Civil Beat Staff

Kirstin Downey

Kirstin Downey, a local girl who went to Kailua High School and then Penn State University, has returned home to the islands. She covers the federal government and its myriad effects on the lives of the people of Hawaii.

Kirstin had an award-winning career on the mainland, climbing from small newspapers in Colorado and Florida to bigger ones in major cities. At the San Jose Mercury in Silicon Valley in the 1980s, Kirstin wrote about the dwindling supply of low-income housing in the region and how rampant real estate speculation was damaging the banking industry. Her work foreshadowed the savings and loan crash of the early 1990s, and she covered the nation’s response as a reporter at the Washington Post.

At the Washington Post, Kirstin won six regional reporting awards for her coverage of economic, political and financial issues. She was a finalist for the Livingston award for outstanding young journalist in America for her series of stories on how investors had abused government loan programs to profiteer and destroy inner-city neighborhoods in the District, contributing to the growing social woes there. She used land records and mortgage filings to document the patterns. Her coverage contributed to what became the largest single set of prosecutions in the history of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, leading to more than 50 convictions.

Kirstin was awarded a Nieman fellowship at Harvard University in 2000-2001 after writing many stories about sexual harassment in the workplace, a social problem that came to light in depositions and documents filed in dozens of class-action lawsuits around the country.

She covered the terrorist attacks in New York City in 2001, writing about the events of the day and the tragic impact on human lives and the U.S. economy, as well as the mysterious follow-on anthrax attacks.

From 2005 to 2007, Kirstin wrote dozens of stories chronicling the dangerous growth of toxic mortgages, repeatedly raising concerns to government agencies that should have been doing more to stop the looming crisis. She emphasized the human impact of the problems, including the foreclosures that devastated families. In 2007, she used data-driven reporting to write in-depth stories describing the pernicious effect of toxic loans targeted and marketed to minorities, immigrants and young families.

She shared in the Pulitzer Prize awarded to the Washington Post’s metro staff in 2008 for coverage of the campus massacre at Virginia Tech. Kirstin wrote pieces profiling the two heroic professors who died that day protecting their students.

After leaving the Post, Kirstin served as an investigator and writer for the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, (the Angelides Commission), which published a New York Times-bestselling book on the causes and implications of the economic meltdown of 2008. She wrote the section of the book that detailed the many specific warnings that were ignored by corporations and top government officials.

Kirstin loves history. She is a book author, published by Nan Talese at Doubleday/Random House. Her biography of Frances Perkins, “The Woman Behind the New Deal,” a portrait of the country’s most effective progressive, was named one of the top 10 biographies of the year by the American Library Association. Her book about the controversial Queen Isabella of Spain, “Isabella the Warrior Queen,” was named to BBC’s list of Ten Books to Read, November 2014 and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times award for best biography of the year. The book has been translated into Spanish, Polish and Chinese.

Kirstin and her husband, Neil Averitt, live in Honolulu. Together they have five children. She is trying to learn to speak Hawaiian, and finding it very difficult.

November 2017

Friday, November 17

How Brian Schatz Is Becoming The Senate’s Chief Science Nerd

Monday, November 13

Man With Hawaii Roots On Verge Of Top Border Enforcement Post

Tuesday, November 7

Bipartisan Push To Expand Medicaid Spending On Drug Addiction

Monday, November 6

Congressional Crackdown On The Shark Fin Trade

Friday, November 3

Gabbard Denounces Democratic Party’s National Leaders

October 2017

Thursday, October 19

Why Does This Guy Make Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz Nervous?

Wednesday, October 11

The Last Hawaiian Princess?

Tuesday, October 10

Here’s One More Reason To Be Scared Of Cheap Sushi

Wednesday, October 4

Congressman Blasts Fishery Council For ‘Improper Lobbying’

September 2017

Wednesday, September 27

How Tulsi Gabbard Wound Up Blacklisted By Azerbaijan

Monday, September 11

Former Navy Officer Gets 18 Months In Prison For Role In Widespread Scandal

August 2017

Friday, August 25

Republicans Pushing To Slice Up The 9th Circuit Court

Thursday, August 24

Hirono Finds Her Mojo In The Era of Trump

Tuesday, August 22

Military Buildup Is A Boost For Pearl Harbor Shipyard

Thursday, August 10

Hanabusa Rethinking Pro-Israel Bill After Taking Heat At Town Halls

Wednesday, August 9

Hot Talk Between Trump, North Korea Could Put Hawaii On The Front Line

Tuesday, August 8

What Does Hirono Have Against Trump’s New Japan Ambassador?

Thursday, August 3

NY Congressman Wants To Take Away Hawaii’s Gun-Control Rights

Wednesday, August 2

Fighting Back: This Former Navy Officer Isn’t Rolling Over In The Fat Leonard Bribery Case

July 2017

Friday, July 28

Military’s Handling Of Mental Health Issues May Be On Trial In Terrorism Case

Wednesday, July 19

Officials in Hawaii Breathe Easier After GOP Health Plan Collapses

Thursday, July 13

Schatz Announces Big Increase In Military Spending For Hawaii

Tuesday, July 11

As Global Tensions Rise, Senators Grill Nominee For Navy Secretary

June 2017

Tuesday, June 27

Support For Trump Holds Steady Among Hawaii Republicans

Tuesday, June 20

Hawaii Pushes Back Against Trump Policies

Friday, June 16

Hawaii May Feel Less Pain Than Elsewhere If GOP Guts Obamacare

Wednesday, June 7

Navy’s Widening Bribery And Sex Scandal Has Many Hawaii Connections

Monday, June 5

Civil Beat Poll: Tulsi Gabbard’s Surprising Plunge In Hawaii

Thursday, June 1

Brian Schatz: ‘Invigorating To See People So Engaged’ In Resisting Trump

May 2017

Thursday, May 25

Wild Chickens Are Flocking To Whole Foods In Kailua

Tuesday, May 16

Trump’s Review Of National Monuments Panned In Public Comments

Thursday, May 11

No Quick Relief In Sight For Lousy Airline Service

Sunday, May 7

Hirono Town Hall: Hawaii Senator Promises To Keep Resisting Trump

Tuesday, May 2

‘Hawaii Got Almost Everything We Sought’ In Federal Budget

April 2017

Friday, April 28

Battle Lines Are Reforming In Hawaii Over Papahanaumokuakea

Tuesday, April 25

Trump Targets National Monuments, Including Papahanaumokuakea

Monday, April 24

Vice President Pence Cuts Short His Visit To Hawaii

Saturday, April 22

Attack By North Korea Unlikely, Hanabusa Tells Town Hall

Thursday, April 20

Coast Guard Budget Cuts Could Mean Fewer Rescues In Hawaii

Tuesday, April 18

New Federal Law Enhances Tsunami Detection Measures

Monday, April 17

Schatz Optimistic About Resistance To Trump Agenda In DC

The Fight Over Papahanaumokuakea Just Escalated

Sunday, April 16

Gabbard Focuses On North Korea Amid Questions About Syria

Thursday, April 13

Gabbard Draws Cordial But Subdued Crowd On Lanai

Tuesday, April 11

Under Fire In DC, Gabbard Is Still A Hit On The Big Island

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: Let’s Talk

March 2017

Tuesday, March 21

Why All Those Tourists Are Actually Good For Hawaii

Thursday, March 16

Trump’s Initial Budget Proposal Is Meeting Resistance From Both Parties

Wednesday, March 15

GOP Could Reverse Protection Of Papahanaumokuakea

Why Federal Budget Cuts Are Likely To Hit Hawaii Hard

Tuesday, March 14

Democratic Attorneys General Are Banding Together Against Trump

Friday, March 10

Why A Big Boost In US Sea Power Could Be A Boon For Hawaii

Thursday, March 2

Is Hawaii Ready For Driverless Cars?

February 2017

Monday, February 27

Trump Briefs Governors On Plan To Spend More On Military

Hawaii’s Governor Steps Gingerly Into GOP Power Circle

Wednesday, February 22

Congress: How Vulnerable Is Hawaii To Missile Attack?

Friday, February 17

Bipartisan Support For VA Chief, But Can He Help Hawaii Vets?

Wednesday, February 15

US Senate Bill Calls For Better Monitoring of Volcanic Eruptions

Monday, February 13

The Surprising State Of Military Unreadiness

Friday, February 10

How Trump Is Working To Play Nice With Japan

Tuesday, February 7

Army Gives Go-Ahead For Dakota Pipeline Project

Education Secretary Passes With Near-Failing Grade

Monday, February 6

Hunters And Fishermen Score A Quick Kill Of Public Lands Bill

January 2017

Friday, January 27

After Secret Trip, Gabbard Derided As ‘Stooge,’ Praised As ‘Courageous’

Wednesday, January 25

Gabbard Acknowledges Meeting With Syrian President Assad

Monday, January 23

Few Tears Shed In Hawaii As Trump Dumps Pacific Trade Pact

Saturday, January 21

Massive March On DC: Fear, Fun, Animosity And A Touch Of Aloha

Friday, January 20

‘It Was Worth It’: Hawaii Trump Fans Glad They Flew To DC

Will GOP Punish Hawaii Because We’re Democrats?

Thursday, January 19

Hawaii Residents Journey To DC For Very Different Reasons

Wednesday, January 18

Gabbard In Syria, Hanabusa In Honolulu As DC Fills Up

Thursday, January 12

Hirono Takes Stand Against Attorney General Nominee

Schatz Gets Key Role On Military Panel

Friday, January 6

What Would ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis Mean For Military-Heavy Hawaii?

Trump Gives Hawaii Republicans A Rare Chance To Celebrate

Sunday, January 1

Obamas Depart, Ending Last Presidential Vacation On Oahu

December 2016

Friday, December 30

Hanabusa Makes Her Escape From The Federal Building

Wednesday, December 28

Why Now, After 75 Years? Japan And US Had Their Reasons

Tuesday, December 27

Abe At Pearl Harbor: ‘Sincere And Everlasting Condolences’

Thursday, December 22

Ige, Trump Agree On This: We Need Better-Paying Jobs

Monday, December 19

Trump Blurring The Line Between Reality And Reality TV

Wednesday, December 14

Congressmen Seek Investigation Of Hawaii Fishing Practices

Wednesday, December 7

Activist: Officials Care More About Fish Than People Aboard Ships

Project Preserves The Voices And Stories Of Pearl Harbor Survivors

November 2016

Monday, November 21

Tulsi Gabbard Talks With Trump About Syria And Terrorism

Tuesday, November 15

Kirstin Downey: Ignore The Working Class At Your Own Peril

Thursday, November 10

Kirstin Downey: Welcome To TrumpWorld

October 2016

Wednesday, October 12

Report: Vets Faring Better In Hawaii, But There’s Work To Do

Tuesday, October 4

Kirstin Downey: Advocates Say Domestic Violence Bills Fall Short

September 2016

Thursday, September 22

Kirstin Downey: Here’s What Hawaii’s Housing Crisis Looks Like

Friday, September 16

Kirstin Downey: US Labor Dept. To Look At Fish Fleet Conditions