Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, September 10, 2004

Mayoral candidates spar over landfill, land rights

 •  Thoroughness, sincerity sway undecided
 •  GOP rivals will debate on 'Olelo

By Johnny Brannon
Advertiser Staff Writer

Honolulu's top mayoral candidates differed last night over condominium conversions, landfills and leadership experience during a televised debate at the Hawai'i Theatre.

Duke Bainum said he opposes landfills in Kailua and Nanakuli, but like his opponents in the mayoral race, did not say where a new dump should be located.

Mufi Hannemann said a landfill is needed for the immediate future and that the city should provide benefits to the community near the site that's selected.

Former Mayor Frank Fasi said the city should ship its trash to "Third World countries" in Asia that would view it as a valuable gift.

Photos by Rebecca Breyer • The Honolulu Advertiser

Several hundred people packed the vintage building on Bethel Street to watch Duke Bainum, Mufi Hannemann and Frank Fasi spar in the 90-minute event, broadcast live on KHON 2.

All three candidates called for better maintenance of the city's roads and sewers and said they oppose legalizing same-sex marriage, but they differed over other issues. The crowd was largely partisan, and audience members repeatedly cheered for favored candidates.

Bainum said the city should retain its condominium leasehold conversion law, known as Chapter 38, while Hannemann said he supports efforts to repeal it.

The 1991 ordinance allows the city to force landowners to sell qualified condominium owners the fee interest in the land under their units and is popular with many people who want full ownership of the condos they live in.

But some landowners, including Kamehameha Schools and other large trusts that benefit Hawaiian children, say owners should be able to decide whether to sell their property.

Fasi said he supports owners' property rights unless they constitute an unfair monopoly over too much land but that he would leave the matter to the courts.

Honolulu's conversion law has been upheld by the Hawai'i Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. The City Council is considering a bill that would repeal the law.

Where to put landfill

The state has directed the council to decide by Dec. 1 whether to try to expand the Waimanalo Gulch landfill or set up a new one elsewhere. None of the candidates would say where a dump should be located.

Bainum said he did not want a landfill near Kailua or Nanakuli. He said at an earlier forum that he would "not support a new landfill anywhere on O'ahu, and I most certainly would not allow a landfill to be placed anywhere along the Wai'anae Coast."

He has also said that new technologies should be used to incinerate more rubbish and that it may be possible to ship other trash to a Mainland dump so that O'ahu would not need one.

But Hannemann questioned last night whether such plans were realistic. He said the city must reduce waste but will need a landfill for the immediate future. He said the city should provide benefits to the community near the site that's selected, calling it a matter of fairness. Bainum said that approach would be insulting to the affected community.

Fasi said the city should ship its trash to "Third World countries" in Asia that would view it as a valuable gift.

Among the questions posed to the candidates were several from television viewers. One raised the same-sex marriage issue, noting that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom issued marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples this year.

Fasi said flatly that he did not support marriage or any domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples.

'Honest change'

Frank Fasi, Mufi Hannemann and Duke Bainum discussed the issues — including landfills, the condominium leasehold conversion law and same-sex marriage — last night at the Hawaii Theatre.

Rebecca Breyer • The Honolulu Advertiser

Bainum said he does not support same-sex marriage, but that "I don't support discrimination in any manner" and would be open to domestic partnership benefits.

Hannemann said he has "always believed that marriage is sacrosanct between a man and a woman" and would not support same-sex marriage. But he also said he is sensitive to issues of discrimination and did not rule out recognition of domestic partnerships.

Hawai'i voters in 1998 approved a constitutional amendment that does not support same-sex marriages but does not ban recognition of domestic partnerships.

The California Supreme Court recently ruled that the 4,000 marriage licenses issued in San Francisco were invalid. But that city later sued the state's attorney general to seek a ruling on whether laws defining marriage as "between a man and a woman" are constitutional.

Bainum repeatedly called for "honest change" at City Hall and pledged to sever what he says is a link between illegal campaign contributions and city contracts.

Hannemann said Bainum has tried to mislead voters about illegal donations that went to Hannemann's campaign committee several years ago.

Hannemann has been required to forfeit $61,000 in contributions that exceeded the legal limit or were made under false names since 1996, and Bainum has often brought up the issue. Hannemann has not been accused of any wrongdoing regarding the contributions and said he did not knowingly accept illicit campaign money.

Fasi, who served as Honolulu mayor for 22 years before 1994, said he is more qualified than the others to be mayor. At one point, he turned the tables on KHON moderator Joe Moore, and demanded to know whether it were appropriate for Moore to call him "Mr. Fasi" rather than "Mayor Fasi." Moore considered whether that would create a biased atmosphere but soon relented and agreed that "Mayor Fasi" was the appropriate title.

The primary election will be Sept. 18. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the two with the most votes will face off in the general election on Nov. 2.

Bainum and Hannemann are considered the front-runners, and have spent a total of more than $4 million on the race, making it the most expensive in city history. Fasi has run a much quieter campaign that relies mostly on name recognition.

Bainum has spent more than $2.8 million, including $1.9 million he lent his campaign committee. Hannemann has spent more than $1.2 million.

Reach Johnny Brannon at jbrannon@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8070.