• U.S.

HAWAII: The Souvenir Collectors

2 minute read

Of all the traditions of Hawaii’s territorial legislature, few were more cherished than the lawmakers’ session-end custom of taking various items of office equipment home as “mementos.” Nobody ever objected to the practice until last month, when the legislature adjourned for the last time before Hawaii enters the Union. At that point the Honolulu Advertiser began nosing about, discovered just how enthusiastic the legislators had become in their souvenir collecting. Missing were $3,000 worth of territorial fountain pens, 150 sets (at over $50 a set) of the Revised Laws of Hawaii, $800 worth of rubber stamps, $190 in desk lamps, a $200 desk, 103 dictionaries at $6 each, 36 pairs of scissors, a vacuum cleaner—and six new office rugs valued at $2,500.

No sooner did the light of publicity shine than it was shut off again by Democratic Territorial Senator John Duarte, chairman of the watchdog Accounts Committee, who ordered a blackout on senate equipment inventories. Cried Republican Senator Wilfred Tsukiyama, a candidate for the U.S. House: “I didn’t even get a pen. Mine was stolen.” Said Democratic Senator Sakai Takahashi: “Somebody else grabbed my desk set.” Said Senator Oren E. Long, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate: “Darn it all, my gavel was stolen.”

Soon Hawaii’s discomfited legislators were scrambling hard at returning their souvenirs. Six cartons containing desk lamps and electric fans were dumped at night in the driveway of an investigator for Hawaii’s attorney general, who had been ordered by Republican Governor William F. Quinn to investigate the scandal. And Senate Watchdog Duarte himself accounted for one of the rugs; it had, he said, been mistakenly shipped to his home on the island of Maui, along with 852 Ibs. of office furnishings he had purchased at discount rates from a firm renting equipment to the senate. Still missing: $10,000 worth of souvenirs from the last session of Hawaii’s territorial legislature.

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