The Sunshine Blog: News Schmooze and Worst to First for Honolulu City Council Pay

Snapshots, outtakes, observations, and other things to know about public information, government accountability, and ethical leadership in Hawaii.

Press availability: Now that the Legislature has gone home, “Let The Sunshine In,” our deep-dive into accountability, transparency, and ethics finally has time to take a look at other civic institutions in Hawaii.

So, under the heading of ethics, The Sunshine Blog was perhaps not surprised to see HART CEO Lori Kahikina shamelessly cajoling the Honolulu Star-Advertiser this week on the newspaper’s webcast show, “Spotlight,” while basically criticizing the other media. .

“We are very humbled by the positive feedback we receive from the public and you guys are a key part of that,” he gushed Wednesday as hosts Yunji De Nies and Ryan Kalei Tsuji smiled back at him. “And that’s why I wanted to do the interview with you today. We’re bringing it up early because we’re going to do the morning shows tomorrow morning and you guys have always been very supportive of me and HART, so we wanted to give you the first chance at an interview with me before we do the morning shows. tomorrow.”

Translation: Thanks for letting me spin this thing. Other reporters actually ask us tough questions.

It doesn’t matter that “Spotlight” has a tiny fraction of the audience of Hawaii News Now’s “Sunrise” or KITV’s “Good Morning Hawaii” or KHON’s “Wake Up 2Day.”

Because the paper also gave HART and Kahikina a front page ride the next day, Thursday:

The public relations team for the Honolulu rail project scored big last week in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser with an online show and two front-page articles. (Kevin Fujii/Civil Beat/2023)

And again on Saturday:

And if that wasn’t enough, the happily obliging reporter was so excited to be treated to a special trip that he tweeted a cozy photo with Kahikina:

Your Sunshine Bloggers rolled their eyes at that journalistically terrifying photo.

But the SA coverage gives new meaning to the phrase: “All aboard!”

New shooter: Speaking of the news business, Civil Beat is beefing up its visual storytelling with the addition of veteran photojournalist Kevin Fujii.

He comes to Civil Beat after working at The Seattle Times, Houston Chronicle and Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram newspapers. In 2010, Kevin led The Seattle Times staff photography to win the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News.

Kevin has covered the Olympic Games four times and has photographed other high-profile sporting events including the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, Final Four, and NCAA Bowl Championship Games.

Kevin joins our visual editor, David Croxford, to round out the Civil Beat photography team.

county offsets: With all the fuss about impending pay increases for Honolulu City Council members, The Blog was curious about what other county councils in Hawaii are paying. Turns out, Oahu is kind of a tightfist compared to the other three counties. Despite having much smaller populations, the other three counties pay their elected representatives more.

Honolulu City Council members currently earn $68,904 and the president earns $76,968. That’s slightly below the municipal wage on the Big Island, about $6,000 less than Kauai County and about $11,000 less than Maui County.

Neighboring islands have had their own big wage increases in the past, though nothing like what’s now being proposed for Honolulu.

The Maui County Council’s big payday came 10 years ago, when it surpassed all other counties. Hawaii County caught up five years ago when it increased city council salaries by more than 30%. Kauai County sprang into action last year by passing a three-stage salary increase for its council that will total up to 15% when fully implemented in July 2024.

Don’t forget to tune in to the Honolulu City Council on Wednesday at 10 am, when the council has a packed agenda that includes the first reading of proposals to ban outside employment for council members and action on the city’s budget. The council needs to include pay increases for various city officials, including himself, in the budget and this seems to be the only opportunity for discussion and public input on pay increases. The budget is expected to go into effect early in the next fiscal year on July 1.