Thursday, March 4, 1999


City & Couinty of Honolulu

Council members say
Harris illegally appointed
facilities director

Council keeps close
tabs on developer

By gordon Y.K. Pang


City Council members are charging that Mayor Jeremy Harris has illegally appointed Ross Sasamura as interim director of the Department of Facilities Maintenance.

Council Chairman Mufi Hannemann, at an Executive Matters meeting yesterday, pointed to a City Charter provision that states a director cannot be appointed on an interim basis until notice is given that the administration wants confirmation on a permanent basis.

Corporation Counsel David Arakawa acknowledged that a request should have been sent down after Sasamura's appointment in late January. Both Arakawa and Sasamura said they didn't know if it had.

"This is, as far as I'm concerned, not a legal acting department head," Hannemann said.

Administration officials said late yesterday they intended to have a request for Sasamura's nomination sent down first thing today.

Committee members also questioned why no nomination request had been sent down for Carol Costa, director of the new Department of Customer Services.

Arakawa said a Charter provision states specifically which posts require confirmation, and Costa's is not one of them, he said.

Kim said that there was clear "legislative intent" for all department heads to be confirmed.

Hannemann noted that during the 1990s, two other department heads went before the Council for confirmation even though no provision called for Council approval in the Charter.

Harris was not available for comment.

Council keeps close
tabs on developer

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


City Council members are questioning whether a developer can come through with a promised $8 million that Mayor Jeremy Harris is banking on to balance the city's $1.02 billion budget.

Coastal Rim Properties, developer of the downtown Block J site, agreed to pay the premium as a consideration for taking over the site.Developer representatives Makani Coila and Vito Galati told members of the Council Budget Committee that they intend to make the payment by the end of October.

Under questioning by Councilwoman Donna Mercado Kim, Galati acknowledged that Coastal Rim has had difficulty finding financing from for the second phase of its Kulani Hale project.Galati emphasized, however, that special conditions of the project beyond the developer's control have complicated the situation.

Hannemann said he is nervous because Harris is depending on the premium to help the weak budget revenues.

"Because the administration is banking on that, we need to know if they're going to fall short by the end of May so we can make some adjustment to the budget."

Budget Chairman John Henry Felix called on the developer to return to the Council every month for an update.

The $167 million project calls for 913 affordable rental units placed in twin towers on the 103,000 square foot Block J site.

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