MAYOR ENCOURAGES OPEN DISCUSSION
Councilmember Charles Djou's shrill and inaccurate criticism of Mayor Hannemann's public outreach for rail is misleading ("Honolulu rail-transit schedule slips again," Feb. 21). The mayor has always encouraged open discussion of rail and has sought ways to get the community involved in this landmark project.
In February, he held two major public events: the Mayor's Youth Summit brought together nearly 300 young people from 30 schools, while the mayor's public forum at the state Capitol provided an update on the economy and rail.
The city previously has held workshops on transit- oriented development and rail station design. On March 30, the city will conduct a Pearl Highlands Transit Station design workshop at 6:30 p.m. at Highlands Intermediate School. On April 6 and 7, the Department of Planning and Permitting will host a symposium on transit-oriented development, featuring national experts on TOD and how to encourage community participation in the process.
The mayor has encouraged the use of innovative social media tools such as Twitter (@HNL_RTD), Facebook and YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/honoluluonthemove) to reach as much of the community as possible.
Along with providing accurate and timely updates on the rail transit project, we will continue our efforts to nurture an open and productive dialogue on this project.
Wayne Yoshioka | Director, Department of Transportation Services, City & County of Honolulu
AUDITOR MUST BE IMPARTIAL, ACCURATE
In regards to the editorial "From virtuous to shoddy In 7 years," (March 4), it should be noted that Marion Higa's draft report on the Department of Budget and Finance may damage Hawai'i's credit rating at a time when the state is just months away from what many believe to be one of the most important elections in our time.
Accuracy and non-partisanship are critical at this time, and the fact is that the Legislature is heavily dominated by Democrats who could easily use Higa as a false-flag maneuver for discrediting the Lingle administration.
The Legislature's auditor, as all other members of our government, must be fair, independent and accurate, even when facts can be stubborn things. In such instances, the correct axiom is "Trust, but verify." For this reason, I believe that Lingle is correct in calling for an investigation of Higa.
Danny De Gracia | Waipahu
GOVERNOR CORRECT TO CALL FOR INVESTIGATION
Your editorial is way off-base. I listened to the governor's comments on her Web site and I can tell you the governor's position makes sense.
Even if you think someone, in this case the legislative auditor, did a good job seven years ago, that does not mean you shouldn't criticize that person for falling down on the job. Frankly, I want a leader that calls it like she sees it — if people do good work, praise them. When they do bad work, call them on it.
This is a lesson for everyone who works for the state or the county. When you make false statements or give out bad information you should expect to be questioned — especially by the chief executive of Hawai'i.
If one of my employees were to perform like this, my company would be shamed by the community. Isn't there anyone else who sees the politics being played here? This cannot be good for the state.
John Henry | Wailuku, Maui
HIGA'S CREDIBILITY HAS FALLEN SINCE 2002
The Advertiser editorial "From virtuous to shoddy in only 7 years," accuses either Gov. Linda Lingle or State Auditor Marion Higa of lying.
The fact is, when Lingle first took office in December 2002, she respected Higa and believed in the fairness and objectivity of the audits Higa had completed for previous governors — all Democrats.
In the ensuing years, however, Higa's credibility has fallen sharply while conducing 36 audits of various departments of current Republican administration.
Given that Higa receives her paycheck from the Democrat-controlled Legislature, does it surprise anyone that her audits are now attacking Lingle's administration during a crucial election year?
The legislative auditor should be an independent position that cannot be influenced by political parties. That is certainly not the case in Hawai'i, however, and that must change.
Steven Offenbaker | Honoka'a, Big Island
AUDITOR'S OFFICE NEEDS TO BE AUDITED
While the role of auditor should obviously be a neutral, non-partisan one, is there any proof that Marion Higa is still living up to that role? She is employed by the legislative branch, her office's budget is approved annually by House and Senate leadership and her reports are performed based on her own discretion or by legislative request. The only one her office answers to is the Legislature, a political body that is overwhelmingly partisan.
Perhaps she was an equal opportunity auditor when both the executive and legislative branches were held by Democrats, but is it realistic to think party partisanship doesn't matter when her employer clearly has bones to pick with those that her office is auditing?
I think the only way to resolve this is to audit the legislative auditor. Otherwise, how will the public know whether she is objective and fair in her audits?
Adrienne King | Honolulu
STATE'S INVESTMENT SHOWS BAD JUDGMENT
Gov. Lingle is saying that Marion Higa does shoddy work? What about what she and state Budget Director Georgina Kawamura have done by tying up $1 billion of state funds in auction-rate securities being unloaded by Citigroup?
Haven't they heard of diversification? Investing short-term funds in derivative garbage alone has put the state in such a bind that it is a struggle to find $50 million to end furlough Fridays. How did they keep all this secret for so long?
Judith Suzurikawa | Honolulu
DONATE EXTRA FOOD TO THOSE IN NEED
We are annual visitors from Canada to Hawai'i. I thank my parents who introduced us to these beautiful Islands, and who encouraged us to also give back to the local community every time we visit.
As a result of our preparation for the impending tsunami Saturday, we purchased a week's worth of food and drinking water. We no longer need this food because we wish to continue to be loyal to our favorite local restaurants. We wanted to donate our provisions to a local food bank, but initially found that difficult to do from Waikīkī.
Perhaps the ability to donate food following such an event should be built into the emergency plan. Apart from this one frustration, job very well done.
Linda Nishikawa and Bonita Oliver | Ottawa