Friday, December 3, 1999

City & County of Honolulu

Hannemann says
he was ousted for
asking tough questions

But Council Chairman
Yoshimura says Hannemann's
style is pointlessly badgering

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


City Councilman Mufi Hannemann says he was ousted from the chairmanship of the Transportation Committee because "I asked the hard questions" about Mayor Jeremy Harris' $1 billion transit plan.

Resolutions were introduced by Council Chairman Jon Yoshimura and six other members replacing Hannemann with current Policy Chairman Duke Bainum and making Hannemann chairman of a newly resurrected Committee on Cultural Affairs.

Replacing Bainum as chairman of the Policy Committee will be Councilman John Henry Felix, signaling his return to favor with the Yoshimura leadership.

The duties that were once part of Felix' Parks Committee will now fall under the renamed Public Works, Environment and Parks Committee chaired by Councilman Steve Holmes.

Hannemann said he was not surprised by the demotion and said it's because he was critical of portions of the mayor's transit plan.

"When I asked hard questions about the budget, they removed me as chairman," Hannemann said. "Now, I ask the hard questions, they do the same thing."

Only last May, Yoshimura replaced Hannemann as chairman of the Council, leaving him, Felix and Donna Mercado Kim in minority positions.

Hannemann's latest fall came the day after a Council meeting, during which he peppered testifiers about the plan to place a tunnel under Honolulu Harbor connecting Ala Moana Boulevard with Sand Island.

He later joined in an 8-0 vote on a resolution "strongly supporting" further study of the transit plan.

Yoshimura said he and colleagues thought Hannemann was badgering testifiers and not asking substantive questions.

"I don't think that's a style that accomplishes anything," Yoshimura said.

A formal vote on the changes takes place during a special meeting Tuesday at 10 a.m.

The change in committee structure is being undertaken now because Council members have individually made plans for the holidays, Yoshimura said. He added that it's traditional for changes in leadership to occur at the end of a calendar year.

Hannemann said the move shows clearly that Harris is orchestrating the moves of the Council.

Yoshimura said it is "an insult" to colleagues when Hannemann charges he's the only Council member critically analyzing policy. But the Council has been able to act independently of the mayor and "accomplish quite a bit in a low-key and efficient way," he said.

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