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Hanohano Comments to be Focus of Special Committee

Posted February 14, 2014, 05:57 PM HST Updated March 7, 2014, 02:04 PM HST
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Rep. Faye Hanohano. House photo.

State Rep. Faye Hanohano will be investigated by a special committee over comments she made last week during a meeting of the committee she heads.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported today that House leaders informed her of the move following a complaint made by a Hawaii Pacific University student of Hanohano’s behavior.

Aarin Jacobs, an environmental studies student at the Oahu university, wrote an email to the House leadership saying the Big Island lawmaker treated him rudely following his testimony on a bill that would provide greater protection for sharks and rays.

Following Jacob’s testimony on Friday before Hanohano’s Ocean, Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs Committee, Hanohano called him back up for questioning. The newspaper reported his email said that Hanohano claimed that he wanted to take her food, and also asked whether she would be forced to eat people if there was a taro shortage and was prevented by law from eating shark.

Jacob’s email said Hanohano, who is native Hawaiian, also questioned why Westerners come to Hawaii and tell its residents how to act.

This wasn’t the first time Hanohano’s comments have gotten her into hot water.

In February 2013, she publicly apologized for racial and ethnic slurs she made in her state Capitol office.

Hanohano had told workers installing art under a state program that the works were “ugly” and she would prefer art created by native Hawaiian artists.

She reportedly told the workers that they could take away any art done by “haoles,” “Japs” or “pakes.”

Hanohano, who is in her fourth two-year term representing lower Puna, said at the time of the apology that she had contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for sensitivity training for “all of our staff.”

The Star-Advertiser reported today that the special committee which will consider whether disciplinary action is warranted will consist of three Democrats and three Republicans.

Co-sponsors of House Bill 2380, the legislation being considered by Hanohano’s committee last week, included five House members from the Big Island including Hanohano.

The committee on Friday voted to defer the measure, which would have made it a misdemeanor to capture, harm or kill any species of shark in state waters.

House Speaker Joe Souki did not immediately respond to a request from Big Island Now for a copy of Jacob’s email.

Hanohano did not respond to a request for comment.

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