After reading about all the contributions to politicians from rail project contractors, I am struck by the arrogance and contempt our public servants share towards those they have been elected to serve.

They don’t even seem to be embarrassed by the fact that this information has been made available to the public or at least made no serious attempts to conceal it.  Why?  Could it be that there is no accountability?

In most other cultures this would be at minimum considered scandalous, at worst criminal.  In Hawaii it seems to be another cost to the Paradise Tax we so willingly pay.


Large cement columns are among the first visible signs of the Honolulu rail project.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat


Who then comes to the rescue of the taxpayer?  One would think the elected officials themselves would be conscious of this sort of activity as being less than ethical and police themselves.

And perhaps that is the word we are looking for – conscience.  The project is already over budget.  It is late.  Ultimately, will it solve the problem it was designed to fix – that of reducing traffic congestion?

What I struggle with is the “Let them eat cake” attitude our government exhibits.  According to Civil Beat’s reporting, we are now up to $1.2 billion in unaccounted contributions.  If calculated as a cost to each resident of Oahu with a population of just over 953,000, this amounts to $1,259.18 per person.

Where is the public outcry?  Where is the indignation?  And in the end, will the project ever be completed?  We may just be looking at another attempt to confuse future archaeologists who come upon these concrete pylons and label them Oahu’s Stonehenge.  In the present however, we get to pay for other people’s largesse. Are you OK with that?

The path forward should include a very well conducted audit of what has transpired in terms of monies passed from contractors to politicians and what the results were.  In other words, what contracts were awarded to who and what sort of competitive bidding process was accomplished to ensure the taxpayer got the best deal?

Upon completion of the audit, those who benefited (read that campaign contributions or overcharging) should pay back their ill-gotten gain to the taxpayer.  This in lieu of criminal or civil charges being filed.

But who will be willing to have the political intestinal fortitude to raise this issue so that a corrective action or plan can begin?

If we as taxpayers and citizens continue to accept these practices by our public officials, then we deserve what we get.  But each occurrence only decreases our credibility as a modern society.  We continue down the path that makes us look like a Third World Country with corrupt government officials and graft being a way of business.

That isn’t what I put my life on line for when I wore a uniform and served in the armed forces.  I still believe in the precepts of our Constitution and the things we have worked for as a nation.

At the moment those ideals are only being paid lip service by our politicians.  Where is the substance?

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