Law stops payoffs
Gov. Linda Lingle said her signature yesterday created a "historic" law to end the shameful links between political donations and the awarding of state and county contracts for goods and services.
Dozens of engineers, architects, contractors, lawmakers and union representatives gathered in the governor's office to tout the reform of the state's procurement law, which they say will award contracts based on qualification and merit.
Among them were leaders of design and engineering companies who said their industry was given "a black eye" from the public's perception that they got their contracts by supporting political campaigns.
"As you have heard them state, they have been ashamed for a long time now to be part of a profession that had to pay to get jobs," Lingle said. "People believed they had to do it, and they did it. This allows them to regain their pride and standing in the community."
The link between contracts and campaign contributions has been the focus of investigations by the state Campaign Spending Commission and city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle. Since November 2001 the commission has fined 63 companies a total of $365,850.
Stanley Kawaguchi, a former president of the American Council of Engineering Companies, said: "None of us like the fact that political contributions had become mandatory. The widespread perception was that you had to pay to play."
Under the law, independent committees of professionals will determine contracts, based on published criteria. The names of the committee members and their recommendations and reasons for awarding contracts will be made public.
"Everyone knows who the committee is, so if the project is junk, then you know who made the selection, who made the ranking," Lingle said.
State of Hawaii