The $250,000 paid out to then police chief Louis Kealoha came from HPD’s budget.
That’s according to the city which provided the information only after KHON2 made a formal request to access public records.
The payment was negotiated by city corporation counsel Donna Leong, who has received a target letter from federal investigators.
The Honolulu Police Commission voted in favor of the agreement that paid Kealoha $250,000 in 2017 if he retired from HPD. At the time he was already under federal investigation.
Some police commissioners say they asked where the money would come from but they never got an answer. City council members also wanted to know and had asked the police commission for information.
“I remember the chair of the committee at that time asked them to bring the case so that we can have a public hearing. But they refused to come because the police commission was going to take care of it,” said Ann Kobayashi, city council interim chairwoman.
So KHON2 pressed for an answer Tuesday and again on wednesday. That’s when the mayor’s office said we had to send in a formal request.
We first asked HPD if the money came from its budget but a spokeswoman referred the question to the mayor’s office. The mayor’s spokesman first said he was working on the information but sent an email this morning saying KHON2 had to submit what’s known as a 92F form, which is a formal request to access public records.
“But why? Whether it’s a police department budget or the city’s budget it’s still public money, it’s taxpayer’s money so that information should be readily available,” said Kobayashi.
Late Wednesday afternoon the city Department of Budget and Fiscal Services sent an email saying the money came from HPD’s budget and was paid out to Kealoha as his severance pay. Because it came from HPD’s budget, a city council hearing was not required to approve it.
Kobayashi has sent a letter to the budget and fiscal services department asking for more information about the payment.
As to why KHON2 needed to submit a formal request, the mayor’s spokesman says it’s because they had to look up the records to get the information.