Mayor Kirk Caldwell just doesn’t get it. Or just doesn’t want to get it.
He’s allowed Ala Moana Park, which he correctly describes as Honolulu’s “Crown Jewel,” to become a dirty, dangerous place haunted by drug-addled bums and ranting lunatics who trash the place and frighten longtime recreational users who are not receiving what their taxes are supposed to be paying for.
He’s pretty much ignored all that, and has instead pushed hard for an extensive remodeling of the park to complement ridiculously priced luxury condominiums constructed across the street for wealthy transplants and absentee landlords who will illegally rent them to vacationers.
Meanwhile, most people who have enjoyed the park on a regular basis for many years just want him to keep the restrooms clean, pick up the trash, and establish an actual security presence rather than simply respond after a tragedy has already occurred.
But he said absolutely nothing after the latest tragedy, in which a young woman was abruptly pounced on by a babbling crazy and literally beaten senseless in broad daylight.
Police were nowhere to be seen and have yet to locate a suspect more than a week later.
It was a great opportunity to step up, show some leadership, declare that random violence against innocent women or anyone else will absolutely not be tolerated in Ala Moana Park, and announce plans for security improvements to make the park clean and safe.
Instead, just days after the brutal attack, Caldwell announced the latest fancy vision for remodeling the park, which won’t eliminate the coveted beachfront parking as a controversial earlier version proposed, but will add more than 200 more parking spots and include other changes and renovations.
“We are grateful for the passion the public has shown for Ala Moana Regional Park, which has resulted in a better master plan,” Caldwell said while studiously ignoring security concerns.
How much this plan will cost, whether luxury condo developers will pay for any of it, and how long it will take to implement, are anyone’s guess. Caldwell has already spent more than $1 million on consultants just to cook up the plan and present it, and that’s already taken more than three years.
He claims to be listening to the regular park users, but while pandering to developers and consultants he seems to be totally out of touch, or totally uncaring, about the deep frustration and anger about the unacceptable filth, neglect, and danger.