BY JIM DOOLEY – Governor Neil Abercrombie and his wife moved into their official residence “earlier this month” after spending some $40,000 on repairs and maintenance of the eight-year-old home, his office said.
Called “Hale Kia’âina,” or “Home of the Governor,” the residence was built behind Washington Place, the previous official gubernatorial home, across Beretania Street from the state Capitol.
Washington Place, which was built in the mid-1800’s for Queen Liliu’okalani, is now a showplace of Hawaiian history.
Washington Place Foundation, a charitable non-profit organization, manages both Washington Place and Hale Kia’âina.
The repairs at Hale Kia’âina included “carpentry, painting and electrical work” which cost a total of $40,609, said Donalyn Dela Cruz, Abercrombie’s press secretary.
The money came from surplus private donations made to Abercrombie’s inaugural fund, according to Dela Cruz.
“During these difficult economic times, Governor Abercrombie has sought and secured outside funds and partnerships to help with expenses,” Dela Cruz said.
“The Washington Place Foundation received $125,000 in private donations to maintain the historic home of Queen Lili’uokalani and to support Hale Kia’âina,” Dela Cruz said.
“The funds come from donations collected to pay for Governor Abercrombie’s inaugural activities. The donations collected exceeded the cost of the inaugural events, and Governor Abercrombie chose to donate these surplus funds to several state charities,” Dela Cruz said.
Other donations of surplus inaugural funds were “$25,000 to Humane Society programs and $30,000 to meals-on-wheels programs for the elderly across the state,” she said.
Abercrombie supporters collected nearly $672,000 to finance a week of inauguration festivities staged last year, according to an accounting released in February by his office.
After Abercrombie was elected, he and his wife, Dr. Nancie Caraway, stayed in their Manoa home while the repair and maintenance work was undertaken.
During the recently-completed legislative session, Abercrombie administration officials said no taxpayer funds were expended because of the first couple’s stay in their Manoa home.