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Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Federal Audit Catches Takamine's 'Economic Opportunity Council' Misusing DLIR Funds
By Andrew Walden @ 12:37 PM :: 7861 Views :: Hawaii County , Akaka Bill

The State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) funnels federal money to the Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council, whose Directors in 2010 included Dwight Takamine (now DLIR Director), which then funnels the money to a for-profit corporation owned 100% by retired Hilo Ward Heeler George Yokoyama.  HCEOC is falling apart at the seams because it is no longer led by Yokoyama and nobody is stepping up to fill his shoes.  The US HHS OIG busted HCEOC because in the months after Yokoyama’s July, 2010 departure from the 'non-profit', HCEOC accountants weren’t doing a very good job of figuring out which slush funds were creating which make-work assistant ward-heeler jobs.  How will they get machine voters to the polls now? 

Speaking of voters, be sure to check out the July, 2010 Paradise Post "Tribute to George Yokoyama."  The very last sentence is: "Dwayne ‘Ike’ Yoshina contributed to this article.”  That is of course the very same Dwayne Yoshina who formerly headed the Hawaii State Elections Office and is currently up to his eyeballs in retaliating against the Hawaii County Clerk--and disrupting the election--over the firing of his girlfriend

Other fascinating details: According to BREG, the Chairman of the Board of the HCEOC as of April 1, 2010 was Hawaii County Prosecutor Jay Kimura.  Kimura in August, 2011 resigned as Prosecutor and fled to Maui after his brother was convicted of running the Maui Industrial ponzi scheme.  

Another 'fine' member of the HCEOC Board: Kaniu K. Stocksdale.  Akamai readers will remember that she is the girlfriend (yes, there are two old-boy girlfriends in this story) who in 2001 brought down DoE Superintendent Paul LeMahieu after it was discovered that LeMahieu had funnelled a $600K PREL contract to her.  This is what the DoE was doing instead of obeying the Felix Consent Decree. 

There may have been additional leadership problems at HCEOC due to the relationship between the profitable non-profit and Yokoyama’s for profit entity.  According to DCCA BREG documents, Yokoyama’s for-profit “Hawaii Human Resources Corp” is still owned by Yokoyama and still registered at the same address as HCEOC.  This raises an obvious non-rhetorical question—with HCEOC for the first time ever being led by somebody other than the corporate profiteer, what would be a new director’s 'economic opportunity'?

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Hawaii Claimed Unallowable Community Services Block Grant Costs for Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council's Expenditures Under the Recovery Act

Excerpts from the Report of the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, July 30 2012

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Office of Community Services (State agency), was awarded $5 million in Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds for fiscal years 2009 and 2010. For the period November 5, 2009, through September 30, 2010, the State agency awarded Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council (Council) $1.02 million in CSBG Recovery Act funds.

Of the $975,000 of CSBG costs that the State agency claimed for the Council's program expenditures, $831,000 was allowable in accordance with applicable Federal requirements. The remaining $144,000 consisted of $22,000 of fringe benefit costs that we determined was unallowable and $122,000 of salary-related and shared costs that we set aside for resolution by the Administration for Children and Families.

Specifically, we set aside:

     $28,796 of salaries and wages for the Council’s administrative and program employees because the costs were based on budget estimates,

     $21,789 of fringe benefits applicable to the set-aside salaries and wages, and

     $71,415 of shared costs because the costs were not allocated to the Council’s programs in reasonable proportion to the benefits received.

Lack of Adequate Monitoring Procedures (pg 6)

The State agency did not have adequate monitoring procedures to ensure that the CSBG costs claimed for the Council’s program expenditures for salaries and wages, fringe benefits, and shared costs were allowable in accordance with applicable Federal requirements.

(Nobody is watching as HCEOC makes it up as they go along.)

In a fiscal monitoring report covering the Council’s use of CSBG Recovery Act funds, the State agency reported weaknesses related to the Council’s personnel and shared costs; however, the State agency concluded that there was no evidence of any misuse or excessive use of CSBG Recovery Act funds and that all reported expenditures were supported with proper documentation.

(Translation: Takamine’s DLIR tried to cover it up.)

We found, on the contrary, that the Council charged salaries and wages based on budget estimates. In addition, the Council claimed fringe benefits based on the availability of funds without supporting documentation. Finally, the Council’s shared costs were not allocated among its programs in reasonable proportion to the benefits received.

(In other words, HCEOC was making it up as they go along.)

Download the complete report

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East Hawaii Ward Heeler George Yokoyama retires after running influential Hawaii County nonprofit

WHT July 12, 2010: George Yokoyama brings millions in government grants to the Big Island, and through his taxpayer-funded transportation service, he literally delivers the votes. Or at least the voters….

"In legislative circles, the name George Yokoyama is a very familiar name," said state Sen. Dwight Takamine, D-Hilo, Honokaa, Waimea, who sits on the HCEOC board. "He's a humble man. But for four decades, he's been the driving force. ... Whenever George asks for help, it's never for himself, it's always for the people he serves."

But even as the community fetes Yokoyama in its first major fundraiser, the HCEOC board is taking a critical look at the nonprofit's financials, launching a national search for a new director and considering dissolving a for-profit corporation Yokoyama controls that shares office space and money with the nonprofit. There's talk among the board, and even from Yokoyama himself, of the need for new blood.  (Old boys are running out of steam)

HCEOC received $8.2 million in federal, state and county funding in the tax year ending Sept. 30, 2008, according to the company's federal 990 form, the most recent tax filing available.

Yokoyama is also president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and director of Hawaii Human Enterprises Corp., a private, for-profit company that shares the same Rainbow Drive, Hilo, address as the nonprofit, according to reports filed with the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

Like HCEOC, the for-profit's mission statement is "to provide training and employment opportunities for residents of the county of Hawaii."

Unlike those of nonprofit corporations, tax filings of for-profit corporations are not open for public scrutiny. So it's not readily apparent what measures have been taken to prevent commingling of funds from taxpayer-backed county, state and federal grants. (Answer: none.)

Paradise Post: Tribute to Geo Yokoyama, July 2010

read more

BIN: HCEOC Mishandled Stimulus Funds, Audit Says

 

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