The Council chairman'sBy Gordon Y.K. Pang
leadership post is secure with
City Council Chairman Mufi Hannemann says he's assured a seven-member majority bloc to support his leadership after incumbent Andy Mirikitani's victory last night over Russ Francis in the 5th District.
In the only other Council race, Steve Holmes beat Melodie Aduja, making it a clean sweep for the incumbents on the nine-member Council.
Of the minority members on the Council, Donna Mercado Kim and John DeSoto have apparently agreed to support Hannemann as chairman, leaving Holmes and Duke Bainum on the outs.
Kim voted for Hannemann earlier this year, but had been considered by most as a minority member.
"I had six of seven before tonight, and I anticipate Andy coming over," Hannemann said, noting that he's been speaking to colleagues individually since the primary election. "That's seven out of nine, so we're ready to go."
Hannemann said he wants to put to rest any speculation of a switch in Council leadership.
"There shouldn't be any more talk that the Council chairmanship is going to be changed," he said.
While no major changes in leadership are expected, Hannemann said, "I'll be shifting some people around" in terms of committee assignments, based on his colleagues' talents and interests.
Hannemann said he expects the new lineup to be completed in a week or two.
Reaction was swift from Councilman Bainum.
"I ran to serve the people and to develop good policy, not be a part of the politically correct and politically powerful crowd."
The Windward battle turned ugly during the last two weeks of the campaign with Aduja questioning Holmes' effectiveness in finding Council support for Windward projects despite his reputation as an environmentalist.
Holmes last week filed a complaint against Aduja with the Campaign Spending Commission, alleging she violated fair campaign practices.
Holmes said last night he may also sue Aduja for using in her latest ads accusations that he slapped a teen-age girl after she blew cigarette smoke at him. The girl has reportedly dropped the case.
Aduja said last night she believes the advertisement legitimately questioned his character.
Aduja, a tax attorney, said she was taken out of context when Holmes pointed fingers at her for wanting a so-called big-box outlet in the Windward area. Aduja said she would have supported such a development only if the public did.
In the Mirikitani-Francis race, Mirikitani won by more than 700 votes.
Mirikitani said he will "continue to provide an independent voice for all citizens and not just special interests."
Mirikitani said his campaign committee can take pride in having faced a difficult challenge against a well-known opponent who had the backing of Gov. Ben Cayetano.
Francis, sports coordinator for the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, said he intends to run for office again.
"It's the first day of the next campaign, whatever that may be," he said.
Harris reorganization movesBy Gordon Y.K. Pang
ahead on 4 of 5 points
Mayor Jeremy Harris can now finish the last part of his government reorganization plan.
Four of the five City Charter amendments for restructuring pushed by Harris won the approval of Oahu voters yesterday. Three other Charter amendments were also approved.
The League of Women Voters, which has objected to the proposals being put on the ballot, vowed to continue fighting the amendments in the courts.
Harris said he wasn't surprised by the results. "The public has been saying all along it wanted government to be streamlined and downsized," he said.
Council Chairman Mufi Hannemann, also a proponent, said, "This puts the city on pace with the private sector and state government in terms of making a commitment to streamlining government and making it more efficient."
A proposal to merge the Planning Department with the Department of Planning and Permitting (formerly the Land Utilization Department) won easy passage.
Also winning easily was a plan to merge the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services (formerly the Finance Department) with the Budget Department.
While Harris championed the proposals as necessary to create government efficiency, opponents said the mergers tampered with a time-tested system of checks and balances.
All functions at satellite city halls -- including driver and vehicle licensing -- will now fall under the new Department of Customer Services as approved by the electorate. The new department takes the place of the Office of Information and Complaint.
Another reorganization-related amendment, allowing city attorneys to change language in the Charter to reflect changes made by reorganization, was approved by a narrow margin. Opponents had argued that the measure would give the administration too much power.
The one Charter question tied to the reorganization that was defeated called for allowing second deputy directors to be appointed by the mayor as political patronage positions. The mayor will still be allowed to have second deputies, but they'll have to go through civil service.
Harris last night said he still wants to have second deputies in the newly enlarged Planning Department as well as the Design and Construction Committee.
Grace Furukawa, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Honolulu, said her organization will carry out its threat of filing another legal action to invalidate the Charter amendments.
The league and other opponents charge that Harris and City Council leaders illegally convened a Charter Commission. They point to a provision in the Charter that specifies a commission would be called "on or before Feb. 1, 2001."
Supporters of the commission say that language allowed the commission to be called this year.
Harris and Hannemann, during the last week of the campaign, began running television advertisements urging voters to vote for the amendments.
Voters yesterday also OK'd a non-reorganization amendment to create renewable five-year terms for the police chief and give the Police Commission the authority to conduct annual evaluations of the chief.
Fathers remembered in pair of Council racesFathers played key roles in the two City Council races decided yesterday.
Councilman Andy Mirikitani's father, Carl, died Friday night after a long illness. Mirikitani's family and supporters gathered at his late father's Diamond Head-Kahala home as they always have on election nights.
Mirikitani said it was his father's dream that he enter politics.
Ed Francis, father of 5th District Council candidate Russ Francis, flew in from his mainland ranch to be with his son on election night.
The former wrestler and wrestling promoter looked as fit as ever shaking hands with his son's supporters at Francis' headquarters.
Meanwhile, 2nd Council District candidate Melodie Aduja spent the evening watching the results at the Kaneohe house she and her family share with father Peter Aduja.
Aduja said her father, a former state legislator, inspired her to begin a political career.
Francis takes note of 'The Body's' victoryAt the Russ Francis campaign headquarters on University Avenue, someone nudged the City Council candidate and noted that former professional wrestler Jesse "The Body" Ventura had been elected governor of Minnesota.
"Maybe I should have been a wrestler," Francis said, smiling but shaking his head.
Local grappling fans might remember that Francis, early in his professional football career, wrestled a few bouts for father/local wrestling promoter Ed Francis in the off-season.
Russ Francis said last night he thinks Ventura will make a fine governor.