Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Leaving “Lease-Gate” Behind for Some Travel

• June 26 Update: Oil price passes $140, a new record.
The more things change, the more they don’t. Our last word for now on the lease of a fuel-inefficient (12 mpg) SUV for Governor Linda Lingle’s use takes us back to December 2002, when the new Governor was deciding what to drive.

A Star-Bulletin story noted then that Governor Ben Cayetano had been criticized for selecting a 1999 Lincoln Navigator (above) for his official vehicle because of its fuel inefficiency -- only 12 miles a gallon. (Now, that’s ironic!)

Lingle said she wouldn’t use Cayetano’s Navigator, and her communications director explained: “She is simple in her tastes, not flashy. The material things just don’t interest her. I would call her low-maintenance.”

Maybe the Governor’s tastes haven’t changed, but her staff hasn’t done her any favors by selecting a luxury sport SUV, the Infinity QX56. With the average price of regular gas in Hawaii at $4.40 a gallon, the Governor would have set a positive example in the fight to reduce Hawaii’s dependence on oil had she selected a hybrid vehicle, as Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann has. Instead, the Administration has defended its selection because the Infinity costs less than the hybrid allegedly under consideration.

Maybe “Lease-Gate” will blow over as the Administration begins an austerity program, but let’s hope other opportunities for on-the-street leadership in the fight to get off oil won’t be passed over so easily.

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