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Honolulu County, Hawaii

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Budget Y
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Meetings P
Elected Officials Y
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Administrative Officials Y
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Permits, zoning Y
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Audits Y
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Contracts Y
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Lobbying P
Public records N
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Local taxes Y
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County websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

The consolidated City and County of Honolulu is one of 5 counties in Hawaii, first created in 1907. It is also the official municipal and cultural entity of the combined urban district of Honolulu and the rest of the island of Oahu (including the urban areas known as Kailua, Kaneohe, and Kapolei, each of which represent three of the largest municipal areas in the state of Hawaii). The population of the city and county was 953,207 as of the 2010 U.S. Census[1], making it the eleventh-largest municipality in the United States.

Transparency of County Website

See also: Evaluation of Hawaii county websites

Last rated on September 17, 2012.

The good

  • Budget
    • A current operating budget is posted, including draft proposals. A capital project budget is also posted, including draft proposals. Past budgets are available dating to FY2002.[2]
  • Meetings
    • Meeting schedule and agendas and minutes are posted; minutes are not available. Video is available for meetings dating back to 2008.[3][4]
  • Elected Officials
    • There is comprehensive information on City Council members, including full expenditure reports.[5]
  • Administrative Officials
    • Contact information is available for the Mayor and Administrative Officials.[6]
  • Building Permits and Zoning
    • Building permits and zoning information is available.[7]
  • Audits
    • The Office of the City Auditor website contains useful information on city audits and audit reports are posted.[8][9]
  • Contracts
    • There is a complete listing of all received bids and proposals for goods, services, concessions, and construction and professional services.[10]
  • Lobbying
    • Lobbying information is available.[11]
  • Local Taxes
    • Tax information is provided.[12]

The bad

  • Meetings
    • Meeting minutes are not available.
  • Lobbying
    • No information on how much the county spends on taxpayer funded lobbying.
  • Public Records
    • Even though there is a so-called "Department of Customer Services," there is no information on how to file an open records request.[13]

Elected Officials

Name Title Email
Tom Berg Councilmember, District 1
Ernest Martin Councilmember, District 2
Ikaika Anderson Councilmember, District 3
Stanley Chang Councilmember, District 4
Ann Kobayashi Councilmember, District 5
Tulsi Gabbard Councilmember, District 6
Romy Cachola Councilmember, District 7
Breene Harimoto Councilmember, District 8
Nestor Garcia Councilmember, District 9
Peter Carlisle Mayor


For FY2012, the city/county of Honolulu has an operating budget of $203 million.

In September 2011, KITV4 did an investigation into the city's involvement in the publication of full-color books designed to educate the public about Honolulu's sewage system.[14] It was revealed that the city spends about $75,000 annually to publish books and pamphlets on this topic. A children's book is included among the publications; the city purchased 7500 of these books from a Hong Kong-based printing company, and KITV4 discovered that as of Sept. 21, 2011, 6000 of the books sit in a warehouse. The cost of those books alone was $10,000, or the rough equivalent of nine annual sewer bills for average-sized homes on Oahu.

Open Records and Complaints

In 2010, the Hawaii Reporter revealed that over 200,000 complaints had been filed within five years in the city/county of Honolulu, most through the Department of Customer Services. The reporter, Malia Zimmerman, requested the public records concerning these complaints, and Honolulu officials replied it would cost $109,970.[15] The state's Office of Information Practices, the agency responsible for overseeing open records law in Hawaii, stated that the fee was not unreasonable and that the reporter should request fewer records. Honolulu Councilmember Ann Kobayashi stated, upon learning what the Dept. of Customer Services planned to charge for the request: "“You are not trying to buy the Customer Service office, you are just trying to see copies of the complaints. Why are they charging citizens for this kind of information – the city should be transparent – the mayor always talks about being transparent.”

The Honolulu City Beat addressed the issue of possible corruption in the Office of Information Practices, especially as it related to the city/county of Honolulu, in July 2011[16] The state of Hawaii's Uniform Information Practices Act can be found online; the Office of Information Practices was created in 1988 to administer UIPA.

Tax Increase Resolution

In September 2011, Honolulu councilmember Tom Berg presented a resolution to be sent to the Hawaii State Legislature urging lawmakers to approve a half percent increase to the local general excise tax to provide funds specifically for roads and bike paths.[17] If the Legislature approves the measure, Berg plans to work to place the issue on the 2012 general election ballot. The city council had already approved $77 million in bonds for roadway improvement; Berg asserts that the area's available roads are not enough to support the increased transportation needs. The council is scheduled to vote on the resolution on September 29.

External links