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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 14, 2002

If it's your kuleana, own up to it — and don't mess it up

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist

My favorite definition of being an adult comes from, of all places, a routine by comedian Chris Rock. Amid a flurry of curse words and a string of very politically incorrect references, the comic throws out this absolutely golden observation:

"A man is somebody who takes care of his business."

Chris Rock goes on to talk about guys who don't take care of their kids, who abandon their women, leave a string of unpaid bills and generally refuse to take responsibility for any problems in their lives. They aren't men, he says. Just guys. I'd quote the routine verbatim, but it's pretty raw. Hilarious because it's so true, but raw.

Though the piece is specifically about the male gender, I believe the statement holds true for everyone. An adult is someone who takes care of his or her own business. If you're playing the blame game, if you can't own up to your mistakes, if you start stuff you can't finish, if you make promises you don't intend to keep, then you're not a grown-up yet, no matter how old you are. Until you can stand up and say, "Yeah. That's my kuleana. I got it," you still have some serious maturing to do.

Which brings us to the headlines of the week: Rene Mansho, traffic cameras, Jon Yoshimura.

Mansho and Yoshimura each have assumed responsibility for their actions.

Kind of.

Mansho kept that smile plastered on her face as long as she could. She made some sort of reference to the captain being ultimately responsible for everything that happens on the ship. But it was the threat of something worse that finally made her own up and get out.

Yoshimura finally admitted he lied when he said he wasn't drinking prior to a committing a hit-and-run in 1999. Last week, the Hawai'i Supreme Court handed down his punishment by suspending him from practicing law for six months. Of course, his big confession of the lie came in August 2001, just as he was announcing his intention to run for lieutenant governor.

So while both Mansho and Yoshimura finally took care of their business, both did so only when they determined it was absolutely necessary for self-serving or self-preservation reasons, and not just because it was the right thing to do, regardless.

How juvenile.

And in terms of the rise and fall of the traffic cams, there hasn't been a single soul — man enough or woman enough — to stand up and take responsibility for the whole mess. The Department of Transportation pointed to the Legislature. The legislators who voted for the program last session said they didn't really understand what it was all about.

The governor said it was the legislators' kuleana and whatever they wanted, they would get. The private company running the program shrugged and said, hey, we're just doing what they told us to do.

Thankfully, that madness is over, though it looks like the cleanup is going to be a mess of its own. But while no one would take responsibility for the problem, just watch the hands that will go flying in the air to take credit for getting rid of the program. We're getting to the end of what is, again, looking like a do-nothing legislative session and everyone is going to want to be able to say they did something.

But who's taking care of their business?

Lee Cataluna's column runs Sunday, Tuesdays and Fridays. Reach her at 535-8172 or lcataluna@honoluluadvertiser.com.