Dick Dubanoski

Mayor’s Race Hinges On Rail Suit

Dick Dubanoski

Dick Dubanoski. Photo from Bob Jones

Here is how I see this year’s Honolulu mayoral election playing out, at least in the primary, to either outright elect someone or cause a two-man runoff.

If Ben Cayetano and his no-rail-three Randy Roth, Walter Heen and Cliff Slater prevail in their lawsuit to halt the rail project, Cayetano’s the favorite. If not, he’s pushing heavy a rock uphill: union opposition, union PAC money, union rail jobs.

That Cayetano wants to be mayor is a puzzler. He’s a big thinker and the mayor post is not bigthinker stuff. That his wife OK’d the run is a puzzler. Why have him, pushing 73, rushing out nights when there’s a hard rain or electric outage or a large sewer spill? Why does she want to go to every ethnic group’s dinners during the campaign?

Cayetano points out that he’d be the only mayor not interested in moving up. True, but that also means he could say “to hell with what you think; I’m not running for anything after this.”

He says he doesn’t want to be called a one-issue candidate, but he clearly is. What else would have drawn him out of retirement, to write a second book: Ben: The Mayor Years?

He says we could dedicate bus lanes to carry commuters. We could. But they eliminate car lanes. That was examined and found wanting. Elevated rail’s clearly best for us with our limited roadway space.

Yes, we could dump the rail project (and pay the huge default penalties) and use the money to repave roads and fix sewers. But Ewa people with jobs at Pearl Harbor, the airport and downtown will sit in traffic every day much longer than they do today.

I hope Oahu voters don’t get sidetracked by arguments on aesthetics or cost-overrun fear mongering. Keep focused on our long-term transport needs.

Dick Dubanoski has retired, and that’s our academic community’s loss.

Who’s he? He was dean of the UH College of Social Sciences for a record-breaking 23 years, psychology faculty for another 20, and co-author of a superb study of inschool corporal punishment worldwide.

As a rookie MidWeek columnist I did a piece on the people I’d invite into my cabinet if I were governor. One was Dick. He often joked that given my lack of popularity with the local establishment (do I scrape too close to the bone?), my endorsement was death for him ever rising higher.

He wanted a better undergraduate experience at UH Manoa. It’s still a commuter school. Students depart after classes for work or home. They don’t hang around with professors and colleagues and share after-class thoughts. It’s not Oxford, or even Dick’s undergrad school, Wesleyan University.

He stressed that a liberal education is the quintessential ingredient for dealing with change, developing social responsibility and learning skills for real-world settings. He says we need more critical thinking. Why do we believe what we believe?

I wished him to have been Manoa chancellor or UH vice chancellor for academic affairs. Or in my cabinet when I’m governor. I don’t want to be mayor because my wife likes me home to cook dinner.