Sunday, May 2, 2010



Da Mayor was a controversial figure in Honolulu's history. Certainly no one affected the residents of Honolulu more than he did in the 20th century. And whether you agreed with his politics or not, we can all agree that he got things done.

He always respected the elderly and did whatever he could do to make our kupunas' lives easier. He made sure that the elderly had a bus pass so that they could get around to do their daily activities and not be housebound due to a lack of transportation. Then, he went further and brought City Hall to them so they wouldn't have to negotiate transportation into town. He called them "Satellite City Halls".

Many of the elderly lived in urban areas and he provided land to allow them to grow their own produce and work the soil as they did in the old days. He even provided free fertilizer, mulch and other things to help them grow their gardens. Then he gave them an opportunity to buy produce from truck farmers by opening up the "People's Open Markets" across Honolulu.

I got to know the mayor at a low point in his life when he was out of office during 1980 - 1984. And yes, I got involved in his gubernatorial campaign in 1982 and to a lesser degree, others, later on. I found him to be principled and lived every moment with fire in his belly. He loved to debate issues and if you disagreed with him, you had to be prepared to defend your position because he wasn't about to back down. We got along because I didn't have enough brains to back down from him.

He was also somewhat shy in social settings. If there's an issue to debate, the shyness disappeared. During those days, he had lots of free time and he would play gin ever day. When he walked in, he would not offer salutation to anyone and would growl. "let me see your money!". And you were required to produce proof of cash before he would deal the first hand. He would often intimidate you into making mistakes during the game and wondered out loud, "How did you ever get through high school... making stupid moves like that?". The more he's losing, the more insulting his intimidations got.

Where he came from, the East Coast Italian neighborhoods, they called that "busting your b***s". Fortunately for me, I grew up in Kalihi where we all used trash talk in everyday conversation. If he noticed someone who couldn't handle his insulting behavior, he truly felt badly. Early on, I would feign being hurt and he'd feel so badly that he let up on his game and I'd beat him. It didn't take him long to catch on.

The kupunas in Honolulu are grateful that Frank Fasi touched their lives.

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