APEC Winners And Losers

Larry Price
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Wednesday - November 23, 2011
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To the amazement of many residents, the APEC summit went off without a hitch. And while the organizers are still talking about what a great deal it was for Hawaii, a lot of residents disagree.

In this type of situation, there are winners and losers. The political contention that Hawaii is ready for the “Big Time” is kind of comical. The truth is that Hawaii has always been ready for the big time, but some of its people have not.

Just a few observations:

First and foremost, padlocking the gates to Iolani Palace was a mistake. With the Akaka Bill floundering in Congress and OHA racking up millions in grants from the federal government while the Fed is locked in battle over military training rights at Pohakuloa and Makua Valley and building another world-class telescope atop Mauna Kea, we were, in the words of our leaders, showing the world we are ready for serious business. When all is said and done, as long as Diamond Head remains standing, Hawaii will be a world-class resort destination. It’s pretty obvious that a portion of the Hawaiian community doesn’t want anything to do with tourism, their special visas, or increased air travel. They want retribution, back rent and their own judicial system.

Second is the state of the homeless population. A new report shows that after five years of increases, the number of people who used homeless shelters or were helped by outreach services leveled off and may have even dropped slightly last year. The UH Center on the Family released the shocking numbers, declaring that of the 3,000 or so homeless people who used an emergency homeless shelter last year, 446 people went on to rent or own homes. That’s not bad for a group treated like a political football. Let’s face it, there is a big difference between a new home and a new location. Some residents work all their lives and can’t afford to own a home.

Third, law enforcement personnel and other first responders who worked APEC must be smiling broadly with all the overtime they racked up. Those in government who count how many stories were reported around the world also are smiling, although the television people have been doing the same thing to impress us with how many people see Hawaii because of the popular crime series Hawaii Five-0.

Lastly, it should be abundantly clear by now that Hawaii’s commuting population does not care what caused the traffic congestion, they don’t care who was in the limos or where they were going, traffic is not to be tolerated. It should be a good warning for builders of our state-of-the-art mass rail system: Traffic congestion for any reason on the Ewa plains is bad news.

Still, APEC was handled well by government officials, and we can all rest assured they will keep reminding us, at least until the next election, how well they performed. We also can rest assured that the people who lost money because of APEC will want to be reimbursed. Yes, the state will be counting the added revenue and figuring out where to spend it, but you can bet it won’t be on reimbursing any small businesses.

All in all, the aloha spirit survived APEC, even if the aloha shirts didn’t.

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