Governor Lingle spent the last week in China trying to boost tourism, which has been slumping enormously lately. She and many others still seem to think tourism is the answer.

In a state that produces so little maybe we need to start broadening our horizons. You can’t ride the coattails of tourism forever. A long time ago sugar went bust, before that it was whaling and before that sandalwood trees.

A big part of the problem is how we sell paradise to tourists who have to sit in traffic, can’t swim at the beaches because they are polluted from the Ala Wai and the plethora of other internal problems the city of Honolulu is currently having.

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hanneman seems to think the rail will solve traffic problems, or maybe this whole rail thing has nothing to do with traffic. I spoke with an associate who would like to remain anonymous. He thinks the rail has nothing to do with traffic whatsoever, “Let’s call it what it is.

The rail is not a “transportation” solution. It’s a Development Scam. It’s all about propping up the developers who contribute generously to Mufi’s campaign coffers. In return they get tax breaks not available to others and zoning restrictions lifted to allow overly dense urban slums all along the route.”

Honolulu’s streets are composed of potholes. Fees are being imposed for city services that once were paid for by our taxes, and the end result will be a three story rail eclipsing our beautiful mountains and valleys.

Once again, how do you sell a concrete paradise to a world that is on the brink of economic disaster? You can’t, you either have to keep the island beautiful and try to promote tourism or you can develop it until it looks like the island of Manhattan and produce something else. But please don’t expect tourists to fork over their hard earned dollars to come and look at a twenty mile wall stretching from Kapolei to Ala Moana covered with graffiti.

Our leaders and all the people that live on this once beautiful island have a choice to make: tourism or development. You can’t have both, so please choose wisely.

‘Joseph DeMarco was born in New York City; he lived most of his life in Buffalo, NY. He now teaches seventh grade on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. He is the author of the novels Plague of the Invigilare, The 4 Hundred and 20 Assassins of Emir Abdullah-Harazins, At Play in the Killing Fields, and Blind Savior, False Prophet. He is currently working on several new projects.’

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