Volcanic Ash: Wild attacks on high court could backfire on Trevor Ozawa

Ozawa’s hissy fit after the state Supreme Court invalidated his 22-vote general election win against Tommy Waters was unhinged, ill-advised and yet another sign he’s driven by a Trumpian sense of personal grievance. Star-Advertiser 2-3-19

If adversity reveals character, what it’s showing us about former City Councilman Trevor Ozawa isn’t pretty.

Ozawa’s hissy fit after the state Supreme Court invalidated his 22-vote general election win against Tommy Waters was unhinged, ill-advised and yet another sign he’s driven by a Trumpian sense of personal grievance.

The court ruled 5-0 that 350 ballots from the East Oahu district were collected by the city clerk after the poll-closing deadline set by law and shouldn’t have been counted.

Consequently, a special do-over election between Ozawa and Waters has been set for April 13; in the meantime the eight remaining Council members will appoint a temporary representative for the district.

Ozawa, who was expected to become Council chairman if he won, responded to the setback by dubiously accusing three justices of “outrageous” conflicts of interest and bias in favor of Waters.

He claimed city attorneys appointed by the administration of Mayor Kirk Caldwell, his political foe, didn’t adequately defend the original election results.

The court responded with a rare and sharp rebuke noting that Ozawa, a lawyer, didn’t object when some of the same justices ruled in his favor on a challenge to his 41-vote win over Waters in 2014.

The legalities in the current case weren’t complicated. Clearly, the 350 ballots were collected by election officials after the legal deadline, and since they couldn’t be separated from other ballots, there was no remedy but to rerun the election.

Ozawa’s disappointment was understandable, but it was cheap and unbecoming to attack the integrity of justices based on what amounted to a flimsy conspiracy theory.

And it was just the latest example of an unusually thin skin that has often left Ozawa sounding like the refrain from an old Coasters song: “Why is everybody always picking on me?”

His beef with Caldwell partly stems from feeling slighted when the mayor didn’t give him a meeting as fast as he wanted. He voted against a qualified Police Commission nominee because she missed a meeting with him.

He was accused of verbally harassing the aide of a fellow Council member who was seen sign-waving for Waters, and he filed an ethics complaint against another city employee who “liked” his opponent on social media. Ozawa also filed a complaint against the mayor’s press secretary after a public spat between the two in Honolulu Hale.

The turnout and outcome of special elections are notoriously unpredictable, but it’s difficult to see how Ozawa’s tirade against the court will help him win over voters, given past questions about his temperament.

If he succeeds in getting re-elected, it would be a surprise if his colleagues don’t rethink their willingness to make him their leader after seeing him melt down under adversity.

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