Stop the city parks scare tactics
If anyone needed their fix of political dramatics this week, Honolulu Hale was the place to be. The city's elected officials put on a show, even though it was one to be endured by worried audiences, not enjoyed.
The City Council ginned up a public hearing on Wednesday to frighten kids, parents and old people and get them convinced that cutting popular parks and recreation programs like Summer Fun is the only way the city can balance its budget if those meanies at the Legislature take their hotel room tax revenue.
Mind you, it's not going to be known until today how much (or even whether) the state intends to siphon from the county share of these tax dollars.
Secondly, there's no reason why such a big bite — $21 million — would need to come from parks specifically. We're talking about less than 1.2 percent of the city's $1.8 billion operating budget. There's nowhere else to get this?
Council members — especially Nestor Garcia, the budget chairman — know there are plenty of other places to find money.
But he shone the spotlight on the parks and recreation budget as if it alone would face the guillotine, precisely because this would whip up a froth of distress among taxpayers.
The intended audience for this tearjerker, of course, sat across the street in the Capitol. We still believe they can balance the budget without the hotel tax money.
Don't believe this show at City Hall. The Council has a lot more options for cutting expenses before they ever get near the parks department.
Its cynical leaders simply chose the most high-profile programs to threaten, even before it's known whether the budget submitted by Mayor Mufi Hannemann will have to be revised.