Editor’s note: Civil Beat is updating our popular public employees salary database with thousands of entries for Honolulu, plus Maui and Hawaii counties. It’s still not the full story, as you’ll see below.
When Civil Beat requested new names and numbers for its public employees salary database from public agencies throughout the islands last summer, most responded with all the requested information rapidly.
That wasn’t the case for three of Hawaii’s four county governments.
While the Kauai numbers came in quickly, it took considerably longer for Maui and the Big Island, and their numbers are still incomplete.
As for the City and County of Honolulu, it was preparing to turn over all the requested information when the statewide police union got involved. Honolulu attorneys had determined that police officers’ names — except for those in “deep” undercover capacities — should be released along with their salary information.
Honolulu Hale was going to turn over all the requested information until the police union filed suit.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
The State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers believes the names of any officers who are or have been in any undercover assignment should be protected from disclosure, not just those currently in deep undercover roles.
When Honolulu rejected SHOPO’s argument, the union sued to block the release, and the case is pending in the First Circuit Court. Civil Beat has filed a motion to intervene in support of Honolulu’s position.
Meanwhile, Honolulu has not released the names or salaries of about 2,000 sworn police officers.
The Rest Of The Honolulu Story
Even without the figures for police officers, this latest installment of the database includes 6,537 Honolulu employees.
Because Honolulu’s government has so many agencies, for the first time we are partitioning them to make it easier to find what you’re looking for. The salary information for each of 29 agencies is displayed as “sub-departments” that you can access by clicking on “City and County of Honolulu” in the “department” field.
As always, the pay of many employees is provided as a range — sometimes a wide range — rather than a specific dollar figure.
Here are Honolulu’s top-paid employees as of July 1 (where applicable, this list includes what they were paid on July 1, 2015, figures included in Civil Beat’s 2016 database):
Krishniah Murthy, acting chief executive of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, $400,000 (Andre Robbins was chosen in July as the new chief executive and is paid a base salary of $317,000 plus a $55,000 annual housing allowance and a $7,200 annual transportation allowance)
Medical Examiner Christopher Happy, $288,192 (up from $261,384 two years earlier)
Deputy Medical Examiner Rachel Lange, $230,192 (up from $209,136 two years earlier)
Deputy Police Chief Cary Okimoto, $185,352 — he was acting chief at the time and has since retired (new Chief Susan Ballard took over in November and is paid $191,184)
Fire Chief Manuel Neves, $185,112 (up from $167,904 two years earlier)
Mayor Kirk Caldwell, $173,184 (up from $157,080 two years earlier)
Managing Director Roy Amemiya, $165,672 (up from $150,264 two years earlier)
Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro, $164,136 (up from $148,872 two years earlier)
Nine other department heads were paid an identical salary of $154,728. Those positions were paid $140,352 two years earlier, except for the director of land management — a newly created position.
Those department heads include:
Donna Leong, Corporation Counsel
Robert Kroning, Design and Construction
James Howe, Emergency Services
Guy Kaulukukui, Enterprise Services
Lorita Kahikina, Environmental Services
Carolee Kubo, Human Services
Mark Wong, Information Technology
Sandra Pfund, Land Management
Michele Nekota, Parks and Recreation
The most common title for the lowest-paid employees in many departments was “senior clerk typist,” but the lowest-paid Honolulu employee was a security attendant for the Department of Enterprise Services who made $25,536.
Finally, there’s the unique Honolulu agency known as the Royal Hawaiian Band, which consists of a bandmaster ($136,512), 31 musicians ranging in pay from $47,868 to $105,000, and a senior clerk typist.
According to its website, it’s “the only full-time municipal band in the United States” and “performs and marches in over 300 concerts and parades each year.” This includes performances at Iolani Palace on Fridays and the Kapiolani Park Bandstand on Sundays.
Wide Ranges In Maui County
Alan Arakawa was earning $151,979 as Maui mayor on July 1, a position he’ll be term-limited out of next year. He has talked about running for governor or lieutenant governor, but most recently speculation has been that he’ll run for his former Kahului seat on the County Council, a position that pays $76,475.
Just behind Arakawa were Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu and then-Deputy Fire Chief Robert Shimada at $151,200. Interestingly, the deputy fire chief position paid more than that of Fire Chief Jeffrey Murray, who made $143,640.
It’s possible that none of these officials was Maui’s highest-paid public employee, since the top of the pay range for two assistant police chiefs and two assistant fire chiefs was $161,508.
For dozens of positions, the information supplied by Maui County indicated a low range of either zero or $1 per month, even though the top of the ranges were as high as $93,336. We’re still hoping to update that information with the county’s cooperation.
In all, the database includes 2,771 Maui County employees. The lowest-paid, with a range topping out at $11,988, were 42 “leisure instructors.”
Partial Results From Hawaii County
It’s possible that Mayor Harry Kim was the highest-paid public employee on the Big Island as of July 1 with his salary of $132,000.
But 31 employees had pay ranges with the upper limits above that amount, including civil engineers, assistant police chiefs and police majors.
In the for-sure category, Police Chief Paul Ferreira and Fire Chief Darren Rosario were right behind Kim at $130,818.
A total of 2,538 Hawaii County employee positions are listed in the database, but the county has so far refused to provide the names of many employees whose positions list a specific salary instead of a range.
The database will be updated if Civil Beat can obtain those names through its appeal to the state Office of Information Practices.
The lowest-paid Hawaii County employee in the database was a “clerk II” who was listed at $27,132.
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