Tuesday, May 18, 1999

City & County of Honolulu

leaves warning for

The ex-Council chairman
tells his successor that
criticizing the mayor's budget
can bring trouble

By Pat Omandam


City Council Chairman Jon Yoshimura says the Council won't blindly support the mayor's budget plans.

But ousted leader Mufi Hannemann warned that criticism by Council leadership of the city budget led to this and last year's Council reorganizations.

"The one common denominator for both changes ... is the unhappiness and dissatisfaction of the chief executive of the City and County of Honolulu to cooperate with the Council chairs on the budget," Hannemann said.

In his parting comments as chairman yesterday, Hannemann explained the Council reorganized under him last May after then-Chairman John DeSoto spoke out against a rushed city reorganization to downsize government. Hannemann said he and others agreed to reorganize the Council if Harris promised not to lay off 185 city workers.

This year, Hannemann believes his strong questioning of city officials over the actual benefits and cost savings of that restructuring led others to remove him as chairman.

He criticized city officials for initially giving the Council a savings estimate of $4 million, but then raising the amount to $25 million the next day.

More than 60 people signed up to testify yesterday at a packed City Hall chamber during the two-hour special meeting. Many praised individual Council members for their work, while others urged the new leadership to support the mayor's budget, particularly funding for the community visioning program.

After the meeting, Harris said the city lobbied hard against Hannemann's budget plans because of their effect on city services. Harris said he hopes the change will clear the logjam at City Hall and get the budget talks going again.

"I think its unfortunate that he (Hannemann) misses the point," Harris said. "There's a reason that six members of the City Council said, 'Enough is enough. We want a new approach, we want to work in cooperation. We're tired of all the fighting.' "

But Yoshimura, in brief remarks after assuming the gavel, said the Council will not be a rubber stamp for Harris, simply because members will not allow that to happen.

Yoshimura acknowledged there will be disagreements among members, but he considers it one of their strengths.

And he promised that no one on the Council would be "iced out" of the process.

"I intend to take a collaborative approach and do my best to help all of you be as effective as you can," he said.

Meanwhile, Council members Donna Kim and John Henry Felix, who were also ousted from power, pledged to remain effective players, although neither is a member of the Council's new Budget Committee.

Kim, who held the Zoning chairwoman post for nearly 13 years, said she now has more time to concentrate on other areas of Council work, and will continue to probe, question and "call it like I see it."

Felix said members were too consumed with jockeying for power and lost focus. The Council needs to get back to basics, he said.

Where's Hannemann?

Here are the new memberships of key City Council committees:

Bullet Budget: Rene Mansho (chairwoman) and members Duke Bainum, John DeSoto, Steve Holmes and Andy Mirikitani.

Bullet Planning and Public Safety: Mirikitani (chairman) and members DeSoto, Holmes, Donna Kim and Mansho.

Bullet Zoning: DeSoto (chairman) and members Bainum, John Henry Felix, Mansho and Mirikitani.

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