Mufi Doth Protest Lingle Too Much
Wednesday - February 03, 2010
I can appreciate the passion Mayor Mufi Hannemann exhibits for the rail project. He is an ardent supporter and defender of rail and is undeterred in his pursuit of its completion.
Conversely, detractors (like myself) share several concerns that lead us to oppose the rail project. Chiefly among them include the exorbitant cost of its construction/maintenance, and the fact that the rail system will not alleviate traffic congestion.
But recent statements by the mayor seem to muddy an issue that appeared to be fairly clear among opponents and proponents.
In a recent television appearance, Hannemann lambasted Gov. Linda Lingle and the rail debate, which until now was peppered with barbs among the front-line soldiers, but has turned decidedly personal and snarky.
It’s one thing to be critical of the governor for her recent actions regarding rail. She has said she will not rubber stamp the multibillion-dollar project. I would hope not. The city seems to have forgotten that the governor’s signature is required in order for the project to move forward. It seems the city would be a bit more magnanimous by supporting the governor in her pursuit of information.
Lingle believes the community should have ample time to discern whether or not they are willing to support the largest public works project in the state’s history. She wants to consider all alternatives before ground is broken.
I know, the city will tell you there were already ample opportunities for contribution and education. But if you recall the alternatives analysis and subsequent public indoctrin ... uh, public information campaign you funded, there was little room left for a substantive debate.
Now, with all that said, exactly where do we read that the governor is opposed to rail?
“She’s become rapidly, in my mind, an anti-railer,” says Hannemann.
It was Lingle who, in the early days of her administration, expressed support for a mass transit system. She was the one who, according to the mayor himself, served as the impetus for the rail project. In August 2005, the governor allowed HB1309, the enabling legislation for the City and County of Honolulu to increase and collect the GET surcharge to fund the project, without her signature. She could have easily vetoed the measure, but she didn’t. And during the entire debate regarding rail, including the opportunity to campaign against the project leading up to the 2008 vote, the governor remained neutral. I suppose the mayor’s logic here is if you are not completely in support of his agenda, even if you are in the middle, then you must be the enemy.
“Do you want to be remembered as the governor who blew Superferry, threw the educational system into disarray and now threw away the best economic project this state has going for itself?” the mayor asked. “My answer would be no, no, no.”
Invoking Superferry (which was not the governor’s fault), the recent education debacle (which can mainly be attributed to the HSTA leadership) and now accusing her of rejecting rail can only be interpreted as Hamlet’s mother Gertrude said: “Methinks thou doth protest too much.”
It seems a bit much to launch such an unsavory personal attack when there is no real justification. The governor is exhibiting a responsible, mature and meticulous approach in considering her signature on a $5.5 billion commitment. The public appreciates the governor’s stewardship of their resources and, as troubling details emerge about the city’s version of the project, Hannemann won’t have Lingle to blame for its possible demise.
He may want to look a little closer to home.
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