City & County of Honolulu

Harris stays mum
on auditor provision

An Aug. 23 deadline nears for all
proposed Charter amendments

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

Mayor Jeremy Harris still won't say if he will approve a proposal asking voters to establish an independent auditor's office.

City Councilman Jon Yoshimura, who introduced the resolution calling for the City Charter amendment to be decided by voters, is now urging Harris publicly to sign it.

"An independent auditor will advance the goals of government efficiency, cost savings and accountability," Yoshimura said in a letter sent to Harris yesterday.

The mayor's signature is needed for a Council-initiated Charter amendment to make it on the November ballot. City Clerk Genny Wong has set an Aug. 23 deadline for ballot questions to be submitted to her office, Yoshimura said.

He said he has spoken to Harris two to three times on the issue since the Council approved the resolution on July 17.

"He's thinking about it," Yoshimura said.

Calls to city spokeswoman Carol Costa were not returned yesterday. City officials previously said Harris had not yet made up his mind because of cost concerns.

Yoshimura said he believes $500,000 a year would represent "a good starting point" to establish an independent auditor's office.

"We cannot afford not to create this office," Yoshimura said.

"Regular independent reviews of city practices and procedures will increase government efficiency and save money."

The proposal calls for the Council to appoint an auditor for a six-year term. The auditor would have subpoena powers. A two-thirds majority vote of the nine-member Council would be needed to forcibly remove an auditor from office.

The Council, in 1998, approved a similar measure for an auditor appointed by the Council. But a Charter Commission convened by Mayor Harris that year nullified the Council's action and Council members failed to persuade the commission to approve the plan.

Commission members instead briefly considered a plan to set up an office with the auditor appointed by the mayor, but decided against approving it after strong objections from Council members.

Harris last week shot down a separate Charter amendment proposal that would have asked voters if they wanted to merge the city's waste-water functions with the Board of Water Supply.

City & County of Honolulu

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