HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - City records show Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle was out of the state two months last year for official travel, something one of his rivals in the mayor's race calls "excessive."
Carlisle went on eight business trips in 2011, traveling away from Hawaii for 60 days last year, according to documents the mayor's staff filed with the Honolulu City Council.
That's significantly more than former Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who preceded Carlisle at Honolulu Hale. During Hannemann's last full year in office in 2009, Hannemann was away for 46 days on seven trips and in 2008 Hannemann was out of state 35 days on official travel.
Former Acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell is challenging Carlisle for mayor this year.
"I think it (Carlisle's official travel) has been excessive. I think there have been a lot of problems that have not been addressed, some of them while he was gone. So I think it's not about seeing the world, here. It's about solving the problems in our community," Caldwell said.
Carlisle said since he's serving only the two years remaining on Hannemann's last term, he needed to travel more often than Hannemann did.
"Remember, the time frame for me was only two years. So a lot had to be done quickly to make sure that there was an understanding, particularly in Washington, D.C., that the support for rail was unequivocal," Carlisle said.
Records show Carlisle went to Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. twice each as well as Santa Fe, New Mexico once in 2011.
Internationally, he spent more than half his out-of-state time, 33 days, traveling to "strengthen ties" to Honolulu's sister cities in China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan.
During one of those trips, he and his wife Judy laid a wreath at a peace memorial ceremony in Hiroshima.
"No, this isn't ceremonial stuff. That's a mischaracterization. You need to have face-to-face meetings with people and each one of the trips had something that was extremely valuable for us to understand," Carlisle said.
But Caldwell said, "We need a mayor who's going to stay here, learn the job here and address the problems of this community so we can all live better."
Caldwell questions whether any specific benefit has come to Honolulu because of Carlisle's international trips. And Caldwell said that travel time is taking Carlisle away from learning how the city works.
"You have to understand what your employees do, you need to go see them you need to see what they're doing and get down and dirty with the jobs that they're doing. He's not doing that. And so we have all kinds of problems. Whether it's trash not being picked up on time, we've seen that," Caldwell said.
"To have this myopic view, you've got to stay in Honolulu, ignores the fact that we are a global community with a global product, tourism, facing global competition," Carlisle said. "And if I'm not out there fighting for people to come to Honolulu and Hawaii, I'm not doing my job as mayor."
Carlisle also called Caldwell's criticisms "tech un-savvy."
"It's as if you're not capable of getting in touch with me. We are in contact. You know, there is this thing called a phone, there is this thing called email," Carlisle said.
Carlisle said has good people in place to run the city when he's away.
"And that seems to escape some people who think that they have to micro manage all the time. I'm not a believer in micro management. I think it's counterproductive. I think it's poor management. And I think if you're not using technology to stay in touch with people, you're not living in this century," Carlisle said.
Former Gov. Ben Cayetano, who is also challenging Carlisle for mayor, declined to comment on Carlisle's travel record, because he did not know the specific reason for each trip.