August 30th, 2010

Honolulu City Councilman Romy Cachola, a critic of former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, held a news conference the day before the first televised debate in the Democratic primary for governor calling attention to residents upset with higher tax bills because their properties were reclassified by the city from residential to commercial.

Former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, Hannemann’s opponent, raised the issue at the debate and chided the former mayor for not taking responsibility.

Honolulu City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, another Hannemann critic, held a news conference on Sunday again highlighting the property reclassification issue. The second televised debate of the primary is tonight.

Will Abercrombie bring up the issue again?

*Update: The former congressman, citing news reports that were partly generated by his allies, launched another critique of Hannemann at tonight’s debate.

*Update II: Kobayashi acknowledges that her family owns an apartment building that was reclassified.

28 Responses to “Coincidence”

  1. Jordan:

    I hope Abercrombie brings it up tonight. I’m tired of his surrogates doing it for him!

  2. Muck Fufi:

    Yeah! Yeah!! YEAH!!! Geeve it to him braddah!!!!

  3. ohiaforest3400:

    In Mufi’s world, it’s ALWAYS “someone else’s” fault. Tonight, he will try to identify Neil Abercrombie as “someone else” by another name.

  4. Kolea:

    “Muck Fufi”?

    Can we get a moderator in here, please?

    I’m voting for the short guy, but let’s try to show a little class, huh?

  5. OldDiver:

    No coincidence, just great timing.

  6. Maui-Loo:

    Of course! It’s what we call an ISSUE!!

  7. jaded:

    Oh, and Mufi blamed the U.S. Postal Service for the Neighbor Islands still getting the “Compare and Decide” mailers! ROTFLOL!!

  8. YoshiToshi:

    I saw some buttons, Mufi is for Mufi! Neil is for us! That kind of sums up things for me.

    This 400% real property tax increase that Mufi pulled is terrible! Good that Ann Kobayashi brought it up again. We cannot forget those poor people.

    I am so glad that Neil Abercrombie criticized Mufi for that tax increase. The 400% Mufi tax increase and his taking the bus and Handivan money for his precious Rail project really frost me. How are people going to afford the bus? How is the Handivan going to keep running? Lots of us Seniors depend on the Handivan and Bus system. Lots of other people depend absolutely on the bus. Kids trying to get an education. Working people. Why Mufi? We believed in you and you betrayed everyone for your ambition and that way too expensive Rail project!

  9. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc:

    Didn’t know that there was going to be a debate tonight. Pretty much stopped “reading” what passes for a Downtown Daily after the merger. Too much work clicking back & fiorth plus the flashing ads seem to trigger sort of eyeball spasms. Maybe it’s time to go back to a printed paper – or do they – the ubiquitous they – even print papers these days.

    Read David Shapiro’s blog a few minutes ago. What’s with the audeince? Did they really get out of control?

  10. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc:

    What’s with the clock? It says 2:56 am and it just now coming up on midnight according to my watch and the computer clock.

  11. Noa808:

    Abercrombie brought up the issue again and seems to not want to accept the answer provided by the assessor’s office.

  12. Hal Barnes:

    Let’s see, Cachola and Kobayashi, are against civil servants (assessors office) following the law. If you owned a property next door to those in question and you had been paying much higher taxes than your neighbor with same zoning, don’t you think you would have called it to the assessor’s attention. City Council could have changed the law at any time. Funny how Cachola got his mixed use property in line with law, but failed to let his constituents know what they needed to do.

  13. Michael:

    You go Randy Newman.
    Short people have rights, too.

  14. jaded:

    The fact remains that the areas the properties in question reside on were rezoned and reclassifed beginning in the 1970′s, and the residential owners had been exempt from paying the higher commercial/industrial rates by the Fasi and Harris administrations. It took an affirmative action by the Hanneman administration to remove the exemptions so for Mufi to claim ignorance is unconscionable.

  15. Brenda Starr:

    Gullible Star-Advertiser pollyanas and other media lightweights were cynically manipulated twice by these hacks and their devious “news conferences.” Situation is not at all as it seems.

  16. Kailuaresident:

    The Fasi/Harris admin did not exempt anyone from anything – the Mayors don’t have that power, only the Council does.

    And as noted, Cachola managed to do what he needed to do to get the exemption for the past 10+ years. You woulda thought he could mention it to his neighbors yah?

  17. Mr. 3 4 3:

    This was no coincidence! Neil continues to flat out lie about this issue. He is being ignorant as are others on here because they have not taken the time to read the city law that states that real property taxes are determined by the real property tax division and has nothing to do with the Mayor or the council. Furthermore, is this the only issue Neil can speak to? He has clearly lost sight of other issues that need attention. He does not even know his own plan and is always citing his website rather than articulating his vision for Hawaii. I would never vote for someone who cant explain themselves.

  18. Babes in the woods:

    City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi provided the setup by holding a news conference on Young Street the day before the debate to harp on this issue and get it in the news yet again.

    In one of the more shameless displays of absolute hypocrisy from a cunning and ethically challenged politician, Kobayashi apparently forgot to mention that she and a few family members own a 36-unit apartment building on that very street, which was among the 250 properties that the assessor reclassified in December to reflect current commercial/industrial zoning.

    Bill 6 allows property owners to dedicate apartment properties on commercial/industrial-zoned land as residential, and therefore pay a lower tax rate. About 100 of the 250 reclassified properties are not in commercial use and may qualify for the dedications. About 10 are single family homes or duplexes, while the rest are apartment buildings.

    Kobayashi quietly disclosed her ownership interest (although she stated that “my family” owns such property, rather than the more accurate “I and some family members” own it) before voting four times in favor of Bill 6 (twice in committee and twice in full council), then abstaining from the final vote.

    Bill 6 was introduced in January by longtime Kobayashi “ally” Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz, a month after Kobayashi and other owners were informed that their properties had been reclassified.

    The timing is important because it makes it, well, let’s just say “rather highly improbable” that Kobayashi and other council members had no idea that properties had been reclassified, and that their owners faced higher taxes, as has been repeatedly claimed.

    It also begs the question of why council members (and Abercrombie supporters) Kobayashi and Romy Cachola waited until August to start agitating and holding press conferences about this issue, when they could have “sounded the alarm” months ago and even remedied the situation by making Bill 6 take effect this year rather than next.

    It was a very good setup, and Abercrombie was shrewd to join in the cynical exploitation.

    Let’s just not have any naive illusions about what really went down.

  19. Inspector Renault:

    I’m shocked, SHOCKED, that Abercrombie would hop in bed with snakes and engage in such negative and misleading campaigning after pretending to ride a high horse.

    Well, not really. His camp pretty much set the tone when Cayetano and other Abercrombie supporters filed their ridiculous complaint alleging nonexistent problems with city procurement.

    You would probably have to be a Kahala Cub Scout or a grumpy beached walrus to not see what’s happening in the back room of Neil’s Cafe Americain.

  20. jaded:

    From Sec. 8-1.3 of Revised Ordinances of Honolulu, covering the Real Property Tax division:

    “(i) Recommendations for Legislation. To recommend to the mayor such amendments, changes or modifications of the provisions of this chapter or any applicable state statutes as may seem proper or necessary to remedy injustice or irregularity, or to facilitate the assessment of property under this chapter.
    (j) Report to Mayor. To report to the mayor annually, and at such other times and in such manner as the mayor may require, concerning the acts and doings and the administration of the director’s department, and such other matters or information concerning real property taxation as may be deemed of general interest; the mayor shall transmit copies of such reports to the council within 30 days of receipt.”

    It’s pretty clear that the division has a direct reporting relationship to the Office of the Mayor.

  21. Brenda Starr:

    Jaded, a routine requirement for an annual report just doesn’t make your case.

    The council members crowing the loudest about this situation were fully aware of the reclassifications back in December and both own residential property zoned commercial.

    They should explain why they did nothing until August, when they started holding these bogus press conferences to feign shock and indignation, and twist the facts on the eve of televised debates. The reasons are obvious.

  22. Babes in the woods:

    You want more about Kobayashi’s property than the bare minimum she disclosed?

    If that doesn’t work, go to
    and type in “2039 Young St.”

    Want to know who the listed owner “A P Kobayashi Family LTD” is?
    Go to;jsessionid=0E407EA55EC42A7C18C25406A040E511.liona and type in A P Kobayashi.

    Want to know who it really is? Go back one step and type in “Kobayashi Asset Management Corp.”

    Click on the link that comes up, then click on the “Officers” tab above. Kobayashi is a direct owner.

    Now that the car has started, put it in gear and start asking questions.

    How can Kobayashi possibly claim she did not know that apartment buildings like hers were being reclassified by the assessor’s office back in December?

    Why did she wait until the eve of the last televised debate in the governor’s race to hold a “press conference” on Young Street to screech about this?

    Why didn’t she admit to the news media then that she owned a building right there that was directly involved in this situation?

    Why didn’t she help her constituents before?

    What can she do now that she couldn’t do when she first found out about the reclassifications?

    Did she ask Dela Cruz to introduce Bill 6? Why?

    How much did Abercrombie know about all this?

    Shouldn’t he publicly disavow complicity with any such trickery?

  23. jaded:

    @Brenda Starr,

    Annual reporting isn’t the only requirement; I think you need to learn to read more carefully:


    Mufi needs to explain why he is claiming ignorance, shirking his oversight responsibilities and dumping all the blame on the tax assessor when the Real Property Tax division directly reports to the Office of the Mayor.

  24. Yawner:

    Unfortunately, today’s article doesn’t even scratch the surface.
    Stenography is not journalism.
    What a disappointment.

  25. Brenda Starr:

    I think Kobayashi also said she had chicken soup for lunch.
    That’s about as relevant as the lazy reporting that’s been done so far.

  26. Brenda Starr:

    Jaded, you need to learn to think more clearly. If the requirement is that information be reported to the mayor, and it is not reported to the mayor, how is that the mayor’s fault?

    Meanwhile, Council members who knew all about this situation and had personal dogs in the fight are flat-out lying to the media, the public, and especially to the property owners who were hurt. That’s absolutely sickening.

    Stop playing politics and get to the truth.

  27. jaded:

    @Brenda Starr,

    I’m thinking and reading just fine, thank you! Given this statutory requirement: AND AT SUCH OTHER TIMES AND IN SUCH MANNER AS THE MAYOR MAY REQUIRE, CONCERNING THE ACTS AND DOINGS AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE DIRECTOR’S DEPARTMENT, AND SUCH OTHER MATTERS OR INFORMATION CONCERNING REAL PROPERTY TAXATION AS MAY BE DEEMED OF GENERAL INTEREST, we can conclude from your statement that Mufi didn’t consider those residential property owners facing a quadrupling of taxes important enough to warrant his interest.

  28. Dufus Magoo:

    I have reluctantly concluded that jaded is much more interested in making angry, negative political attacks to benefit Neil Abercrombie than in knowing the truth.

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