Honolulu May Need More Democracy To Solve Its Problems

 

As the City of Honolulu moves under Federal scrutiny over the expanding cost and financial control of the elevated rail mass transit project, asking the question of how decisions are made may be the best chance to redeem what is proving to be a costly lesson in municipal government.

The City and County of Honolulu encompasses all of Oahu making the Mayor and the nine members of the City Council the sole arbitrators for municipalities as divergent as Downtown Honolulu is from rural Kahuku.

The City and County of Honolulu structure was established by Charter in 1907 when Oahu had a much smaller population and a predominantly agricultural economic base.

This combined city and county structure concentrates power, which means decisions are entered with less public input, accountability, and consideration than what might be achieved with other governing formulas.

The impetus for an entity like the City and County of Honolulu to take on a mass transit project, both in design and scope, that would not have been undertaken on the state government level, may well be attributed to an imbalance of public vs government influence.

This opens the question of whether Oahu would be better served by a real Oahu County government servicing all of Oahu with municipalities such as the City of Honolulu and the City of Kapolei or even the City of Kailua or Haleiwa dealing with issues and services that impact them locally.

Separate municipal and county governments are the norm across the United States with the combined city and county structure being rarely used or wanted (decisively rejected almost 4 to 1 when put to a vote).

Making government more accountable by building separate branches is the basis of the American Revolutionary approach.  It is a function of the 10th Amendment that leaves powers not vested in the federal government under direction of the individual states.

Each state in turn can give police powers to incorporated municipalities and to counties to build a leaner more responsive government at the local level.

These powers can be exercised in such ways as a County government overseeing water delivery, sewage systems and road work with private and or publicly held industry supplying power.

Incorporated municipalities have the right to enter into contract to purchase such County services and any other services, in any manner or design they see fit, to supply government as direct and accountable to their constituents as possible.

A natural question would be how can we afford separate county and municipal governments?

The incredible cost of massive public works is why an investment in additional public oversight may make operating separate county and municipal governments a bargain in the long run.

If, the rail project is completed and if the estimated yearly operating cost don’t overwhelm its value as a mass transit system, the process in which the City and County of Honolulu employs in making critical long-term decisions still deserves a 21st century reexamination regarding its efficiency.

Creating county and municipal governments that are more accountable and responsive to the public is the formula utilized in modern democracies for citizens to exercise more control over their own lives and to protect and promote the interest of their unique communities.

The quantity and quality of public input into government decisions, especially those that have a major impact on individuals and society, must be undergirded by the most efficient and robust political architecture possible for attaining democratic consensus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giving Hawaiians What Belongs to Them

Just as Democrats argue for collective rights and privileges, Republican’s counter with the need to defend and secure individual rights and Constitutional liberties.  This emphasis on the individual hardly precludes using the efficiency found in uniting for collective action but, such action needs to be guided in a manner suiting the best interest of the individuals it’s called upon to benefit.

The whole point of Constitutional government is to thwart the drive to consolidate power while at the same time to emphasize that individuals have the ability, particularly when acting in concert with others, to work to control their own destiny.

For the GOP in Hawaii the idea that those of Hawaiian ancestry who have combined land and financial assets held under the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs are so inept as to need a government bureaucracy to endlessly administrate those assets, should be particularly galling.

Land and money always represent power and for the State of Hawaii it represents more control over the assets and lives of others.  People hold assets in common world wide without a government mediator using the corporate structure.   Corporations can administrate and develop assets for their shareholders in a manner that is the source of much of the US and international wealth.

As well a process to achieve a corporate structure for administrating Hawaiian assets for the benefit of those of Hawaiian ancestry (as shareholders)  has already been tried and proven in the form of the Alaskan Native Claims Act which created corporate governance for 200 Alaskan natives tribes and 13 shareholder controlled Regional Corporations.

It fits the government of the people, by the people, and for the people mandate for Republican’s in Hawaii to pursue the enriching and empowerment of Hawaiian’s by working to help them achieve economic control of the assets rightly belonging to those of native Hawaiian ancestry.

Click Here for More Information on the Native Hawaiian Corporation Concept>> 

County Level Party Structures?

 

One of the benefits of the internet is the ability to examine how things are done in other states and counties across the US.

In Hawaii a great deal of time and effort is spent in re-inventing (or sometimes tearing apart) the wheel of political structure and innovation. Conservatives must use all mean available to generate the grass roots effort required to bring about real change in a state with a long reliance on a mono- party political structure.

To find the way out of this political conundrum people need a chance to try new things and examine new paradigms to reach the discouraged and self-disenfranchised voter. In fact the more dynamic innovation the better since its in the cultural laboratory of trial and error is where advancement takes place.

The Honolulu County Republican Party Central Committee started as a Non-Candidate Pac which was formed in March of 2017 to protect the concept of a financially independent County GOP.

Since then contacts have been made the may prove to be the way forward for the GOP in Hawaii.

One is a fully separate and distinct Honolulu County Republican Party modeled after the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County (which hosted the 2016 GOP Convention). The Republican Party of Cuyahoga County is an independent GOP with a well organized and innovative party structure.

They have a innovative method of integrating people into the party and the “central committee” concept for the district leadership resemble more a committee of equals (like the Honolulu Neighborhood Boards) than the outdated precinct chair, vice chair, etc.  model presently used by the GOP in Hawaii

The Cuyahoga County GOP manages their party with only 11 pages of bylaws in a county of 1.4 million compared to the Hawaii State GOP’s having 26 pages of bylaws for a similar state wide population.

The timeless values espoused by the founding of the Republican Party transcend any presuppositions or local traditions and is far more than a sign or street address.

Being prepared to innovate is exactly the opposite of what those in the status quo in Hawaii would want to see happen.   Innovation means breakthrough and this takes a willingness to think outside the box to build the political and cultural infrastructure needed to change Hawaii stratified political landscape.

What If Hawaii Had Continued To Trend GOP?

How Would Things Be Different?

Its important to contemplate the results of past political choices and how would our present be different if other directions had been offered and taken.

Hawaii would be a much different place had it continued to trend GOP following the Lingle Administration.

If Hawaii had grown and maintained a decisive Republican presence in state government then, in a multitude of different areas, we could have built a dramatically different future for our state.

Below are a few of the many alternate futures that pop up when contemplating the “what-if’s” and what the lack of political diversity in Hawaii’s government and politics can cost.

The Hawaii Super Ferry

21st Century Inter-Island Transportation

Uniting the island with an inter-island ferry system goes back to the Burn’s Administration.

The Superferry went into operation in 2007 and imagine how different things would be if this year marked the 12 year anniversary of its being in continuous operation.

How much would an additional mode of  inter-island travel and transport have boosted the state economy?   Would increased competition have lowered and secured the cost of inter-island travel and the transportation of goods and services?

There is little argument that the ease of transportation of people and vehicles the Superferry offered would have helped integrate the state allowing people to move more freely between the islands helping spread prosperity, opportunity and unity between the islands.

An inter-island ferry system was and remains an essential part of building a stronger more diverse economy for the state of Hawaii.

The Superferry was killed by entrenched monopolies and divisive politicians (and judges) as well as those who would continue to support a fractured inter-island transportation system that hold Hawaii and her people back from making real progress in moving towards long term economic development.

Honolulu Rapid Transit System

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

Nothing may have more negative long term impact on the economic future of Oahu (and much of the state) than Honolulu’s choice of rapid transit.

As in all areas of life if one view-point (as in Republican preference for market based economic solutions)  is shut out of the public debate, then even when people given a “choice” as in the 2008 Oahu Rail Vote, the choices can be predictable one sided considering the advantage held by Hawaii’s interconnected political-patronage system.

A viable Republican presence in government may have helped choose a Honolulu Rapid Transit option that could have delivered a mass-transit system on time and within budget.

The Bus Rapid Transit system used throughout much of the world appears to be a much better fit for Oahu’s size and potential ridership than the massive and over priced elevated rail.

A Bus Rapid Transit  system could have been designed to deal with the 4 directions people come from (East Oahu, Windward Oahu, North Shore and Leeward Oahu)  to enter the working core of Honolulu (Pearl Harbor to Waikiki).

The billions of dollar spent on elevated rail only deals with a small area of the island and its estimated 100 million dollar a year operating cost may make it financial untenable in the long run.

Some aspect of a  BRT system would already be in operation, particularly if it was financed via a Public-Private-Partnership and be in the process of recouping construction cost while the present elevated rail is still years from carrying its first paying passenger.

New Vision and Direction

 

Casting A New Vision For Hawaii

There are a lot of “what-if’s” in Hawaii politics that can be extrapolated to help change the political calculus.

What’s not in doubt is even as a majority of voters continue to support the dominate Democrat Party there is a rising cost for that allegiance.

Those who would seek to challenge this multi-generation voting pattern need to project a future that has more promise and appeal then that offered by maintaining the present status quo.