Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Petition for Mahi
reaches the mayor

More than a dozen supporters of Aaron Mahi delivered a petition with more than 3,000 signatures urging Mayor Mufi Hannemann to keep the ousted Royal Hawaiian Band director.


Aaron Mahi: His supporters suggest he still wants job

"Please reinstate Aaron Mahi until the (selection) process has been looked at," Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs President Antoinette "Toni" Lee told Hannemann yesterday in his office.

But Hannemann stood behind what he called a fair and thorough selection process to pick Cabinet members and he also continued to support former Pearl City High School band director Michael Nakasone as his choice to lead the Royal Hawaiian Band.

"At this time, it would be very difficult to rescind the appointment that I've made, but I will look at this, I will give it every thoughtful consideration again, but I don't want you leaving here with any false hopes," Hannemann told the group.

Members of the Royal Hawaiian Band criticized Mahi's ability as a manager and musical leader and lobbied Hannemann not to reappoint him, organizing a petition drive themselves. Mahi has been the band master since 1981.

Hannemann said he asked members of the band to stop their public criticism of Mahi. "I didn't want Aaron's name to be sullied."

Hannemann reiterated that if the committee designated to select a Royal Hawaiian Band leader had forwarded to him Mahi's name as one of the three finalists, "I would've had no problem reappointing Aaron Mahi."

But Lee questioned the criteria used by the search committee that led to Mahi not being one of the top three candidates.

"It's really hard for us to understand that a man of this magnitude that brought so much intellectual rights to the Royal Hawaiian Band in his history, in his music, in his language that he would not be able to make the top three cut," Lee said. "How could a person who has led this band for 24 years not qualify?"

Hannemann, who proclaimed yesterday Aaron Mahi Day, said he thought that Mahi didn't want his job back.

"I don't get the sense ... that Aaron is trying to stay on the job," Hannemann said.

"If he didn't want to stay on, we wouldn't be here," Lee replied.

A public hearing on Nakasone's and other Cabinet appointment comes up before the City Council next Wednesday. Lee said she plans to lobby the Council and testify against Nakasone's confirmation.

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