No Con Con? Then Legislature needs to act


POSTED: Thursday, November 13, 2008

Now that the convening of a Constitutional Convention will not transpire for at least another decade, it is time for the state Legislature to do its work and prove to us the right decision was made.

In my position as the Ewa Neighborhood Board’s Legislative Committee chairman, our committee examined a method to resolve our transportation dilemma within our own backyard and the conclusion was that the solution required that the state’s Constitution be amended. As it stands, the Constitution prohibits private land developers from being in receipt of Special Purpose Revenue Bonds.

In Ewa, we want the roads and schools, being basic infrastructure, in place prior to additional residential housing being permitted. If the developer were provided with the capital in advance, in the form of the bonds, then the roads would be constructed prior to the housing.

  To do this, I wrote language for a bill — HB728 — in 2007 that would have amended the Constitution to permit the state to issue Special Purpose Revenue Bonds to private real estate developers. The Ewa Neighborhood Board approved of and passed a motion to lobby for the bill.

Why would we in Ewa do that? The answer is that the current practice of building the homes first and then the roads and schools last is crippling us. If HB728 were passed, the developer would have the capital upfront to build the roads first. But as it turned out, the same legislators who refused to hear the bill got re-elected. Thus, the status quo has prevailed.

  Let’s examine this further. A major connecting road in Ewa, the East West Connector Road, is to link the North South Road corridor with the Fort Weaver Road corridor. The bulk of this new road lies within the jurisdiction of a private developer that is to build up to 12,000 more homes in Ewa beginning in 2012. But no plan has been laid out for the East West Connector Road to be finished beforehand.

An example of where the system is broken and needs fixing, is the Legislature’s refusal to assist the developers’ work with the community residents and infuse sound building practices that could get the infrastructure built when it is needed.

  In addition, Gov. Linda Lingle had provided for, budgeted for, and envisioned ahead of time the need for substandard road conditions in Kalaeloa to be brought up to city standards with a $50 million infusion for immediate release upon approval by the legislative body. The Democratic Party, being the majority party in control of the purse strings at the Legislature, refused to entertain the road improvement expenditure even though the governor had set aside the funds to execute it.

So please remember the final tally of votes cast against convening a Constitutional Convention each time you try to get in and out of Ewa … for the next 10 years.

Tom Berg is a member of the Ewa Neighborhood Board. Berg, a Republican, ran unsuccessfully to represent District 42 (Waipahu-Honouliuli-Ewa) in the state House.