HILO, Hawaii: A bill that would amend the county charter make the Corporation Counsel an elected position was passed through committee on Tuesday.
Bill 211, was introduced by council chair Dominic Yagong.
The measure was postponed on two prior occasions, but on Tuesday, the Committee on Government Relations gave it a positive recommendation. The only “no” vote came from Hilo councilman J Yoshimoto, who expressed his concerns about qualifications.
Councilman Donald Ikeda warned of the unintended consequences that may come with the bill; like the possibility that the corp counsel could become more powerful than the mayor, in essence.
And it didnt take long for the council to get into the political aspects of the current relationship. It wasn’t mentioned on Tuesday, but Yagong has had a number of run in with the current Corporation Counsel, Lincoln Ashida.
Ashida, who was re-appointed by Mayor Billy Kenoi to the position, seems to have since had a disagreement with Yagong over representation on an annual basis.
Like in 2009, during the re-organizing fiasco that triggered a sunshine law violation. Or most recently, in 2011, when Ashida advised the mayor that the amended budget approved by the county council and fowarded to Kenoi was, in fact, illegal.
Ashida says the push and pull is nothing new, and comes with the territory. Ashida will be seeking a move back to his position as County Prosecuting Attorney next year – again, only if voter give their approval in the upcoming election – next year.