City & County of Honolulu

Kobayashi heads charge
to oust Council chairman

Less than a year after taking office, the new City Council could be on the verge of changing leadership with a group led by Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi in a reorganization bid to oust Gary Okino as chairman.

"That doesn't feel good at all. I was trying to keep a level playing field for everybody," Okino said yesterday. "It's kind of discouraging to find that people aren't happy with that."

Kobayashi said the talk of reorganization picked up after a failed attempt by Okino recently to remove her as chairwoman of the Budget Committee.

"He wanted to change the budget chair and the members of the committee, but he didn't have the votes to do that," Kobayashi. "I think our Budget Committee has been independent and trying to bring accountability to the city ... and I was worried about the changes that were trying to occur."

Kobayashi and Okino clashed publicly over the fiscal 2004 budget.

"There was some discord between the chair and myself during the budget process, and it was still early in the budget process, and I was surprised that the chair would not support his own budget chair," Kobayashi said.

"We could've made changes then because we had the votes to change the chair then, but we didn't and we left everything as is."

Things started to heat up this week, when Kobayashi's group met with Councilmen Charles Djou and Nestor Garcia separately to persuade them to join with the group.

Kobayashi already has the support of Council members Romy Cachola, Rod Tam and Donovan Dela Cruz.

The goal was to get the six votes necessary to get the reorganization on today's agenda, but late yesterday there didn't appear to be enough votes, although those at the Council say it's not the end of the reorganization talk.

"I don't want the Honolulu City Council to become like OHA where we're changing chairmanships and becomes musical chairs every six month. That's not good for the city and that's not good for the Council," said Djou.

Okino said that the current political climate will make the Council look bad.

"That's the biggest problem with this, I mean it'll just show that we're the same, we haven't changed. It will kind of continue the public perception about the way we operate here at the City Council," he said. "The more contested it is, or the more contentious it is, it's just going to validate to the public, it's the same old thing, business as usual at the City Council."


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