By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Maui Bureau
WAILUKU, Maui Maui Countys new nonpartisan council got off to a rocky start yesterday with an ugly partisan flap over the selection of the panels leadership.
After being sworn in during a ceremony in the morning, Democratic and Republican members in the afternoon accused each other of plotting and sneaking behind each others backs to lobby for leadership positions.
In the end, the five-member Democratic majority had its way with the re-election of Patrick Kawano of Molokai as chairman of the nine-member council. Another Democrat, Dain Kane of Wailuku, was re-elected vice chairman.
Republican Charmaine Tavares of Kula, who originally sought the chairmanship, won the presiding officer pro tempore position third in the line of succession after Democrat Mike Molina of Makawao switched his support to offer Republicans "an olive branch.
Not all of the discussion was so noble. The Republicans came out firing, accusing the Democrats of meeting behind closed doors to select council leaders even though they had promised no such discussion would take place until yesterdays organizational meeting.
Republican Wayne Nishiki of South Maui said the Democrats pulled off "a power grab that left yesterdays meeting nothing more than a "kangaroo court.
"I was not asked to this party, Nishiki said of the meeting to pick leadership. "It was a party where they passed out the turkey. The only thing I got left with was the scraps.
Republican Alan Arakawa of Kahului called yesterdays proceedings "a farce and "a sad state of affairs for an electorate that voted for a charter amendment making this years council the countys first nonpartisan board.
But Kane retorted that Republicans phoned to lobby "perceived weak members in an effort to gain votes in their favor. "Thats hypocrisy at its lowest, he said.
Kawano, who has been elected to eight two-year terms on the council his last under a new term-limits law said he has no regrets about meeting with other Democrats about organizational issues.
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