop the transit plan, accused Hannemann of running the plot. The city clerk, Denise De Costa, denies that, saying it was her reading and concern that triggered the ruling.
The fuss attracted the attention of Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, who is running for governor in 2010. He says the Council should put it on the ballot for some sort of a vote.
While Aiona hasn't signed the petition calling for the vote, his ally Gov. Linda Lingle is using the simple rubric of "let the people speak."
By the time the courts and politicians get through fiddling with the simple premise of "We the people," the only thing certain will be that Hannemann's steamrollering pleas for a vote will tarnish his own legacy and the calls for a Constitutional Convention will get louder.