CHARLEYWORLD: It’s Been a Week of Surprising (and Flattering) Career Opportunities

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Author’s note: This column originally was posted on April 1, 2011, a detail that apparently went unnoticed to a few readers. Yes. April Fool’s Day. Mr. Memminger regrets to confess that he has NOT been offered a seat on the state school board or to a position on a city rail development committee. He’d like to assure the Mayor and Governor, however, that if called on, he would gladly serve the public in any capacity they see fit.

BY CHARLES MEMMINGER – I usually post my weekly Charleyworld column on Wednesday so I apologize for its lateness. It’s been a strange week.


First, I got a call from Gov. Abercrombie asking if I wanted to be appointed to the state school board. That’s quite a compliment for a kid who was in Aiea High School’s Downward Bound Program. But academic qualifications aside, I think the fact that the governor considers me school board material is flattering.

He knows that with my “real world” experience as a haole who went through the island public school system I could bring unique insight to the board. I mean, how many school board members actually were tied up to a desk in class by members of the school’s Prison Bound Program? Those were crazy days. I was tied to a desk and the teacher actually walked out of the classroom and left me. Didn’t call security or anything.

Just headed for the teacher’s lounge where he probably announced to fellow teachers “Got another haole tied to a desk.” Some passing football players untied me. They told the bad guys to leave me alone. They were in my art class and, yes, while I was a haole, I was THEIR haole, dammit. If anyone was going to be tying haoles to desks, it would be members of the football squad.  I don’t think anyone gets tied up to desks in public schools today, haole or otherwise. Someone would be sued. I should have sued but we weren’t that litigious back in those days. I’m pretty litigious now but I think the statute of limitations likely has run out on suing teachers who, 41 years ago, watched you being tied up to your desk in class and then abandoning you.

I considered running for school board one year but the field was already up to about 3,258 candidates, as I recall. The guy who got the most votes claimed to have won two Nobel Prizes and nobody even called him on it. True story. He was from a famous political family and name recognition was everything when running for school board. Back then I was for breaking up the school board into several regional school boards but now that the governor wants me to be on the school board I’ll have to rethink that position.

It was a good move to make school board positions appointed instead of elected, although the board probably won’t be as entertaining as it was in the past. There was a school board member who attended meetings dressed as a clown and threatened to shoot seltzer water at board members he thought were not paying attention. There was also a dwarf. I mean Little School Board Member. And a prostitute. And, I think, a cat. That cat got a huge number of votes because it came from a prominent political family and had a catchy name like “Mittens” or something.

I haven’t decided whether to take the governor up on his offer to appoint me to the school board yet. Apparently word of the offer got around, though. That was on Tuesday and yesterday I got a call from Mayor Carlisle’s offic saying the Mayor wanted to put me on some sort of rail development committee. I’d like to think that the powers that be finally realize my potential value to the community but I suspect the mayor just wants to tick off the governor; steal his talent. I’m flattered nonetheless.  My support of rail mass transit for Oahu has been kind of squiggidly over the years.

At first, I was completely against it on the grounds that I’m against anything that will make traffic worse. The construction of an elevated rail line  from Ewa to Waikiki would mean years and years of backed up traffic. If a modern rail line could materialize overnight, that would be one thing. But it takes forever to build anything in Hawaii. It took ten years to build a 30 foot bridge in Wahiawa over three feet of water. But it was Wahiawa so, you know, nobody cared. I changed my mind about a commuter train line when I learned the feds would pay for most of it. I liked the idea of a 7-Eleven clerk in Waco, Texas and a car salesman in New Jersey paying for a rail line in Hawaii. But then City Council Person Rene Mansho voted against the rail project and – poof – there went the federal dough.

I think maybe I’ll take the mayor up on his offer to serve on the rail development committee because I think it could generate a lot of income for me on the side, if you catch my drift. Council Chair Nester Garcia is pulling down an extra 50 K a year from pro-rail organizations in addition to his city councilman salary. How sweet is that?  I could do better than that and because I’m not an elected public official, it wouldn’t even be considered graft.

So, I’ve got some things to think about. Opportunities suddenly abound. And there’s that open U.S. Senate seat being left by Dan Akaka. Some powerful political families and their cats are urging me to run. Man, I’ve come a long way since being tied up to a desk in high school.