Akaka Departs; Harimoto Huffs

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - March 09, 2011

To say that nobody saw Sen. Dan Akaka’s resignation coming would be an inaccurate statement. At 86 years of age and a more bruising race before him in 2012, it was the right time for him to step aside.

The central reason for his departure wasn’t necessarily a lack of desire to continue, rather it was reality that he simply could not raise enough money to launch a vigorous campaign.

The moral of this story: Regardless of your desire to serve, you’d better have the cold, hard kala. Without it, you’re introducing the nominee at the next chicken dinner.

* I hope you had the chance to see a recent Honolulu City Council Transportation Committee meeting on ‘Olelo. It was the political equivalent to seeing sausage being made. Committee chairman Breene Harimoto seemed to be herding cats while trying to keep fellow councilmembers Ann Kobayashi, Stanley Chang and the inimitable Romy Cachola under his charge.

While in discussion with Honolulu Department of Transportation Services representatives, all three were admonished by Harimoto for asking questions outside of his imposed scope of relevance. When Kobayashi, Chang and Cachola (KCC) were actually asking specific questions about the financial details of the rail project,

Harimoto was like a cold shower at Inspiration Point. When KCC were collectively told they could only ask about the transit fund and not about the financial plan, they all had the look of a teenager being told they couldn’t borrow the family car.

At one point, Kobayashi jabbed back and asked Harimoto that, when they do have the chance to ask about the financial plan, did it mean that they couldn’t ask about the transit fund? Touche, AK.

The most troubling aspect of the meeting was the justification Harimoto gave explaining his format. He simply said he didn’t want the meeting to last “12 hours.”

Perhaps this is an indication of the quality of leadership he imparted while serving on the Board of Education. It’s the quality of that leadership which compelled voters to reject an elected board and favor one that’s appointed. Or not.

On a side note, the usually affable Cachola, after hearing Harimoto’s admonishment again, said, “I think we should adjourn.” Harimoto, looking flustered, said if there were no other issues that he would. Before hammering the gavel, Harimoto glared at Cachola and said, “I didn’t appreciate that!” before he huffed out of the room.

Remember the good old days when insolent councilmembers were simply banished to the tower?

* Just a side note: Didja notice that both the mayor and the governor are proposing net increases in the size of their respective budgets? It is estimated that GoverCrombie’s spending proposals will increase spending over the next two years by about $500 million. Mayor Carlisle is proposing a budget increase of about $114 million for FY12, despite the fact a projected $100 million shortfall did not materialize.

What’s a half a billion here or a hundred million there?

Hey, it’s only your money, and it grows on trees, doesn’t it?

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