STAR-BULLETIN / MAY 2006
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka is greeted by Nancie Caraway after his speech at the State Democratic Convention. Caraway and her husband, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, support Akaka.
Abercrombie's wife removes Case sign
She says it is wrong to play politics on public property
The presence of an Ed Case campaign sign at a community garden in Manoa drew the ire of at least one local resident, who tore down the sign and sped off with it in her car, according to a witness.
Longtime community activist and Case supporter C. Richard Fassler, the sign's owner, said he was surprised that someone would go to such lengths to remove the sign, but even more surprised at who it was.
"I recognized the woman as Nancie Caraway, the wife of (U.S. Rep.) Neil Abercrombie," Fassler said.
Caraway, a political scientist and director of the Women's Human Rights Project at the University of Hawaii's Globalization Research Center, acknowledged that she took the sign but also noted that it was on public property.
State law prohibits political campaign signs on public property.
"I was disappointed that our community garden on McKinley Street in Manoa was politicized by whoever placed a campaign sign there," Caraway said. "As a lifelong advocate of preserving Hawaii's aesthetic and visual environment, I felt it had no place in this public setting."
Abercrombie has been a staunch supporter of U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, who is being challenged by Case in this month's Democratic Primary. Caraway said it was not an issue of who the sign supported, just that it was there.
"I removed the sign as I would have had it been an Abercrombie sign, an (Randy) Iwase sign, a (Quentin) Kawananakoa sign or any other campaign sign," Caraway said. "It was in poor taste to place a sign there, and whoever did should have known better."
Fassler, coordinator of the community's Neighborhood Watch program who has voluntarily tended the garden at McKinley Street and Kekela Drive since its inception in 1994, said the sign was taken Tuesday night at about 6:30 p.m.
Fassler said he was working in the garden when a neighbor alerted him of someone approaching the sign, which measures about 2 by 5 feet and was propped against a tree.
He said he recognized the woman as Caraway, who lives down the street from him.
"We were quite shocked by this because of her anger and that it was just taken off the property," he said. "I think she overreacted."
Fassler said he only puts the sign up when he is tending the garden, which is about an hour each night, and that he has received permission to do so from the neighbor whose property abuts the garden.
He said the sign, which is made of Styrofoam, was left on his lawn yesterday morning "folded and a little mangled."
"I didn't think it was serious enough for the police to get involved, but I was very unhappy," he said.
Caraway said she has nothing against someone supporting a particular candidate but that she feels such signs should not be placed on public property.
"It was just a violation of the neighborhood trust, I think," she said. "In a public space that has a really important, community open feel to it, I just think it shouldn't be politicized."
Placement of campaign signs on public property is illegal but usually does not rise to the level of penalties, said Bob Loy, spokesman for the Outdoor Circle. He said candidates almost always comply with requests to remove illegal signs because of the potential for negative publicity.