A Honolulu City Council member has sent a letter to Mayor Kirk Caldwell complaining that the mayor’s chief spokesman disrupted a TV news interview last week to challenge comments he’d made about the mayor.

Trevor Ozawa says Communications Director Jesse Broder Van Dyke approached him just before an Aug. 25 interview with KHON reporter Manolo Morales, which was being conducted in a public area at Honolulu Hale.

The interview focused on Ozawa’s criticism of the city’s lack of preparation for a recent sewage spill. Ozawa says Broder Van Dyke called Ozawa’s remarks “bullshit.”

The animosity began building the previous day. In an earlier interview with Morales, Ozawa had said that Caldwell and his administration should have been better prepared for a massive wastewater spill, which occurred that same day during heavy rains on Oahu.

Office of the Mayor, Communications Director, Jesse K. Broder Van Dyke during Governor Ige press conference on homeless. 17 aug 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Mayor Caldwell’s spokesman, Jesse Broder Van Dyke, during a press conference regarding homelessness at the Hawaii State Capitol on Aug. 17.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The city acknowledged responsibility for the discharge of more than a half a million gallons of sewage into Kewalo Basin and the Ala Wai Harbor, something that could have been avoided if a piece of equipment had been installed in a sewer pipe.

“Jesse proceeded to use profanity to describe my interview with Manolo using the word ‘bullshit.'” — Council member Trevor Ozawa

Ozawa says he made clear his disappointment with the city’s poor planning and preparation in the Aug. 24 KHON report.

As Ozawa prepared to do a follow-up interview with Manolo the next day “Jesse confronted me in a hostile manner about my comments in a news story,” Ozawa wrote in the letter to Caldwell, which is dated that same day.

“What is extremely disappointing and unbecoming of a member of the city’s executive branch, Jesse proceeded to use profanity to describe my interview with Manolo using the word ‘bullshit,'” Ozawa says in the letter, which was copied to all council members. “I found his comments, demeanor, and the use of profanity against a sitting member of the Honolulu City Council obnoxious and disappointing.”

Ozawa adds, “This unfortunate and unacceptable situation occurred in the presence of members of the media and we’re extremely fortunate that no members of the public were close enough to witness his disappointing remarks.”

City Councilman Trevor Ozawa listens to testimony on Malaekahana.  5 march 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Honolulu City Councilman Trevor Ozawa was elected to office in 2014.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Ozawa, who represents a district that stretches from Hawaii Kai to Ala Moana Beach Park, has asked Caldwell to consider “reviewing decorum and professionalism with all members of your staff so that an altercation like this does not happen again.”

“I’m sure you will advise Jesse to apologize to Manolo Morales and his camera man,” he adds.

Asked for his response, Broder Van Dyke told Civil Beat Thursday, “You reached my personal phone. I can’t comment on this now, OK?”

On Tuesday, though, the city’s managing director, Roy Amemiya, wrote to Ozawa to say that he had met with Broder Van Dyke “to remind him of the standard of professionalism that all members of our Cabinet are held even when we disagree with the actions or positions of others.”

Amemiya continued:

During the meeting, he expressed his regret for what transpired. My understanding is that Mr. Broder Van Dyke reached out to you via Facebook to meet and resolve this issue. I am hopeful that the both of you will be able to do so.Subsequently, at our regularly scheduled Cabinet meeting, attendees were reminded that their conduct should reflect the important public service positions that they hold.

In an interview Thursday, Civil Beat asked whether the administration had received other complaints about Broder Van Dyke. Amemiya and Deputy Managing Director Georgette Deemer refused to comment on the record.

Ozawa was asked by Civil Beat Thursday if he was satisfied with the administration’s response to his complaint about Broder Van Dyke.

“I am just really looking past this and hope that the administration will always treat everyone with aloha,” he said.

Amemiya told Civil Beat, “We have a desire to move on as well.”

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