Mayor questions City Council’s decision to relocate from Honolulu Hale to newer (nicer) digs

The city council approved funding for one year’s rent at Alii Tower in downtown.

Mayor questions City Council’s decision to relocate from Honolulu Hale to newer (nicer) digs
Mayor Kirk Caldwell responds to city council's decision to relocate to Alii Tower from Honolulu Hale. (Image: Hawaii News Now) (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is trying to stop City Council members from spending more than $1 million to move from Honolulu Hale to a high-end downtown office building.

The council approved the funding for relocation and one-year’s rent at the Alii Tower office building on Hotel Street.

Some council members said the move is necessary to avoid health risks from lead, mold and asbestos at Honolulu Hale.

In a letter Wednesday to the mayor, Council Chairman Ernie Martin said a number of employees have reported illnesses. “In our view, there is sufficient reason to suspect that the building may be the cause of this, and that we should err on the side of caution for health and safety reasons,” Martin wrote.

But the mayor said Tuesday that multiple studies have proven the council’s work spaces are safe, though some remedial measures need to be addressed at Honolulu Hale.

“Public is always watching elected officials,” Caldwell said. “Are [you] feathering your own nest, are you taking care of yourselves before you take care of everybody else? There are so many other things that we need to take care of."

The mayor said if the council moves during renovations, they should have a specific plan to return.

There have been discussions of turning part of Honolulu Hale into a museum, to which Caldwell asked what’s the city council’s long-term plan to come back to Honolulu Hale.

Caldwell also said there should be discussions with the public about “whether we want to separate the legislative and executive branches.”

“Honolulu Hale is a beautiful building,” Caldwell said. “We are going to return her to her previous glory; it may not be in my mayor’s time, but we are going to begin that process.”

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