Garcia out of
chairman roles

Council members say that
legislative goals will not
change after reorganization

Nestor Garcia, one of the staunchest supporters of rail transit, is losing the chairmanship of the City Council Transportation Committee in a leadership shakeup.


Nestor Garcia: The rail transit supporter will now head the Parks Committee

But Council members insist that the reorganization will not affect the 7-2 majority in favor of a bill to increase the general excise tax to fund mass transit.

Garcia and Councilman Gary Okino were the only two members who did not sign off on the reorganization. Both are seen as the Council's biggest backers of rail transit.

Councilman Todd Apo will succeed Garcia as Transportation Committee chairman.

Garcia was also removed from the Budget Committee, for which he had been vice chairman. He will now head the Parks Committee.

The changes are expected to be formally adopted Wednesday at a special meeting.

"I won't have anything to say until the day of the meeting," Garcia said. "I haven't been told directly of the (changes)."


Todd Apo: He will succeed Garcia as the new Transportation Committee chairman

Okino also declined comment.

Some of the reasons given by Council members for Garcia's demotion include clashing egos and personalities. They also say Garcia was involved in an attempt to unseat Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz as the Council leader, and Garcia mismanaged Bill 40, which proposes to raise the excise tax by a half a percentage point to pay for transit projects.

Proposed amendments were offered to the bill, but Garcia wanted more time to consider ramifications of the proposed changes and to work out a compromise. So the vote was postponed a month until this past Wednesday.

Dela Cruz said he does not see the majority support for Bill 40 shrinking because of the leadership changes. The Council has voted 7-2 on each of the two approvals so far.

"This reorganization does not affect the legislative agenda of the Council," Dela Cruz said.

He said that as the debate over transit proceeds, Apo's Leeward Oahu district will likely be at the forefront since a proposed rail system will likely begin there.

"Transportation is a huge issue ... and he (Apo) has one of the fastest-growing districts," Dela Cruz said.

Apo said that while rail supporters have nothing to fear about the leadership changes, he is not sure if rail will be the final solution.

"My continued belief is that Bill 40 provides the city with options as we look to the solutions for our traffic problems," Apo said.

In other changes, Councilman Charles Djou, who became Parks Committee chairman as a result of a reorganization in January, will be Executive Matters & Legal Affairs Committee chairman.

Councilman Romy Cachola, currently Executive Matters chairman, will become the head of the new Planning and Intergovernmental Affairs committees.


Council shakeup

The new City Council leadership lineup:

City & County of Honolulu Council Chairman: Donovan Dela Cruz *
Budget Committee chairwoman: Ann Kobayashi *
Zoning Committee chairwoman: Barbara Marshall *
Public Works Committee chairman: Rod Tam *
Planning Committee chairman: Romy Cachola *
Transportation Committee chairman: Todd Apo *
Executive Matters Committee chairman: Charles Djou *
Public Safety Committee chairman: Gary Okino
Parks Committee chairman: Nestor Garcia

* Members of the majority who signed onto the reorganization

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