Political Radar

`Express myself'

March 7th, 2014

Renwick "Uncle Joe" Tassill, who serves on the Hawaiian Homes Commission, has complained to state House Speaker Joseph Souki that he was denied an opportunity to testify on a Hawaiian studies bill before the House Finance Committee in late February.

Tassill said in a March 3 letter to Souki that both Rep. Sylvia Luke, the committee's chairwoman, and Rep. Scott Nishimoto, the vice chairman, denied his request to testify. He said he was only allowed to speak after Rep. Gene Ward asked him a question. The bill would create an instructional office of Hawaiian studies at the state Department of Education.

The committee had already moved past testimony and into the question-and-answer portion of the hearing when Tassill made his request.

Tassill is the second Native Hawaiian activist to complain about their treatment at the Legislature since the controversy surrounding Rep. Faye Hanohano's conduct. Some Capitol insiders view the complaints as an attempt to insulate Hanohano by suggesting that other committee chairmen and chairwoman occasionally treat people poorly at hearings.

Tassill specifically mentioned Hanohano in his letter to Souki:

I believe that since Representative Hanohano is being disciplined for her actions, both the chair and vice chair should also be disciplined for their actions as well. I believe I deserve an open and public apology from them. I hope and pray that the right thing is done and that others are not treated as such.

Luke said on Friday night that she intends to send a letter of apology to Tassill.

7 Responses to “`Express myself'”

  1. Ella:

    I am glad that Rep Luke intends to apologize. However, those Finance Committee meetings are pretty intense, plowing through a lot of work. When I have been there, ample opportunity has been given for the public to testify, but asking to testify when the testimony portion was over, and treating it as an entitlement, seems a bit over the top. Uncle Joe got a chance to testify, and that is what matters. But, I don't think that an apology should have been demanded.

    More troublesome was the situation in Sen. Hee's hearing, where Ms. Hubbard was trying to make a comparison in cases and was ruled out of order and escorted out of the hearing room by the Sgt. at Arms.

  2. Johnson:

    Uncle Joe has been around the Capitol for at least a couple of decades. He knows the system well; he knows when the time to offer testimony has ended and the time for decision-making has begun.

    This is an ego-driven dust-up that has no comparison to the troubling situations that have recently landed Rep. Hanohano in the news.

  3. ohiaforest3400:

    This bears no relationship whatsoever to the type of conduct apparently displayed by Rep. Hanohano. It doesn't look like Uncle Joe was treated any different than anyone else who was not present to testify or did not speak up during that part of the hearing. Get with it or get over it.

  4. Chris:

    Uncle Joe is one of the few in the Capitol with an ounce of honesty and integrity. If he says he was treated unfairly I believe him.

  5. Johnson:

    Chris, if you spent any time at all around the Capitol, you would know that there are many people there who have significantly more than "an ounce of honesty and integrity," and who do not look for special treatment because they feel they are special.

  6. Especially Incognito:

    "What Difference Does It Make?"

    souki is a DINO and many of his views are republican.
    He wanted and sides with many republicans in view. He should
    change party.

  7. Especially Incognito:

    Another Cummings and issa.

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