This Legislative Idea Really Stinks

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - September 09, 2009
Rod Tam: Something smells

For a radio talk show host and newspaper columnist like me, Honolulu City Councilman Rod Tam is the gift that keeps on giving. His latest legislative faux pas, that harebrained idea that we should outlaw smelly people from TheBus and any other public transit systems will provide fodder for conversation and chuckles for ages.

If you were too busy working for a living and raising your children, you may have missed that Tam, along with colleague Nestor Garcia, announced their facilitation of legislation that would make it illegal to “bring onto transit property odors that unreasonably disturb others or interfere with their use of the transit system, whether such odors arise from one’s person, clothes, articles, accompanying animal or any other source.” In other words, no stink for you!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen of Oahu, you have duly elected leaders who are dedicating their time, resources and your dollars to the identification, extrication and prosecution of people who smell bad.


Thank goodness. For a while there, I thought they would be concerned about the looming city budget deficit, the deterioration of our roadways, the potential of a billion-dollar judgment on secondary wastewater treatment and the management of a multibillion-dollar transportation project. Naturally, these areas of concern are mere distractions when we have the scourge of B.O.-emanating, toe jamcrusted and halitosis-disseminating citizens riding TheBus. Somebody, please, elevate the Homeland Security threat level to “Skanky.”

But who is truly surprised this idea has Tam’s fingerprints all over it? While in the state Legislature,Tam cooked up the “Naps and Snacks” proposal. Tam also championed that great idea that Koko Head Crater would make a wonderful alternative to the Waimanalo Gulch landfill.

His most recent foot-in-mouth incident occurred while he offended and insulted those of Hispanic persuasion by repeatedly referring to allegedly undocumented workers as “wetbacks.” Now, with this latest demonstration of legislative incredulity, Tam is creating quite the resume to propel him into the 2010 lieutenant governor’s race, where he is sure to run a spirited campaign in capturing 12 votes less than “None of the Above.”

Imagine if this proposal were to actually pass. The bureaucracy would be staggering. To determine what is legally offensive, an official Nose Commission would be created. The finest noses, past and present, would serve. Historic proboscis figures like Jimmy Durante, Karl Malden and Barbra Streisand would be ideal, with Oscar-winning actor Adrian Brody as chair. TheBus would be staffed with TSA officers. Yes, that’s right, “Transportation Smelling Authority.” Instead of drug-sniffing dogs, there would be stink-smelling dogs, and each of them would be named “Haunas.” You get the point.

Ideas such as these make national news where Hawaii becomes the butt of not-so-funny jokes. But that’s the least of our concerns. Government officials have got to realize that they should not ingratiate themselves into any and all aspects of our lives. That law-makers believe they should regulate how we smell is the most stink part of this story.

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