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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                   August 11, 2006




              Joan Manke, executive secretary of the Neighborhood Commission Office, today welcomed the City Auditor’s audit of the City’s neighborhood board system. The audit report was publiclyreleased today.

            Manke noted that the audit covered the period from July 1, 2002 through June 30, 2005. Only the final six months of that three-year period fell under Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s administration.

             “This administration has been working to improve the board system since it took office. The audit identified many shortcomings we are already addressing, and in that sense it confirms our efforts,” said Manke. “It’s a positive baseline from which we can measure our progress.”

            Honolulu’s 32 neighborhood boards serve as advisory sounding boards for government. Members are elected from the respective neighborhoods. The Neighborhood Commission is made up of nine citizens and governs the board system. The top administrator is the executive secretary, a post Manke assumed in mid-January.

            “Since then, we have been actively engaged with board members and commissioners to bring about needed improvements,” said Manke.

            The audit identified many problems stemming from the lack of an updated Revised Neighborhood Plan. The commission formed a group to review the draft plan and that group has been meeting every Saturday since June, Manke noted. The revised plan group hopes to hold public hearings later this year on its proposed new plan.

            Manke noted that the commission reactivated its budget committee in June, and is expected to address budget issues identified in the audit.

            She disagreed with the auditor’s recommendation to move the Neighborhood Commission Office out of the Managing Director’s Office to some other City agency and to change the staff positions from appointed to civil service. Manke said a City Charter amendment would be required to make those changes, and voters have twice rejected proposed amendments to change the status of the commission staff. Shifting the office to another department would erode the independence of the neighborhood boards, she added.
            “Since the neighborhood board system was established in 1972, it has played a valuable role as an avenue for citizen involvement in government and given thousands of people a voice they might not otherwise have had,” said Manke. “The audit simply confirms that there is room for improvement.”



            Joan Manke, Neighborhood Commission Executive Secretary, 527-5749       

            Mark Matsunaga 527-5767

Friday, August 11, 2006

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