Tuesday
Apr012008

East Oahu Deserves Real Leadership

We've worked very hard over the past three years to improve neglected East Oahu infrastructure that's vital to public health and safety, such as sewage pipes and city streets.

It hasn't been fun, easy, exciting or glamorous, but it's been necessary. The rupture of sewage pipes under Kalanianaole Highway and near the Ala Wai Canal made it all too clear that neglect leads to disaster, and is far more costly in the long run.

That's why it's been disappointing to receive absolutely no meaningful support from East Oahu City Councilman Charles Djou. He's voted against every City operating budget and construction budget, and the projects in those budgets, since Mufi Hannemann has been mayor.

Instead, Djou has unleashed a constant stream of criticism and rhetoric about reducing City spending. Some of his points may sound impressive to residents concerned about property taxes and other expenses. But, when all is said and done, it's just empty posturing that accomplishes nothing. No spending cuts, no tax relief, no streamlined government. Nothing but a political resume that can claim opposition to spending taxpayers' money - even when spending is necessary.

That's not real, effective leadership, and it's not producing anything for East Oahu.

Because the majority of Djou's council colleagues are more realistic and responsible, we've been able to continue moving forward with important projects and services in East Oahu and across the island.

Yes, some of this work is quite expensive. But it has to be done, with or without the area councilman's support. As residents of East Honolulu, many of my neighbors and friends and I are grateful to the majority of councilmembers and Mayor Hannemann for voting for, rather than against, these beneficial projects.

We've spent more than $45 million on emergency repairs to the broken sewer pipes and to fix damaged drainage canals, and we're moving forward with other vital repairs in nearby neighborhoods such as Kuliouou and Niu Valley.

We've instituted curbside recycling, expanded services at the Hawaii Kai Satellite City Hall, helped create the new Hawaii Kai Dog Park, not to mention Goeas Baseball Field and Koko Head Archery Range. We've resurfaced important streets like Lunalilo Home Road and Laukahi Street, and we're doing similar work on Kilauea Avenue in Kahala. We've repaired and upgraded communications towers and have provided for more police presence in Hawaii Kai.

These are projects and services that East Oahu residents expect and deserve. I wish such initiatives were free, but we all know they're not. That's the reality.

We have plenty of work to do across the island this year, and Mayor Hannemann is not requesting any increases to taxes or fees - in stark contrast to Councilman Djou's recent public predictions. This is true fiscal restraint, given that the City's fixed costs have increased for such necessities as contractual pay raises, and retirement and health system contributions.

Let's be clear: We're not pleading for Councilman Djou's support, or suggesting the City's work will grind to a halt without him. That's obviously not going to happen.

But as the mayor stated recently, we would be pleasantly surprised if Councilmember Djou were to provide his constituents with more effective representation by finally voting for a budget instead of always relying on the administration and other councilmembers to carry his water.

Bill Brennan
Press Secretary to the Mayor and East Honolulu resident