The voters have spoken.
With the highest turnout ever, the City and County of Honolulu overturned the status quo and selected a mayor with no meaningful connections to the unions; rejected the ones that did; and put a neophyte in office during the worst economic disaster in the state’s history.
This is why it may be just what we need:
With the establishment of a new City Council and the ouster of five termed-out members, it is entirely possible that new ideas can be brought forth!
Advancing backwards in time to the Lingle era, Honolulu residents were talking then about the huge housing shortage, rising prices, rent increases, diversifying the economy, an island overrun with tourism, etc., etc., etc.
In fact, as we look back to the early 1980s, when homes were still on leased land, the problems were exactly the same.
Those problems have only grown worse.
While it is true that the unions have provided a comfortable living for many of their employees, particularly in the construction trade, they have priced the cost of living out of range for the rest of us. That includes those in Local 5, for example, and teachers, who are experiencing the impacts of cutbacks due to covid along with the rest of us.
We cannot all join the construction trades, but these are the ones who contributed so mightily to the failed candidacy of Keith Amemiya. Last count, he had several dozen union endorsements, which probably heralded the unprecedented turnout of voters fed up with business as usual.
What if a new mayor and new council members who are not beholden to a hui for their own personal gain start to look at novel ways to improve city infrastructure, rebuild the departments, tackle the growing population of homelessness, look for ways to diversify the economy, solve the housing crisis and actually, finally, really grow our state’s agriculture so that we are not dependent on the mainland for week-old produce and a 33% minimum markup on food?
It is time.
Mayor Elect Rick Blangiardi has proven that he is a capable leader who can think outside the box. He consolidated the news industry to make it viable into the 21st Century (albeit, also creating a single source for all news). He rescued Telemundo. He has shown a great degree of creative thinking that is so needed at this horrible time in our history.
It is a lot to take on, but he has taken on a lot in the past.
Two things that are of concern: that his wife Karen Chang has taken over all aspects of hiring for the new administration and Blangiardi’s thin skin when it comes to media.
His Chief of Staff, Mike Formby, is a better choice for hiring. He knows what is needed and what is out there much better than the candidate’s wife, who is a career CPA. And no matter what he does, he should know, controversy sells papers. There will be critics. Get over yourself, coz its not about you – its about whoever is doing the criticizing.
Yes, it is true that the Blangiardi’s have resided in the 1 percenters. But Rick Blangiardi earned it from the ground up. He played football at UH, majored in P.E., and ended up a coach. He wasn’t given the same silver spoon Keith Amemiya tried to say he didn’t get. (He did. He is still part of the richest contingent of Honolulu residents and power brokers whose wealth has not been adversely effected by the tourism failure, including aio and Island Insurance, as well as Micah Kane.)
With the final City Council meeting in the rearview mirror, however, we saw a scary glimpse of the future.
The new chair will be Dist. 4 Council Member Tommy Waters (Kahala – Waikiki), which gives him a lot of power over what gets on the agenda and how it is heard.
In the last meeting of his committee on Public Safety and Welfare, Waters addressed Police Chief Susan Ballard regarding a very unfavorable audit of her department.
He began by asking her a long series of very tough questions, much like an attorney on cross examination (he is an attorney). Serious issues about reporting, police misconduct and domestic abuses, violence and training were addressed. It appears that not much has changed since the now-disgraced Police Chief Kealoha was in power.
And yet, at the end of the questioning, Waters was all smiles and buddy-buddy with the Chief, saying what a great job she is doing! What?
For those of us who are into it, we have come to know Waters. That is his M.O. He starts out like he is going to be tough – but then he backs off and ties it up without resolution. He asks nothing but the status quo. He only asks questions and leaves the work to someone else, though it is unclear who that may be.
Unfortunately, the way the government works here in Honolulu, that ends up being the mayor. And under Caldwell, everything has been politics. Funding gets denied for anything proposed by a council member who does not tow his line. He makes decisions that reflect his political allies as he angles for governor in the next election – as we have witnessed with the massive shutdowns over covid that have crippled our small businesses while he met with visitor industry folks and bankers.
It is time to solve these ubiquitous problems for good and to make Honolulu meet the promise of its destination. There is a lot more than sunny weather and beaches here. There are good people who need to be nourished and treated with respect so they can reach their potential and make this place great. Today they are just trying to feed themselves and their families and scrape by!
It is time to bring down the DPP and start from scratch because it doesn’t work. It is time to update our city’s computers. It is past time to bring new, innovative affordable housing projects to Honolulu that bypass all the permitting that is holding up construction. It is time to begin putting money to work towards subsidizing fertilizer and water projects for our agriculture; towards bring foods to market locally; towards innovation in agriculture; to supporting small businesses who cannot pay these high rents; to working away from tourism that attracts bargain hungers to tourism that attracts spending and lowers the impact; towards bringing infrastructure that brings in tech companies; towards pairing our businesses with lucrative military contracts; towards paying our teachers and attracting educational opportunities to enhance our state university.
Welcome Rick Blangiardi! You are here by popular demand! Please take advantage of your popularity and the huge number of creative and thoughtful individuals who are trying to make a difference!