Mufi’s $400,000 Traffic Website
Wednesday - July 18, 2007
Mayor Mufi Hannemann recently unveiled a new website for the City and County of Honolulu. He is urging us to log on to www.driveakamai.org. This is where you will find updated information on road conditions, projects and routes. Plus, there is a companion telephone hotline that gives you timely reports on traffic and road conditions. At face value this seems like a pretty good idea, despite the fact the website does not give you drive-time information on traffic conditions.
But when details emerged about this project, the glaring number was not how to reach the hotline. It was the $400,000 awarded to a local contractor for the website design and maintenance for one year. The firm, Austin, Tsutsumi and Associates, is the name of the contractor. But there’s an interesting sidebar to the story.
I have received documentation that the registered website developer and tech is Linda Schatz, wife of former state Rep. Brian Schatz. I want to clarify that I cast no aspersions on Mrs. Schatz and her role in bringing this website to life. However, a website expert tells me upon reviewing www.driveakamai.org that his estimated cost of design would be approximately $15,000. Of course, there would be other costs incurred, but nothing that approached nearly half a million bucks for a website.
I believe the Hannemann administration should provide any and all documentation regarding the specifications of this project, the bid process and how this firm and Mrs. Schatz were selected to receive this tremendously lucrative contract. Again, it’s not the content of the site nor the site’s objective, rather it’s the inordinate cost and lack of information regarding the process that is disquieting.
I hope members of the City Council will ask these necessary questions and share the answers with Honolulu taxpayers.
The recent comment from the secretary of Homeland Security that he had a “gut feeling” about an increased risk of a terrorist attack this summer was woefully irresponsible and unnecessary. More than that, I believe it was detrimental to the agency and the efforts to combat terrorism, at large.
Secretary Michael Chertoff, in speaking with Chicago media, made comments to the effect that there was increased “chatter” among known players in the world of terrorism while referring to a track record of attacks during the summer months.
Now, the comment that one has a “gut feeling” about an impending terror attack in the United States may not mean much coming from your grocer, auto mechanic or baby sitter. But it means a heck of a lot coming from the man who is responsible for overseeing the safety and security of our nation. I am hopeful a more judicious approach to commenting on America’s security status will be taken by those in positions of intelligence and authority.
Yes, there was a special session of the state Legislature last week. But just as the philosophical question “If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” comments on relevancy, the same question can be asked, “If the Legislature calls a special session and nobody cares, does it matter?” I mean, aside from some political geeks and those with a vested interest, who knew what was happening?
If there was one issue that emerged as the cause celebre for this session, it was pedestrian safety. The Lingle Administration and Democratic majority hammered out a compromise bill on how to address the troubling trend of pedestrians dying on our roadways. It was determined that $3 million would help the state and counties to improve walkways and intersections while enhancing safety.
The initial funding source was the state General Fund, which enjoys a burgeoning surplus. However, as the session continued, the funding source was changed by the Democratic majority from the General Fund to the state Highway Fund. This is the same fund that has been raided by the Democratic majority to the tune of more than $150 million over the last decade or so. Nice.
Since the Democrats changed the terms of the deal, the governor had to respond. She maintained the funds should come from the General Fund for a couple of reasons. First, that was the initial agreement. Second, there are matching funds from the feds attached to the Highway Fund. Each dollar in the Highway Fund gets $4 in federal money. The expenditure from an already raided fund would not just be the $3 million, but would mean a $12 million hit to the DOT.
You must ignore the cater-wauling by critics that Governor Lingle is anti-pedestrian safety because of her opposition to this bill. These claims are totally bogus. The accountability lies with the Democrat majority. They are the ones who need to explain their actions. Because of this political posturing, pedestrian safety has been needlessly compromised and your Democratic lawmaker owes you an explanation.
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