Anonymous $9,263 gift to Royal Hawaiian Band OK’d
Donated airline tickets will allow the whole group to play Japan
Saturday, Oct. 01, 2005
» The Royal Hawaiian Band will be performing at three venues in Japan -- Kamakura, Yokohama and Tokyo. A Page A3 article Thursday reported incorrect locations.
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The Royal Hawaiian Band is leaving today on a six-day trip to Japan on a goodwill concert tour, but who is paying for part of the trip remains a mystery.
The City Council approved an anonymous $9,263 donation yesterday by an 8-1 vote. The money will cover airplane tickets for 14 band members.
Some members of the Council, which reviews gifts to the city, had questions about the anonymous donation, but in this case they felt the gift was OK.
Councilman Charles Djou said that generally it is a good policy for the city not to accept anonymous gifts, because "it is a recipe and avenue for bribery and corruption to seep into our system. But I think the policy against anonymous gifts should principally be applied to elected officials and decision-makers."
Councilwoman Barbara Marshall, the lone no vote, said that not divulging who is giving the money goes against the city gift law.
"What's before us is whether we should accept a gift that's in direct contradiction to our law which says that we must have a name and address of a benefactor," Marshall said. "We don't have that, and therefore I don't believe that we can accept this gift."
Bandmaster Michael Nakasone refused comment after the meeting.
The band will be playing two concerts in Yokohama and one in Tokyo.
City Managing Director Jeff Coelho said the anonymous donation came after the nonprofit Friends of the Royal Hawaiian Band backed out of paying those costs about 10 days ago.
Coelho said that he received word from travel agency JTB Hawaii about the donation for tickets, but an agency official would not say who paid for the tickets except that the donor was a man.
"We did consider not accepting the gift ... but then we considered the ramifications of accepting versus the ramifications of not accepting," Coelho said.
If the donation was not accepted, then the size of group going to Japan would have to be decreased to 28 from 42, and the sound of the band would be compromised, Coelho said.
"We don't even know who the individual is, therefore how can that person even benefit from that gift?" Coelho said. "If we felt there was any indication of impropriety with this donation, we would not accept it."
An additional $54,000 is being donated by Japanese promoter Yasuhiko Ariga's Uilani Japan to offset the cost of transportation and lodging for the band. That gift was approved unanimously by the Council yesterday.
City officials said the practice of approving anonymous gifts to the city is not new, and released copies of two anonymous gifts approved within the past 11 years.
One was for $145,000 to help with the operations of Hanauma Bay in 1996; another was for $7,700 to defray costs associated with the Parks Department's Summer Food Service program in 1994.
Meanwhile, Mayor Mufi Hannemann and three members of the City Council -- Rod Tam, Donovan Dela Cruz and Todd Apo -- are also heading to Japan to promote tourism and examine train systems.
The mayor is scheduled to talk today about the trip, which begins Saturday and is not related to the Royal Hawaiian Band's trip.