Testifying before subcommittees of the U.S. Senate in April 1971, John Kerry posed the questions:
How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
When U.S. officials committed to military engagement in Vietnam, the Pentagon requested the service of millions of young men. They needed privileged males in society to step up in order to recruit those less fortunate.
Graduating from Yale in 1966, future senator John Kerry began active military service in August. Another privileged young man, Donald J. Trump, refused to serve. Claimed bone spurs in his feet, although playing football, baseball, squash, tennis and golf. His attorney, Michael Cohen, reported Trump said to him: “You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam.”
I Ask to be the Last Man to Suffer for a Mistake
One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped in their lives. 91% of rape victims are female and 9% male. In eight out of 10 cases, the victim knows the person who assaults them. And, 8% of rapes occur while the victim is at work. 
Rape is generally not about sex. The rapist exerts power and control over the victim. Reward is gained from dominating, humiliating and degrading the victim. Rape is not a crime of passion. Both women and men report significant short-term or long-term impacts, such as Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 
Shana Buco, Thao Tran, Susan Li … these are my rapists. Hawaiian Electric CEO & President Constance Hee Lau nurtured the hostile environment. These generally decent and caring women shattered my soul. They dominated, humiliated and degraded my professional reputation, character and stripped me of my human dignity. I am without joy.
Rape isn’t solely a physical violation. Each of us can be raped emotionally as well. Impacts have been devastating on me. Unable to sleep; difficulty eating; depressed; filled with shame and embarrassment; loss of connection to others. Went from 195lbs heathy body weight to about 170. Too frail for a 6’5 guy. My wife tells me she hears me groaning during sleep. The incident occurred about two years ago.
“What matters in life is not great deeds, but great love.”
I ask to be the last man to suffer for a mistake. If these women are truly remarkable, I call on each to apologize, to accept accountability, and change their cruel and out-dated behavior. Like the lesson our nation learned in Vietnam, America’s 50 Year war on drugs has been a colossal failure.
Time for Kindness and Compassion in America?
I don’t share this history for myself. In this holiday season, a time of light and healing, there are 30,000+ distressed people like me in Hawai’i; millions across the nation. Begged the company to engage in the Hawaiian practice of ho’oponopono. Denied. Hawaiian Electric promises to be a good corporate citizen — vowing ‘imi pono ~ to strive to be righteous. Privileged executives remain silent.
Over 58,000+ heroes died in Vietnam. Hundreds of thousands were injured or suffer trauma today. Many are patients like me. All of us are ordinary people just like you. In some locations, we can be thrown in prison. We are denied employment or shamed by those with privilege. Shana Buco raped my soul. Thao Tran and Susan Li protected her. Acclaimed “remarkable” CEO Lau says nothing. Her companies are a cruel place for both men and women.
To me, as many of you likely believe as well, my job is my career. It’s my life and top priority; my passion. I’m a professional. COVID19 reminds us the importance of our social networks and family ties. Our kids are collapsing in this isolated, overly-online environment. We are human beings and need physical human interaction. Employment is the connection venue for most of us.
Shana Buco, a person I am acquainted, someone I considered a friend, violated me. She raped my psyche, my person, my soul. Just days after her office called to confirm and congratulate me on a job transfer and new role, she fired me. Had informed family and friends, everyone in my networks, of being selected. It was a proud and honored moment; a lifetime achievement. My work ‘ohana applauded my success.
Local attorney, Joseph A. Ernst, advised companies prior to my arrival at Hawaiian Electric to update their policies and “treat everyone the same.” Hawaiian Electric failed to do both. Policies are incompetently confusing and unclear. More importantly, the company does not treat everyone the same.
As contracted employees, we were not tested or screened for medications or illicit substances. Hundreds of us sit next to “permanent, internal” employees, who are required to meet different standards. For some 180 days, I was a “golden child.” One day later, without warning, Shana Buco and her female team considered me a deadly, criminal monster.
For over six months, corporate executives said nothing to me about their policies. We received no literature or education materials. Seeking information, I checked the Code of Conduct. Appeared to be compliant. To be sure, I specifically discussed my disability with my assigned HR rep. She confirmed I would be fine. And, why not? My medication has been legal in Hawai’i since 2000. The U.S. and world made it official this month.
Nevertheless, Shana Buco humiliated me before my supervisor and colleagues. Lori Yafuso is the best “coach” I’ve ever had. Exceptional teammates such as Greg Sakaki, Tom Nii, Liz Oi, Vicky, Linda, Victor, Danny, Paul, Sean, Renna and dozens of others had collaborated closely with me on numerous critical, challenging projects for months. Millions of dollars of training — wasted.
Took the company two years to find me — “a perfect fit” manager Yafuso said frequently. Took them a year and a half to replace me. This lack of competency increases costs and inefficiencies to local rate payers and subscribers. It’s one reason residents of Hawai’i face the highest energy prices in the nation.
The HR director shamed and labeled me a “danger to my coworkers.” Denigrated my person and character. Treated me as a criminal. Left me feeling so dirty; so violated. Still do. I was raped. When other employees left, we got together and bought them lunch. We’re a family. They tossed me from the building in shame.
From Geek to Creep
I arrived at 7:30am for my “first day” at work in joyous excitement. Busy on both short and long term projects. I’m just one Life Guard on a SEAL Team of guards. We’re not handsome or buffed or cool like those protecting the beach or defending our nation. We’re IT Life Guards. We’re geeks and nerds. We toil in backrooms at weird hours, fix your laptop, data base or essential applications, while drinking too much coffee. Sometimes we don’t see the sun for days.
At 11:30am, Ms. Buco kicked me from the building. She instructed me I was no longer eligible to work for the most-prestigious company in the islands. Why did she even bring me to work? I connected with about 100 people at Hawaiian Electric. None but her considered me a threat. No federal or state policy, mandate or law requires treating human beings in this manner. If we use dangerous, addictive opioids, we are not treated this way. We would keep our jobs.
What’s wrong with these ladies? This is Hawai’i. Easy living, just go with the flow, right? Ana Vee expresses it best in her hit local song:
There aint no other place like these islands
Oh something about this aina really heal the soul
Hard to explain but if you been here then you know
That easy living just going with the flow
Aloha kekahi i kekahi
Was involved in many in-progress projects with various teams. Had assigned tasks needing to be finished that afternoon, later in the week, next week or in a month. “Pick up your things and get out of the building immediately.” She disappeared, cancelled, deleted my existence at the company. Just left innuendoes and stigma behind. They consider me a criminal. Or a drug addict. None of the above. I don’t break the law. I’m disabled.
My executive colleagues claimed I was engaged in illegal activity; scolded me for being impaired and intoxicated on the job. I’ve never medicated before or during work. I’m a professional. My work and performance is important to me. The hundred some professionals I assisted knew I came to work responsibly and prepared. Never would I let down the team and company I loved. Why then did they rape my character and destroy my professional reputation?
ENOUGH is ENOUGH. For Christmas and this joyous holiday season, will you assist me? My prayer is to be the LAST MAN punished for this failure. Help me calling on these women, people I consider remarkable, to evolve and return our dignity. Will you join me standing up for all of us?
Remember you heard it here first. Please leave your comments below and be sure to FOLLOW ClearHeathLife Strategies. We provide News of the News You Wish You Knew.
Ko’olau of Kaua’i. I am the Defiant One
“I Believe We Can”