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from: LWV Cincinnati area Voter - April 2007

One great benefit of travel is to visit other League of Women Voter organizations. This winter, I had the opportunity to visit Hawaii and of course, LWV Hawaii. After contacting the office, they invited me down to experience the Aloha spirit of the members and help mail the Voter newsletter. I felt right at home, putting labels on the Voter and talking about the Voter services they offer to Oahu residents.

As you might expect, they were up to their shirtsleeves in transportation, housing, environment, and civil liberties issues. While Hawaii may seem a paradise to the vacationing mainland visitor, there are many problems to address. One issue that was a “hot” button at my visit was the Honolulu mayor’s new transit plan.

Honolulu faces increasing traffic congestion and one solution would be to build a light rail system. Unlike the LWVCA position in favor of light rail in Cincinnati, the League of Honolulu took a position against light rail. Opposition points included the belief that the rail would actually add to traffic congestion, place increased tax burden on citizens, be expensive to maintain, add to noise pollution and would do nothing to aid the transportation of goods and emergency services.

The LWV Honolulu supported an elevated highway that would cost less, provide for trucks, buses and emergency vehicles, allow faster transit times and provide bus service into neighborhoods where people live, be less expensive and would receive Federal Highway dollars.

Unlike Cincinnati, the light rail plan does not come to the voters for approval. While I was there, the Mayor and City Council adopted the light rail and there was an immediate increase in the excise tax. While an excise tax is not the same as a retail sales tax, the business will pass the tax to the consumer in a higher cost of goods.

The League is a strong presence in the halls and offices of the Hawaii state government. Members of the LWV Hawaii treated me to an insider’s tour of the Hawaii State House. We were greeted with Aloha in all of the offices especially in the mailroom where the League of Women Voters of Hawaii have their own mailbox. As the legislative session was just beginning, groups were performing music and hula dances in the rotunda and groups were bustling by to see legislators. Even in this festive atmosphere we had time to check out hearings and committee meetings.

Visiting the LWV Honolulu and LWV Hawaii State League was very interesting. If you are visiting another city, please take advantage of visiting a local league office. It is fun and inspiring to see the spirit of the League at work.

— Sherrie Heyse

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