Calvin Griffin: Oahu Mayoral Candidate

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  • Budget philosophy: What is your budget philosophy? Do you forsee increases in revenue through tax hikes and fee increases or do you foresee cutting spending?

There needs to be a full, transparent review of the budget.  Redundant services and non-essential personnel do not serve the needs of the people and should be phased out in a timely manner.  Fiscal responsibility and not creative bookkeeping is the solution.

  • Taxes and fees: If you do plan to raise taxes and fees, which specific taxes or fees would you increase? Would you sign a pledge that says you will not raise taxes?

No, as previously state, fiscal responsibility is the answer.   Yes, where do I sign?

  • Rail: How would you pay for rail if not enough Federal Money comes in, and/or the ½ per cent GET is not enough to cover the cost of the construction or maintenance or do you see the need for a tax hike? Do you support expansion of the rail and if so, to which parts of the island?

I do not believe that there is enough information or reasoning to justify the building of the rail. Additionally, I believe that the taxpayers have not been provided all the financial facts or enlightened to who really benefits from this massive undertaking. No doubt it will create union jobs but how many additional jobs do the rest of us have to work to pay the cost of this project that many of will not live long enough to see completed. 

 As s public servant, if it is the will of the people that a system is to be built, it should be drastically modified to have less of footprint and be designed to primarily meet the needs of the individuals who have to foot the bill for the project.

  • The Bus: “The Bus” is subsidized rather heavily by the City & County.  Recently the budget of “The Bus” has been reduced to help cover costs of the rail project.  Do you believe the budget of “The Bus” should be restored?

We have one of the best bus systems in the country, if not the world. Supporters of the rail say “if we build it, they will ride it”. If the subsidies for the Bus are not available we will have no choice.  It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. 

In the latter part of the 1800’ and well into the 20th century the United States to include Hawaii  had some of the best public transportation systems in the world.   To promote sales of cars, automakers bought up most of the local trolley and train operations, burned or dismantled the vehicles, systematically destroying a systems that we desperately need now.  We cannot allow this to happen again.

  • State of the roadways:  What are your plans to fix Oahu’s roadways so they don’t deteriorate so quickly into potholes and broken pavement? How much needs to be invested and where would the money come from?

Begin by hiring qualified engineers who are farsighted and flexible enough to focus on specific areas to include environmental, economic vitality and cultural concerns. There is enough information available through the Federal Highway Administration’s National Center for Pavement Preservation that will assist in addressing our road problems.  Also, utilize the services of the Foundation for Pavement Preservation as several other states currently do.

  • As far as funding for road projects, Create “open toll roads” or special lanes for motorist who are willing to pay  to use a high speed corridor, tourist and visitors will find it particularly useful. The state of Hawaii is already using the services of International Road Dynamics, which is a Canadian based company that specializes in the following:
  •         automated toll road systems
  • automated truck weigh station systems
  • WIM (Weigh-in-Motion) systems
  • advanced traffic control
  • driver management systems
  • data collection systems
  • long term service and maintenance support

Since many of the technologies needed to support an “open road toll” system are already in place it wouldn’t be difficult for IRD to adapt the current system.

  • Landfill: What is your plan for Oahu’s trash problem?

At one time or another we have all heard the local phrase “respect the Ina”. Its seems that many of us believe that this call for the preservation and respect for the land only applies to Hawaii, why else would we be willing to ship millions of tons of garbage to other locations around the U.S. without regard for their local environmental concerns.  Money! Trash is big bucks, not for most of us, but there is gold in that pile of rubbish. 

Big business and governmental agencies put the responsibility of cleaning up the environment on the average citizen, they convince us that it our responsibility to rectify the mess that they created. One of the solutions to the trash problem is to demand that manufacturer and multinational businesses take responsibility for their actions. They need to be part of the solution since they are the root of the problem and although there has been progress, a lot more needs to be done on their part.  As consumers we need to demand that they shoulder a bigger load and locally reinvest their profits into promoting new technologies that utilize what we now put in landfills.

I am told that there are miles and miles of lava tubes throughout the islands, that many are of substantial size and are too dangerous to be open to the public. Why not use them to store the refuse that we spend so much to ship to other people’s backyards.  Temporarily stored until sometime in the not to distant future when new technologies will be developed that will be able to make use of it to meet our energy needs.  

  • Infrastructure: According to the Board of Water Supply, there is an average of 1 water main break on average per day on Oahu. With Oahu facing a dry summer, what is your solution to fix the breaks so water is not needlessly wasted?

Identify the parts of the system that are most likely to fail and inform residents in the targeted zone of the situation.  Encourage them to practice water conservation and other related practices to relieve pressure on the system until the situation can be rectified.  Also, keep an adequate supply of water in reserve.

  • Sewer upgrade to secondary treatment at Sand Island:  The settlement with the EPA will cost the city an estimated $7.2 billion. How much will taxes and fees need to be raised to pay off this debt and what other programs and do you foresee the need to cut services to pay this bill?

As with most Americans, we are use to flipping a switch or pushing a button to get most of needs immediately met without much thought as what goes on behind those switches and buttons.  I believe that a concerted information campaign should be conducted to inform the public just how important the settlement with the EPA is to preventing an incident similar or worse than the 50 million gallon sewage spill that occurred in 2006.

An informed public would be more pro-active curtailing certain business and residential practices related to sewer activities that would put less pressure on the system, possibly lessen expenditures associated with maintaining the system until the appropriate upgrades can be accomplished resulting in a diminished tax burden. 

  • Economic Growth: What can the mayor do to promote long-term economic growth for the City and County?

I totally agree with those calling for Hawaii to be exempt from the Jones Act. Locally produced products will be more competitive on the mainland and lower cost to consumers here in Hawaii.  The union leadership needs to be more flexible in supporting this proposal and less entrenched in this and other related positions that benefit their membership but cost the rest of us more.

Legalize gambling, allow hotels and cruise ships to operate casinos restricted to registered guests and out of state visitors who can prove their residency outside of Hawaii or the country.  Gaming institutions must agree to “local hire only” policy. Another union can be formed.

Establish a state lottery, ticket sales should be restricted to non-residents on incoming modes of transportation.

  • Homeless: How do you propose to mitigate the problem of homelessness?

Downsize!  Instead of establishing “Tent Cities” to accommodate those who cannot afford the cost of renting, provide “transitional homes”.  Around the country and the world there is a trend towards building smaller homes in the 65-140 square foot range. 

Because many are designed to be built with wheels they are considered travel trailers and are designed to meet International Building Codes they can be relocated and not designed to be permanent structures.

The average price to build these structures starts at $19,000.  In addition to providing secure dwelling from they can start the reconstruction of their lives, it will create jobs which will fill the union’s needs for employment for their membership.

  • Transparency in Government: How would you address the public concern about lack of accountability, transparency and ethics in the City and County? What would you do to make your administration more transparent?

Repeal or eliminate any legislation or procedural process that restricts the public’s right to gather information to participate in forums that limit their ability to make informed decisions concerning laws or proposed legislative issues that impacts their lives.  Practice a strict sunshine policy. Prosecute to the full extent of the law any elected or appointed official who violates ethics codes or restricts the rights of citizens to participate in governmental processes. 

 ·      Bed and Breakfasts and Transit Vacation Rentals: What is your position on bed and breakfast operations in our community and would you support expanding those operations?

A person’s home is their castle and if you want to rent a room in the castle and serve some mutton, I believe you have that right as long as it is not in direct competition with a business that was established to meet that particular consumer need.   If you choose to provide that service to the public then strict adherence to governing regulations should be followed.

  • Maintaining agricultural land: What is your position on agriculture for O’ahu and what are your plans to support Hawaii’s farm operations?

With most of our food being imported from the mainland and with an estimated 7-10 day supply in reserve in case of an emergency, it is foolhardy too depend on out of state food suppliers.  Preservation of traditional farm lands should be of the highest priority, with additional emphasis on encouraging food producers to develop diverse agricultural products that are not a result of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) technology.

Incentives should be provided to local food producing activities in the form of tax credits or limited subsidies so that the producers can compete with much larger corporate entities.  Programs like the 4H or other similar organizations that encourage younger generations to respect the land and develop their “green thumbs” should be heavily promoted.

  • Crime: Oahu has heavy property crime. What is your solution to making Oahu a safer place to live, work and enjoy the outdoors. Would you support concealed carry or more freedom for law abiding firearms owners, do you feel the current laws should remain in place, or do you believe stricter gun laws should be in place?

Awareness and a willingness to get involved is essential to reducing criminal activities and safer environments.  Several years ago I formulated and tried to establish a program called the “Community Alert Program” (C.A.P). 

The purpose of the program was to assist police/rescue teams in locating missing and lost individuals.  It was not designed to interfere with the authorities, but to augment their limited manpower and limited budgeted financial resources by providing an “in place”, island wide, contingent of community volunteers and donated materials. No government funding would be necessary.  

The proposal was well thought out and structured, with the basic foundation in place.  I presented the proposal to several other organization and received no response.  This program can still be instituted with proper support. 

Not just because I was a victim of a violent assault, which did not result in the prosecution of the know perpetrator, but because I believe that a person has the right to defend themselves especially if their life in endangered, I would support a individuals right to carry a concealed weapon provided the individual was properly trained. 

I am in support of more freedom for law abiding citizens to own firearms and support a review of current gun laws to determine if they are too restrictive.  But once fair and equitable laws are in place they should be adhered to and violators should be justly prosecuted within the confines of the law.