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Honolulu City Council chairman’s departure and search for his replacement stirs ethics complaints

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2019
                                Honolulu City Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson has resigned from the council and had taken a position with a union with the city’s rail project.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2019

    Honolulu City Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson has resigned from the council and had taken a position with a union with the city’s rail project.

Honolulu City Council members calling for more transparency surrounding the departure of Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson have filed complaints with the Honolulu Ethics Commission and have asked to pause the search for his replacement.

Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi filed two complaints with the Honolulu Ethics Commission Thursday surrounding Anderson’s resignation. One asked for a cancellation of an upcoming City Council meeting to choose Anderson’s successor, a process that Councilwoman Kym Pine has also asked to be put on hold.

Earlier this month Anderson announced his resignation from City Council effective Sept. 23, saying he had planned to take care of his grandparents. Anderson represents council District 3 covering Ahuimanu, Heeia, Haiku, Kaneohe, Maunawili, Kailua, Olomana, Enchanted Lake, and Waimanalo.

But Anderson started working for Local Union 630, Plasterers and Cement Masons this month.

The first of Tsuneyoshi’s complaints to the Ethics Commission expresses concern that the union is closely affiliated to the Honolulu rail project.

“Representatives of Local 630 and affiliated labor unions have appeared before the Council in the last few months for critical matters relating to the project including financing for the construction of the project which Local Union 630 stands to continue to profit greatly from,” Tsuneyoshi said in the complaint, adding that Anderson has supported legislation to provide funding for the rail project.

Tsuneyoshi requested an investigation into the events leading up to Anderson’s employment with Local Union 630.

Anderson was not immediately available for comment.

In her second complaint, Tsuneyoshi called for Anderson to cancel a Sept. 23 special City Council meeting to consider a resolution that would select his successor.

The remaining Council members will elect Anderson’s successor, but both Tsuneyoshi and Pine said that there needs to be more community input.

”The current process defies Honolulu City Council tradition and more importantly, lacks community input from the very people that this member will represent,” Pine said in a letter Thursday to Anderson and City Council Vice Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi.

Kobayashi nominated longtime District 3 staff member Andrew Malahoff to replace Anderson.

She then nominated one of Anderson’s staffers, Alan Texeira — a request made by Anderson after Malahoff said he would not be able to fill the seat, Tsuneyoshi said in her complaint.

Tsuneyoshi nominated Kalani Kalima, who along with Texeira, ran for the Council’s District 3 seat this year but lost in the primary election.

She said that Anderson would not commit to posting her nomination to the Sept. 23 meeting agenda.

Pine said that previously when Council seats were vacated, the community was allowed to nominate replacement Council members in a public and transparent process.

Malahoff said that there is precedence to appointing a staffer to fill a Council vacancy near the end of a term, pointing to a resolution from 2010 that appointed Reed Matsuura to take over a District II seat, which then-Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz vacated.

“Please keep in mind that former Councilmember Matsuura is a current staff member in Councilmember Tsuneyoshi’s office,” Malahoff said in a text message. “She should know that Mr. Matsuura was appointed to fill (the) term of his then boss, Councilmember Donovan Dela Cruz, who had resigned from office towards the end of 2010.”

Anderson’s term for ends Jan. 2.

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