Inouye Won’t Back Cayetano for Mayor: Cayetano Fires Back

U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye won’t back former Hawaii Governor Benjamin Cayetano in his campaign for Honolulu mayor.

They are both Democrats, but Inouye told Hawaii reporters yesterday he prefers to support either current Mayor Peter Carlisle, a former Republican, or former city managing director, Kirk Caldwell, a Democrat, because Carlisle and Caldwell back the city’s plan to build an elevated steel on steel rail project and Cayetano does not.

But Cayetano told Hawaii Reporter Inouye has apparently forgotten “the supportive remarks he made about my performance when he endorsed me in my 1994 and 1998 elections.”

On the rail, Cayetano said Hawaii’s Senior Senator is missing the big picture.

Cayetano said according to the Federal Transit Authority and state studies the City’s rail project is likely to cost $7 billion – not $5 billion – and Oahu taxpayers cannot afford the project because taxpayers face so many other bills.

“The city faces enormous challenges, among them: EPA mandated sewer upgrades estimated at $5 billion, upgrades and repairs to a water system — which in 2011 had a water main break nearly every day — also estimated at $5 billion, re-paving the city’s pothole filled roads at an estimated cost of $1.6 billion; repairing long neglected storm drains- $800 million.

“Sewage and water fees have already increased dramatically and will continue to do so. Oahu residents pay the highest price per gallon of gasoline in the nation and Hawaiian Electric has gone to the extent of running television commercials to warn Oahu residents that their electricity rates are going to be increased substantially.

“Add to this sad scenario the fact that the state and counties Employment Retirement System (ERS) and the Employee’s Union Trust Fund (EUTF) face unfunded liabilities of $9 and $14 billion respectively and one understands why studies have concluded that among cities with a population of less than one million — Honolulu is the most unaffordable city in the nation.”

Cayetano said the rail is an “ugly, elevated heavy rail system that is obsolete, it will “change the character of Honolulu for worse and will destroy or unearth ancient burial grounds and iwi” and that no other city Honolulu’s size and population is building such a “monstrosity.”

Inouye, the project’s most influential advocate who promised $1.5 billion in funding for the project, maintains the rail is needed to boost Hawaii’s economy and improve traffic coming in from the Ewa side of Oahu to town.

But Cayetano said “the city concedes in its own Environmental Impact Statement, rail will not reduce future traffic congestion below current levels” — a statement he notes the FTA agreed with on page 208 of its Record of Decision.

Hawaii Employers Wary of Another Unemployment Compensation Tax Hike After 1,000 Percent Increase

The Hawaii State Legislature, which began in January, is already one third completed.

But the legislature still has not taken any action to bring relief to Hawaii’s struggling businesses.

One of the major problems facing Hawaii businesses is the high cost of the state unemployment compensation tax.

This tax, which is paid by employers not employees, increased 1,000 percent last year.

This March, the tax is scheduled to rise substantially again unless the legislature takes immediate action.

At the beginning of the session, Democrats, who make up all but 9 seats of the 76 member legislature, pledged to take action to bring businesses relief, but so far they have not pushed through any legislation to reduce or stop another increase.

Business advocates say the looming tax hike will lead to layoffs and fewer hires.

Djou Coming Home

Former Hawaii Congressman Charles Djou was deployed to Afghanistan in September just after he announced his plans to run for Congress again in 2012.

He is a JAG officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.

After a nearly 6 month deployment at the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, Charles’ wife Stacey said her husband is on the way home.

While deployed, Charles was not allowed to campaign. He is running against Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, a Democrat who beat him in the 2010 General Election, and his campaign team and family kept his campaign running while he was away.

But now that he is returning, Djou will be ramping up his campaign for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional district.

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