The State Of The City Rhetoric

We are fortunate to have a mayor who likes to talk about what he’s going to do for us taxpayers. Kirk Caldwell’s State of the City message delivered last week was his trademark combination of promises and campaign rhetoric, which has served him well over the years.

Former mayors Frank Fasi, Peter Carlisle and Mufi Hannemann also used the same strategy for re-election. Some worked, some did not, but the result was the same boring messages.

If you listen to Caldwell’s whole speech, you probably came away with a question:Who was he speaking to? Everyone will have a different opinion, I’m sure. I got the feeling he was going to use the same message to get more resources and funds out of the City Council in the next couple of weeks.

Some of these kinds of speeches are comical. The suggestion that the majority of the cuts to TheBus routes will be restored deserves a chuckle, since the routes were restructured to save the city money. So now, in a fit of generosity, the new mayor is going to restore most of the routes. Hopefully, this financial ping-pong won’t carry over into our vaunted multimillion-dollar rail system.

More attention was given to other strategies we’ve seen before, such as a promise to fix up Thomas Square. Remember how we fixed up Aala Park a while back? It now stands like a monument to urban renewal and a failed way to better manage the homeless problem. Guess it’s going to take a while for the taxpayers to realize that the homelessness problem in a resort city isn’t an urban renewal proposition.

For some reason, low-income housing and homelessness don’t sit well in a tourism-dominated economy.

Of course, the speech was technically a great success, and everyone should hope for the best – although there is the question of where all the money is going to come from to finance these upgraded initiatives.

Maybe if the taxpayers are lucky, the mayor’s next State of the City address will concentrate on a few things that have actually been accomplished, how much they cost and where the money is going to come from. We already know where their pay raises came from.

Hopefully the AARP will have helped the mayor’s team figure out how to make the City and County of Honolulu, as he said, more “age friendly.”