House investigates complaint against Big Island lawmaker

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Feb 14 2014 08:45:04 PM HST
Updated On: Feb 15 2014 06:23:24 AM HST

The House has launched an investigation after a college student complained he was mistreated in a hearing that Hanohano chairs

HONOLULU -

The House session opened Friday with the Hawaiian word of the day: pilikia.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz' story.

Native Hawaiian legislator Rep. Faye Hanohano did the honors.

It means trouble, "Pilikia. No trouble, no problem. When we live together and I get into difficulties.

Pilikia–trouble. Word of the day-- Hawaiian word of the day.”

The Big Island lawmaker was in trouble last year for lashing out at state workers over the lack of Native Hawaiian artwork using a long list of racial slurs.

But now there are new allegations.

"I felt I was being berated and I felt I was being discriminated against," said Aarin Jacobs, a Hawaii Pacific University student.

The environmental studies major said after testifying on a bill to protect whales and rays, he felt it was he who needed protecting.

"I don’t know why she called me back if it was to make an example of me or to antagonize me. But when she did I expected a civil question and answer session.

"She said why do all of you westerners want to come over here and tell us what to do?' said Jacobs.

"I want to apologize to the public if I may, for the actions of lawmakers if they are not happy with it. Our job is to serve the public. We are public servants and I want to insist that the members of the legislature remember that," said House Speaker Joe Souki.

House leadership has launched an investigation and promised swift action.

Souki said this is not the first time he has heard complaints about Hanohano’s behavior as chair of the Ocean Management and Hawaiian Affairs committee.

Jacobs said he is asking that she be removed as head of the committee.

"She must have seen me as a westerner or a Haole and clearly I could tell she was prejudiced before I could tell her about how much I do care about the culture and the land. She judged me before she got to know me," said Jacobs.

Hanohano declined an on-camera interview but told KITV she thought it was Jacobs who was out of line.

She said she felt she did nothing wrong.

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