Tam, Fireworks And More Fees

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - March 17, 2010

I would comment on the latest folly involving City Councilman Rod Tam, but it would be akin to taking candy from a baby. But for the patron saint of “Naps and Snacks,” maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Here’s the bottom line. If the allegations of misuse of public funds are true, then he is guilty of fraud and/or embezzlement, which are both serious charges. And according to hawaiifreepress.com, Tam failed to disclose his involvement in 10 different businesses and nonprofits over a seven-year period. As chairman of the zoning committee, it would behoove those investigating Tam’s Mealgate to take a look at his actions on the City Council as they pertain to the organizations with which he is or has been directly associated.

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The state Legislature recently punted in one of the most divisive issues in our community - fireworks. Instead of demonstrating true leadership and putting this controversy to rest, members are poised to pass the buck to the counties. Of course, a task force was proposed to examine the issue.

Hmmm. I began my radio program in 1997 and the first topic of conversation was whether or not the Legislature should ... yep, ban fireworks. That was 13 years ago. Fast-forward to 2010 and lawmakers are seriously going to tell us they wanted to study the issue more closely. Only the iconic 1970s Farrah Fawcett poster has been studied more than fireworks.

But to wimp out and give it to the counties under the guise of “home rule” is pathetic. Look for more waffling at the City Council level in the months - and years - to come.


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Speaking of the Legislature, there is a move afoot to inflict a financial death by a thousand cuts on locals and visitors alike.

A proposal to increase a little-known car-rental facility charge from $1 per day to $4.50 per day is finding tremendous support in The Big Square Building.

Theoretically, the monies taken in will help rehabilitate aging car-rental areas at state airports. In actuality, it’s another money grab negatively impacting tourists and further jeopardizing our primary industry.

But to hear Jim Stone of the Catrala-U-Drive Membership Association, it’s no big deal and, as a matter of fact, now is a wonderful time to increase another fee. He reasons that, by making Hawaii more expensive, this will get construction workers back to work and therefore will stimulate our economy.

Gee, isn’t that the warped sense of political economic policy that’s further deteriorating our situation? Visitor arrivals, daily expenditure and overall hotel occupancy are down despite prices being slashed, and we’re going to add another fee in a hyper-competitive global marketplace. Special interests more concerned with their self-preservation than the greater good are selfishly sacrificing our collective financial futures for their immediate fiscal gratification.

Unfortunately, there is a cabal of politicians enabling this strategy, and astonishingly we allow them to perpetrate this scandalous behavior year after year after year.

If this keeps up, we’ll have to replace our affectionate terms of “Bruddah” and “Sistah” with the more appropriate and gender neutral “Comrade.”

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