Hannemann: If It's Not Steel on Steel, I'll Pull the Plug

Mayor Mufi Hannemann
Mayor Mufi Hannemann

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann had some harsh words for members of the city council after they are unable to reach a decision on a mass transit system for Honolulu.

"Last night, as I said, is the most dysfunctional council session I have ever seen," he said.

Hannemann says it's "steel on steel" for Honolulu all the way. This despite some vocal opposition from people who say that option is too expensive and too noisy.

It means this long drawn out process continues for at least another week, that's when the city council is again scheduled to vote on selecting a specific mass transit technology. But the mayor says, unless it's steel on steel, he'll veto it.

A defiant Mayor Mufi Hannemann a day after the Honolulu City Council failed to make a decision on a mass transit technology.

"You had councilmember Djou pleading with council members Dela Cruz and Kobayashi. 'Are you really sure that's the vote you want to do?'" And they called a brief recess, came back and they changed their vote," said Hannemann. "I've never seen that happen on a floor."

He says he's not going to let the city council stand in his way of going forward with a steel on steel option.

"We're proceeding. Last night, I instructed my director of transportation services Wayne Yoshioka to proceed to insert steel on steel into our draft environmental impact study as well as the preliminary engineering," said Hannemann. "So we are proceeding, so next week in my mind is a formality."

The city council could come up with a different option, but Hannemann say he'll veto it.

"I will not put this city in a position of financial disaster," said Hannemann. "I'll pull the plug. If it's not 'steel on steel,' I'll pull the plug."

Millions of federal funds are at stake, and Hannemann doesn't want a repeat occurrence of 16 years ago.

"They fumbled on the five yard line as we're heading in for a touchdown, to get $620 million of federal funds," he said.

These Honolulu residents agree with the mayor.

"Light rail if it'll work, if we can get it sooner rather than later, I would be supportive of it," said Amanda Pearson, a Punchbowl resident.

"Basically I support the mayor," said Andrew William Scales, a Honolulu resident. "Hopefully he can get things resolved in a quicker amount of time so everything can get moved forward."

The city council can override Hannemmann's veto, but six votes are needed to do that. And the mayor is confident the votes just aren't there. He wants to break ground sometime next year.