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Budget briefings postponed for the week in the wake of Council leadership turmoil

  • BRUCE ASATO / FEB. 13

    Honolulu City Council Chairman Ron Menor noted that Council members will take up the resolution installing Ernie Martin as chairman at a special meeting March 19.

Honolulu City Council Chairman Ron Menor made an unprecedented move late this afternoon when he announced he is canceling this week’s full slate of budget briefings by city agencies due to “pending organizational issues.”

The announcement followed Council Budget Chairman Joey Manahan’s decision to cancel today’s scheduled hearings due to a lack quorum. Department heads and other members of the public who showed up for the first meeting at 9 a.m. were met by a locked door to a darkened room, and a posted meeting agenda that had been stamped “cancelled.”

Manahan said that of the four members on the Budget Committee, only he and Councilman Brandon Elefante were available for the meeting, he said, while members Kymberly Pine and Ikaika Anderson did not attend. Pine said she told Council leadership months ago she could not make meetings today.

Manahan said he was hoping to resume the briefing schedule Tuesday.

But Menor told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in a statement that he was postponing indefinitely the entire week of meetings.

He noted that Council members will take up the resolution installing Martin as chairman at a special meeting March 19. To hold briefings before then would be counterproductive, he said.

A new group of Council leaders, if there is to be one, may have “different views and priorities on the provisions in the city budget,” Menor said.

Canceling this week’s slate of briefings pushes the budget process back at least two weeks because committee meetings are scheduled to take place March 20-22.

But it’s unclear if even those meetings will take place since committee rosters will likely be shuffled after the March 19 meeting. Currently, the most powerful committees are led by Manahan (Budget), Pine (Zoning and Housing), Anderson (Planning), Elefante (Transportation) and Menor (Executive Matters and Legal Affairs). Of the five, only Pine is with the new leadership.

Besides Martin and Pine, Carol Fukunaga, Ann Kobayashi and Trevor Ozawa are backing the reorganization.

It’s unclear how, or if, the postponement of budget briefings will ultimately affect the budget for fiscal year 2019, which begins July 1. The Council is required to adopt a budget by June 15.

Menor replaced Martin in January 2016 bolstered by a leadership team that seemed more amicable with Caldwell and his administration. Martin and Kobayashi have been Caldwell’s most frequent Council critics.

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