HILO – If everyone in the room didn’t already know about the state-wide controversy surrounding the Hawaii County mayor’s spending habits, they might have thought Billy Kenoi was apologizing for his proposed budget.
In his first public speaking appearance since reports surfaced over the mayor’s admitted misuse of his government issued purchase card, Kenoi made no mention of his pCard use for personal expenses when addressing the Hawaii County Council.
“To the Hawaii County Council, I’d like to first begin by apologizing to all of you for the mistakes I’ve made,” said the mayor, who has told reporters previously that he repaid those personal charges.
To our Hawaii County Council, to our administration, to the hard working employees of the County of Hawaii, to the good people who call Hawaii Island home, to the many people who are deeply disappointed: I am truly sorry.”Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi
The mayor than launched straight into his budget presentation. Kenoi’s talk was delivered in a low key manner, lacking his hallmark charisma. The room was full of administration staff and department heads who sat silently in the chairs behind the mayor as he spoke.
Other than an appearance along side his wife in the Merrie Monarch Festival Parade, the mayor has been quiet since the spending scandal broke; which is unusual for the local politician who is often seen as larger than life. He spoke to news media on Oahu on April 1. Since then, even his popular Facebook page has gone silent. The last post is from March. He is no longer speaking to media about the specifics of the pCard situation, which has been handed over to the State Attorney General for further investigation. News reports say Kenoi has retained criminal defense attorneys Howard Luke, Todd Eddins and Richard Sing in the matter.
We will have more from Wednesday’s special Finance Committee meeting in Hilo, including the harsh public testimony on the pCard fiasco given before the mayor’s presentation, as well as reaction from the councilmembers.