Monday, March 25, 2013


Honolulu throwing money as well as cold asphalt into pothole repairs

As citizens, we should not set expectations so low that the city administration can meet them. Why not push for Singapore-quality streets and highways in Honolulu? Does it cost more or less to do things right?(quoting myself for a change)

A culture of poor maintenance that needs to be changed

Both the City of Honolulu and the State of Hawaii just don’t believe in maintenance, a failing that goes beyond roads. The issue is easy to demonstrate, but will probably require a difficult cultural change to reverse.

Putting roadwork aside for a moment:

●   46 out of the city’s fleet of 160 Handi-Vans were out of service in mid-2012 (City admits Handi-Van problems as Council, riders vent, Star-Advertiser, 8/31/2012)

●   I’ve run stories about the Chinatown bridge railing neglected and crumbling (9/22/2010). The bridge has yet to be repaired.

Chinatown Bridge[3]

●   Mayor Hannemann took the tops off of trellises in Chinatown and left the posts to rust. Lights are broken and never repaired.


●   The state failed to maintain elevators for years, and it took reporter Jim Dooley to locate parts they said were unavailable:

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.

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

Even after Dooley located a vendor with the needed parts in stock, the state said it could take three months to complete repairs.

From the same article:

Four of six elevators at Kuhio Park Terrace are out of service.

●   The state undertook repairs of failed hot water systems at Mayor Wright in 2011, but only after an AP story brought the abominable state of repairs to national attention.

Mayor Wright's hot water systems began breaking down in 2002, causing residents to sometimes boil water to compensate, which raises electricity bills, takes time and isn't safe.

''As the landlord of these properties, the state isn't dedicating enough resources to keep them in good shape,'' said Rep. Karl Rhoads, D-Kakaako-Downtown.

[Maui News (AP), State to fix hot water at public housing, 3/1/2011]

It wasn’t just hot water. Deteriorating walls and ceiling and rat infestations were among problems that caused residents to sue the state to get badly needed repairs.

●   The Hannemann administration apparently believed in prayer rather than repairs. This article includes pictures of a broken bus stop shelter and  weeds breaking up a sidewalk.

●    UH chronic neglect of roof leaks at Hamilton Library was both legendary and sad.

by Larry Geller

saPictures of potholes may or may not make good news. They’re simply not very photogenic. Today’s Star-Advertiser coverage of Honolulu’s pathetically maintained roads does confirm, though, that the city has not followed best practices. See the bottom of this article for street-view pictures of a place that has a similar climate and beautifully kept streets: Singapore.

It’s reasonable, I suggest, to question how responsible our city government has been with our tax money and to question whether they should now be allowed to simply throw a large amount of dough into the same hole without first reforming their inadequate methodology.

The paper reports on a 2005 audit:

The audit found that DFM failed to fully meet 22 of 24 road maintenance best practices.

Its road maintenance division kept poor records and relied on workers in the field to make repair judgment calls, the report found. The division had quality repair materials, but workers hastily repaired potholes with what's called a "grip-and-rip" technique, where potholes were filled and compacted with a shovel.

[Star-Advertiser, Roadwork practices slammed in '05 audit, 3/25/2013]

This goes beyond neglect to incompetence in government administration. More:

… the report singled out Hannemann's predecessor, former Mayor Jeremy Harris, for diverting road workers to other tasks — including at least 5,600 road maintenance-worker hours spent helping on the popular public "Sunset on the Beach" events.

Singapore—similar climate but pristine roads

I’d like to share a couple of pictures snatched from Google Earth of the streets in Singapore. Please click on the pictures for larger.

The long gray stripe in each picture is the path of the Google Street View camera, not actually on the road.


Singapore 2

Why Singapore? They are very close to the equator, so the climate is somewhat similar to Honolulu’s. They get rain, they are pounded by sunlight. Yet their roads are in immaculate condition.

I verified this via email to an entrepreneur I know who is living there.

In the photos, note that they stripe curbs and have a double-yellow line for visibility. White paint is in good condition. The photos I selected were from two random points on the island, not from the city center. Wherever you look in urban Singapore, the streets are in great shape.

Why not Honolulu? How about spending some money to bring experts over here who know how to do it? Maybe even hire one.

As citizens, we should not set expectations so low that the city administration can meet them. Why not push for Singapore-quality streets and highways in Honolulu? Does it cost more or less to do things right?


I'll be documeting who gets on the GMO buss at the State Capitol.

So the GMO business illegally occupying Hawaiian government lands is whining about access to water? Or is the ragular farms?

If it is the GMO then we have to watch for discriminatory treatment to their needs. If this legislature decides to accommodate their ʻneedsʻ, that is unconstitutional. Funny how no one listens when the Hawaiian needs water. Look what was done to Randy Rego on Kauai as one example and the money he spent on a lawyer that was probably in the pocket of the developer to throw his case.

Somehow I'm reminded of that really old clip from "The Simpsons" where Mr. Burns is running for office and eats the mutant three-eyed fish.

Somehow I'm reminded of that really old clip from "The Simpsons" where Mr. Burns is running for office and eats the mutant three-eyed fish.

I would be interested in a comparison of Singapores accountability practices vs Honolulu's which appear to be nonexistent...perhaps that is the difference as to why things work.

As I understand it road maintenance problems began when Harris combined the department of public works with the department of planning. By combining divisions and city departments Harris was able to cockroach monies from road repair and maintenance to projects like Hanauma Bay beautification.

Honolulu is, outside of the parts of town where important people live and work, a big fat stinking slum. Mayors who retire rich after careers of building fake waterfalls and bronze statues of hula girls while letting everything that matters rot away into decrepitude. God help the poor souls in the public housing projects. The problem is a political culture where, even more than in the rest of the country, you need to be a craven and self-aggrandizing fool to get ahead -- and, obviously, a witless electorate that keeps the system going year after year. Maybe statehood needs to be reconsidered. Could federal rule or even martial law (again) be any worse than what we have now?

I'm a small.sealcoat/pothole contractor. Three weeks ago I sent a low-cost pothole repair proposal where I suggested an expedient solution for handling what amounts to decades of neglect in management for handling this problem to the Mayor by email and have not received so much as a reply confirming or acknowledging receipt.

I don't know quite what to suggest. Changing hats, in my day job, our organization sent a question to the Mayor and eventually received an unsigned and poorly constructed answer.

I'd suggest a phone call to his office, at least, to verify that they received your proposal. If you would like to say more about it here, that would be very welcome also.

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