We’ll re­mem­ber

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - COMMENTARY - Arthur War­ren

Ku­dos to our Big Is­land state se­na­tors for their op­po­si­tion to the Honolulu rail bailout, Se­nate Bill 4 (Tri­bune-Her­ald, Aug. 27).

Sen. Rus­sell Ru­d­er­man was es­pe­cially vig­or­ous in his de­fi­ance to the rul­ing party “fat cats” on Oahu who fa­vor forc­ing neigh­bor is­land res­i­dents to help pay for Honolulu’s mas­sive folly. Rail pro­po­nents say tourists, via an in­crease in the state room tax, will pay for a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the bailout.

While the vis­i­tor count is up, tourists are spend­ing less — a lot less per capita. The high point in an­nual vis­i­tor spend­ing was in the late 1980s when $18.3 bil­lion, in to­day’s money, was spent by about 6 mil­lion tourists yearly. Fore­casts project $16.2 bil­lion to be spent by 9.1 mil­lion vis­i­tors for 2017 (Star-Ad­ver­tiser, Aug. 27).

Sadly, Big Is­land state rep­re­sen­ta­tives — save one, Rep. Chris Todd — are in fa­vor of in­di­rectly in­creas­ing the cost of liv­ing on the Big Is­land by chas­ing away tourists and their spend­ing, via higher room taxes. The more vis­i­tors spend on rooms, the less they will spend at Big Is­land eater­ies and var­i­ous tourist at­trac­tions.

For Rep. Joy San Bue­naven­tura to say, “I don’t like the fact that this has be­come a neigh­bor is­land ver­sus Oahu dis­pute,” is ex­traor­di­nar­ily disin­gen­u­ous.

Peo­ple to Ms. San Bue­naven­tura: It is the neigh­bor is­lands against the tyranny of Oahu.

The rail project is an Oahu en­deavor. The peo­ple of Honolulu voted for it. Make them pay for it. And this is not the worst of it. Oahu has a fed­eral con­sent de­gree out­stand­ing to come up with $5 bil­lion to up­grade their sewage sys­tem by 2020. Should the neigh­bor is­lands be taxed ex­tra to pay for Oahu’s sewage mit­i­ga­tion? Big Is­land state rep­re­sen­ta­tives might think so, based on their no­tion that Big Is­lan­ders should as­sist in the rail fi­asco.

When the royal fam­ily moved the cap­i­tal of the monar­chy from La­haina to Honolulu, the neigh­bor is­lands be­came the “stepchil­dren” of Oahu and are treated as such.

To our trai­tor­ous state rep­re­sen­ta­tives who sup­port the heav­ier bur­den of big gov­ern­ment on the backs of Big Is­lan­ders who are just barely mak­ing it: You have be­trayed your con­stituents’ trust in or­der to “make nice” with the rich and pow­er­ful on Oahu in the fur­ther­ance of your petty po­lit­i­cal as­pi­ra­tions. Have you no shame?

Come next elec­tion time, the peo­ple will re­mem­ber your treach­ery.

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