- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 8, 2017

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - Expense reports show Hilo Mayor Harry Kim spent an average $486 a month on travel for the first seven months of his administration, compared to former Mayor Billy Kenoi’s average $1,727 a month during most of his eight-year tenure.

Records obtained by West Hawaii Today show Kim claimed $3,402 in charge card and travel expenses from December through June.

Kim’s spending was eclipsed by two of his staff members.

Managing Director Wil Okabe had the most charge card use, with his $9,135 spent primarily shuttling back and forth daily from Honolulu for collective bargaining sessions at Honolulu International Airport with other county and state officials. The union negotiations continued through January and February, West Hawaii Today reported (https://bit.ly/2vB3lNI ).

Executive Assistant Rose Bautista spent $4,977 primarily to attend a seminar on citizenship and immigration in New Orleans. Bautista, who headed the county immigration office for 15 years, said she wanted to go so the county could be prepared for new policies coming down from the President Donald Trump administration.

“It was very, very helpful, especially with all the issues coming up,” Bautista said. “With the new information, I am able to help allay fears of people coming to our office. People come here and they are very fearful.”

Kim’s public information officer, Janet Snyder, and Okabe’s private secretary, Martha Rodillas, went to Dallas to attend a government social media conference they said is the only one of its kind in the United States.

Snyder’s seven-month expenses came in at $3,328, and Rodillas claimed $2,993 for the same period.

“People expect social media from the government now. It’s not an option,” said Snyder, who didn’t have a Facebook page before joining the mayor’s staff. “Not a day goes by that we’re not using it.”

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