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Old School

Earlier this year, the Civic Center was renamed to honor former mayor Frank Fasi. Here’s an insider’s look at the lessons to be learned from this local political legend.


(page 3 of 3)

Pull Rank When You Have To

One afternoon, Frank was on his way to Waialae Country Club for a card game with his longtime pal, Harry Chung, and a few other cronies. As he was traveling up Kapiolani Boulevard, traffic slowed to a crawl. Ever the fixer, Frank pulled his van onto the sidewalk and walked toward the source of the congestion. It proved to be Hawaii 5-0 filming. To get the right angle, the camera had been set up in the street and was blocking the right lane. Two off-duty police officers were letting cars through the one open lane between takes.

Frank stormed up to the director, a 50ish character with a long ponytail. The director had no idea who this irate person was, and announced that he was filming Hawaii 5-0. “I don’t care who you are,” said Frank. “Get this equipment off the street now!”

The director flushed and pointed to the two cops. “See those policemen? They’re working for me, and if you don’t get out of our way, they’ll arrest you.” Frank went chest-to-chest with the man and said, “Listen, buddy, I’m the mayor of this town and they work for me. And if you don’t get that camera off the street right now, they will throw you in jail!” And he turned to the two police officers, both of whom were by now sweating profusely. “Right?” he demanded.

The two cops snapped to attention and barked in unison: “Yes, sir!” Two minutes later, traffic on Kapiolani was flowing smoothly.

A couple of weeks later, a casting director called and invited Frank to appear in the next episode of Hawaii 5-0, playing—who else?—himself.

The Frank Fasi Files

SUBJECT: Frank Fasi

ARRIVAL IN HAWAII: Fasi moved to the Islands as a Marine Corps officer during World War II.  After the war, he settled here, starting a surplus and salvage business.

POLITICAL LIFE: He was elected to the state Senate, ran unsuccessfully for mayor several times, then served on the Honolulu City Council. He was finally elected mayor of Honolulu in 1968, and served for three terms, losing to Eileen Anderson in 1980. Four years later, he won re-election and remained in office until 1994, when he resigned to launch what proved to be his final (and unsuccessful) run for governor.

STAYING POWER: He was Honolulu’s mayor longer than any of his predecessors: a total of 22 years.

After leaving City government, Jim Loomis formed an advertising agency which he ran for some 20 years and which still bears his name. In 2002 he retired to upcountry Maui.

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Honolulu Magazine March 2017
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