February issue

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Illustration: Joe Ciardiello

“Meet the Mayor,” January 2011

We interviewed Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle about his plans for the city and county, including rail, sewers and budget cuts.

Carlisle’s response to HONOLULU Magazine’s question about what he thinks of me as someone who obtained one out of five votes cast in the mayor’s race was that he consulted with his rail salesmen and concluded that I am clueless.

Carlisle’s response is careless, and so will be the management of Honolulu for the next two years. It is difficult to cover a $100 million budget gap without borrowing. Yet he intends to commit to spending more than $300 million per year for 30 years for the rail, on top of all other city liabilities.

Furthermore, Carlisle appears to be reckless enough to start the rail project before signing the Full Funding Grant Agreement. FFGA is the only agreement that guarantees the amount of federal funding. Given the federal budget woes and shift of priorities to upkeep existing systems, an FFGA for our “New Starts” project is an essential requirement. If he starts rail without it, then he must be prosecuted!


Mayor Peter Carlisle seems mostly on the right track. Decades of wasteful spending aimed at securing the electoral endorsements of Hawaii’s often under-productive unions along with inside dealing on government contracts needs to end. Carlisle seems the right guy to tackle these problems. And Carlisle’s concept for rail, despite its major and never-ending fiscal demands, at least pivots on a grand vision for Honolulu. Becoming the “Geneva of the Pacific” is a worthy and maybe even attainable aspiration. However, Carlisle’s ad hominem shots at Panos and others who justifiably fear that rail may break the city’s budget were both unseemly and foolish. In Carlisle’s defense, some may reply that this is just the often outspoken “Peter being Peter.” That refreshing trait aside, Carlisle would be wise not to forget that many of his supporters disagree with him regarding the wisdom of the train. And for those who know Switzerland, Carlisle might better envision a Honolulu that aspires to becoming a business-friendly, highly productive Basel of the Pacific.


Illustration: Jing Jing Tsong

“Fantasy Redeveloping,” December 2010

Executive editor Kathryn Drury Wagner called for a moratorium on Oahu development, which would force us to remake structures rather than build over new land.

Kudos to executive editor Kathryn Wagner for her piece. I think that the current economic downtown has taught us a couple of things, if we are bold and honest enough to recognize the reality of our present situation. First, I think it is probably a fact that we will not ever return to the economic glory days of the ’80s and ’90s—there are just too many people with too many needs to think that we all can have a house in the suburbs with a three-car garage and a big yard. We all probably are going to have to do more with less, as we pay more in taxes (our cities and states are broke), more for health care, more for food, more for transportation, more for retirement—more for the essentials of life—and less for leisure, sports and entertainment.

Second, we cannot continue to consume farmable agricultural land by covering it with houses, golf courses, and anything that takes it out of production of food and fiber. Arable land is a finite thing—Mother Nature is not making any more of it. I foresee a day (though probably not in my lifetime) when we will be demolishing sprawling suburbs and reclaiming them for agriculture because they will be too valuable for food and fiber production to leave them as urban sprawl—that is my fantasy redevelopment!

So, Kathryn, I don’t think your fantasy is so fantastic. In fact, I think it is the kind of visionary thinking that this town, this country and this world desperately needs right now. Imua!


Ahana koko lele

In the January list of Hale Aina winners, the owners of Boots & Kimo’s should have been listed as Rick and Jesse Kiakona.