Posted tagged ‘Big Island’

R.I.P. Herb Matayoshi

July 14, 2011

I was sorry to hear of the death of Herbert Matayoshi, a gentleman politician who served as Big Island mayor from 1974 to 1984 after earning his stripes as a leader on the County Council.

Matayoshi, 82, provided Hawai‘i County steady guidance through a period of major political transition, leading with an easy manner and an eye for detail.

While he preferred a low-key approach, he could display a flair for the dramatic.

When the council decided not to reconfirm his respected planning director Raymond Suefuji and corporation counsel Clifford Lum for no apparent reason other than to flex muscle, Matayoshi whipped up community outrage and made the council sit through hours of testimony in favor of his nominees that lasted long into the night.

Then, knowing that the votes wouldn’t change, he threw it in the face of council members by appearing as the last witness and withdrawing the nominations, denying them the satisfaction of the last word.

He gave the Police Commission a public dressing down after the panel called an illegal secret meeting to fire popular Chief Ernest Fergerstrom as he recovered from a stroke.

With his diverse business interests, even after retiring from politics Matayoshi remained a force in the community along with his wife Mary, an educator and volunteer who has been a major figure in her own right.

The couple passed on their passion for public service to their four children, who include state Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.

Visitation will be at 4 p.m. July 26 at Honolulu’s Borthwick Mortuary, followed by a memorial service at 6 p.m. An observance in Hilo will be held Aug. 15 at Church of the Holy Cross with visitation at 2:30 p.m. and a celebration of life at 4 p.m.

Jackass justice

June 15, 2010

My head is spinning over the arrest on the Big Island of a Census taker in Puna for entering the property of an off-duty cop who didn’t want to be bothered.

The cop called in his buds on the force and the Census worker, 57-year-old Russell Haas, waited outside the gate for the officers to arrive, thinking they’d smooth things over and help him get the information from the recalcitrant resident.

Instead, they crumpled his Census forms and threw them at him, told him to “get the hell outta here” and arrested him for trespass when he didn’t hop to. (The Hawaii Tribune-Herald has the details here; some of the reader comments at the end are quite entertaining.)

The county prosecutor is backing the apparent police overreaction, filing misdemeanor charges against Haas that could cost him $1,000 and 30 days in jail.

If there’s good reason for this heavy-handed law enforcement, police and prosecutors aren’t saying. They’ve thrown up a veil of secrecy that includes refusing to name the officer who filed the complaint.

The outraged U.S. Attorney, who usually prosecutes cases, jumped in as defense counsel for Haas and petitioned to have the case transferred to federal court on O’ahu.

The way U.S. Magistrate Kevin Chang last week bent over backward to accommodate the transfer suggests Big Island prosecutors will be thrown out on their okole if they don’t drop the charges before the case proceeds further.

Our civic atmosphere is polluted and our public institutions clogged by people basically acting like jackasses over inconsequential matters.

This story has circulated around the country, naturally, adding to the growing impression among our fellow Americans that we’re seriously conflicted in Hawai’i as to whether we want to be part of the union.

And it adds to the increasing reputation of my beloved Big Island as an uncouth backwoods.

Law enforcers over there still haven’t wiped the Peter Boy egg off their faces in the minds of many, and it’s disturbing that they’re not smart enough to realize they can’t keep looking like bumbling fools.


%d bloggers like this: