Welcome to Inside Honolulu! The city has a new mayor, and five incoming city council members. The transition is under way and Civil Beat is reporting from the inside.it

Cachola questions need to track $1 million funding lapse

City Council member Romy Cachola questioned today whether $1 million is a substantial enough amount for the city to track with an internal audit. The money was appropriated for bicycle projects in fiscal year 2008, but the city never used it.

“We’re talking about only a million dollars,” Cachola said during an Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee meeting Wednesday. “The funding, as well as this program, received such low priority.”

Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka clarified that the money in question is actually more than $1 million, because some funding from the city highways fund was also set aside for bicycle projects.

Cachola did not object when the committee advanced the resolution to conduct an audit into funds appropriated for bicycle projects.

Path to create transit authority unclear

Officials from the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services and the city’s Corporation Counsel are working to figure out what steps need to be taken before a portion of the city’s transportation department can split off into a semi-autonomous transit authority.

“My understanding about the formation of the transit authority is there are a few statutes on the state side, and a few ordinances that need to be executed to actually bring it to fruition,” Wayne Yoshioka, director of the Department of Transportation Services, told Civil Beat Wednesday afternoon. “There’s a few housekeeping kind of things that have to happen. I don’t know what, exactly, but I’ll certainly know because I’m the director of DTS and that’s going to be happening within my department.”

Incoming council members present united front

Now that John White conceded the close District 2 City Council race, the incoming council members are joining forces.

Ernie Martin, Stanley Chang, Tulsi Tamayo and Breene Harimoto will tomorrow walk together in the Wahiawa Veteran’s Day Parade. Harimoto described the planned appearance as “a show of unity.”

Mayor Peter Carlisle will mark Veteran’s Day with the Oahu Veterans Council and other top Hawaii officials at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.

Abercrombie said he will make sure Mayor Wright gets hot water

Civil Beat caught up with Governor-elect Neil Abercrombie after his appearance at the local Association of Fundraising Professionals’ National Philanthropy Day luncheon. We asked Abercrombie to what extent he’ll prioritize getting hot water restored to the Mayor Wright public housing project.

“We certainly will address that as quickly as possible if it isn’t already by the time I get (sworn in),” Abercrombie said.

The governor-elect said he is confident he can find a solution despite the budget shortfall the Hawaii Public Housing Authority cites as the root of the problem.

Some parks-goers may hit paywalls

New City Council Chair Nestor Garcia is eager to find ways to generate revenue for the city.

Garcia said he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself — the mayor will have to present his budget before the City Council can begin proposing changes — but he already knows some areas he wants to explore.

Garcia says he’ll look into the possibility of levying fees for some people to use parks. Those who make money by teaching tennis lessons on city-owned courts, for example, may have to pitch in for the cost of maintaining them.

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