The commentary below was published in the Honolulu Advertiser on May 20, 2003

Blame Mayor Harris for poor road maintenance

Our roadways on Oahu are getting so bad nowadays that everyone is starting to grumble.

In a recent Honolulu Advertiser article "Budget cuts hurt road repairs" Mike Leidemann writes: "Hit hard by budget cuts imposed by the City Council, the administration has had to reduce the number of roads that can be resurfaced or rebuilt every year." This statement is just plain wrong. The truth is, it's the Harris administration that has dropped the ball when it comes to road maintenance.

Data provided by the city Department of Facilities Maintenance shows that during the eight years preceding the Harris administration, an average of 250 lane miles of roads were resurfaced annually. The data shows a steep drop off that coincides with the election of Jeremy Harris as mayor. This downward trend continues until reaching an all-time low of just 35 lane miles of road resurfacing done during the fiscal year 1999-2000. See Chart

But this dramatic drop in road maintenance was not caused by budget cuts imposed by the City Council as Leidemann writes. In fact, year after year the administration has failed to spend the money provided by the Council for road upkeep. According to Council Chairman Gary Okino there is presently $32 million of encumbered funds already in the pipeline for work that hasn't been done.

Let's call a spade a spade, Jeremy Harris was never interested in road maintenance. He's been busy with all those glamorous construction projects designed to promote his political ambitions. Let's face it, you can't have a grand opening celebration for a road-resurfacing project.

To ignore core city services such as road maintenance and then turn around and spend millions of tax dollars on fancy projects designed to promote one's political career, is a betrayal of the taxpayers trust. It is bad government and it is the reason the city is in such bad financial shape today. Your property taxes are going up and you can expect an even bumpier ride on our city roadways thanks to Jeremy Harris.

John Pritchett

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