Lori Kahikina

Playing Hide-the-facts At City Hall

Lori Kahikina

Lori KahikinaCity & County of Honolulu photo from Bob Jones

Whoever wins the mayor’s race three weeks from now, one thing is certain: Peter Carlisle will be gone at noon Jan. 2.

Also certain is that his press secretary Louise Kim McCoy and his Design and Construction Department director Lori Kahikina will be looking for jobs.

After examining their recent handling of the Waikiki Natatorium issue, I say good.

One thing I detest is public officials playing hide-the-facts in their dealings with journalists. And the emails that flew around City Hall in August and September about plans for the Natatorium were filled with cynical fact hiding.

Reporters from KITV were asking what happened to the environmental impact statement being done by the city because former Mayor Mufi Hannemann talked of tearing down the structure while Gov. Neil Abercrombie seemed to be working with Carlisle to keep it, maybe as a beach volleyball court.

If the EIS was cancelled, as reporter Catherine Cruz had heard, then obviously the tear-down idea was cancelled, too. So the city minions began a flurry of emails on what to say. It was very dicey stuff. One constituency wants the natatorium made into more beach. Another wants it refurbished.

So Carlisle, Kahikina and McCoy conferred and came up with this (quoting a McCoy email): “Cruz asked if the natatorium EIS was cancelled. We agreed that … it was better to say the EIS is currently on hold while state and city discussions continue.”

This is how Save Kaimana Beach Coalition would like to see the natatorium area

This is how Save Kaimana Beach Coalition would like to see the natatorium areaPhoto from Save Kaimana Beach Coalition

Then what McCoy told Cruz Aug. 21 was just that “the EIS is not cancelled.”

Nothing about the “on hold” part. Hey, if she didn’t ask the exact right question, give her a not-quite-right answer! Nobody higher up told McCoy “that’s not being totally truthful.”

An EIS makes sense to me. How can you make a learned decision on future use without one? I agree with Friends of the Natatorium vice president Donna L. Ching that tearing it down might have conse quences for adjoining beaches. Or maybe an EIS would say “no problems.”

My point is that too much is being quietly decided here between the governor and the city. We need more information so we can make up our minds. I sense the governor wanting to say, “Here’s what we’re going to do, now get behind me on this.” And Carlisle saying “OK.”

McCoy and Kahikina didn’t want to say the EIS was on indefinite hold because that’s like saying it’s been cancelled. If they worked for HART, they’d be saying “the rail guideway construction has not been cancelled.”

McCoy is an ex-reporter and knows better than to fudge the facts. I’ll be interested to see who wants to hire those two after Jan. 2.