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Kobayashi questions trips taken by mayor

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City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi is questioning whether Mayor Mufi Hannemann provided the Council with proper notice on trips made for campaign purposes.

"I just feel that we all have to abide by the ordinances of the city like everyone else," Kobayashi said. "No one’s exempt from following the law."

A mayor’s spokesman says all of Hannemann’s trips have been properly documented, calling Kobayashi’s move a political stunt, "obviously attempting to create controversy a mere week before Mayor Hannemann leaves office."

Hannemann already has announced he will resign as required by law on Tuesday, the deadline for candidates to file for office, to pursue his run for governor.

In a letter dated Monday to city Corporation Counsel Carrie Okinaga, Kobayashi said she is seeking "clarification on potential legal and ethical violations" stemming from trips taken by Hannemann since June 15, 2009, when his gubernatorial exploratory committee was registered with the state Campaign Spending Commission.

By law, Kobayashi writes, the mayor is required to provide written notice to the Council and city clerk prior to any trip, listing the dates of his absence and listing the city official who will serve as acting mayor.

Kobayashi contends Hannemann failed to provide proper notice on at least 14 of 30 trips, seven of which were directly related to his campaign.

She cites specific instances, including a trip to Pittsburgh last month to hold a fundraiser in between trips to Washington, D.C., and Oklahoma City on official business.

Brennan said the mayor has consistently followed the ordinance and provided notice of his absences when he left the state.

"However, when Mayor Hannemann traveled to the neighbor islands, he did not provide notification to the Council insofar as he was still mayor representing the City and County of Honolulu pursuant to the (City) Charter, and was readily available by phone and could return quickly, if necessary," Brennan said in an e-mailed statement. "Further, whenever he has traveled for personal reasons, he has done so at his own expense and on his own time.

"This has been his standard practice since becoming mayor and one has to question why only now Council member Kobayashi is raising this issue. One can only conclude that it is a desperate attempt to negatively attack the mayor."

Kobayashi, who unsuccessfully challenged Hannemann for mayor in 2008, said she took action on behalf of constituents who brought it to her attention.

"I guess they had been wondering why the mayor is exempt from following the ordinance when other people are not," she said. "I don’t know the answer to that, so that’s why I asked" the corporation counsel.


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