Thursday, September 13, 2001

City & County of Honolulu

Council chairman
defuses coup attempt

John DeSoto was slated to
replace Jon Yoshimura as chair

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

While other Americans were glued to their televisions watching the tragedy unfold on the East Coast Tuesday night, City Council Chairman Jon Yoshimura was heading off a coup attempt.

The attempt was apparently led by members John Henry Felix, Duke Bainum and John DeSoto. DeSoto, who was chairman from 1995 to 1998, was slated to replace Yoshimura.

Rumors of an impending ouster began last month when Yoshimura, in a span of less than a week, was hit with bad news on two fronts.

On Aug. 21 the state Campaign Spending Commission voted to accept $3,500 from Yoshimura as a settlement for violations found in his spending report.

On Aug. 27, Yoshimura held a press conference to acknowledge that he lied when he said he had not drunk the night he was in a hit-and-run accident for which he was later fined.

A new leadership consisting of DeSoto, Felix, Bainum, Gary Okino and Andy Mirikitani was in the offing Tuesday night, according to several sources.

But the alliance fell apart yesterday when DeSoto and Yoshimura -- who have both announced intentions to run for lieutenant governor next year -- had lunch and worked out their differences.

While other colleagues had raised concerns about Yoshimura's credibility as a leader after his recent troubles, DeSoto said he had other concerns.

"It's personal but we worked it out," DeSoto said.

DeSoto stressed that he did not want to become chairman again but was approached by others seeking Yoshimura's ouster.

He added that the timing of a reorganization, in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the mainland, was not good.

Yoshimura also refused to answer specific questions about the reorganization attempt.

"I serve at the pleasure of my colleagues," he said, "and I have and will continue to work very hard to earn their confidence."

Attempts to reach others involved in the attempted ouster were unsuccessful.

Other sources said reluctance by some to align with Mirikitani, convicted of federal felonies and slated to be sentenced in December, and unhappiness about proposed committee assignments also doomed the reorganization.

Steve Holmes, who was not involved in the latest attempt, said: "The timing right now is horrible with the national day of mourning. The Council looks bad enough as it is these days. There would have been huge criticism over the timing."

City & County of Honolulu

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin