* “Good Government is Good Politics.”

People say government is too complicated and in many cases they’re right. But it’s a fact that much of the work of government is complicated. More to the point, in today’s litigious society, things have to be done right because screw-ups are expensive.

(If you think not, just ask the Maui Electric Company.)

Still, for some reason, the people who run local and state governments around the country seem to feel that it must be structured in ways convenient for the people doing the governing, but which seem overly complicated and confusing to the average citizen. 

Back in the 1970s, I think we had at least some of it figured out.  For almost ten years, I served as Director of the Office of Information and Complaint for the City of Honolulu. I was appointed to that job by then-Mayor Frank Fasi and my office was literally part of the Mayor’s Office.

It was the name of the office that made it relatively easy for average citizens to understand our function. Whatever the problem they were dealing with, when they looked up the City of Honolulu in the telephone directory, one of the first listings they saw was the listing for my office.  It didn’t matter if the taxpayer needed information or had a complaint, someone on my staff was there to help them.

Most problems are easily solved, but only if you know who should talk to whom. Take a trash can that was not picked up and emptied on the truck’s morning route, for example. Chances are the truck’s crew left it behind because it was over the weight limit. A call at 5:00 p.m. that day from an irate homeowner to whoever answers the phone at the Refuse Division would probably not get positive results. But a two-minute call from one of my experienced Complaint Investigators and the problem goes away.

Little by little, more and more, the citizen/taxpayers of Honolulu learned about problems in their neighborhoods and what was being done about them. The more they learned, the more they supported our efforts.

I was involved–sometimes actively, other times marginally–in much of what was accom-plished in those days. It takes hard work at every level. And it takes intelligent, honest, dedicated employees, but it can be done.

*Honolulu Mayor Frank F. Fasi