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Politics // Just Thoughts
Bob Jones

Cayetano, Caldwell And Rail

I am still a fan of rail transit for the future of our city – that check-for-burials court decision notwithstanding.

My recent visit to Vancouver enhanced my belief that a system of rail and bus and some boat with interuseable tickets is inevitable for metro-ocean-side survival.

We’ll need rail from Kapolei to at least down town, and eventually rail to Hawaii Kai, Mililani and Waianae.

Ben Cayetano disagrees. At age 73, he’s lost his future vision. Ben is a good person. Cantankerous. I guess that’s why one of his best buddies is our governor. Both like to tell off their critics. Me, too.

Ben is smart and fearless. He’s been the man against public workers unions, which often see their way as the only way. But his arrogant style helped bring Linda Lingle to Washington Place as the first Republican governor since Bill Quinn’s single elected term follow ing statehood.

We were tired of Democrats, the HGEA, UPW and HSTA running the show.

The powerhouse unions are dead set against Cayetano. He wanted to end mandatory contract arbitration. He’s not kissy-face with the public employee chiefs. He’s not kissy-face with many except (I’m guessing) his wife. But, yeah, basically I like the guy.

His dislike of rail seems to be because it’s architecturally unpleasant and expensive. OK. But his express bus lane alternative is crazy. Can you imagine one lane of King and Beretania reserved for buses? Or more buses competing for room on the H-1?

I’m sure Cayetano believes what he’s saying. He’s too honest to be using an anti-rail rant just to get elected. I don’t think he’d have had any interest in City Hall had it not been for waking up one morning, hating rail and deciding he’d made a mistake endorsing Peter Carlisle.

Carlisle is a disaster as mayor. Fewer than two years into his fill-out term most of us were wishing he’d go away. Now he goes away.

Kirk Caldwell is close to the unions, yes, but I rate him to be my perception of a professional city manager. He got crushed two years ago by his association with Mufi Hannemann, whom the voters had come to loathe for his “I’m more local than Neil” gaffe and not really deserved reputation as a bully.

Can Caldwell collect the 56 percent of primary votes he and Carlisle got versus 45 percent for Cayetano? Union and pro-rail money will assail Ben mercilessly. But he’ll get a gob of Republican votes – how odd, huh, for a lifelong liberal Democrat with lifelong liberal spending leanings. Now some Republicans love him!

I’m hoping the train eventually wins in court and in votes. If not, I predict we’ll live to regret it.

Historians would write: Cayetano and cohorts preyed on the government-can’t-work fears of the 2012 electorate. The federal money never came back.

Oahu strangled on its limited highway space.

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