Tuesday, January 10, 2012

LTE Forum: Bank Responds to ‘Payoff’ Allegation

The old advice on dealing with newspapers is probably still valid: “Don’t get into a ----ing contest with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” Still, when a newspaper or someone who writes for one throws a blow that’s obviously low, counter-punching might do some good.
First Hawaiian Bank produced a one-two-three flurry on today’s Star-Advertiser letters page in response to David “Volcanic Ash” Shapiro’s “payoff” column last week (subscription required to access all S-A content). We called attention to his piece for its hint-hint, wink-wink, connect-the-dots innuendo that HART Chair Carrie Okinaga’s new position at the bank was a “payoff” – his word.
Our Friday post predicted that neither Mr. Shapiro nor his S-A columnist colleagues will write “a single paragraph of positive content about the Honolulu rail project in 2012.” We’ll see tomorrow whether our prediction still has legs and whether Mr. Shapiro has had time to find something concrete to back up his “payoff” allegation. Here’s the bank’s executive VP’s response:

Shapiro column contained errors (Star-Advertiser, 1/10)
“…Shapiro’ states that First Hawaiian Bank is a major landowner along the rail route. Only one of First Hawaiian Bank’s 35 Oahu branch properties – our Waipahu Branch, built in 1970 on leasehold property – is directly adjacent to the proposed rail route….
“Shapiro said that First Hawaiian Bank’s parent company BNP Paribas has business ties to Ansaldo…. That’s true. It also has a relationship with the two companies who lost the bid….
“Finally, Shapiro insinuated that Carrie Okinaga, who was recently hired as an attorney at the bank, got the job because of her position as chairwoman of the HART project. In fact, Okinaga was hired by the bank’s new president and CEO…for her exceptional skills, broad range of experience and strong educational background.”
The damage already has been done, of course, and Mr. Shapiro’s “payoff” column will be hanging out there in cyberspace forever more prominently than the bank’s response.

This post has been added to our “aggregation” site beneath the LTE Forum heading.

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