By Diane Ako
HONOLULU (KHNL) - What started as a KSSK-FM wrap up of the legislative session turns into something more personal. Senator Gary Hooser (D- Kauai, Niihau) was scheduled to call in to the radio show this morning to talk about politics. He found himself on the defense against host Larry Price. "Almost from the beginning it seemed like a hostile environment," says Hooser, who had started to say the legislators got a lot of good things done this year.
Shortly thereafter, Price asked, "You keep using the word honest, Senator. Where are you from?" Hooser answered that he was born in California, educated at Radford High (on Oahu), and lives in Kapa'a, Kauai.
Price replied: "You got blue eyes?:
Hooser: "Yeah, does it matter?"
Price: "To us it does. When local people hear someone from the mainland talk about how honest something is, something's wrong."
Speaking to KHNL later that morning, Hooser reflects, "I was appalled. He began to imply people with blue eyes were less honest."
The portion he's referring to:
Price: "You know when they say 'Frankly' or 'Honestly, we did a lot of things'? It sounds very suspicious."
Hooser: "I don't appreciate the reference."
Price: "I don't care what you think."
While Hooser was able to get back on track and talk about the legislative session, he says he is insulted. "I thought our state was beyond that. I'm disappointed." He says he was contacted by at least half a dozen people who heard the transaction on KSSK, all of whom expressed anger on Hooser's behalf.
One of those is lawyer Derek Nakamura. "This kind of comment is uncalled for and only engenders what we've struggled so long to rid ourselves of."
Hooser says Price owes the people of Hawaii an apology for perpetuating a stereotype. Nakamura agrees. "Some apology should be given. This is irresponsible journalism."