Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Friday, August 23, 1996


What's worse,
a liar or politician?

ALL right, everyone. Back off. All of you cable TV apparatchiks who want to bust my chops for saying 'Olelo is supported by our tax money can put your pens down.

I know the public access cable stations aren't fueled by tax money directly. They're funded by the privately owned cable companies. I stubbed my brain on a low ceiling beam the other day and ever since then a certain amount of nonsense has leaked into my writing. I know, it's hard to tell with all the other intentional nonsense, but it's there.

I think the head blow bruised my common sense lobe. Hell, it's gotten so bad, I'm almost ready to write about Frank Fasi again, even though I long ago proclaimed this spot a Fasi-Free Zone. But he just bought a big, whopping advertisement in the daily newspapers which must have been more painful to him than having toe hairs ripped out with rusty tweezers.

See how bad it's gotten? I've jumped from 'Olelo to Frank Fasi without anything resembling a decent segue. But what an advertisement that was! Vintage Frank. Calling everyone liars and baby-killers. Well, he doesn't call Mayor Jeremy Harris a baby-killer outright. He says that Harris claims to be against abortion but believes the government has no right passing laws on abortions.

"So, Harris favors nine-month abortions," Fasi states. He defines ninth-month late-term abortions as "perfectly healthy babies' lives are ended even though the birth of such babies does not affect the lives of their mothers."

That's about as close as you can get to calling a fella a baby-killer while still leaving a few shreds of libel law to hide behind.

And the campaign is just starting! Ladies and gentlemen, please return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts. The captain has turned on the "Frank Fasi On A Rampage" sign!

The thing is, Fasi did a lot for Honolulu. And it's true that Harris may be taking credit for a few things that were actually instituted when Fasi was mayor. That doesn't necessarily make Harris a liar. It makes him a politician, which some think is even worse.

It's got to be aggravating to hear Harris take credit for clearing T-shirt vendors out of Waikiki when everyone remembers that it was Fasi who staged the midnight "planter" raid. And Harris may be quibbling when he says he was picked by a blue-ribbon committee to be city managing director and wasn't hired by Fasi.

Everyone knows that Fasi hired Harris. They know that he was Frank's best buddy and, in fact, Frank's protege. And if things had gone differently, Frank would be governor right now and Harris mayor and they would be making smoochie lips at each other for their brilliant coup d'etat.

But Fasi didn't take the governor's office. And now he is realizing he might have trained Harris just a bit too well in the rough-and-tumble, winner-claim-all, guerrilla-style world of local politics. Harris has shown he can play the game as well as anyone, even his mentor. And it's ticked off Fasi so much he was reduced to taking out a large advertisement in the newspapers he hates and vilifies as a monopoly.

I don't think anyone expects this campaign to be a love fest. But the tone being set by Fasi is really an insult to voters.

To suggest that Harris favors killing nine-month-old babies simply shows a lack of class. And it shows the depths to which the political system is ready to shred character in lieu of discussing issues in a dignified way. Harris is not the anti-Christ. Neither is Fasi. Nor Arnold Morgado.

They are just some guys who want to be mayor of a medium-sized U.S. city. I think it is better to win the office with dignity and class than win it by wallowing in slime. Or even worse, lose it after wallowing in slime.



Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite" Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802 or send E-mail to charley@nomayo.com or 71224.113@compuserve.com.

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