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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 5, 2007

Perry & Price on-air interview raises tempers

By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer

Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser

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Larry Price

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An on-air telephone interview yesterday between state Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser and top-rated KSSK morning radio hosts Perry & Price disintegrated after Larry Price asked the senator where he was born and raised, and whether he had blue eyes.

The tone of the interview was already combative, with the hosts pressing the Kaua'i senator on the Senate's work this session, before it took a personal turn.

Hooser, D-7th (Kaua'i, Ni'ihau), said afterward he thought it was inappropriate for Price to pursue a "local vs. haole" theme.

"I'm frankly appalled and very disappointed in Larry Price's comments," said Hooser, who was born in California and graduated from Radford High School. "I've lived in this state for 37 years and my kids were born here. It's insulting."

Price did not respond to an e-mail and telephone call yesterday seeking comment. KSSK's general manager and program director did not respond to telephone messages.

The exchange happened after Hooser used the word "honest" in asking the hosts and listeners to assess some of the issues that arose in the Senate this session, including his request for an environmental impact statement for Hawai'i Superferry and his opposition to Peter Young as director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Price: "You keep using the word 'honest' senator; where you from?"

Hooser: "Where am I from? Kapa'a."

Price: "Yeah, where were you born and raised?"

Hooser: "I was born in California. I graduated high school at Radford High School."

Price: "You got blue eyes?"

Hooser: "(Laughs) I do. Does that matter?"

Price: "Yes, to us it does. Because when local people hear somebody from the Mainland talk about how honest everything is that means that something's wrong. You know when they say 'frankly' or 'honestly' we did a lot of things, you know and stuff like that, that sounds suspicious."

Hooser: "You know, I don't really appreciate a reference to where I'm from, from California, or my blue eyes, Mr. Price."

Price: "Well I don't care what you think."

Hooser said he received several telephone calls from listeners who were upset. The senator said he had mixed emotions about speaking later with the news media, for fear he might be accused of overreacting, but agreed after requests from television and newspaper reporters.

"It was totally over the line," Hooser said.

Other lawmakers at the state Capitol were also talking about the interview yesterday.

"I'm a local guy, born and raised, and I took offense," said state Rep. Marcus Oshiro, D-39th (Wahiawa). "My reaction was that it was in bad taste and over the top."

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.