Oahu residents, who are infuriated with former Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris over the deplorable condition he left the city in after 10 years as mayor (1994 to 2004), are surprised Mr. Harris continues to receive such positive attention on a national scale. (He was a featured speaker at Metropolis’s Tropical Green, on Feb. 9 to 10, 2006, in Miami, Florida)
Mr. Harris ignored repair and maintenance of city infrastructure in favor of his “pet” construction projects that were not necessary to residents’ safety, sanitation, or security. That led to the dramatic deterioration of the city infrastructure during his 10 years in office. Hawaii roadways were rated the worst in the nation in 2003, and his deplorable lack of management of the sewer systems landed Honolulu City & County under a federal consent decree. Mr. Harris continued to raid the city sewer fund by more than $100 million to fund his “vision” for the city, even when his administration was announcing that costs of the sewer system repairs would be in the billions of dollars. This pattern of neglect of basic maintenance also led to the Sierra Club filing a lawsuit against the city over the condition of the sewer system and the dozens of raw sewage spills a year that came as a result.
Harris spent $1 billion above ground in Waikiki, planting trees, building statutes and waterways, changing light fixtures, and hosting “Brunch on the Beach” and “Sunset on the Beach” parties at taxpayer expense, but not $1 below ground on repairing aging sewer lines. This led to the second largest sewer dump in Hawaii’s history—the largest in 20 years—with 48 million gallons of raw sewage poured into the Ala Wai on March 24, as city crews struggled for 4-days to fix the force main pump on the brink since 1994. Beaches in Waikiki were closed for a week—in other parts of the island beaches are still closed. Oliver Johnson, a local mortgage broker who came into contact with the contaminated water, died four days later from a combination of flesh eating bacteria and organ failure. Two other people have contracted serious bacteria infections and have not recovered.
You’re making a hero out of the wrong guy! Jeremy Harris caused more environmental damage than any mayor has ever dreamed of doing in just ten years. He closed lanes to plant trees so he could win personal awards on the main thoroughfares into and out of the most populous areas of our island thereby causing traffic to come to a complete stop during rush hours. He thought only of himself for all those years and left the taxpayers of Honolulu saddled with a huge backlog of street and infrastructue maintenance and since he had robbed the water and sewer funds to pay for his projects, he left us a budget that was in the red by many millions of dollars. We will spend most of the next generation paying for these oversights and trying the get our city back into a functioning mode once again while picking our way through potholes and spilling sewage.
During his 10 years as Mayor of Honolulu, Jeremy Harris ignored and neglected Honolulu’s infrastructure, and focused on cosmetic projects that would make him look good and promote his political ambitions. I suggest that editors of Metropolis do a little research. All you need to do, for example, is go to either one of Honolulu’s daily newspapers and enter the word “sewage” or “roads.”
I’d suggest you read online issues of the Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. At this very moment Waikiki, a premier tourist destination, sits surrounded by raw sewage. The Ala Wai Canal, one of Waikiki’s natural boundaries, has been polluted by nearly 50 million gallons of raw sewage during the past week due to a failure of Waikiki’s aging and delapidated sewer system. Heavy rains have flushed much of that sewage out through a yacht harbor and onto the beaches of Waikiki and adjoining neighborhoods. Waikiki’s beaches are closed due to contamination.