JANUARY 29, 2009
A first of its kind exposé focusing on abuse and mismanagement of taxpayer dollars in Hawaii has been released this week in the midst of the state’s significant budget shortfall.
Appropriately titled “2009 Hawaii Pork Report,” the publication offers many examples of outrageous waste in city and county governments throughout Hawaii as well as the state legislature. No wonder the publisher, a local group that promotes government effectiveness, claims it’s the book Hawaii’s government doesn’t want you to read.
The report details more than 30 projects costing $169 million with the costliest programs run by the city of Honolulu ($141 million). Questionable state programs investigated totaled nearly $30 million. They range from a multi million-dollar project to combat frogs, to a traveling art exhibit that hasn’t moved for years and a state-financed trip to Hollywood for a music award ceremony.
Hawaii legislators actually spent $4 million to get rid of a small and non-poisonous tree frog (Coqui) the state Department of Agriculture views as invasive, $130,000 in art to adorn water coolers and close $100,000 for a school “traveling art exhibit” that’s been in hiatus for years. The state also paid nearly $3,000 to send an employee to California for the Grammy Awards to promote the Hawaiian music category.
Getting the information for the report was no easy task and investigators faced plenty of obstacles. A section on public records blasts various state agencies for failing to provide documents for the probe in a timely manner. Examples of agencies that committed violations range from the Department of Agriculture, which demanded a $1,060 deposit before initiating a records search in addition to exorbitant hourly rates, to the Department of Labor which charged nearly $3,000 to conduct a search.
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