HONOLULU (KHNL) - Here in Hawaii, the big ticket is the Honolulu mayoral seat. Incumbent Mufi Hannemann has a strong challenger, in Ann Kobayashi. They both have ...More >>
HONOLULU (KHNL) - The candidates for Honolulu mayor make their final pitches on the eve of the election. Ann Kobayashi was a guest on KHNL News 8 Today, last Wednesday. She explained her plan for an elevated highway, lowering property taxes and becoming a sustainable city. Now it's Mayor Mufi Hannemann's turn to state his case. He joins Kristine Uyeno live in our studio.
KU: Good morning, mayor, welcome.
MH: Good morning, Kristine.
KU: So how's the campaigning going?
MH: It's going very well. We continue to build momentum and great events, great activities this weekend and also continue throughout today and also tomorrow until 6 p.m.
KU: That's right, last final pitch. Now explain again, rail. It's been a hot topic, a big issue. Kobayashi stated her plan for an elevated highway, you've always wanted a steel on steel .
MH: Yes, Kobayashi's plan first of all, will not be funded by the Federal Government. Senator Inouye made that very clear yesterday in an editorial piece. And also, she has finally admitted after our debate that the state GET will have to be raised and therefore, the key difference is that she will have to raise real property taxes to fund her plan and in our case here, we still have a strong commitment of federal funding, the cost that have been revealed in the EIS should not concern voters at all. Because we always said in the alternative analysis in the year of expenditure, it will cost about $5 million. So we have enough in the contingency cost which is nearly a billion and also in the executive summary of the draft environmental impact statement, it said very clearly that the federal government wants us to apply for $1.2 billion so we have enough. Real property taxes will not be raised at all either to build the system starting in 2009 or as we operate and maintain and that's what the DEI said that would cost about $63 million to operate and maintain rail as oppose to what we do now with the bus, which is $180 million and what Kobayashi wants to do with buses is just going to create a much more strain on our city budget.
KU: Let's talk about that EIS report, it was just released yesterday morning and Kobayashi and opponents of rail have criticized the City for delaying the release, for saying 'why did it have to come out two days before the general election, no one has time to really digest what the EIS is saying,' what do you say to that?
MH: That's why Ann Kobayashi, not being a mayor, doesn't understand how these things go. First of all, it was the call of the Federal Transit Administration went to release it. If I wanted to be political about this release, I would have told them, 'wait till after the general election then release it.' They released it on Wednesday, we posted the executive summary almost immediately and that was what was published yesterday because it took us time to do some additional clarification with the full report itself. So there's been no attempt to hide this kind of information, she really needs to complain to the FTA if she has a problem, but it's really an act of desperation that have nothing else to go on because again, her plan is a half-baked manapua, it doesn't work. She put together her plan in three weeks so to suggest at this point that we were hiding something is merely trying to, once again, poke holes in our plans. I think it's a real slap in the face of our hard working congressional delegation like Senator Inouye, like Congressman Abercrombie that worked so hard to get us these federal funds and for her to suggest that the federal process is not being upfront or more importantly that the congressional delegation will not deliver on these funds, to me, it shows a real lack of understanding or appreciation of the hard work of our congressional delegation.
KU: And what can you say about the homes and businesses that may have to relocate because of the rail?
MH: Well, we'll try to proceed as sensitively as possible. We've notified all of them through mail as many of them as we can get a hold on the phone. We're gonna sit down and talk with them, we're not going to force anybody out. We'll try to make sure that they're made whole, there'll be compensation for those that will have to move and so forth and it happened when we built H1, it happened when we built many things in this town we don't want to do it but hopefully some of them will see the big picture. As I've said there are monies, there is funding there, if they need to be compensated, that's what we're gonna do.
KU: What about people who might think 'why should I have to possibly pay for this large project when I'm not going to use it, it's not even gonna go through my neighborhood?'
MH: Well, they're not seeing the big picture again, as we've said from the beginning, if you live in east Honolulu, if you live in windward Oahu, less cars come from this side of the island if you take more cars off the road and people are riding the train as projected, they are going to find less congested the commute to town and the other thing we keep saying 'how are our children going to live 10-15 years from now?' All the growth is on the west side of Oahu some of them or maybe all of them are going to live on this side of the island. And the other things we have, we have a intergrated multi-motor system, where cars will continued to be utilized, we'll continue to make the improvements along our roadways, but mostly importantly, they'll have the bus, they'll have the train, they'll have the ferry, they'll have more than enough choices than what exist today.
KU: You're saying in some way, they will be positively affected by this.
MH: Absolutely, and some of them may get some of the 11,000 jobs that are going to be created and that's what the alternative analysis and the DEI said, they like the City's plan And keep in mind, the Hawaii Business Roundtable, the Chamber Commerce of Hawaii have looked at our numbers, they vetted it and they've come out and said our revenue projections are reasonable.
KU: Alright, thank you, Mr. Mayor. In a few minutes, we're going to continue our conversation with Mayor Hannemann, and talk about the economy and other issues that affect Oahu families.