Friday, June 20, 2008

As Hawaii Struggles with its Oil Dependence, Governor Chooses Gas Guzzler Over Hybrid

“What were they thinking?” we often wonder as we leave a movie. (We asked it for days after “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.”) We’re asking the same thing now that the Governor’s office has chosen a 12 mpg luxury sport SUV as her vehicle for the last years of her term.

The Governor’s chief of staff says the “thinking” part came down to “payback,” alleged savings in the monthly lease and room for security --- as if security can’t fit into a hybrid. Said Barry Fukunaga (former director of the Department of Transportation, BTW):

“The reality is the governor only drives a little over 400 miles a month. There wasn’t going to be any real payback for the cost of the (hybrid) vehicle. Unfortunately, we were unable to go with the hybrid, which would have been nice.”

"Nice" would have been selecting a symbol and showing leadership in prudence and conservation. Selecting the slightly higher-cost hybrid would have made a statement about changing old habits as gas passes $4.50 per gallon on Oahu and $5 on the neighbor islands.

Assessing the Legacy

What will Hawaii citizens remember about Lingle’s leadership during this protracted energy crisis? Will it be the highly publicized Clean Energy Initiative, or will they remember that the Governor and her bodyguards drove around in a luxury SUV -- and only 400 miles a month, at that?

Until this week, we thought the Governor's signature was assured on the solar water mandate legislation, but after this, you have to wonder. C'mon, Governor Lingle: Sign the bill and unsign the SUV lease. Do the right thing.


Anonymous said...

We don’t need a “symbol,” we need a LEADER. Too bad Lingle has failed in both respects. But I’m glad the governor is saving the state some money.

Doug Carlson said...

Thanks for the comment, tunni. The state saves a few bucks by leasing the guzzler, but it squanders greater leadership value, as you note.

Palolo lolo said...

Gee,you'd think the Cutter family of dealers would offer the state a deal

Anonymous said...

If you look at the numbers - is it worth paying $6,000 more A YEAR for leasing a hybrid? They were being responsible by looking at the TRUE COST of the vehicle. I think that this was a symbol of being careful with taxpayers money. Because of battery life, dealers won't lease out hybirds at reasonable rates - that's just a fact.

Doug Carlson said...

One might argue that the Department of Education is being responsible by cutting back on school books for all students, but that's would be crazy. Similarly, it's irresponsible to lease a 12 mpg vehicle -- period. If a hybrid isn't available to meet the State's needs (and one surely is), then at least show some sensitivity to the oil and gas price crisis we're in and choose a car with better mileage! The Governor's office had blinders on when it agreed to this lease, and the vast majority of the scores of comments on the Star-Bulletin's website agree.