As seen in Honolulu Weekly 10-25-00 | © John Pritchett

Invasion of the
Vision Teams

In a 1998 memo to City Council members, Gary Okino, then Chief of the Community and Functional Planning Division, City Planning Department, wrote: "On several occasions, the Mayor, behind closed doors, has expressed his position on community based planning and public participation. He has directed that if it cannot be avoided, it should be limited to the point that it does not interfere with his decision making."

To deal with this problem, Jeremy came up with an ingenious plan called the "Visioning Program." He offered 19 Oahu communities $2 million dollars each to fund improvement projects. Each community would hold meetings organized by Harris and his operatives. Those attending were known as the "Vision Teams" and they would make recommendations on how to spend the $2 million. But Harris was ultimately in control of the visioning process. By planting his minions and even members of his administration on the teams, he could end up spending the money the way he wanted to, on projects that made him look good and fueled his political ambition, while at the same time claiming community participation and empowerment. And because the visioning process was designed with a large degree of unaccountability, it would be difficult for most folks to see what was really going on. | Next Page | Previous Page | Table of Contents | Part II |

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