Wrongdoing probes should have some basis
A federal investigation has found no wrongdoing in the selection of a subcontractor in a city study of mass transit.
City Councilman Charles Djou said he will continue to ask "difficult questions," even after a federal investigation instigated at his request found no wrongdoing in the award of a city contract
to a friend of the mayor's. The experience should not deter Djou in his role as Council watchdog, but it should cause him to gather some evidence before following through on future accusations.
Djou called for the investigation by the Federal Transit Administration last November, after two public relations companies had their subcontracts reduced when a company headed by Joe Pickard, a friend and supporter of Mayor Hannemann, was given work on a mass transit study. Pickard said he had approached the main contractor for the job, and the mayor played no role.
Djou said he suspected "hanky panky" because the city did not provide an adequate explanation of Pickard's selection. However, the federal agency found no violations of the federal procurement code or any evidence of "political connections" leading to a contract for the Pickard company, which had not been evaluated in the selection process.
The councilman's motive was more suspect than the Pickard selection. Djou voted a year ago against the general excise tax increase to pay for the mass transit project, and transit supporters were quick to accuse Djou of trying to sabotage it. Djou insisted that his only concern was that taxpayer funds were not wasted and that he was not accusing Hannemann of corruption.
One of the P.R. companies, Communications Pacific, challenged the Pickard selection in state court, where the judge ruled that the procurement law gave no opportunity to challenge selection of subcontractors. The decision is on appeal.
Rep. Neil Abercrombie says it was all about Djou's "grandstanding and headline grabbing." Djou now says the agency could have done "a little bit more thorough review." However, he said, "The federal government has reviewed it, and I accept it. I think the process works."
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