Monday, January 25, 2010

Panos for Mayor... subject to incumbent's departure

Today, on the Rick Hamada show, I announced my intent to become a candidate for mayor of the City and County of Honolulu when the office becomes vacant.

As you know, the regular election for mayor is not until 2012 but Mufi Hannemann has declared an interest in the race for Governor. However, unlike U.S. Representative Neil Abercrombie who declared his intent to resign, Mayor Hannemann has not declared any such intent, thus today I am simply saying that if he resigns then I will run for mayor.

Our campaign’s committee of advisors has remained active since the 2008 elections and so did our website and campaign filings with the office of elections. Our new website is and our campaign phone number is 63-PANOS. However, the phone line won’t be live until a formal campaign starts. On the other hand, the “contribute” button of the website is open for business!

I have lived on Oahu for 20 years and the condition of the public infrastructure has deteriorated to the point that we are ranked among the worst in the nation in traffic congestion and road quality. The city lost its lawsuit against the EPA so we now have a billion dollar obligation for secondary sewer treatment. None of it is being done.

Instead of addressing the trash problem, the city extended the life of the landfill and sued the company that can export our trash. Water main breaks are almost a daily occurrence with paralysis in Waikiki and Nanakuli recently.

There is little planning for resilience. What happens when a hurricane or a tsunami hits? What’s the plan for residents and for 100,000 frantic tourists?

There is a slate of four pro-rail candidates for mayor and a few more may join. However, I am more certain than ever that the proposed elevated rail is unsightly, unaffordable and unnecessary. In the 2008 vote, millions of dollars of false advertising were spent to deceive Oahu voters that the city was planning an affordable light rail system. However, all along the city was planning for an expensive, fully elevated heavy rail system.

When Bishop Estate and the architects of Hawaii voiced strong support for a partial light rail system, the city admitted that light rail was dismissed early in the process without much analysis. Also the Oahu Railway which is largely intact from Waianae to the airport was ignored. The inescapable conclusion is that the proposed rail is not about transit service. It’s about land development and expensive construction.

In a letter to the editor, mayor Hannemann promised a $3 billion rail system and fiscal restraints. (Read it at

Despite his wishful thinking, no private monies were realized and the rail’s budget ballooned from under $3 billion to over $5 billion. Based on past experience, the actual cost will be over $6 billion. And it does not serve UH or Waikiki. And tax collections are low.

So the city plans to steal over $300 million from TheBus capital budget to balance the rail financial plan! We simply do not have the money for this system. If it’s built, then it will undermine our ability to issue bonds in order to pay for vital road, water, sewer and maintenance projects, as well as for bus operations and maintenance.

We need to focus on the economy, jobs and taxes. The only way the city can help is by focusing on its infrastructure and services. As mayor I will scrap the rail and replace it with real solutions and necessary maintenance. It is not acceptable that beautiful Oahu is a prime example of congestion, dilapidation and substandard infrastructure.