Are Mayor Caldwell’s PR Peeps Playing Games With the Public?
At the April 14, 2016 Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board meeting at the Queen Liliuokalani Center in Punalu’u, I asked Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s representative Mr. Adam LeFebvre why the Mayor continued to compete and steal scarce federal HUD’s Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) funds from non-profit organizations. (Note: According to Civil Beat: LaFebvre is employed under a personal services contract. He is listed as an Informational Affairs Specialist with the Department of Customer Services, earning $57,720 a year, even though he works in the Mayor’s Office. His contract began in October 2013 and so far has been extended through June 2015.)
I was specifically asking why Mayor Caldwell was again – this year – stealing an additional $1Million from the Federal HUD CDBG funds for the controversial Hauula Fire Station Relocation Project #2000068. An average fire station costs about $5 Million to build. In rural Hauula, the Mayor wants DOUBLE the lot size and TRIPLE the costs at an estimated $13 Million!
“Steal” was a strong word but I was quoting City Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi’s words to Director of Department of Budget and Fiscal Services, Nelson H. Koyanagi, Jr. and Director Gary T. Kurokawa, Deputy Director at the March 2016 Budget Committee Hearing at Honolulu Hale. Kobayashi also asked them if they were “proud of what they were doing.” Budget Chair Kobayashi explained that the city usually financed its city projects through bonds and so forth. The non-profits that serviced programs like Homeless, Domestic Violence, Drug Rehabilitation or Women/Infant did not have such financing options.
Adam LaFebvre’s response to my CDBG funding question was it had been asked before but he would be happy to discuss this question further with us AFTER the meeting. In other words, he did not want to address the Mayor’s CDBG funds takings.
The FEDERAL HUD Community Development Block Grants (CBDG) funds’ Objectives are clear: “Projects that are funded in the CDBG program must address the CDBG program’s primary objective, which is the “. . . development of viable urban communities, by providing decent housing and suitable living environments and expanding economic opportunities principally for persons of low- and moderate-income.
The CDBG question was certainly not old or repetitive. We wanted an explanation to this Mayor’s rationale.
Mr. Adam Lefebvre’s response is disingenuous. The Honolulu City Council is now vetting the 2016-2017 Budget for the Executive and Legislative Branches. Mayor Kirk Caldwell, again for this budget year, is stealing from the non-profit organizations.
The February 11, 2016 Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board Meeting was obviously too early to ask about CDBG funds. The Mayor had not submitted his Budget to the Honolulu City Council. The public did not know the Mayor was again going to steal another $1Million from the CDBG funds for his extravagant pet project.
The March 10, 2016 Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board Meeting had no CDBG question posed. The Mayor’s Representative Adam LaFebvre was absent. Instead, LaFebvre provided a memo for the record that was read by a Neighborhood Board Member that included a propaganda item: “• Fire station – The Hauula fire station construction is projected to start in spring 2017 and be completed by summer 2018.” Of course, he made no mentioned of the Hauula Kupuna’s pending lawsuit against the city at the federal court or the nefarious circumstances . (The minutes relating to our Neighborhood Board discussions are also often questionable or inaccurate.)
For the record, Mayor Caldwell is asking for another $1 Million of CDBG funds for this budget year 2016-2017. In addition, he’s also asking for $6.7M for Hauula Fire Station Relocation this year, at the expense of other more compelling social services and needs.
So far, Mayor Caldwell has squandered on this particular controversial project #2000064:
$2.4 M CDBG funds used land acquisition ($1M “planning and design” without City Council’s knowledge in August 2014 till his Press Conference in November 2014))
$100,000 for “Planning and Design”
$250,000 to explore alternative sites for this fire station. We don’t know how this amount was expended in 2011.
$1.0 M for “Planning & Design” 2015-2016
Caldwell is requesting from the City Council this year:
$6.7 M for Construction this budget year 2016-2017 ( REQUESTING)
$1.0 M from CDBG funds 2016-2017 (REQUESTING)