Saturday, April 17, 1999

City & County of Honolulu

seeks audit of
Ewa Villages

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Honolulu Councilman Jon Yoshimura wants state auditor Marion Higa to look into the city's management of Ewa Villages.

Yoshimura has sent letters to the money-committee chairmen of the House and Senate asking that they place a proviso in the state budget to have Higa conduct a management or financial audit of the Ewa Villages revitalization project.

Higa, in response, said she's willing to take on the job if it's whatthe Legislature wants.

Authorities say more than $5 million in city housing relocation funds may have been pocketed in the case.

The trial of former housing employee Michael Kahapea and others indicted is scheduled to begin in July.

Questions also have been raised about management decisions made involving other aspects of the Ewa Villages project.

While other investigations are taking place, "I don't think a management audit has been undertaken and that is more what I've been concerned with," Yoshimura said.

The state auditor has the authority to investigate a city agency because the city is a political subdivision of the state, he said.

"My belief is that it's not commonly done, but it is within the state auditor's authority," the councilman said.

Higa said while she's never looked at a county agency, Kauai County was audited by a predecessor of hers in the 1960s.

"Since precedence has been set, I believe it would be within our jurisdiction," Higa said.

Said Yoshimura: "I believe Ms. Higa is the best person for the job because she has a reputation for honesty and integrity, and she is not affiliated in any way with the city or the administration."

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