Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin announced this week that an investigative team has been formed to look into an allegation that Councilman Trevor Ozawa verbally harassed another Councilman’s aide for supporting his political rival.
The aide, Paulyne Anakalea, has since filed a complaint with the city’s Ethics Commission.
The finger-pointing at Honolulu Hale over the allegation has political undertones. Anakalea was sign-waving for former state Rep. Tommy Waters, who is seeking to unseat Ozawa in the Nov. 6 general election. She works as an aide for Councilman Ikaika Anderson.
Anderson criticized Martin for taking more than two months to form an investigative team. But Ozawa and Council Vice Chairwoman Kymberly Pine said Anderson — who is supporting Waters to unseat Ozawa — is pressuring his staff to do his political bidding.
Martin will leave the Council in January under term limits, and Anderson and Pine are believed to be jockeying to replace him as Council chairman. Whoever wins the Ozawa-Waters battle could tip the scales toward one or the other.
Anakalea made her complaint against Ozawa at the end of July, saying he harassed her several times about sign-waving for Waters, asked her why she was fighting his re-election bid and told her to stop campaigning for his opponent.
Martin, in a statement to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser late Tuesday, said an investigative team “is in place and will begin its work this week.”
Anderson said he and Anakalea have been frustrated at the slow pace of the process. “It does not seem like this matter is being taken seriously by Council leadership,” Anderson said Friday, before Martin announced the the team. “And the Council chair, by his inaction, continues to foster a hostile working environment at the City Council.”
But Martin, who was out of town, said in his statement Tuesday that he won’t rush an investigation over a sensitive matter. “It is unfortunate that Council member Anderson is asking for an expedited process merely for his convenience and could potentially put in jeopardy the investigation,” he said.
Ozawa accused Anderson of “using this false complaint as a political tool” to help his opponent, and said Anderson “has a history of bullying people,” pointing to a 2012 Ethics Commission opinion that found Anderson in December 2010 used his city position to obtain favorable treatment for himself … and to threaten retaliation against (city parking) employees” following several parking disputes.
Pine, in her own statement, said, “I am demanding that we take all accusations seriously, just as we are taking seriously the accusation against Ikaika Anderson that he is forcing staff members to say and do things that benefit his own political agenda.”
Anakalea and other members of Anderson’s staff denied that he is pressuring them to do his political bidding. “None of us have been forced to say or do anything to benefit any political agenda,” the staff said in a statement.
Anderson noted that his aides have helped candidates going up against people he supports.
Anakalea, who previously had requested her name not be released publicly, said Tuesday she is willing to be named to support Anderson in light of the allegations against him made by Pine.
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