HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - A council briefing on the Hawaii County budget was overshadowed by the controversy surrounding embattled Mayor Billy Kenoi Wednesday morning.
Even before Kenoi could speak, an audience member shouted out, "Resign, resign already!"
After the person was quieted down, the mayor acknowledged the controversy surrounding his improper use of the county issued credit card -- or pcard.
"To the Hawaii County council, I'd like to begin by apologizing to all of you for the mistakes I've made," Mayor Kenoi said. "To the Hawaii County council, the administration, to the hardworking employees of the County of Hawaii, to the good people who call Hawaii Island home, to the many people who are deeply disappointed: I am truly sorry."
Kenoi has been under fire recently for charging more than $30,000 in personal expenses on a county credit card. Charges included hundreds of dollars at hostess bars on Oahu, $1,200 for a surfboard and $1,900 for a high-end bicycle. Kenoi has paid the county back but audience members were not sympathetic to his spending habits.
"What the hell else is this guy, our mayor, doing with our money and our public trust," says Puna resident, Greg Smith.
Others called for the council to get rid of the pcard system altogether.
And many said that it is widely known that those who criticize the mayor are retaliated against. Something one council member, Margaret Wille, acknowledged.
"That's what I'm told, don't say anything, don't challenge him, he's intimidating," Wille said to Kenoi, "Take the bully out of Billy."
No other council members acknowledged the issue of retaliation.
The Attorney Generals Office and County Ethics Board are investigating Kenoi's pcard practices.