Hugh Clark Passes On

Hugh Clark, former Big Island bureau chief for the Honolulu Advertiser and, later, columnist for the Chronicle, passed away from cancer this morning. He was 73.

Clark, who reported for the Hilo Tribune Herald for five years before before joining the Advertiserand staying for over three decades, was a old-fashioned hard-news journalist. Although he could and did write passionately about sports, he was most in his element when covering a court case or dissecting a political race.

“He was an old-school newspaperman, a mentor and a friend, and he will be missed,” wrote Tribune reporter John Burnett, announcing the death on the Big Island Press Club’s Facebook page.

Clark “trained himself to remember arcane details of news stories and personalities, and what he couldn’t remember was contained in a remarkable filing system that half-filled his second-floor walkup office in the century-old Hilo Drug Building overlooking Hilo Bay,” wrote Advertiser reporter Jan TenBruggengate when Clark retired from the paper in 2002. “He is a journalist of the old school, and held out against computer technology for as long as he could, comfortable in the days when bureau reporters pounded on clattering teletype machines, a telephone cradled on one shoulder and a pencil behind the other ear.”

“I am not a techy, and really have no desire to become one,” he once admitted in a letter to the editor.

But Clark couldn’t get the ink out of his blood, even in retirement, even in the electronic age. He began writing his “Hugh-isms” column for for the Chronicle’s Web site in 2012 and learned to exercise a talent that he had kept carefully in check over his reporting years: a knack for expressing strong personal opinions, often with an acidic wit. Comparing the 2012 county elections with those in 1976, for instance, Clark noted that both elections featured “Plenty of ornery debate, threatening and juvenile conflict and… acrimony that seemingly never would end.” In another column, Clark groused that the Transportation Safety Administration had “done far more to terrorize American travelers than any Muslim group.” In an open letter to New West Broadcasting’s Chris Leonard, he wrote, “Just read you have fired [conservative commentator Rush] Limbaugh. I always liked you and now I know better why.” Commenting on an attack by the Tribune-Herald on alocal politician, he remarked, “Did (Hawaii Tribune-Herald editor David) Bock have the decency to forewarn you guys he was going to declare war? Or was this a Pearl Harbor event?”

Cancer has finally stilled that curmudgeonly, honest voice. Rest in peace, Hugh.


–Alan McNarie

Hughisms — A Historical Perspective Of Hawaii County’s 2012 Election

By Hugh Clark

There is a strong temptation to treat 2012 as re-run to 1976 when angry voters largely displaced the county council in one of the biggest ballot box upsets in Big Island history.
There are some parallels and many differences but come the first Monday of December a major overhaul will have concluded with fewer incumbents and more newcomers to be sworn at Hilo civic, just like 36 years ago.
The similarities are behavior of the current council and that of 1972-1976. Plenty of ornery debate, threatening and juvenile conflict and with separate leaders each two years and acrimony that seemingly never would end.
Council critics, including those who think nine makes for an unwieldy, costly body, may seek a more focused approach to county governance but agree that are sharp differences based on geography and locale. (California counties with many more residents and equally large territory employ five supervisors. Nevada’s Cark County (Las Vegas) has just three supervisors.)
All council members were elected at-large in the 1970s, though six were required to be from the traditional districts – Ka’u, Puna, Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala and Kona. Members now come from narrowly confined districts based on the latest reapportionment still being debated by some. A mere stop sign or the centerline of a street now can define boundaries
On primary election eve 1976, a somewhat unknown Waimea taxpayer protester named Muneo “Moon” Sameshima shouted from the Mo’oheau Park podium: “throw the rascals out.”
The time-honored Hawaii phrase was aimed not only at his own opponent who once was council chair but the whole body. The crowd, much larger than those today since the council became nonpartisan, roared with laughter.
Few took it all serious except for a young reporter for the Star-Bulletin who expressed no surprise. Sure enough the aforementioned rascals were largely out. Read more

Hugh-isms — TSA Is Intolerable And Mazie Is Bad

(Editor’s note: Following is an open letter to Congresswoman Mazie Hirono written by retired 40-year Honolulu Advertiser reporter Hugh Clark.)
April 26, 2012
Congresswoman Mazie Hirono
5-104 Prince Kuhio Building
200 Ala Moana Blvd
Honolulu 96850
Dear Representative:
For Congress to take action against the newest form of American Nazism – the Transportation Safety Administration. It has done far more to terrorize American travelers than any Muslim group.
Not only have I and my family endured inconvenience and insults over the last 10 years of travel through persistent rude and crude behavior of its station agents, we have observed even worse directed toward other arriving passengers, typically the old and handicapped — the weak.  Regulations are not uniform or enforced consistently.
Adding in convictions (but no jail terms) of Molokai and Kona TSA agents stealing from foreign visitors), now we learn that at LAX they are enabling drug runners and in Kansas molesting a four-year-old girl following negative news for manhandling aged women traveling with significant post-cancer issues.
Its misbehavior clearly has no stop line, no judgment and no security purpose. It is a major inhibitor to the development of Hawaii’s chief industry, worse than arcane visa requirements.
Since retiring in 2002, travel has been my penchant. We have visited two-dozen foreign countries in the period since and not one matches the surely behavior of the USA. Only Russia came close.
I have two mainland family members who are reluctant to visit us because of the TSA. One declined to attend a family funeral here. Get rid of this monster ASAP. It is correctable, if Congress only gets off its collective duff.
Thank you,
Hugh Clark
P.O. Box 1956
Hilo  96721
I would have preferred to have sent this by e-mail but your Hilo staff office was unable to articulate an e-mail address to me and I decided to avoid long distance charges. I never experienced such communication problems with the late Patsy Mink and Spark Matsunaga.
Aloha, Hugh POB 1956 Hilo HI 96721-1956 808-935-4322 hm

Letters — From Hugh Clark, Suggesting HB 2742 Would ‘Undermine Four Decades Of Openness’

Open letter to State Rep. Clift Tsuji:

Please convey this as my personal thoughts on this most onerous bill in a decade or more:
I urge this committee to kill this outrageous bill immediately. It would undermine four decades of openness in Hawaii County.
I have resided in Hilo as a reporter and early-day leader of the Big Island Press Club since 1966.
I assisted two close friends, along with many others, in establishing the open meetings provision of Hawaii County’s charter that took effect January 1969 after many years of public debate.
This was not a mere council vote but one of the entire electorate of Hawaii County that had rejected two prior charter options. This was the epitome of home role as advocated by our forefathers such as late governor John Burns and county chairman/first mayor Shunichi Kimura.
This proposal not only would gut openness and degrade the county charter, it would rape the whole notion of home rule.
I agree it would defile openness as a concept and make a mockery of the legislative form of government. There is no rationale for its approval that would serve only those who would hide and debase our form of democracy.
If this was intended as a joke, I am not amused.
If it is to be further considered, I urge you to please conduct county-by-county hearings so we may express ourselves more fully.
cc: League of Women Voters
Aloha, Hugh Clark  POB 1956 Hilo HI 96721-1956 808-935-4322 hm

Hugh-isms — Perils Of Pauline?

As this endangered Toys for Tot event — a charity by motorcyclists for poor little kids — vacillates, I keep getting images from that old melodrama about sweet Pauline being tied to the railroad track. I suppose the cops are the railroad locomotive charging down the line.

Come on, is this necessary in a town of our size where the Mayor(elected) says fine and agents of the police chief say nope, while the (appointed) chief ain’t in town to rule on the matter.

Is this a turf war?  Or a legitimate pubic safety issue? Or just a grinch with a badge who wants to steal Christmas from youngsters who already have drawn a short straw in life? 
 (Hugh Clark is a retired newspaper reporter who lives in Hilo.)

Hugh-isms — Am I Alone?; Regarding The Kona TSA Worker’s Inadequate Sentencing

By Hugh Clark

Last Saturday I noted the slap-on-the-wrist sentence for Dawn Nicole Keka, who had been covicted of stealing money while working as chief TSA screener at Kona’s Ke’aole Airport.
She was nabbed redhanded by an undercover federal official posing as a departing Japanese tourist. She was given two months in jail, according to a brief back page account in the Tribune-Herald. (If she was being targeted, she may well have been under suspicion for prior thefts.)
This quite inadequate AP story does not identify the court, the judge or describe the sentencing rationale.
Am I alone in finding this strange, if not special treatment for an official of a major federal agency — an onerous one that has different rules at each airport. It acts as if Hio airport and Honolulu airport are in different countries.
This is the second Hawaii-based screener to be caught and convicted of stealing from passengers. Where was Mufi Hanemann, Mike McCartney or George Applegate in all this.You need no doctorate in economics  to know Hawaii’s main industry is extremely fragile. Why were  the people being paid to protect this industry AWOL?
In post-retirement my passion and chief activity has been travel. I have visited about two dozen countries on four continents and can say without question the most abrasive and intrusive passenger screening occurs in the USA.
If we are expected to tolerate such human misbehavior the least we should expect is not to be ripped off by a crook wearing a sneer and a badge. Just two months — what about 20 years? Hell, an unemployed Puna pot grower would serve 10 times that after being caught by a cop in a whirly bird.
(Retired Honolulu Advertiser reporter and Big Island Press Club honorary member Hugh Clark is a friend and mentor to Big Island Chronicle.)

Letters — Congratulations

I think you should be flattered after getting dropped by that sorry rag that has no right to be called a newspaper, weekly or otherwise.
It is what I learned in Texas in the mid 1960s is a “tap sheet” — nice copy to wrap around advertising. The content is now fluff except for the infrequent Hunt or McNarie pieces.
So, welcome to the select company of real reporters banned by the Donrey/Stephens folks. Our membership is minute but important, consisting of Buck Donham, Hunter Bishop, Dave Smith and myself. In a way we each were blessed, though when we die there likely will be no obituary since David Bock undoubtedly will tag us unworthy of one as he has deemed so many others the the last four years.

Hugh Clark

Hugh-isms — Regarding The Local Newspaper’s ‘Mean’ Attack On The Mayor Today

Open letter to the Mayor and his staff:

That was quite a mean attack attack today. Did (Hawaii Tribune-Herald editor David) Bock have the decency to forewarn you guys he was going to declare war? Or was this a Pearl Harbor event? My God, a page 1 piece that was not as bad as headlined; a lousy cartoon; a rare editorial and a nasty letter to editor as well. Biggest assault on a sitting mayor since Chris Reed launched the dumping of Dante Carpenter.

(40-year newspaper veteran Hugh Clark is a fellow Big Island Press Club member, friend and mentor to the Big Island Chronicle.)

Letters — An Apology

My apology for losing my cool on Tuesday. On the other hand I never depreciated or directed my anger at Tiffany and I think she understands that, though her friends do not.

What happened is I entered my e-mail adrress as requested as (it has never changed since being established in 2002) and the blog said it was not an appropriate address.

I am not a techy, and really have no desire to become one, but after working so long on a good entry to see it disappear for no good reason was damn frustrating.

Hugh Clark

Letters — Regarding Technical Difficulties And Gil Kahele’s Senate Appointment

Nothing personal, but your blog sucks big time.

Twice today I entered thoughtful ideas about Neil’s state senate appointment and
each was rejected fior allegedly having wrong e-mail. I know my e-mail perfectly
and it never has changed.

I  tried today to say Gil Kahele is a wise and good choice and went on to
explain why in the latter entry. Too bad your technology is this flawed.
Give Gil a chance —  he is NOT a political flak.

Hugh Clark

Hugh-isms — Flat Earth Attendants: Where Is The Mea Culpa?

Image courtesy of Punk Rock For Life

By Hugh Clark

How come we have not heard from The Flat Earth Society and its claims a year ago that vaccinations for Hawaii’s keiki should be rejected in favor of averting autism?

That nonsense led to the County Council strangely acting as a panel for judging pediatric medicine last year.

That claim, championed for a time by former Puna Councilwoman Naeole through her two flat earth attendants, was shot to hell last week when the researcher who was responsible for the autism claim was found to have committed fraud.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s rotten 1998 research, which caused unknown millions of children in Great Britain and the USA to miss their shots to prevent sometimes fatal disease, has been fully discredited, leaving the anti-vaccination league without any clothing.

A good lesson in ignoring unverified medical BS and urban  “truth” movements. So, when are these folks going offer up their mea culpa???

(40-year newspaper veteran Hugh Clark is a fellow Big Island Press Club member, friend and mentor to the Big Island Chronicle.)

Hugh-isms — Pay Up Time

By Hugh Clark
Bit by bit, the shortcomings, if not lawlessness, of eight years under Linda Lingle in Hawaii are seeping out.
The so-called main street media seems loath to follow up the stories. Yet, Herbert Sample of Associated Press did a fair job late last year of her prisons fiasco and likely law breaking efforts with contractor Corrections Corporation of America, a campaign contributor.
That was contained in a 73-page audit report that cited the ex-governor’s “flawed methodoloy” and inaccurate and insufficient figures she gave to the Legislature.
Now, blogger Ian Lind does a detailed takeout about a separate audit that faults Lingle and her behavior in an audit of the state Department of Taxation that state auditor Marian Higa accused the administratiion of taking “unprecedented” action to block access to information. (See Jan. 3 blog on
Set aside the ugly school furloughs and still unanswered details surrounding the canning of chief aide Bob Awana who allegedly ran a Filipina call girl ring out of the governor’s office. AP has tried to disclose these details but been blocked from doing so by a judge protecting Awana under a federal witness issue in a crimial case.
Mr. Bob, for those who have forgotten, was the master mind of the proposed Puna golf course at Ainaloa subdivision. Read more

Noteworthy Obituaries — Marcia Reynolds, RIP

By Hugh Clark
Marcia Reynolds, longtime Big Island reporter and later public relations consultant, county official and travel executive, died Monday at Queen’s Medical Center.
Marcia was a private person who reported to the nth degree but her personal life to herself. She came to Hilo in 1970 as a new hire from Ohio after some debate in the Tribune-Herald newsroom about hiring a second woman.
She literally burst  onto the scene as a strong-minded newcomer who quickly learned the ropes and for two decades was one of best diggers, first-break reporters who was a real challenge to  her male competitors.
Marcia had an Irish twinkle and  an engaging  sense of humor but was no-nonsence while  doing her job
Four of her five former editors yesterday uniformly exprssed sadness  but were exuberant in praise of her performance.
She also assumed another role as  an Imu creator, writer, producer of the Big Island Press Club’s version of Saturday Night Live in concert with noted music man Dr. George Durham and late businessman Paul Mannen Sr.
Her youngest brother, Rick. a California guy struck by the loss of his eldest sibling, and Marcia’s former business partner, Cyndy Reagan of Houston, Texas, are en route to help plan the celebration of life, scheduled tentatively for the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 19.
Her life threatening health issues were virtually unknown until  Monday and Tuesday. Her many friends are in grief over the loss of the Big Island’s  wonderful adopted daughter.
More details to come…
(40-year newspaper veteran Hugh Clark is a fellow Big Island Press Club member, friend and mentor to the Big Island Chronicle.)

Hugh-isms — Puna Makai, Not ‘Puna Makia’

By Hugh Clark

Page 1 today’s T-H refers to a “Puna Makia alternate route.” Neither my self-taught Hawaiian nor geography suggests to me what that is. What is it? By the way, now is the time to float bonds. They never will be cheaper, even in Coco’s lifetime.

(40-year newspaper veteran Hugh Clark is a fellow Big Island Press Club member, friend and mentor to the Big Island Chronicle.)

Letters — Not Internet At Its Best


Sunday was a bad day for the credibility and my respect for internet. It began with my daughter’s report (from Seattle) she had learned Cronies was on fire per Facebook. Utterly not true, I tried to confirm but could not drive within two blocks of the scene — the back of a furniture repair shop to the back of the Moses Building.

Your own blog also reported Cronie’s ablaze. it is the first flour tenant of the Hilo Drug Building, a 110-year-old landmark I know well since I spent 31 years immediately above Cronies and many prior enterprises.

I also take serious issue with Steve O’s attempted slam at Roger Christie. (Strange for a bar owner to lampoon an accused  pot dealer.) It is something about vetting, Steve and you should accurate.

It is bad enough Christie (no friend of mine) is illegally incarcerated on Oahu by the feds. We do not need to pee on him  in the process.

Aloha, Hugh (Clark) POB 1956 Hilo HI 96721-1956 808-935-4322 hm

(Editor’s post script:  Contrary to Clark’s letter, Big Island Chronicle did not report that Cronie’s was ablaze, but stated “due to fire next to Cronie’s building.”)