Time to admit mistake made

Two things are very clear about the demolition of the Old Wailuku Post Office from the hearings held by County Council and the documentation supplied by the mayor’s administration about the project:

1. The council was well aware that the building was not going to be rehabilitated, as called for in the budget it passed;

2. The administration never formally asked for the designation of the “rehabilitation” funds to be changed by the council before it proceeded to use the funds for demolition.

It’s time for Mayor Alan Arakawa to step forward and admit his administration messed up. The council is responsible for budget oversight and the administration cannot just unilaterally use funds designated for one purpose for another.

It must seek the council’s approval to change the designation of the funds.

That said, it is clear from the documentation provided by the administration that they believed the council was kept informed about its intentions. Indeed, some transcripts of meetings indicate council members agreed that trying to rehabilitate the old building was a waste of money – and could be better spent preparing the site and making plans for new space for the county.

But the administration did not “dot the i and cross the t” and get council’s formal approval to use the funds for demolition. Unfortunately, in governmental terms, that particular “t crossing” is a pretty important one and gets right to the heart of a government based on checks and balances.

The mayor needs to admit the mistake and pledge that nothing like it will happen again.

Then the council needs to amend the budget, changing the wording to explicitly allow the funds to be used for demolition and planning.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.