Voters are watching
People who support the state
attorney general's reconfirmation
will rally at the Capitol today
Senate confirms ChandlerBy Craig Gima
As supporters of Attorney General Margery Bronster planned to rally at the State Capitol today, her confirmation is still too close to call -- and many senators may not make up their minds until the matter comes to a floor vote, perhaps as early as tomorrow.
"The message to the senators is that there are a lot of voters that are watching you on the Bronster vote," said Beadie Dawson, the former attorney for Na Pua Ke Ali'i Pauahi and one of those who helped organize today's rally.
But the number of senators who oppose Bronster's nomination is rising, and some senators who originally told the Star-Bulletin they would vote in favor of giving her a second term now are undecided.
The Senate Judiciary Committee this month unanimously endorsed Bronster's reappointment, but Senate President Norman Mizuguchi, who said last week that he always votes to support his committee chairmen, seemed to be wavering yesterday.
"The Senate as a whole has a lot of questions regarding her so I'm just watching where the votes are," Mizuguchi (D, Aiea) said.
It appears Bronster now needs five more votes for confirmation in the 25-member Senate. Eight senators said they are in favor, seven are opposed and 10 are undecided, with at least two of the undecided leaning toward a negative vote.
"There's a sense that, notwithstanding the fact that the governor and the nominee herself made personal visits to the undecided senators, they don't seem to have embraced Ms. Bronster," said Judiciary Committee Co-Chairman Matt Matsunaga.
Sen. Jonathan Chun (D, Lihue) said he still has concerns about Bronster's management abilities, even after meeting with the attorney general and Gov. Ben Cayetano.
Cayetano said yesterday he has done all he can to lobby for Bronster.
"I think the Senate itself should bring this matter to a resolution and the public will judge accordingly," he said.
But Sen. Robert Bunda (D, Wahiawa), who is undecided but leaning toward a yes vote, said neither the governor nor Bronster has visited with him to answer his concerns.
Cayetano also repeated his assertion that the Senate is being influenced by Bishop Estate.
"The question here is whether she's going to be punished for having the temerity to take on the big boys," he said.
"That's the question that's going to be before the Senate and I hope, of course, that there are enough senators who understand that this attorney general has done a courageous job." He also suggested freshman Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, who opposes Bronster's confirmation, had ties to estate trustee Henry Peters.
"I think Sen. Hanabusa comes from an area where a trustee is a constituent of hers and I think you need to ask her if it makes a difference," he said. "She says it doesn't make a difference and I think the people can judge accordingly."
Said Hanabusa: "Really, I don't know Henry Peters.
"I'd like to know where he (Cayetano) gets this idea that I'm close to Mr. Peters."
Hanabusa said she supports the Bishop Estate investigation and suggested Bronster could be kept on as a special deputy attorney general to finish the estate litigation even if she is rejected by the Senate as attorney general.
"I'm all for the continuation of Bishop Estate but I believe our attorney general has gotta do what the attorney general is supposed to do -- that is, to service the departments," Hanabusa said.
Senators like Hanabusa said they are opposed to Bronster for a number of reasons, including what they see as a lack of legal support for teachers on matters relating to the Felix consent decree, Hawaiian issues and the attorney general's conduct during the challenge to the general election.
Decision timeMargery Bronster's confirmation vote for a second term as attorney general is scheduled for tomorrow during what is expected to be a long Senate session that begins 11:30 a.m., Judiciary Co-Chairman Avery Chumbley said.
"It's time to make a decision," Chumbley said.
Many undecided senators may make up their mind during the floor session.
Asked whether he believes Bronster will be confirmed Chumbley replied, "Your guess is as good as mine."
He said he believes some of the undecided votes are being persuaded to vote "yes" with reservations, and may express their concerns on the floor.
Chumbley also said Budget Director Earl Anzai's confirmation vote may also be tomorrow.
Bishop Estate Archive
Senate confirms Chandler
Department of Human ServicesBy Craig Gima
nominee backed despite worries
Despite concerns raised by senators over the handling of recent high-profile child-abuse cases, the Senate has confirmed Susan Chandler to head the Department of Human Services by a 19-6 vote.
"We're not talking about fault as we are talking accountability and responsibility," said Sen. Sam Slom (R, Hawaii Kai).
"When we're talking about child protection we must protect the children and we're not doing it, it's pure and simple," he added.
Slom and others opposed to Chandler's nomination pointed to recent audits that questioned the supervision and management of the Child Protective Services agency in her department.
But Chandler's supporters said she has taken steps to improve the agency and should be given the chance to continue her work.
"A vote against Dr. Chandler is a vote to deny the state the services of a dedicated, effective public servant," said Sen. Andy Levin (D, Kau). "I think that would be a mistake."
Sens. Randy Iwase (D, Mililani), Whitney Anderson (R, Kailua), Joe Tanaka (D, Kahului), Marshall Ige (D, Kaneohe), and Jan Buen (D, Waihee) joined Slom in voting against Chandler.
The Senate also unanimously confirmed Bruce Anderson as the director of the Department of Health.
Hawaii Revised Statutes