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As memories of APEC dim, railing returns to rail, debt

By David Shapiro

LAST UPDATED: 2:02 a.m. HST, Nov 21, 2011

The last gasp of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit starts us off as we "flASHback" on the week's news that amused and confused:

» President Barack Obama and local boosters declared APEC a rousing success, but many residents and tourists were put off by the sight of armed troops, Humvees and concrete barriers on the streets. We looked like the Geneva of the Pacific after a detour through Baghdad.

» Though the event came up short of the projected 20,000 delegates, 2,000 journalists and $123 million in economic stimulus, organizers promised long-term benefits. As usual, we have to wait for heaven for our reward.

» Gov. Neil Abercrombie said APEC established Hawaii as the "anchor of the Asia-Pacific region." Businesses shut out from customers felt like anchors only in the sense of getting thrown overboard.

» Mayor Peter Carlisle said his only criticism of APEC is that Secret Service agents frowned too much. He never did understand jobs that require actually paying attention.

» Slack-key artist Makana sang an Occupy-themed protest song for 45 minutes while Obama and other world leaders ate dinner, but said the president didn't seem to notice. That solves the old Zen riddle about the sound of one hand clapping.

» Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's photo op with the Hong Kong delegate was interrupted when a torchbearer wearing only a loincloth streaked behind her. She must be tired of getting upstaged by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

» Obama couldn't resist stopping traffic one last time by motorcading to his departing flight in the middle of the morning rush. He loves the power of being the cause of gridlock here instead of the casualty of it in Washington.

» In non-APEC news, a report said Hawaii's state government has the nation's fourth-highest debt at $26,693 per capita, compared with a national average of $13,754. And those who ran it up expect us to pay them a debt of gratitude at the polls.

» A majority of the City Council wants the city transit authority to delay Ansaldo Honolulu's $1.4 billion contract to build and operate rail cars until the Italian company fixes its financial woes. Some think the fix was in on this deal long ago.

» Economist Paul Brewbaker said the city's property tax exemptions are a "gobbledygooky hodgepodge with seemingly no rational pattern." He needs to be more specific; that could describe almost any city program.

And the quote of the week ... from Dennis Young of Hawaii Tents and Events on how APEC money will trickle down: "My guys are going home with some fat paychecks, while their wives are ticked because they've been working so hard. So momma's going to go out and buy some stuff to keep the family happy." From globalism to Bubba-nomics.

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