Sex discrimination, rail funding issues said to be reasons for city council leadership shakeup

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Allegations of sex discrimination and concerns with rail funding are reasons some councilmembers are pushing for a leadership change within the Honolulu City Council.

Councilwoman Kymberly Pine is accusing the current leadership team -- led by Chair Ron Menor -- of treating her unfairly because she's a woman.

Pine would not go into detail about what happened to her, only calling the situation a "very emotional experience."

She made her frustrations known at Tuesday's signing for Bill 110, also known as the Monster Homes bill.

The bill was introduced by Councilman Ikaika Anderson, but Pine said women on the council should have gotten more credit for the bill.

"Bill 110 was not the original version of the monster homes solution," Pine said. "Bill 94 was introduced in October of last year by Councilmember Carol Fukunaga, as well as Councilmember Ann Kobayashi. It was almost exactly copied into Bill 110."

Pine says she believes Councilmen Ernie Martin and Trevor Ozawa will be much more fair to their women colleagues.

"They are fully committed to ensuring that the women of the Honolulu City Council are recognized, not taking credit for by other leaders, and actually are celebrated as full equal partners of the Honolulu City Council," said Pine.

That statement surprised Council Chair Ron Menor, who says Pine has never brought up the issue with him.

"Under my leadership, we've tried to be very open and transparent and very accommodating to addressing various viewpoints, and ultimately we're here to do the people's business," said Menor.

Councilman Martin, who's set to reclaim the chairmanship, says another reason behind the reorganization push is concerns with rail funding.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell's budget calls for borrowing $44-million for rail operations.

"I think it made our members very uncomfortable. And I think the fact that two of our members went forward and submitted a letter in support of that particular use without consulting the membership as a whole is a reason why the change of leadership has to occur," said Martin.

A vote on the leadership change is expected next week.

Meanwhile, Menor has postponed budget briefings indefinitely.

Caldwell says when it comes to rail, he hopes to have the support of the council, no matter who the chair is.

He says the $44-million commitment shows the Federal Transit Administration that the city has skin in the game.

"They (FTA) have a lot of issues with this project and it's been a struggle for them for a long time. And they want to see more certainty," said Caldwell.

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