Iwalani White deserves confirmation
AS Honolulu's prosecuting attorney and a member of the Corrections Population Management Commission, I've learned much about challenges facing the Department of Public Safety. It is no secret that Hawaii's prisons suffer overcrowding, aging facilities, hiring and retention difficulties, security threat groups, Department of Justice concerns regarding treatment of the inmate mental health population, the need for advancements in technology and an almost endless variety of other issues. For years the department has had a series of interim or short-term directors.
After an extensive and difficult search, Gov. Linda Lingle nominated former Family Court judge and First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Iwalani White to join her cabinet as director of the Department of Public Safety. Iwalani is currently undergoing the advise and consent process before the state Senate. The Department of Public Safety is fortunate to have a candidate such as Iwalani White. The Senate should confirm her appointment.
Iwalani worked with me as first deputy prosecuting attorney. For a decade we faced grievances, sexual harassment complaints, hirings, firings, budget woes, investigations, lawsuits, public appearances, media interviews and all the other attendant joys and scrutiny that come with the running of a high-profile government office.
Most importantly we went through the difficulties of "regime change" in the Prosecutor's Office. When we walked into the office in 1997 there were groups who had supported other candidates for the office and who were clearly disappointed and even bitter that their candidate had lost. There were civil servants who would point out what wasn't in their "job description." We were given the usual "that is just the way things are, some things will never change." We were tested with requests for perks and benefits as well as complaints. Iwalani stayed with the office for a decade and left it in far better shape than when she arrived. For these reasons, she is tested and ready for the Department of Public Safety.
Iwalani grew up in Kuhio Park Terrace, attended McKinley High School, went to the University of Hawaii and finished her education at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii. Recently, she so impressed an ethics class at her law school that she has been asked to speak at its graduation ceremony.
Iwalani White can think, listen, evaluate and make informed and often difficult decisions. In my opinion, there isn't much of a Plan B. She has been preceded by a series of short-term or interim directors. It is difficult to think of another candidate with Iwalani's experience and ability willing to tackle this difficult job.
Peter Carlisle is prosecuting attorney for the city of Honolulu.