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Friday, April 14, 2000

Governor taps
2 close allies
to head state
Labor Board

His press secretary and his
former chief of staff are nominated

Faster work on private-sector appeals promised

By Richard Borreca


Gov. Ben Cayetano has nominated his press secretary and his former chief of staff to key positions with the board that handles disputes with Hawaii's public worker unions.

Named as chairman of the Hawaii Labor Relations Board is Brian Nakamura. Kathleen Racuya-Markrich was nominated as a member of the three-person board.

The appointments drew quick praise from John Radcliffe, associate executive director of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, which represents UH professors.

"Brian has plenty of experience as a staff attorney, having served at the congressional and state levels.... He will bring a broad understanding of how Hawaii works to the job," Radcliffe said.

Nakamura was Cayetano's chief of staff when he was lieutenant governor, and served as an executive assistant and legal counsel under U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye. He also worked as general counsel for the state Campaign Spending Commission and chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He has also helped with the state Democratic Party and in several political campaigns.

Racuya-Markrich is also an attorney. She was a deputy attorney general for seven years before joining Cayetano's staff, six years ago. She represented the state in employment law cases.

"She has the direct experience and she is the first woman ever to be nominated to this particular board," Radcliffe said.

Cayetano called her "fair-minded, hardworking and honest," and said Nakamura possessed "the ability to do an outstanding job."

The two were appointed to six-year terms with the board. The chairman is paid $78,000, while members get $75,000.

The positions are subject to Senate confirmation.

Sen. Iwase promises
faster work on appeals

By Richard Borreca


Democratic state Sen. Randy Iwase appears headed for confirmation as head of the Labor and Industrial Relations Appeals Board, the state board that helps resolve labor disputes in the private sector.

Legislature 2000 The Senate Labor Committee approved his nomination yesterday and sent it on to the Senate for a final vote, with only Sen. Marshall Ige (D, Kaneohe-Enchanted Lake) saying he had reservations.

Ige had procedural questions about whether a vote confirming Iwase would also be a declaration that the present labor board chairman, Frank Yap, was not performing well. State law says the chairman of the board is appointed for 10 years and is not to be removed unless there is a specific reason.

Iwase (D, Mililani-Waipio-Gentry) was nominated by Gov. Ben Cayetano, who said that he thought Yap wasn't moving fast enough to streamline board operations. While declining to discuss the present labor board operation, Iwase said he would work to get labor appeal decisions, primarily dealing with workers' compensation claims and workplace safety violations, out within 200 days. There have been complaints of appeals taking four years.

Iwase, who has two years remaining on his present term, said he wants to resign his Senate seat as soon as he can after the present legislative session ends early next month. Iwase also said that while in the Senate, he would not vote on issues regarding the labor board.

After hearing the praise from Honolulu business leaders, senators quizzed Iwase.

"Can you say what shortcomings you have?" asked Sen. Sam Slom (R, Kalama Valley-Aina Haina).

"Well, for a while I hung out with you," Iwase answered.

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