Friday, January 14, 2011

Hawaiian politicians and friendliness

We attended Governor Benjamin Cayetano's inauguration on the grounds of the Iolani Palace. We enjoyed the pomp, color, music, warm sun, and gentle breezes. After the ceremony, we ate lunch on the grass and were interviewed by CNN. The attention paid to us overwhelmed us. We arrived in Honolulu a mere 48 hours before the inauguration and, after reading the general invitation in the newspaper, decided to go.
During his 8 years as governor, we had the opportunity to interview him several times for the Main Line Life newspaper. His press aid notified us every time Governor Cayetano took part in an "open to the public and/or press" event during our times in Waikiki. Every time. The introduction of Miss Hawaii to the press overfilled the room and Governor Cayetano posed with us and Miss Hawaii with a copy of the Main Line Life in his hands. He knew the value of good public relations and the importance of tourism to the Hawaiian economy.
Governor Cayetano was succeeded by Linda Lingle. She too was in office for 8 years. We tried at least once in each of her 8 years to get an interview with her. Our requests were denied. Each time. Always politely. Usually with "the Governor is off island." We left our phone number, said that our time was flexible, and never heard again. And the Hawaiian economy, like that of all the other 49 states, is suffering. And it is suffering a lot. The statewide education system is pathetic. Those who are lucky enough to graduate from the various private schools in Hawaii attain success. The others? Who knows.
Mayor of Honolulu Jeremy Harris knew that tourism sparks the economy. He cleaned up some of the deteriorating aspects of Waikiki. He put in waterfalls, plants, flowers, platforms for hula dancers, palm trees in the median strip of Ala Moana Blvd., water fountains, and interesting sculptures. Mayor Harris, too, knew the value of publicity and made the time to see us and answer our questions for publication in the Main Line Life. He crossed the street to greet us whenever he saw us. Upgraded Waikiki saw an increase in tourism and prompted hotels and store owners to upgrade also.
Mayor Mufi Hahnemann who succeeded Mayor Harris, was overwhelmed by the job. At the first press conference that we attended we asked "how are you going to accomplish your plans without raising taxes?" His answer, "this session is only for press questions." No one in the press picked up our theme. Mayor Mufi had a lot of problems - a deteriorating water distribution system, a highway system that was rife with potholes, a sewage system that overflowed or leaked into the ocean, a traffic nightmare, and, unfortunately, an economy that went bad. The only time thats he spoke to us were at the press conferences for the Pro Bowl. "I like to attend the sports events. I get press coverage then," he said.
We have not been back to Hawaii (after 35 trips) since there is a new governor and a new mayor. Maybe next year.

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