Tuesday, January 12, 1999

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
City Council Chairman Mufi Hannemann
sings during the inauguration ceremonies
yesterday. The nine council members
were elected last fall.

focuses on food

Holmes said the fancy donated
food sent 'the wrong message'

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Food donated by corporations was among the biggest topics of conversation as nine City Council members were inaugurated for four-year terms yesterday at Honolulu Hale.

Councilman Steve Holmes criticized the extravagant inaugural ceremony partly paid with corporate contributions.

"There's no reason for a big to-do; we're sending the wrong message," Holmes said. "In the past, (the cost of the ceremony) came out of our own pockets and I think that's appropriate."

But Council Vice Chairman John Henry Felix said he saw nothing wrong with the contributions. Presidential inaugurations as well as governmental ceremonies at all levels are often funded in part by corporate sponsors, he said.

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Members of the Honolulu Boy Choir line the
steps of Honolulu Hale yesterday to sing during
the City Council inauguration.

Still, he said, he would have preferred that the ceremony be paid by Council members. "Perception-wise, it would have been a good idea," Felix said.

Council Chairman Mufi Hannemann, who organized the inauguration, said the five Honolulu hotels that set up tents to serve food outside City Hall were asked to contribute no more than a "pupu" dish.

Hannemann said the dishes augmented catered fare paid for with Council funds for the crowd of 500 friends and supporters of the nine Council members, all of whom were re-elected this past fall.

Participating hotels were the Hilton Hawaiian Village, the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, the Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the Kyo-Ya/Sheraton Hotels Waikiki and Outrigger Hotels and Resorts.

Among the dishes served were pan-seared sea bass, braised veal shanks with cremolata on a bed of creamy polenta and pastrami sandwiches made from Big Island Kobe-style beef.

"To suggest that we could be influenced by a signature dish is the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard," Hannemann said. "There's no quid pro quo connected to any of the contributions."

Hannemann said his aide, Trudi Saito, was told to bring the cost of the celebration to under $8,000, the amount the Council paid for its last inauguration ceremony in 1995. He had no figures on how much was spent.

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