Mayor Hannemann’s accomplishments merit a second term
Mayor Mufi Hannemann is seeking a second term in Honolulu Hale.
Mufi Hannemann has found success as Honolulu's mayor, achieving in the past four years what his predecessors failed to accomplish - approval of a much-needed mass transit system. He deserves to be elected to a second term, despite the probability that he will leave Honolulu Hale in two years to run for governor.
Unlike past City Councils, current city legislators approved of the mass transit system, although divided about what technology should be used. The Council finally dropped its resistance to Hannemann's steel-wheel technology in May, although Ann Kobayashi abandoned her Council seat to run for mayor, pushing for a rubber-tire-to-cement bus system.
A panel of experts appointed by Hannemann found that the steel system, while more expensive to build than other systems, would be cheaper to operate and maintain. That means any property-tax revenue, which supports TheBus system, would be less likely to go to the transit system in large amounts.
The only panel expert to dissent from steel-to-steel was Panos Prevedouros, a University of Hawaii professor who favored elevated high-occupancy-toll, or HOT, lanes. Prevedouros, who is taking a leave of absence to run for mayor, claims - unconvincingly - not to be a one-issue candidate.
Kobayashi complains that the steel-on-steel transit system would stop 26 times and take an hour to travel from Kapolei, its western tip, to downtown. Actually, only 19 stops are in the design, and Hannemann administration officials expect a 40-minute trip from Kapolei to the end of the line, at Ala Moana.
Changing technologies would require starting over, persuading the Legislature to broaden the use of the 0.5 percent surcharge to the 4 percent excise tax approved in 2005 to be spent on mass transit for Honolulu. That will not happen, and trying to start over would end the federal government's patience in subsidizing the project.
The City Council has agreed to place on the ballot a City Charter amendment authorizing a steel-on-steel transit system. More than 60 percent of Oahu residents indicated in a Star-Bulletin poll in July that they favor the system. They should now approve the amendment at the ballot box.
Hannemann has recognized that mass transit isn't the only way to ease traffic congestion. He has found success in launching TheBoat as a ferry system from Barbers Point Harbor to Aloha Tower. While similar efforts have failed in past years, Hannemann coordinated TheBoat with TheBus to make it work.
Not entirely consumed by dealing with traffic congestion, Hannemann has made progress in expanding the curbside recycling program. Voluntary curbside recycling began in Hawaii Kai and Mililani last October and is scheduled to be available on the entire island by mid-2010.
After years of indecision, Hannemann also has decided to build a third boiler for the H-Power garbage-to-energy plant and has called for bids to ship at least 100,000 tons of trash to a mainland facility. Under his administration, the city also has made steady progress on upgrading the island's long-neglected sewage system.
Gov. Linda Lingle will finish her second term in two years, and Hannemann is likely to seek the governorship. He also has his eyes on Washington, D.C. - he owns a house in nearby Falls Church, Va. - in case an opening in Hawaii's congressional delegation occurs. At age 54, he is young enough to accrue effective seniority in Congress.