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LeBron has cautionary tale for Hannemann

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There was a pro basketball player who switched teams a while back; you might have heard about it.

When LeBron James announced he was leaving Cleveland to play with some of his friends in Miami, many of the remarks were about opportunism, not loyalty.

Of course LeBron didn’t help himself by being the poster boy for embattled Cleveland for seven years and then leaving his boyhood home without any more than saying he "had to think of what was best for LeBron."

The LeBron public relations factory then ginned up an entire hour on ESPN for LeBron to talk about what this meant for LeBron. For those not living in Miami it was a another cautionary tale of sports excess.

A new phrase entered the vocabulary: "LeBron Fallout."

The phrase may have some relevancy in Hawaii with one of the state’s biggest basketball fans.

Before LeBron made his announcement, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann sent out a message on Twitter: "As a huge basketball fan, I’m waiting with excitement to hear LeBron James’ decision tomorrow. Where do you think he’ll be headed?"

While that was quickly answered, there is another question: Does Hannemann have his own "LeBron Fallout" problem?

On Tuesday Hannemann is set to leave his City Hall post two years early. That is not a shock; he said when he ran for re-election that he might bail.

He becomes "former Mayor Hannemann" because he is running for governor and state law precludes you running for another office from a safe seat. The state constitutional amendment was passed because establishment Democrats back in 1978 were fed up with another Honolulu mayor—political maverick Frank Fasi—running for governor from his safe municipal base.

Hannemann’s opponents have hollered that Hannemann should stay put to save the train, much like LeBron was fixing to save Cleveland.

"The criticism he’s getting is rightly deserved," Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, the GOP candidate told me recently.

"You are putting rail at great risk, for what reason? I don’t buy this, that he has to go to the next level to make sure the project gets done," Aiona said.

Democrat Neil Abercrombie also warns of the uncertainty of Hannemann handing off the Honolulu Hale helm.

IBEW union supporters of Abercrombie chimed in saying, "The working-class voters are still waiting for jobs the rail was supposed to bring."

If Hannemann wins the governorship and LeBron finally gets a championship, then they made the right choice. If they lose, then they are chumps.

The only difference is that LeBron will still have a team in 2011, but Hannemann will just be a "former mayor."


Richard Borreca writes on politics on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Reach him at


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