PAM SMITH – If Tuesday’s “ceremonial groundbreaking” for rail is any indication of things to come we have to be afraid – very afraid.
The public, who by the way is paying for rail, was treated with great disdain in every way possible. Parking for the elite rail supporters was readily available next to the erected circus tent. There should have been plenty of parking for the public as two lanes of the North/South road had been completely blocked off in the Mauka direction.
Lesser invited guests and the general public were required to park at Ewa Mahiko park, two miles away, and were bused to the tent. Only invited guests were allowed inside the tent and treated to food, drink and trinkets. Members of the public were required to stand outside in the hot sun.
Honolulu Police were there in force, apparently to watch over the rail “protestors” and to keep them under control. There were easily one police officer for every two protestors.
In fact, there was a community policing officer that appeared to be assigned solely to police the protesters. Protestors were forced to conduct their march and hold their signs on the other side of the road 100 feet from the tent.
When one protestor dared to cross the road with their sign, a police officer ran to her as if she had just robbed a bank and informed her that she could not cross the road with her sign. When questioned about freedom of speech, the officer merely said that she was obeying orders from her superiors.
The price tag for this “groundbreaking” for a project that can’t possibly actually break ground for at least a year was supposedly $35,000.
Given the number of politicians, cops, transit employees, catered food, huge circus tents and the inconvenient shutdown of a major artery for two days, I think the figure is really much higher.
Even using the Mayor’s lowball figures the cost to taxpayers was $87.50 per person for a 1 hour dog and pony show.
Pam Smith is a resident of Ewa Beach