Mayoral candidate Rick Blangiardi unveiled a 13-page, “90 Day Roadmap to Recovery” position paper designed to outline his thoughts on how to address current, lingering and future problems. The plan calls for new job descriptions for city officials, greater accountability and pledges to work cooperatively with state officials, the City Council and other critical officials should he be elected mayor on Nov. 3.
Blangiardi’s proposals cover a range of issues, including public health and safety in the era of COVID-19, Oahu’s economic recovery, housing, increasing city efficiency, oversight of the city’s troubled rail project and dealing with homelessness.
While many of the ideas lack specifics, Blangiardi told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Wednesday that the theme of his document is greater efficiency and accountability in addressing problems that, like the city’s troubled rail project, have seen critical changes in just the past two weeks.
Blangiardi, who is running against Keith Amemiya, insisted that one of the keys to crisis management is remaining “fluid” while adhering to fundamental principals such as accountability and oversight.
“I didn’t come down from the mountain with this carved in stone,” Blangiardi told the Star-Advertiser. “In crisis management, you need to expect the unexpected.”
In response, Amemiya said in a statement that, “For months, I’ve been pressing my opponent to share with voters his plan for Honolulu and we still have not learned much. It looks more like a plan to develop a plan that will do little to actually beat COVID. My opponent still hasn’t done the hard work of learning the city and figuring out what to do other than assembling his CEO friends to make a plan in February.
“For more than a year, I’ve been campaigning and talking with people in all communities across Oahu about their challenges and ideas,” Amemiya said. “We already put forward a recovery plan for Oahu and a housing for all plan. I’m ready to lead on Day One to actually get things done.”
Amemiya released his own “Recovery Plan” dated June 23.
With a dwindling, statewide tax base due to COVID-19, Blangiardi said he has no intention of expanding the city budget, but rather expects to adjust many job descriptions to deal with the fallout from the pandemic. This includes the appointment of a “full-time public health expert or physician to an advisory position to inform and guide City COVID-19 policies.”
Among his plans:
>> “Establish an economic recovery business roundtable made up of public and private stakeholders to reopen O‘ahu’s economy,” which would include coordinating “with state and federal agencies.”
>> “Identify local/national/international experts with first-hand success reopening economies safely and quickly (preferably from communities with shared challenges akin to O‘ahu, i.e., tourism-based economy, national/international flights, etc.”
>> “Work with the Governor, Legislature and City Council to improve mortgage and rental assistance programs for residential and commercial properties.”
>> Provide longer-term child care options by working with providers and resource agencies.
>> “Pledge to work in close cooperation with the City Council on all matters related to COVID-19 mitigation and economic recovery/revitalization, to integrate and implement like-minded initiatives, to capture challenges unique to Districts, to avoid and reduce redundant and contradictory efforts, and to deliver more efficient services to the people of Honolulu.”
>> “Create a dedicated City grant-writing team to attract additional private and federal funds to supplement the City budget. The cost of a few positions will yield a substantial return on investment.”
Other Blangiardi ideas include:
>> “Reviewing existing City audits across all departments for which responses are outstanding and/or unresolved, including the January 2020 audit of the Department of Planning and Permitting, and establish timelines for resolution and completion.”
>> Improve “communication and working relationships between the City and HART. … It is unacceptable for the City and HART to not be fully aligned.”
“The challenge of this job is to be a really strong collaborator,” Blangiardi said. “What’s new is the leadership and that’s what I own.”