Tuesday, May 28, 2013


City wastes millions and yet fails to maintain Honolulu Hale

Kobayashi said she put $14 million in the budget several years ago for Honolulu Hale improvements, but doesn’t know what happened to the money.

by Larry Geller

Well, this is the city that doesn’t believe in maintenance. I hate to start off with a cynical remark, but I think it’s important to note that the issue that Civil Beat highlighted in its story today, Is Honolulu Hale Safe? (Civil Beat, 5/28/2013) should not be a surprise to us.

Now, lack of maintenance is one symptom of poor management, but here’s another:

The Honolulu City Council has added $1 million in the coming year’s budget to help mediate the problem on the second and third floors of Honolulu Hale, in particular inside members’ own offices and workspaces.

“We’re still suffering,” Honolulu Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi said. “People are always coughing and getting sick.”

So how does the City Council relieve its suffering? It reaches into our pockets and takes out a round $1 million. It’s that round number again, the choice indicating that likely no one has done her/his homework.

Perhaps it would cost $766,234 to remediate the problem. Perhaps it will take $2.3 million. They have no idea. So they add an arbitrary number picked out of the (moldy) air to the budget.

If you think $1 million is a lot of money, here’s why perhaps it doesn’t bother our City Council that much:

Kobayashi said she put $14 million in the budget several years ago for Honolulu Hale improvements, but doesn’t know what happened to the money. Now, she looks at what she describes as decades old carpet in the hallways outside her office and is disgusted.

“I like antiques,” she said, “but not that kind.”

So it seems $14 million has already been lifted from of our pockets, and the person who is the chair of the Budget Committee (Ms. Kobayashi) is clueless about what happened to our money.

Unrelated to the above, but kind of related to the way this city is run, is this line farther down in the story noting that  the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has found themselves a clean, safe place to work:

But HART also pays the price for such luxurious digs. The agency plans to spend more than $2.1 million on rent in Fiscal Year 2014.

Of course, we’re paying for those “luxurious digs.” There must be something between a tent on the sidewalk and swanky offices at Alii Place that would be better use of our transit tax.

What will commuters get for it? A long escalator ride up to a train (assuming they maintain the escalators…) and then we have to stand all the way home because HART did not give us the luxury of enough seats in the cars.

My comment on that is to illustrate that citizens of this city seem to come last in consideration. Whether it’s bad streets, unsafe intersections, reduced bus service, wasted electricity and water, pathetic park upkeep, sidewalks cluttered with lampposts, whatever, it seems that we are merely tolerated as a source of cash for an inefficient and wasteful city government.

My expectation is that our city government can and should do better.


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