Councilman blasts mayor over Waikiki performer bill
Charles Djou accuses Hannemann of using pressure to preserve his veto of a ban
City Councilman Charles Djou says that Mayor Mufi Hannemann used "strong-arm tactics" to pressure fellow councilmembers and Waikiki businesses to switch their positions on a bill that sought to ban street performers from Waikiki at night.
The bill was authored by Djou but vetoed by the mayor.
"When bullies are able to intimidate people and they find out it works, they'll do it again," Djou said after the meeting. "For me, personally, I believe you should always stand up to a bully."
Those comments brought a quick response by Hannemann's administration.
"There was no strong-arming, there was no bullying. There was lobbying because you have to garner support for your position," said Bill Brennan, Hannemann's press secretary. "Whenever Councilmember Djou finds himself on the losing side of an issue, he resorts to these personal attacks on the mayor."
Djou's comments came after the Council voted 7-2 to defer taking action on Hannemann's veto of Djou's Bill 71, which means that the veto will stand. Bill 71 sought to prevent mimes, jugglers and other street performers from entertaining along a four-block stretch of Kalakaua Avenue from 7 to 10 each night.
Lois Perrin, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, had vowed to take the city to court if the bill passed. "We will sue; we will sue this week," she said.
In vetoing the bill, the mayor offered Bill 6, which sets up a permitting process for street performances, as a compromise to fend off the ACLU while proposing some regulation of street performances. That bill also was deferred.
Prior to yesterday, the Council, at least on paper, had enough votes to override the mayor's veto. The bill passed with a 7-2 vote in December. Nestor Garcia and Barbara Marshall voted against the measure. Six are needed for an override.
Yesterday, however, Council members Rod Tam and Todd Apo apparently intended to switch their votes. But they did not get to vote because a deferral was approved.
"The mayor lobbied me," Apo said after the meeting. "From our discussions, I knew that going into the compromise was very important to the mayor. He made that clear."
Djou said he had received several phone calls from Waikiki organizations that supported his bill. They went through "acrobatic explanations to explain to me why all of a sudden they were changing their position. And most of their phone call conversations began with, 'Mufi Hannemann gave me a call.'"
But Djou was not the only one who was unhappy.
"I dislike intensely what's going on here, and ... I agree with (Djou) that what's going on here is everything wrong about government," said Marshall, who grilled Waikiki officials about their change in position.
Hannemann, in a statement, applauded the Council for "deciding not to enact a bill that almost certainly would have led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses."
But Djou was not done. He accused the Hannemann administration of threatening to withhold opposition to the bill if Djou backed off on his request for a federal investigation of a city contract for a transit study. One of the mayor's supporters received a big chunk of the study.
"I guess this is old-time, old-boy city hall politics that I do not engage in, and will not play that game," Djou said.
Brennan said the mayor's position on Bill 71 has been consistent long before Djou's call for the federal investigation.
"It seems that he can't bring himself to admit that the mayor had a better bill, a better strategy and was able to bring people together. So, yes, it is a classic case of sore loser or sour grapes."