Honolulu’s Solution to Government Corruption? Regulate Private Contractors

The City of Honolulu contracts out its parking garages to private operators. Usually, that’s a good thing, as long as the contracting is on the up-and-up. That’s apparently not the case in Honolulu.

Accorindg to the Honolulu Advertiser, a recent employee of the parking garage pled guilty to charges of embezzling $250,000 from the company. Now that she’s been caught, she will have to pay restitution and get a little jail time. So far so good.

Here’s the kicker: the company was pressured by midlevel city officials in the Department of Facility Maintenance to hire her, even after she left the previous company because she was suspected of embezzling money! According to the Advertiser:

“Standard Parking executive Michael Miller testified that when he was preparing to bid for the contract to operate the city’s Hale Pauahi parking concession in June 2006, an employee in the city’s Department of Facility Maintenance, Alan Torikawa, told Miller that hiring Bracey would help Standard’s chances of landing the contract.

“Mr. Torikawa says if Standard puts her in charge of Hale Pauahi, that would weigh in Standard’s favor in terms of getting the contract,” Miller testified before a grand jury.

So Bracey was hired by Standard and the company got the contract, even though it was the highest bidder for the job, according to records in the case.”

This blatant corruption concerns city officials so they’ve adopted new controls–on the private companies! No action has been taken against the city officials who pressured the company. Again, according to the Advertiser:

“Torikawa no longer works for the city but Maeda is still employed at the Department of Facility Maintenance.

Facility Maintenance Director Jeoffrey Cudiamat said in a written statement yesterday that the city has made changes in its parking lot operations to improve revenue collections and tighten financial oversight of contractors.”

Moreover, Honolulu city officials publicly say that the company would not have received the contract if the city had “followed the rules,” so hiring the embezzler was the key factor in securing the contract.