In 1903 our territorial legislature authorized East Hawaiâ€™i County and West Hawaiâ€™i County, each to be governed by a board of supervisors elected by our citizens, along with our elected auditor, clerk, treasurer, and county attorney (both civil/criminal roles).
The chief executive would be the Chair of the Board of Supervisors, chosen by the Supervisors at their initial meeting. Our East Hawaiâ€™i Board of Supervisors first met on January 4, 1904, in our Hilo circuit courthouse (where today’s Kalakaua Park reflecting pond is).
Eugene H.K. Lyman was chosen as Chair of the Board. But because our territorial legislature inarticulately worded the genesis of our two Hawaiâ€™i Island counties, our Hawaiâ€™i Supreme Court invalidated such statute creating our two cross-island counties, inasmuch no provision was made for their funding and maintenance.
To address such oversight, House Bill No. 1, later called Act 39, Session Laws of 1905, created our various County governments as we know them today â€” with Hawaiâ€™i Island having just one County government.
Kailua-Kona a century ago was a lost horizon long forgotten/removed from its epicenter as our Power Capital/seat of government in the Hawaiian Islands via King Kamehameha the Greatâ€™s royal residence Kanuiakea at Kamakahonu cove and the associated heiau of Ahuâ€™ena. Â
The lost capital of Kailua-Kona by 1905 was a kiawe tree inhabited barren landscape, w/occasional cattle stops via its little shipping port. Our territorial solons finally realized amid their hectic flurry of lawmaking that there was no money to fund two separate identical Hawaiâ€™i Island governments.
Their initial creation of two Hawaiâ€™i Island governments in 1903 was flooded by sentimentality via the vast/untrekkable distance between Kailua-Kona and Hilo. Of course, former Gov. Sanford B. Dole, who lived in Kailua-Kona, resented the new law, but nonetheless our Supreme Court upheld the new 1905 law.
Pursuant to Act 39 of 1905, elections were held and our one-County victors were East Hawaiâ€™i Supervisors Rev. Stephen L. Desha Sr., Antone Fernandez, D.K. Makuakane, John T. Moir, and our West Hawaiâ€™i supervisors were O.T. Shipman, M.K. Kalaiwaa, and James F. Woods.
Others elected were Treasurer T.K. Lalakea, County Attorney Charles Williams, Auditor C.K. McGuire, Clerk Samuel K. Pua, and 1905 newly-created Sheriff William M. Keolanui. Deputy sheriffs elected were East Hawaiâ€™i lawmen S.H. Kaaheo, W.J. Rickard, James Mattoon, and William A. Fetter, and West Hawaiâ€™i lawmen C.H. Pulaa, W.M.S. Lindsay, J.W. Kaliikoa, J.K. Kakaula, and David Baker.
Our one-County Board of Supervisors held its first meeting in our old Firemanâ€™s Hall where todayâ€™s old Mutual Tel. Co. historic bldg. is on Kalakaua St. mauka of Keawe St., and plantation mgr. John T. Moir unanimously was selected as Chair/chief executive for the new Hawaiâ€™i County.
Of course, eventually our Chief Executive/Chair was elected by popular vote of all of Hawaiâ€™i County adult citizens, which is how Hawaiian populists Samuel Kauhane and Sam Mahuka Spencer of Waimea enjoyed the longest reigns of power, spanning three decades. David Ewaliko preceded Kauhaneâ€™s/Spencerâ€™s dynasties.
West Hawaiâ€™i solons Shipman/Kalaiwaa/Woods were our first elected Democrats, following along the trail set by former Royalists/Genesis monarchy Democrats Prince David Kawananakoa and Kanaka Johnny Wilson.
Immediately after our new one-County government convened, our East Hawaiâ€™i Supervisors refused to have our elected sheriff Keolanui pick his police force. Our East Hawaiâ€™i supervisors wanted to pick our patronage jobber police force. Contrarily, our West Hawaiâ€™i supervisors supported sheriff Keolanui to pick his own police officers. Â
Our outnumbered West Hawai’i supervisors wanted some semblance of popular will/home rule instead of East Hawai’i autocratic control via plum picking patronage police officer jobs. Alas, our Supreme Court ruled for Sheriff Keolanui’s right to pick his own police officers, who had not been paid since the separation of powers feud began!!
Â How the World turns, from century to century, yet still the same internecine squabbles over East-West turf control, such as East Hawai’i solons’ chokehold over the sheriff a century ago.
P.S. I dedicate this topic to Ivantatum, who elucidates that corruption/graft take hold no matter where, what the circumstances are, if lack of accountability is there, whether you have one County or 10 thousand townships!! (I spoke of townships on topic of John Ushijima, following up on Hugh Clark’s comment about Ushijima’s promotion of a Waikoloa township, clearly to enrich Ushijima/Boise Cascade honchos). Â â€” Love, Curt
(Curtis Narimatsu isÂ a lifelong resident of Hilo who writes about the forgotten past such as the oldÂ plantation days & untold heroes.)