BY MIKE RETHMAN – Will former state Representative and city managing director Kirk Caldwell run for mayor again in 2012? As a fiscal conservative, it may seem paradoxical, but I hope so. Why champion the far-left Caldwell? Because a three-way contest for mayor may offer Honolulu it’s best chance of electing a fiscally responsible and highly intelligent mayor in 2012, namely UH engineering Professor Panos Prevadouros.
New mayor Peter Carlisle had many things going for him but it’s now clear that his massive blind spot with regard to fiscal harm that the black-hole-like costs of the rail transit system has overwhelmed his usually rational sensibilities. Indeed, back in 2010 many Carlisle voters foolishly believed that, once elected, a truly non-partisan Carlisle would commission an unbiased re-look at the transit plan with an eye towards determining just how much it’d actually cost to build, operate and maintain it.
Instead Carlisle apparently caved to his few big-labor supporters, including Oahu’s powerful carpenter’s union, and continues the fiction that his transit system will not go over-budget (again!) while not discouraging the disingenuity that rail transit will somehow reduce traffic – the latter a notion that even its in-the-know proponents have long dismissed as a wishful impossibility. Oh yes, I should mention Carlisle’s laudable new vision for Honolulu as a “Geneva of the Pacific” — as if a revenue-starved Honolulu sporting an under-utilized train, hamstrung city services and a failed sewer system fit this dream.
And I feel betrayed, if not de jure, certainly de facto. In 2010, I walked for Carlisle. I’ve paraded for Carlisle. I gave money to the 2010 Carlisle campaign — all to keep the leftist Caldwell out of office. Indeed, back in 2010, I actively encouraged many Panos supporters to vote for Carlisle instead so as to keep Caldwell out, assuring them that Peter was way too responsible not to undertake a serious and apolitical re-look at the transit plan once in office. And I wasn’t alone. Many other Carlisle voters agreed that an open-minded re-look was inevitable under the normally fiscally conservative Carlisle. But we were wrong.
So it’s my hope that in a three-way race, over-spenders Carlisle and Caldwell will divide the votes of the many here who continue to believe that governmental spending in Hawaii can continue willy-nilly until our state collapses. And that Panos will win.
In the immortal lyrics of The Who’s Peter Townsend, fiscally responsible voters better make sure that Honolulu doesn’t “get fooled again” — by the sadly flawed Peter Carlisle.