By: Lokelani Wilder
Mayor Rick Blangiardi reported that he has selected a woman to head the Honolulu Police Commission but he did not announce who he has selected.
The mayor withdrew his previous choice — Larry Ignas — from consideration last week, after Ignas told the City Council he does not believe racial discrimination exists in Hawaii. When asked whether he thinks racial discrimination exists in Hawaii, Blangiardi said he thinks there is.
With his previous selection withdrawn, some people called on Blangiardi to choose a new nominee with a social justice background. Blangiardi said that he is not listening to those calls for a candidate with a social justice background. He said he originally wanted someone with police experience to sit on the commission; however, he said he has exhausted all efforts. He insinuated that once people hear who the woman is that most people would be very surprised and supportive.
So, who is this woman, who does not have a police background or really a background in social justice? It is most likely Colleen Hanabusa. Colleen previously endorsed the mayor after finishing third to Blangiardi in the 2020 Democrat mayoral primary. She has been a Congressional Representative. She lost to David Ige in the Democrat Governor Primary in 2018. She polled to beat Ige but lost a close race. She has narrowly lost in the Senate Primary to Brian Schatz. Assigning Hanabusa to the Police Commission comes on the heels of asking her to be a consultant for the Honolulu Area Rapid Transit. She has previously served as Chair of the HART Board. All these endeavors continue to make Hanabusa visible and politically relevant. They position her to run for governor in 2022.
A second, more remote possibility is Tulsi Gabbard, who is also a former Congressional Representative and U.S. Presidential Candidate. Recently Gabbard attacked the mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot. Gabbard said that Mayor Lightfoot’s blatant anti-white racism is abhorrent and called upon President Biden, Kamala Harris, and other leaders of our county — of all races — to join in calling for Mayor Lightfoot’s resignation. Gabbard believes that leaders must condemn all racism, including anti-white. Tulsi is also an Army Reserve Major who has made deployments overseas all the while serving in medical, military police, and psychological operations units. Given Gabbard’s military training and service, her national recognition, and her continued political ambitions, she too might be the mysterious female nominee that heads the Honolulu Police Commission.
The unfortunate fact connected to both Hanabusa and Gabbard is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Long standing Hawaii Democrats have been in power while the Honolulu Police Department has been rocked by recent corruption scandals. The latest Police Chief – Susan Ballard – resigned unexpectedly following a poor performance review received from the very same Police Commission whose Chair Blangiardi is selecting. Blangiardi himself expressed exasperation with Chief Ballard as she was leaving her office. Now his selecting a woman to head the Police Commission, is a mitigation effort against losing Honolulu’s first female Police Chief. It is also an effort to expand Democrat opportunities heading into 2022. The Democrats in Hawaii are not monolithic. They are not unified by party. They are unified by key individuals and key financial donors, each vying for more control and more wealth. Unfortunately, the officers and citizens of Hawaii will be the ones who are adversely affected most. Ultimately, the Police Chief selected will be a political hack causing no changes to corruption and professional within the Honolulu Police Department.