Video by David Corrigan, interview conducted by Tiffany Edwards-Hunt
HILO, Hawaii – After criticism, state-wide media coverage, and an official letter of reprimand from House leadership, Puna State Representative Faye Hanohano returned to Hawaii Island where she gave her side of the story in an exclusive interview.
Sitting down with journalist Tiffany Edwards-Hunt (Big Island Chronicle) outside the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, Hanohano explained in detail the events that led Speaker of the House Joseph Souki to threaten to strip her of her committee assignments and refer her for further possible disciplinary action.
Big Island Video News and Hawaii24/7 were both invited to film. We present her entire interview in the video above.
Recently it was alleged that Hanohano intimidated and lacked respect for student Lewis Edward Aarin Jacobs and staff with the Department of Land and Natural Resources during public hearings at the Capitol.
Jacobs, a student at Hawaii Pacific University, testified during a committee hearing on HB2380, which would have created administrative penalties “for any person who knowingly captures, harms, or kills sharks and rays within state marine waters.” He later told KITV news that Hanohano called him to the front of the room to ask, ‘why do all of you westerners want to come over here and tell us what to do?’
“I felt I was being berated and I felt I was being discriminated against,” Jacobs told KITV.
On Saturday in Hilo, Hanohano told Edwards-Hunt the young man had come to the hearing unprepared that day at the Capitol.
Shortly after, a list of complaints was submitted to House leadership by William Aila, on behalf of staff with his Department of Land and Natural Resources. Again, Hanohano said it was a matter of education.
In his official letter of reprimand, Speaker of the House Joseph Souki said he found the complaints about Hanohano’s conduct to be valid. Speaker Souki said her conduct was “unacceptable and disruptive.”
Hanohano says leadership has been unhappy with her for a while now. The Puna representative says it all stems from her refusal to pass a bill to prohibit smoking on Hawaii’s beaches, contrary to the wishes of fellow Big Island representative Cindy Evans, the chair of the Committee on Water and Land (Hanohano disagreed with the inclusion of ‘submerged lands’ in the bill.) Hanohano believes Evans took her displeasure with the refusal to the Speaker of the House. Hanohano said that on February 3rd, Speaker Souki approached her down in the chambers before the floor session and told her, “your committee is giving me a headache.”
Hanohano said that once the complaints began, news reporters did not help the situation. She said media would not let the story “bring to closure” because “they need news to sell their wares.” She even used the Hawaiian word for reporters in a sentence to illustrate her Hawaiian word of the day, a tradition on the House floor. The word was maha’oi, which Hanohano translates as “rude”.