Council chair will not strip Berg of his voting rights over 'unruly' behavior

Published: Nov. 30, 2011 at 5:35 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 1, 2011 at 2:51 AM HST
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City Councilman Tom Berg.
City Councilman Tom Berg.

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The chair of the Honolulu City Council says he will not strip Councilmember Tom Berg of his committee voting rights after recent reports of "unruly" behavior.

On November 17th, a Waipahu Neighborhood Board meeting came to a grinding halt when Berg began speaking about rail transit.

Now, a Honolulu Police Department report released Wednesday alleges that Berg was "extremely argumentative and irrational" toward US Secret Service agents who were providing security at President Obama's APEC reception at the Hale Koa Hotel November 12th.

"This would have never happened if they just provided me a badge," Berg said. "Trying to get back in to retrieve my phone became an ordeal when it shouldn't have been."

According to the report, Berg, who was a guest, was intoxicated and trying to enter a "secure zone" without proper access credentials. He allegedly demanded that the agents be fired for not letting him back in to locate his cell phone.

An HPD bike sergeant's helmet camera recorded the incident. Police did not release the video, saying that it was in evidence.

"Had you demanded that the agents who were stopping you be fired?" this reporter asked.

"After a period of time, I regret, I regret that, you know, I do believe my buttons were pushed," Berg replied.

City Councilmember Breene Harimoto, who's been at odds with Berg over transportation matters, sent a letter to Council Chair Ernie Martin, saying his colleague's "outbursts, verbal tirades, inability to stay on the topic of discussion, and argumentative and aggressive behavior are serious concerns."

"I now fear that Councilmember Berg's behavior may be escalating to the point of possibly being a danger to others," Harimoto wrote.

"Councilmember Harimoto is fishing," Berg said in response. "He's looking for anything that he can find to degrade and misrepresent my character."

The letter asks the chair to remove Berg as a voting member of all committees to "impress upon him the seriousness of the situation."

"I have reviewed the complaints against him and strongly cautioned him to be more mindful and respectful of all audiences," Martin said. "But to reprimand Councilman Berg in the manner that is being suggested would deprive the residents of District 1 of representation on the City Council."

"My style may not be of the best delivery," Berg said. "I will take heed to that critique."

HPD classified the Hale Koa incident as a "miscellaneous public," which means it was a non-criminal case.

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