Mayor, Apo clash over Waimanalo landfill
Apo has a conflict of interest in the vote on closing the facility, Hannemann says
Mayor Mufi Hannemann challenged City Councilman Todd Apo to step aside from voting on whether the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill should be closed -- an action favored by his employer.
But Apo and City Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz said there are no direct personal conflicts with Apo's job with Ko Olina Resort that require him to recuse himself from voting.
"We have one councilmember who's very focused on this for obvious reasons: because he is employed by a company that wants to close (the landfill)," the mayor said yesterday. "I think he should just recuse himself from voting altogether on this issue because of where his company is taking a public position."
Apo, vice president of the Ko Olina Community Association, said that under the City Charter and Council rules, he is obligated to represent constituents in his district and to vote unless he has a direct personal financial stake in the issue.
Apo said: "When I am in doing anything for City Council, my job is to represent my community, my constituents and the city as a whole. And if that runs counter to the position that my employer has, then my job again is to take action based on my representing the city and my district. That's very clear for me."
Dela Cruz said that as far as he is aware, Apo has no direct personal financial conflicts that would prevent him from voting. "He is obligated to represent the people who elected him."
"There's no need to get personal," Dela Cruz said of the mayor's comments.
Apo, who lives below the landfill, said the issue over the landfill has to do more with the administration's lack of plans for solid waste.
"Let's focus on the issues. Let's have a plan for dealing with our waste," Apo said. "That's the issue. We've got to do away with all this other stuff, whether you talk about conflicts or election-year politics or special interests or whatever."
The mayor's comments come as he prepares for his second State of the City address tomorrow, when he said he will outline for the Council the plan he has been following to address Oahu's garbage needs.
"We're going to be talking about many of the things that we have been doing in the area of the environment and recycling and the whole nine yards," he said.
The mayor's statements also come following the filing of a similar complaint with the city Ethics Commission alleging a violation over Apo's job with Ko Olina while being a member of the City Council. The complaint was filed by 14 people, including environmentalist Carroll Cox.
Hannemann said the questions being raised about Apo's case are legitimate.
"I think it's a real conflict," Hannemann said. "On the one hand, it's good that he's disclosing it, but I think sooner or later the public or the media or whatever has got to discern how much of this he's doing on his own or he's doing on behalf of his company if he's on the payroll of this company."
The mayor said the landfill is not the only example. He also pointed to Apo's recent appearance before the state Legislature to lobby to maintain tax credits for a planned aquarium at the Leeward Oahu resort.
Apo said his position is his community's position. "(The mayor's) heard from the community. They want the landfill closed."
Last week, the Council voted 7-2 on Bill 37, which mandates closing the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill by May 1, 2008.
Hannemann said he will not reveal until after tomorrow's speech on what he will do with Bill 37.
But if he vetoes the bill, Apo could have another opportunity to vote on the measure if the Council decides to override the mayor's veto.