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Oct 01

Council investigation of Old Wailuku Post Office

Posted on October 1, 2013 at 12:00 AM by Office of Council Services


At a Sept. 30 meeting of the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, Committee Chair Riki Hokama provided a status report on the Committee’s investigation of the Old Wailuku Post Office.  The status report is available for the public to review in the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs committee website, or downloaded HERE.

Here’s an excerpt from the report under Committee Chair’s Recommendation:
“When the decision was made to demolish the Old Wailuku Post Office and begin plans to expand the County campus, the Mayor was required to come to the Council and request the appropriate budget amendments. The Mayor has publicly admitted that his administration made a mistake and did not follow Charter-mandated procedures. The Council now has a duty to investigate how the Charter deviation occurred, and establish procedures to avoid similar deviations in the future.

When the Council members became aware of the demolition, they were prohibited by Section 3-8(2) of the Charter from ordering a stop to the demolition. Had a Council member tried to intervene in such a manner, the member would have been subject to removal from office by impeachment. The Council's only authority is to investigate the matter.

It is the Administration's mistake that is causing the delay and added costs to the people of this County. Like the fruit of the poisonous tree, if the process is flawed at its inception, everything that flows from it is likewise flawed and cannot be cured later in the process.

It is fortuitous that the Office of the County Auditor has been established concurrently with the Council's decision to conduct an investigation. Unfortunately, the Office of the County Auditor will take time to organize, hire staff, establish auditing standards, and be in a position to conduct an audit of the nature requested by the Committee. However, the Office of the County Auditor was established specifically to undertake these types of audits, if deemed warranted by the County Auditor.

The Charter gives the County Auditor greater flexibility than it gives the Council to conduct a full and fair inquiry into the potential misuse of County funds, including the ability to subpoena witnesses and to compel document production. The County Auditor also possesses a greater ability to enforce non-compliance with subpoenas and requests for documents.

Additionally, the County Auditor will have more flexibility than a third-party contracted by the Council to conduct an audit. Hiring a third-party to conduct the audit will also result in additional costs to taxpayers.

The process of the investigation must be fair, and provide for adequate procedural safeguards. Any findings and recommendations must be based on a complete and thorough investigation, free of bias and political influences. Any findings and recommendations must be able to withstand the highest degree of scrutiny that they will be given by the Administration, the Council, and the public. Lastly, the investigation should be conducted efficiently and at minimal cost to the taxpayers.

Therefore, it is my recommendation that the Committee give the County Auditor the time needed to consider the requested audit for his plan of audits for Fiscal Year 2014. If the requested audit is not included in the County Auditor's plan of audits, the Committee may reevaluate its options at that time.”

Committee Chair Hokama also distributed a chronology of Old Wailuku Post Office events that is available for download HERE

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