Oahu Homeowners Get Railroaded
Dear Editor, June 20, 2017
When Mufi Hannemann first proposed his plan for a light rail system to alleviate traffic from West Honolulu for a cost of about 3 billion dollars, one of his promises was that Real Property taxes (RPT) would never be raised to support the rail. Sufficient Oahu voters either believed him or voted in favor of the project based on the fact that it would create many union jobs. The Carpenters Union and the union coalition, Pacific Resource Partners, agreed that there would be no labor strikes for the duration of the project...an interesting proposal, considering that strike votes are normally the option of the rank and file.
Fast forward…no, slow forward, the project cost for the now heavy rail system has ballooned to over 10 Billion dollars, with no true estimate of total cost to complete the project. Given that the part completed so far is the least complicated, and occupies the lowest land value properties, the Middle street to Ala Moana leg can be expected to be fraught with massive "unanticipated" cost escalations.
The elephant in the room, yet to be publicly discussed is the cost to operate and maintain the system if and when it is completed to wherever. The third rail power supply system, developed in the late 18th century is the least efficient system available. There has already been discussion about power boosting stations to support it; not included in original design. Consider twenty one 5 story structures for train stations with escalators, elevators, air conditioning, bathrooms and 24/7 lighting. How about security? We can anticipate 2 HPD officers, 3 shifts 365 days per year, for each station. Now, we have added the cost of debt service for bonds to be floated for construction costs.
We have gone too far to quit is the story of most gamblers who lose their shirts, maybe their homes, their kids' college funds, etc. at a Las Vegas casino. To much money in the pot to quit…throw more in to support a pair of kings!
There are alternatives available to stop the bleeding and salvage a significant portion of what has already spent. How many voters would have supported the project, knowing what is known now?
Are the talking mouths and unions who want to continue the project really supporting the Oahu taxpayers? Expect your RPT to double in the next few years!
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Rail vs Neil Blaisdell Center Renovations
Dear Editor: June 19, 2017
Much appreciate your dogged and balanced coverage of the woes and throes of HART funding this past legislative session.
Late in the legislative session, the addition of a prohibition on any additional funds by the city to study Neil Blaisdell Center (NBC) renovations until our rail funding was sorted out and assured was welcome in the eyes of this taxpayer and resident. I have always been a light rail supporter and have observed other cities and states figure out overruns and delays – eventually providing an alternative to cars for commuter and tourist corridors. Maybe I’m an optimist but at this stage with HART the pig has left the barn. We’ll figure it out and the State and C&C will have to do it together.
As an anchor tenant at the NBC, Douglas Trade Shows would benefit from lavish public spending on improvements to those facilities, but we are not clamoring for any improvements at this juncture. Let’s get the pig of HART public funding through the anaconda before this NBC luau starts.
The layering on of a potential additional half billion public works project to renovate the NBC, in the face of the present churn with HART, is irresponsible. Recognizing that responsibility is not a prerequisite for political initiatives, I hope HFP and your good reporters continue to fight the good fight and keep the spotlight on some kind of responsibility by our elected officials.
Douglas Trade Shows
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Audit The Rail
Dear Editor, June 14, 2017
Grassroot Institute urges you to take one simple action regarding Honolulu Rail.
If you believe that:
- Rail costs are skyrocketing out of control,
- Rail politicians are betraying the public’s trust.
- Rail needs to be audited for possible fraud.
Then send a message now to our government leaders.
Sign the petition to Audit Rail at www.AuditTheRail.com.
And for a bigger impact . . . copy and send this letter to your entire network.
E Hana Kakou (Let’s work together!),
Dr Keli’i Akina PhD
President, Grassroot Institute