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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Crooning those mayoral melodies


By Lee Cataluna

There was a magic Mufi moment that ended up on the cutting room floor last week. Amid all the tributes to the larger-than-life Mayor Frank Fasi, the larger-than-life Mayor Mufi Hannemann just couldn't resist doing a musical memorial, busting out a decades-old Fasi campaign jingle, which he cued up like a lounge singer:

"Whenever I was around him and I wanted him to feel good about life in general I always sang this to him and he would always turn to his wife, Joyce, and say, 'Mom, he remembers!' "

And then, Hannemann sang:

"Think

about the many things that the mayor's done today

And think

About the many things that he does for Hawai'i Nei

He cares about Hawai'i's people

Each and every one

So put your mark by Mayor Fasi

Mayor Fasi gets it done"

And best of all, the kicker:

"Ba boom bomp.

"Love you Frank, gonna miss you"

You know Hannemann really means it when he sings it. Like a Julie Andrews movie, the emotion wells up inside him and speaking mere words isn't enough, it has to be a musical number.

At this point, it's no longer a surprise when Hannemann bursts into song. The surprise is what song he pulls from his vast repertoire. There are newsroom bets on what song Hannemann might sing for every occasion.

But if you think Hannemann has cornered the market on mayoral music, think again. Kaua'i Mayor Bernard Carvalho is also known to belt out a mele at the drop of a hat; after all, he was in Kapa'a High School's Senior Select Choir in 1979, and that was glee way before the TV series. White slacks, green aloha shirt and Earth, Wind & Fire medleys. Tell the story, morning glory.

Maybe someday, a local charity will hold a mayoral singing showdown where Hannemann and Carvalho will compete for bragging rights. Hannemann has reliable pitch but Carvalho's voice is sweeter in the upper range. Hannemann has that showroom polish, Carvalho has the backyard lū'au soul. The two have actually sung together on the occasion of mayoral meetings, with Hawai'i Mayor Billy Kenoi and Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares joining in but drowned out. Kenoi has more vocal enthusiasm than Carvalho and Hannemann combined, but his singing voice is better suited to screaming out "Wild Thing" at the tail end of office karaoke night.

Mayor Frank Fasi was an absolutely inimitable character, and reflecting on his career might lead to the conclusion that these days, politicians are more staid, guarded and predictable. But we do have some unrepentant crooners in office, and when words fail, we can look forward to a song.