$250,000 in Tax Money for Mayor's Environmental Project in Question

Councilmember Charles Djou
Councilmember Charles Djou
Jeff Coelho
Jeff Coelho

HONOLULU (KHNL) - There are questions concerning Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hanneman's new environmental project.

A councilmember says it's a waste of taxpayer's money.

The "21st Century Ahupua'a" project is advertised throughout the city, with posters scattered in various malls on Oahu.

The posters themselves don't cost much, but Djou questions the mayor's intent.

"The posters are fine, the problem I have with it is the use of taxpayer money for advertising, it's basically self-promotion and propaganda. I think the mayor has every right to do it, I just don't think the Mayor should do it with people's money," says Councilmember Charles Djou.

Djou says the bigger picture is not the posters, but the 21st Century Ahupua'a project as a whole, which will cost taxpayers $250,000.

The project consists of a task force assigned to tackle environmental issues. But Djou says the Mayor's project is hypocritcal.

"When the Mayor was campaigning for the office one of the first things he said he would do and did do when he became Mayor was fire former Honolulu Councilman Steve Holmes who's job was to promote the environment," he says.

Djou says Holmes's old job is essentially the same as what the Mayor's environmental task force will do.

He says the difference is that taxpayers will now be footing a $250,000 bill for environmental projects.

Djou says Holmes's environmental plans were federally funded, so no tax dollars were used.

But the Hanneman's administration says that's not entirely accurate. Holmes was a salaried city employee, so some tax dollars did go towards his position.

Coelho says taxpayers may be shelling out a quarter million dollars now for the 21st Century Ahupua'a project, but he says it's an investment in the future.

"We feel very strongly that as we implement the ideas going forward in our sustainability task force that the benefits to the taxpayer will far exceed the cost to the taxpayer," Coelho says.