Wednesday, July 4, 2001

Colleagues urge
Mirikitani to
resign now

State law allows him to
|sit on the Council until his
sentencing in December

See Also:
Peers support Mirikitani's work;
Mirikitani Guilty

By B.J. Reyes and Gordon Y.K. Pang

Now that a federal jury has found City Councilman Andy Mirikitani guilty of a kickback scheme, some of his colleagues and others say he should resign immediately rather than sit on the Council until his sentencing in December.

State law says a public official automatically forfeits elected office when he is sentenced.

A number of colleagues and others in the community, however, don't like the idea of a convicted felon sitting on the nine-member body for the next five months.

"I think Mr. Mirikitani has always sought to do what's best for his constituents, and I personally feel that what's best for his constituents is for him to resign as soon as possible," Councilman Duke Bainum said.

"I don't think he should stay as a Council member; I really think he should leave," said Councilman John DeSoto.

"My concern now is mostly that the area continue to have representation on the City Council," said John Breinich, chairman of the Ala Moana-Kakaako neighborhood board, which falls within Mirikitani's district. "With sentencing not until December, it leaves a void for our district."

Breinich said Mirikitani, a three-term councilman, should resign to begin the process of finding a replacement.

"I don't see how he can participate in Council activities very effectively under this kind of verdict," Breinich said. "The sooner that this can get resolved and the district can get representation, the better."

Bainum agreed that it would be hard for Mirikitani to be an effective member of the Council.

"There are many issues facing his district," Bainum said. "All of these demand full attention of a legislator, and it's hard to imagine that happening with somebody facing the type of penalties that Mr. Mirikitani is facing."

Council Chairman Jon Yoshimura said there were some initial talks about the future of the Council if Mirikitani were to be found guilty.

Yoshimura last night declined to discuss what options he and colleagues are exploring but said, "We need to move quickly so that the public is assured that the Council's work is not compromised."

Sources said Council members are looking at attempting to move for an expedited sentencing.

Mirikitani's term expires Jan. 2, 2003. City rules say if he is removed more than a year before that date, a special election is held within 60 days of the vacancy.

If the vacancy occurs within a year of his term's expiration, the Council selects someone to fill out the term.

Council members are also looking at changing the rules to remove Mirikitani from the decision-making process and have been discussing that strategy with city attorneys.

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