In an interview yesterday, Sen Dan Inouye indicated his support for pro-rail candidates Kirk Caldwell and Pete Carlisle in the Honolulu mayor’s race. Inouye’s comments drew a sharp rebuke from former Governor Ben Cayetano, the lone anti-rail candidate seeking the mayoralty. Here is the exchange:
Civil Beat interviews Sen Inouye February 6: Inouye: Kirk’s a Friend, Carlisle’s Done a Good Job
CB: You know Ben Cayetano well at this point, you have spent some time with Mayor Carlisle, and you know Kirk Caldwell, who is running in this race. What do you think?
“Well, Kirk is a close friend of mine. He was on my staff many, many years ago.”
CB: He and his wife met working for you.
“She was my campaign manager in one of the elections a long time ago. So, I hope the right person wins.”
CB: Is Kirk the right person in your eyes?
“He’ll make a good mayor. And I must say that Carlisle has done a good job. I’m not the type who will badmouth people when there’s no justification for it.”
CB: Given your commitment to the rail project, do you feel there’s justification to express concerns about Gov. Cayetano in this race?
“Well, I’m not for sealing anyone’s lips. After all, that’s what made it possible for me to run for the Senate, speak up. But there’s a candidate that makes that the one issue. Now, there are a lot of things involved in the management of a large city like Honolulu, a city that represents over half the population of the whole state.”
Ben Cayetano comment posted February 7 on Civil Beat and provided to other media in response to the Inouye interview:
But for the trees, our good senator, can't see the forest. Here are some important facts the senator may have overlooked: According to the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) and state studies the City's rail project is likely to cost $7 - not $ 5 billion. It is an ugly, elevated heavy rail system that is obsolete. No other city Honolulu's size and population is building such a monstrosity. It will change the character of our city for worse and will destroy or unearth ancient burial grounds and iwi. In its EIS the City concedes rail will not reduce future traffic congestion below current levels -- a statement with which the FTA agreed on page 208 of its Record of Decision.
As for the senator's comment that "there are a lot of things involved in the management of a large city like Honolulu, a city that represents over half (900,...000 to be more exact) the population of the whole state", the good senator forgets that the people gave me the privilege of governing the population of the entire state --1.2 million residents -- for eight years during some tough economic times -- and he apparently has forgotten the supportive remarks he made about my performance when he endorsed me in my 1994 and 1998 elections.
The city faces enormous challenges, among them: EPA mandated sewer upgrades estimated at $5 billion, upgrades and repairs to a water system -- which in 2011 had a water main break nearly every day -- also estimated at $5 billion, repaving the city's pothole filled roads at an estimated cost of $1.6 billion; repairing long neglected storm drains- $800 million.
Sewage and water fees have already increased dramatically and will continue to do so. Oahu residents pay the highest price per gallon of gasoline in the nation and Hawaiian Electric has gone to the extent of running television commercials to warn Oahu residents that their electricity rates are going to be increased substantially. Add to this sad scenario the fact that the state and counties Employment Retirement System (ERS) and the Employee's Union Trust Fund (EUTF) face unfunded liabilities of $9 and $14 billion respectively and one understands why studies have concluded that among cities with a population of less than one million -- Honolulu is the most unaffordable city in the nation. Small wonder that every year thousands of our young people leave Hawaii to live on the mainland.
After ten years in retirement I decided to run for Mayor because I believe that adding $5 to $7 billion in debt for an elevated, heavy rail system that will not reduce traffic congestion and will suck the air out of the city's ability to provide more important basic services does not make sense. There is an 800 pound gorilla sitting in the middle of the room and the good senator just doesn't see it.