Thursday, March 15, 2012


Can a city that can’t maintain City Hall be trusted to maintain an elevated train line?

by Larry Geller

They can’t keep our roads in good condition. They can’t keep paint on the crosswalks, can’t keep sidewalks in good repair, they take years to fix broken bus stop shelters. They can’t keep the hot water running or the elevators in city-owned housing. That’s our City and County of Honolulu.

And now, Civil Beat reports, they haven’t even been maintaining City Hall. Check out reporter Michael Levine’s story Lead, Mold Contaminate Honolulu Hale (Civil Beat, 3/15/2012).

Civil Beat has included some photos and the entire 184 report along with the article.

Both the City and State are part of the low-maintenance culture. It’s a long tradition. Check out this story from 2007:

Nine of 35 elevators in several public housing projects — nearly 25 percent — have been out of service for months, resulting in long waits for elderly and disabled tenants and creating serious health and safety dangers at the facilities.

At Kalakaua Homes, one of two elevators serving hundreds of residents has been out of service since March 19.

[Honolulu Advertiser, Elevator parts are available after all, 6/20/2007]

The elevator situation is a state responsibility, but it is illustrative of the culture.

That article was by investigative reporter Jim Dooley (now investigating for the on-line Hawaii Reporter). Jim had no trouble locating some parts himself.

A national distributor of elevator parts told The Advertiser that it has nine of the replacement parts in stock, priced at $500 to $600 apiece.

Back to the city. Now, a report shows that at City Hall, it appears they have let the roof leak. The place is contaminated with mold, and lead is flaking off.

Yes, Virginia, the city of Honolulu does have a maintenance division. Here is a snip from their public buildings page:

To upkeep and maintain the City's facilities, lighting and equipment through our committed, reliable, and highly qualified personnel in a cost effective manner to ensure services are uninterrupted and resources are utilized strategically to continuously improve for future needs.
We Work to Service You!

Pro-Active, Prepared and ready to Perform with Pride

I love the “four Ps” at the end. I think four Ps usually stand for “Piss Poor Prior Planning.”

Someone should ask what will be different if The Train happens. There will be escalators and elevators, not to mention complicated train signaling devices and all sorts of train-things to maintain. The whole thing will be outside, subject to the elements.

Will they actually maintain The Train? Or will it rot and rust until one day it stops?  And then, will they have the parts to fix it?

These are not unreasonable questions, and I submit that the poor condition of City Hall just underlines the concern.


You hit the nail on the head!

I believe the contact the city has with the rail manufacturer includes maintenance for quite a few years.

Obviously, I'm not familiar with the contract. I wonder how much it includes -- for example, the elevators? We seem to do poorly with government-run elevators or elevator inspections. Just as an example.

City Hall, the school buildings, the sewers, the roads, hobbling-to-none symphony, ...if we're not going to upkeep these services, we could maybe have free university for local people. A much better investment in the future than rail which will only suck money from the bus system.
Having a hard time imagining the rail. Ask a mother of 3 how she is going to pick up all her children from maybe 2-3 different schools, walking from the stations, get them to after school programs on time and then do the grocery shopping (much less carry all the groceries on the rail), heaven forbid, one of children is a young preschooler who might get stuck in the train door. Or will she really be able to afford to patronize the anticipated businesses on the corridor buying dinner every night. Not to mention many children have food allergies now.

The train will be a horror show way behind the potential harm to the public caused by broken elevators and leaky roofs.

Most people think of "train wreck" as a metaphor. A real train wreck is not metaphorical.

It is piles of smoking, twisted metal and mangled, bleeding corpses.

I've seen how state and local government fails to maintain public property. I wouldn't ride their train if you paid me to, and I would discourage everyone I care about from riding it.

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