Watchdog calls for Council's  Budget Chair's resignation

Carroll Cox, community advocate and watchdog, is calling for the resignation of recently elected Councilmember  Ernest Y. Martin to step down from his newly appointed position as Chairman of the Honolulu City Council Budget Committee.

Ernie Martin

We think that this request is reasonable and is supported by our longtime concerns we have had and expressed in our investigation of numerous grants administered by the City's Department of Community Services (DCS) for the Leeward Coast Community Benefits Program (LCCBP).     For approximately one year  or longer we have had information that Mr. Martin tolerated grant committee screeners to serve as members or officers of nonprofit organizations that received grants through the LCCBP , allowed grantees to receive portions of grants and not have to account for the money they received, improper use of the grant money, and many other problems.


Some if not all of our concerns with DCS's management of the  LCCBP were confirmed in a December 2010  City Auditor's Report Number 11-02, "Audit of The Leeward Coast Community Benefits Program".

The Auditor's report states: "In FY2006-07 the inaugural year of the program, grants totaled  $1 million and were awarded to 21 community-based non- profits.   In FY2007-08, an additional $1 million in grants were awarded to 25 non-profit, community based organizations.   We found the Community Services Department needed to follow best practices for grant management to insure that the funds fulfilled their intended purpose.     Non-compliance with best practices resulted in several deficiencies."  

 The report goes on to say: "We found that many contracts lack performance measures and work plans .  Some grantees did not deliver goods or services specified by the contracts, did not file required reports, and used grant funds to cover operational costs, administrative costs, and fundraising activities.  Some grantees may have used grants funds to pay liability insurance premiums although it was required to maintain coverage at no cost to the city.  Some grantees received subsequent grants, even though their past contract was not closed.  In addition, the administration's change to 80-20 distribution ratio further reduced grantee accountability and transparency and the risk for fraud, waste and abuse increased".  


We believe that the position of  chairman of the City Council Budget committee is a very tall order and Mr. Martin's track record suggests that he is not the right candidate for this position.  Extra care should be given to protect the tax payers interest in these difficult financial times.     This is not a time for on the job training.   City Council Chairman Nestor Garcia should reconsider his appointment of Mr. Martin as budget Chair.

See the attached Auditor's report.

For more information please contact Carroll Cox at 808-782-6627