Self-serving, Opportunistic Pols

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - July 30, 2008

The recent candidate filing fiasco is more about calculating, self-serving opportunists than a demonstration of genuine stewardship of the public’s best interest.

City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, with her last-minute filing for the mayor’s race, set into motion a real comedy of errors featuring prominent members of the Democratic Party.

First and foremost are the sudden-death entries of former councilman and mayoral candidate Duke Bainum and state Rep. Kirk Caldwell. Previous to Kobayashi’s “green light-red light” decision, there were no rumblings of either mainstream candidate entering the fray. Unsubstantiated assumptions that Bainum would “financially assist” Kobayashi’s campaign, allowing him to waltz into her vacated council chair, sounded like a pretty good plan. That is, until another faction of the Democrats wanted to ensure an anti-Mufi candidate was countered with a pro-Mufi choice.

This carnival should serve as a reminder that the idealism of true public service can be trumped by political calculation. It’s up to you to choose the candidate who has your best interest at heart and not their own.

City Councilman Charles Djou introduced a resolution calling for a ballot vote on the rail project. Despite the unanimous 9-0 tally on the first of three readings, it is unlikely the resolution will come to fruition.

Even if the measure is passed out of the council, the mayor can veto without fear of an override. It is wishful thinking to imagine the mayor would not exercise his veto authority to assure the progress of his rail project.

I look at it differently. The mayor and most councilmembers have raised the ire of more than a few voters with their handling of this entire process. The allegation of orchestrating the process to the benefit of the administration and allies with a financially vested interest will always plague this project.

Do astute politicians want negative baggage that will inevitably grow like the size of the fish that got away?

The mayor has repeatedly said the majority of Oahuans want rail. If the Council votes to put the issue to a vote and the mayor refuses, it could be successfully argued the mayor truly believes it’s his way or the highway (in this case rail). His rejection of a council-passed resolution and unilateral decision to press forward on a controversial issue would be a rejection of the people of the city.

That would be all people, whether they are pro-rail or not.

If the council passes the resolution and the mayor vetoes, Mr. Hannemann may have something more to worry about at the ballot box in November.

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