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Editorial | On Politics

Carlisle now has different kind of jury to convince


People are shot and the perps are punished. Old women get mugged and thugs go to jail. Little girls are hurt by their parents and we lock the parents up for a long time.

That’s the righteous world of prosecutors. It is the world of certainty that Mayor-elect Peter Carlisle and his nominated but not-yet-confirmed managing director Doug Chin have left to come to City Hall.

Last week it was a time of eye-rolling by both Carlisle and the general public, as he and defeated mayoral candidate Kirk Caldwell sniped about a transition area for Carlisle.

This is a minor point — but as prosecutor, Carlisle was proud of never backing down, not making deals and arguing for the toughest sentence he could get.

Now Carlisle and Chin are in the world of politics.

President Lyndon B. Johnson had this recommendation about working with a legislative body: "There is but one way for a president to deal with Congress, and that is continuously, incessantly and without interruption.

"If it is really going to work, the relationship has got to be almost incestuous."

Perhaps Carlisle and Chin won’t need that much vigor, but the pair will need to learn how to get things done while dealing with a Council rooting for the Council to win, not the mayor.

Order No. 1 is to assemble a Cabinet. The usual way to do this is to come up with some sort of commission that accepts applications, screens candidates and assembles a list. As of last week that whole part of transition was still up in the air. But announcing a process for naming a Cabinet is a good indication that you are ready to get to work.

Picking Chin was easy: All Carlisle had to do was go down the hall and knock on his deputy’s door at the prosecutor’s office. Finding another set of garbage, energy, building and parks experts is a bit more difficult. And don’t forget the municipal bandmaster.

Order No. 2 for Carlisle is to get his Cabinet approved by the Council. Then we will see how well Carlisle can negotiate.

Hint: "I don’t negotiate with terrorists or Council members" is not the right strategy.

All that is just to get up and running; next comes ownership of Honolulu’s many problems.

All those potholes, fumbled refuse plans and mounting transit costs just became Carlisle’s potholes, refuse schemes and transit plans.

Finally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is at the head of the line looking for Carlisle’s new multimillion-dollar sewage plan.

Attorney Carlisle is finding out that all across the city, the jury is out on his mayorship and it will take more than a closing argument to win.

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


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