By David Shapiro

Wednesday, August 28, 1996

Richard Borreca is on vacation
His column returns next Wednesday


Fasi provides no grace
in mayoral race

IN a newspaper ad last week, Frank F. Fasi accused Mayor Jeremy Harris of "legal corruption" for hiring former House Speaker Daniel Kihano and four other ex-politicos into his administration.

He complained that the five are increasing their retirement benefits under the "high three" pension system while helping Harris campaign for re-election. He was particularly incensed that one of them, former state Sen. Ann Kobayashi, is Harris' campaign manager.

"'Dishonest' is not the correct word for what you support . . . You are campaigning for mayor at taxpayers' expense!" Fasi accused Harris.

Fasi was onto an issue that's touchy among voters after legislators failed this year to reform the "high three" system, which gives lawmakers juicier pensions if they can get three years in high-paying administrative jobs after they retire from the Legislature.

But something was wrong with the picture Fasi painted. I couldn't put my finger on it until I remembered that Kihano retired this month after three years as a $72,000-a-year city executive to take advantage of his hard-earned "high three" benefits.

Wait a minute, I thought. Harris has been mayor only two years. If Kihano was with the city three years, Harris couldn't have been the mayor who originally hired him. So who was the fiendish mayor who actually first put Kihano on the city payroll?

I hit our library for the answer. Let's see, I've just about found it. Omigosh, it couldn't be! It was . . . It was . . . Frank F. Fasi!

Digging deeper, I found that Fasi not only gave Kihano a city job to pump up his pension, but Fasi made Kihano co-chairman of his unsuccessful race for governor in 1994 - the very same "dishonest" act he accuses Harris of committing with Kobayashi.

And Kihano wasn't the only former politician Fasi brought into the city - and his political apparatus. Former state Sens. D.G. Anderson and Duke Kawasaki come quickly to mind. And didn't I read in one of Fasi's ads that Jeremy Harris was a desperate-for-work former Kauai councilman when Fasi hired him into the city?

Fasi was the master of using incumbency to his political advantage. And Harris learned at the master's knee. It must drive Fasi crazy that Harris is using his old tricks against him.

But there's a fundamental difference between Fasi and Harris. Fasi has no shame. There's little he wouldn't sink to score a political point. Harris has shown enough character that I doubt that he would accuse an opponent of dishonesty for hiring somebody he actually hired. I doubt he would accuse an opponent of corruption for continuing a practice he originated.

Fasi claims he's not in this race as a vendetta against Harris, but he can't seem to move his lips without emitting whining sounds about Harris' "disloyalty" for not supporting him for governor in 1994.

ALL Fasi has accomplished is to drown out the voice of Arnold Morgado, who offers a legitimate competing vision for Oahu's future. Voters deserve to hear Harris and Morgado slug it out in clean debate and make their choice.

Fasi brings nothing to the race but a mean streak and wacky ideas. The only way he can win is by slinging so much filth that the office will no longer deserve respect.

Many regret that Fasi can't recognize that his time is past and gracefully call it a career. But let's face it, Fasi entered public life without grace and he served without grace. Why would anybody expect him to exit with grace?



David Shapiro is managing editor of the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached by e-mail at editor@starbulletin.com.
Volcanic Ash runs every Saturday in the Star-Bulletin.

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