Honolulu Lite


Go big time if you’re
going to break laws

The city prosecutor wants to send former City Councilwoman Rene Mansho to prison for 10 years. Send Rene Mansho to prison? No, that can't be right. You don't send Rene Mansho to prison. You send Rene Mansho to a florist to get more flowers for her hair. You send Rene Mansho to Mamo's to shop for designer muumuus. You send Rene Mansho to have her nails done, which, by the way, takes just a bit longer than sending your car to Maaco for a paint job.

It just doesn't seem possible that the Prom Queen of Honolulu Hale is going to prison.

But Mansho, who quit the Council in anticipation of pleading guilty this week to stealing more than $20,000 in public funds and more than $300 from her own campaign organization, apparently will be going to the Big House. City Deputy Prosecutor Randy Lee is asking for the maximum prison sentence, and judges rarely opt for probation in such cases.

While it is unlikely Mansho will get the 10 years, don't be surprised if the judge smacks her around a little by giving her some jail time. It's called "sending a message," and if an organization ever needed to be sent a message, the Honolulu City Council is it. The Council has shown itself to be as big a set of yammering, ethically challenged yahoos as you're likely to find this side of Chicago.

By now, everyone knows the laundry list of impropriety by heart: One councilman is sent to federal prison for taking kickbacks, another loses his law license for lying about a car crash, another continues to conduct an illegal business out of his home, another claimed college degrees he never received. ... It's all just so ... yucky.

It's yucky because it is petty and sordid. It's corruption on a squalid scale. It would be almost refreshing to see a Council member busted for taking a half-million bucks for rezoning some land so a gangster buddy could open a whorehouse or opium processing plant. Real old-time corruption.

Sure, Rene Mansho stole money, but not to finance some flashy underworld lifestyle. She wasn't hanging with mob guys in back-room casinos, chugging cocaine-spiked champagne and lighting Cuban cigars with $100 bills. No, that would be too interesting.

Mansho needed the cash to pay for her frilly baby-doll dresses and to corner the island plumeria market so that she would never appear in public without looking like a Rose Bowl Parade float. She wasn't addicted to Mary Jane; she was hooked on Mary Kay.

The message that needs to be sent to City Council members is that if they decide to be criminals, at least be big criminals. Don't take manini kickbacks from your staff; go rob a bank. Don't run an illegal wedding business out of your home; run a white slavery ring.

If you don't have the guts to go bad big time, then show a little class and just do the boring, tedious job you were elected to do.

Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards, appears Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. E-mail

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