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That’s Privatization for You!

A message from the State Director regarding the recent Zipmobile Catastrophe on Oahu.

While they say hindsight is 20/20, foresight is key when charged with running a city. Sitting in traffic for 2 hours on Likelike Highway, Kaneohe bound from School Street to Kahekili Highway, gave me some time to think…Who dropped the ball?

According to a report on the radio, the Department of Transportation (DOT) was apologizing profusely for the tangled mess that had resulted from a malfunction with the Zipper Lane’s Zipmobile – a modern day wonder meant to be an answer to all of our traffic woes which had now turned life into a nightmare for the entire island of Oahu. As the radio report went on, it became clear that someone had dropped the ball. According to the DOT, per the radio report, they tried to replace the battery pack of the failed Zipmobile (which was apparently CANNIBALIZED from the OTHER ZIPMOBILE) only to find out that the battery packs from each of the 17-year-old Zipmobiles were bad.

At that moment, it seemed that maybe the Zipmobiles had either come to the end of their useful service life or were due for a major overhaul. What was troubling was the apparent lack of oversight and preventative maintenance on the part of the DOT. Surely the thousands upon thousands of commuters in gridlock had to have been thinking: Why is there no spare battery pack? And, why are both vehicle battery packs evidently failing at the same time?

Feeling my blood pressure rise and nearing the Kaneohe Fire Station, the thought suddenly occurred: this is a health and safety issue! How can we expect ambulances and other emergency services to fare in this chaos? Lives were literally at stake!

Beyond that, the personal and economic impact of this one day in traffic hell probably far outweighs the decision by the State to privatize the service in the first place. Private Contractors are notorious for cutting corners just to save a buck! They have no union oversight to ensure that workers have the tools necessary to seamlessly carry out services to the public. Having privatized the service via our tax dollars, now we have gotten hit twice! Our time has got to be worth something!

I’m not an economics guru, but I guess we could start to calculate the economic impact of this momentous blunder by first multiplying the average wage by the average number of hours spent in traffic and the number of commuters stuck, add in the gas wasted, and we come up with a probable figure and another problem: The Gas! We now have an environmental impact. The list goes on and on.

To sum it all up, who really dropped the ball? People, as citizens of this community, we have only ourselves to blame. It was under our watch that the service was privatized. That’s privatization for you!

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