Councilman breaks mold with his frugality
City Council members have reported how they spent their taxpayer-funded allowances.
CITY Councilman Gary Okino ought to get with the program. His inability to spend even a sixth of the $12,000 allowance
taxpayers gave him for a year's expenses marks him as an aberrant creature -- a penny-pinching politician.
While some of the other members consistently wring their accounts nearly dry, Okino routinely fails to disburse his ration of city revenue. If he doesn't watch it, some of his colleagues may accuse him of being a drag on the island economy.
Rod Tam could give him pointers. Though the Makiki-to-Kalihi representative's 2006-07 expenses trailed behind those of his colleagues, Donovan Dela Cruz and Ann Kobayashi, Tam had held the title of spendthrift supreme two years running, even exceeding his share by $613 in one of them.
Kobayashi left $58 in her account while Dela Cruz closed in on chump change with just $7.44 remaining. It seems Dela Cruz needed a leather couch and chairs to replace the ones he left behind in the chairperson's office when he lost the top job to Barbara Marshall.
In contrast, Okino distributed a mere $1,301.63, less than half of the $2,892.75 expended by Charles Djou, the Council's eternal voice for frugality.
Okino is going to have to step up the pace since each Council member this year gets a $5,000 allowance boost to $17,000, which amounts to $326.92 a week. That's more than enough for a couple of Zip Pacs and chili-rice bowls a day at Tam's favorite hangout.
Coupled with a 5 percent pay increase to $46,900 -- $55,020 for chairwoman Marshall -- Council work seems a good part-time gig, even if you have to save receipts.
In fairness, genuine business-related costs should not come out of politicians' pockets. Still, Council members are obliged to use their allowances sparingly. Whatever Okino and others didn't spend reverts to the city's treasury and eases the taxpayers' burden, if only a wee bit.
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