HILO – A handful of community members sounded off Wednesday on the recent government purchase card spending fiasco plaguing the office of Mayor Billy Kenoi.
The mayor was harshly criticized Wednesday for his admitted personal use of his pCard during public testimony given to Hawaii County Council Finance Committee. It was the first of three days of special meetings set aside to examine the county budget for the Fiscal Year 2015-2016, and the only chance for testifiers to weigh-in on county spending.
Mayor Kenoi has been under fire for his pCard use ever since the West Hawaii Today newspaper published an article on March 29 reporting the mayor had used his pCard at a Honolulu hostess bar. Further investigation revealed his continued use of the card for personal expenditures, an activity that is forbidden. The mayor apologized and said he repaid his debt to taxpayers by reimbursing all personal expenditures out of his own pocket.
Some testifiers took their comments a step further and detailed what they say is an atmosphere of intimidation cultivated by Mayor Kenoi. Some say they have years of first hand experience of alleged bullying and retribution for supporting Kenoi’s political opponents.
Concern was also expressed over the failure of other officials in the Kenoi administration to put a stop to the mayor’s habits, or to make the financial records more readily available for examination.