Sunday, August 5, 2001

City & County of Honolulu

Harris defends spending
city funds on video visions
for a better Oahu

By Diana Leone

A video inviting Oahu residents to the second Regional Islandwide Vision Meeting was money appropriately spent, Mayor Jeremy Harris said yesterday.

The 30-minute video was shot by city employees and edited into final form by Island Post Production Inc., city Managing Director Ben Lee said. The production costs will be at least $10,000 and one showing each on four local TV stations this week cost a total of $21,000, he said.

"That's not a significant amount, compared to the magnitude of the projects we're considering," Harris said. "We're trying to invite the community into decision-making about the future and get input on all these major ideas that are going to transform our island."

Projects discussed at the meeting included the reliever road for Waianae, major waterfront renovations and a Sand Island bypass, Harris noted.

At the close of the half-day meeting at the Hawaii Convention Center, Harris said he was enthused by the turnout. The event drew enough participants to fill a room with 560 chairs for the main session.

Common Cause Hawaii spokesman Larry Meacham said yesterday that he hasn't seen the video yet, but "from what I hear there are parts of the video that seem to cross the line into electioneering." He said the organization's board will review the video later this month and decide whether to file a complaint with the state Campaign Spending Commission.

Harris said that if he had used private funds or campaign funds for the video that would have been criticized as well. "It's a conundrum. You can't use any pot of money without the media attacking. ...You have to let the community know about decision-making" that affects them.

The mayor said he hopes that residents who saw the city's video on TV will be inspired to attend monthly Vision Meetings in 19 neighborhoods. Usually those have about 40 people present, Harris said, "but there should be 1,400."

The video, "21st Century Oahu: A Shared Vision For The Future," was shown to kick off yesterday's meeting. The video is built around a pop-Hawaiian song that asks "Have you seen this island?" as dramatic aerial shots of Oahu's coastline and mountains are shown.

It details project ideas in each of the seven regions of the island, as it's been divided for the visioning process, with photos of how the areas look now and artist renderings of proposed changes. There also is footage of the grand opening celebration at Oahu's newest park, a 4th of July celebration at Kapiolani Park Bandstand and the mayor's Brunch on the Beach event in Waikiki.

City & County of Honolulu

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