Friday, December 24, 2004

The 224-page book "The Renaissance of Honolulu" highlights the last 100 years of the city and Jeremy Harris' time as mayor. Its printing has drawn strong opposition.

Cost of Harris book
at $95,000

Several City Council members
call the publishing project
a waste of money

The Harris administration's book on Honolulu is getting panned anew, after city documents revealed that the publishing costs are $20,000 more than a top city official had estimated.

City & County of Honolulu The book, "The Renaissance of Honolulu," highlights the city's 100-year history and the 10 years of Jeremy Harris' reign as mayor, which ends Jan. 2. City documents show publishing the 224-page, soft-cover book will cost more than $95,000, not the roughly $75,000 that City Managing Director Ben Lee had estimated earlier this week.

Whatever the cost, Lee said yesterday, "It's a good book. It's factual. It's not about Jeremy Harris. It's about the city."

And he said the book can serve as a great marketing tool for the state and county tourism industry.

City Councilman Charles Djou disagreed.

"That's utterly unreasonable and a waste of taxpayer money," he said. "Ask anyone with a driver's license whether they want the money used to fix potholes or for the book."

Council Budget Committee Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi noted that Oahu homeowners just got a property tax increase and face a possible sewer fee increase next year.

"And what do they get out of it, a book?" she said. "I just don't know what they were thinking."

Kobayashi said she wonders why the administration did not seek private funding for the book.

City purchase requisition forms show the city paid $14,703 to print 5,000 copies of a 48-page executive summary and $47,200 for additional printing.

Both were done by Hagadone Printing Co., which was the low bidder. The form indicates there will be an additional cost for the paper used in the printing that will be billed to the city after all copies of the book are delivered.

Lee said the city publishes an executive summary every year, sort of like a corporate annual report, which is distributed at the mayor's State of the City address. This year, the book replaced the summary, he said. The additional printing cost was charged because the book is 224 pages, not 48, Lee said.

The city also paid $24,000 for the design and production of the book and $9,500 for additional graphics. Both were done by Smith Davis Miyasaki advertising.

The city chose Smith Davis Miyasaki because it is the only vendor that has digital images needed for the book, said Carol Costa, city Customer Services Director, whose department paid for the book.

Costa's department also was billed $3,000 to $4,000 to televise Harris' farewell speech at Honolulu Hale last week when the administration unveiled the book.

Lee has said the city will recoup the publishing cost if the coffee table-style book, with a list price of $19.95, sells.

"And what about the man-hours that went into it?" Kobayashi asked.

Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz, an author of three books, said he doubts the city will recoup its money. He said bookstores take a 40 to 60 percent cut off the purchase price. And there are additional distribution costs.

"They gotta sell a lot of damn books to make that money back," Dela Cruz said.

City & County of Honolulu

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