UPDATED 3:20 p.m. After a couple of drinks at President Barack Obama’s APEC dinner, Honolulu City Council member Tom Berg berated Secret Service agents who would not let him re-enter to retrieve his phone.

That was revealed Wednesday in a police report and in an interview with Berg himself. He said the police were called at his request, and that the incident was not a big deal. Berg said the incident is only coming to light because a rival Council member wants to “muzzle” his outspoken opposition to the Honolulu rail project.

The report has Berg’s name and occupation redacted because there are no charges from the incident. It says police were called by Secret Service requesting assistance with “an intoxicated male attempting to gain entry into the ‘secure zone’ without proper access credentials.”

“Upon obtaining identification from (redacted) I could detect a strong odor of alcoholic type beverages emitting from (redacted) mouth and clothes while he spoke,” Officer Thomas Carvalho wrote in his report. “(Redacted) also had red, bloodshot, and watery eyes. While speaking with him he was extremely argumentative and irrational and insisted that since he was a (redacted) that he had the right to enter into the area to retrieve his cellular telephone.”

A police sergeant recorded a video but it is not being released because police say it is evidence.

Read the four-page police report here:


The police account of events is largely undisputed by Berg. He told Civil Beat that there were complimentary beverages available inside Obama’s dinner at the Hale Koa Hotel on Saturday, Nov. 12.

“Everybody was consuming, and I took in just like everybody else,” Berg said. “It had nothing to do with alcohol. It had everything to do with they said I wasn’t there.”

Berg said he was never issued a badge for the event, but was allowed in after he took a shuttle from the Kahala Hotel. When he left the dinner shortly after 10 p.m., he quickly realized he’d left his phone in an envelope under his chair. But when he tried to re-enter, he said, the Secret Service told him he couldn’t.

“They snickered at me and said, ‘You were never here. You were not in this event,'” Berg said. “I didn’t dress up in a suit and forge a driver’s license and forge a City Council ID and claim I’m a City Councilman to harass you guys. They were all federal people so they didn’t recognize me.”

That’s why, Berg said, he asked the Secret Service to call the police — so they could vouch for him and tell the feds he was indeed a member of the Honolulu City Council.

“They actually came to my rescue, not the other way around,” Berg said. “I tried to explain the whole thing, but I had no way home. I needed my phone so I could get home.”

The police report says that after the secure area was cleared at about 10:45 p.m., 30 minutes after police were called. Berg was escorted to the Hale Koa front desk, where he was given his phone. Then he was escorted off the property and placed into a taxi to be taken back to his car in Kalaha.

Rail Conspiracy Theory

Berg downplayed the incident, saying it left “no black eye on anybody” and “is not a news story.”

“This is a character assassination by Breene Harimoto,” Berg said, referring to his colleague on the Council who chairs the Transportation Committee.

“He’s very upset that I’m trying to discuss the rail,” Berg said. “My efforts at the City Council have irritated Breene Harimoto, and he’s fishing for anything he can.”

UPDATED Harimoto says he had nothing to do with the police report and had only heard rumors about the incident at Hale Koa during APEC.

Harimoto told Civil Beat he wrote letters to the Honolulu Neighborhood Commission and Council Chair Ernie Martin documenting his concerns about Berg’s behavior after police were called to a separate incident where Berg argued with members of the Waipahu Neighborhood Board.

“When it gets to the point where people are saying they’re afraid, they’re scared, they feel threatened, I believe the Council has a legal and moral obligation to do something,” Harimoto said. “I don’t believe we can just turn the other way.

“I assure you there’s no vendetta, it has nothing to do with rail,” he said. “This is not about Councilmember Berg’s view on rail. It’s not about his passion. It’s not about punishing him. It’s really about his behavior.”

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