Political File

News, notes and anecdotes
on government and politics

Monday, October 11, 1999

State contracts shouldn’t
be denied to family, says gov

When the state rescinded a $1.8 million engineering contract awarded by Transportation Director Kazu Hayashida to his son, Ken Hayashida of KAI Hawaii, it was not because it was illegally awarded.

Rather, says Gov. Ben Cayetano, it was the perception of a conflict of interest that prompted the action. The state Ethics Commission ruled it was OK for Hayashida to award the contract to his son, although the governor felt he should have left the decision to a subordinate.

Still, Cayetano said last week he believes having kin in public service shouldn't stop anyone from doing business with state government.

"I don't think any relative of any person who is in public service should be denied the right to do business with the state," he said.

"I have three children, and my kids, you know, outside of the time that they held some manini jobs working part time, have never been part of the state government. That's a matter of choice on my part, and they have never applied."

"But Kazu Hayashida's son is a highly competent and qualified structural engineer. ... I don't think he should be denied the right to be considered for any contract."

Meanwhile, Cayetano said his recent trip to Japan to discuss Hawaii tourism was positive.

He said changes in Japan's Ministry of Transportation may finally lead to a direct flight from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to Honolulu. The state wants that flight because Haneda is closer to Tokyo than Narita Airport, which is nearly two hours away by car.

But there was disagreement by Japanese officials on which airport should be designated the international airport, and the change never came, he said.

"For a long time we tried to do this, but we backed off because politically it was very, very sensitive. I think with the new prime minister and with the changing of the Cabinet, I think it's going to be something that we can look forward to," Cayetano said.

The governor returned with frank comments from Japanese tourism officials, who told him Hawaii needs to re-energize its tourism industry because the state will have a hard time holding on to the nearly 50 percent market share of Japanese tourists visiting the United States. Already, Las Vegas tours by Japanese visitors are picking up, he said.

"One Japanese travel agent told me he was sick and tired of seeing the same old souvenirs in Waikiki for the last 30 years," Cayetano said.

"This kind of tells you that we are taking them for granted, and we can't afford that anymore."

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin