Embattled nominee push intensifies
The state Senate is scheduled to vote Monday on the governor's nomination of Iwalani D. White as director of the Department of Public Safety.
"I'll be doing my best to convince as many people as possible that she's the right person," Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday.
The vote comes after the Senate Public Safety Committee voted Thursday against White's nomination, citing an overwhelming amount of negative testimony.
It marked the first time a Senate panel has rejected one of Lingle's Cabinet nominations.
Lingle said she was pleased to see others coming forth to support White's nomination, particularly department employees who were gathering signatures for a petition, and Dayton Nakanelua, state director of the United Public Workers union, who was lobbying lawmakers on White's behalf.
"I think that is extremely significant," Lingle said. "The committee said that somehow she didn't act properly as it related to the employees, yet here is the official representative for the employees saying she is the perfect person for this job."
Nakanelua also testified in support of White last week, when the committee heard 10 hours of testimony over two days.
Questioning of White, a former Honolulu deputy prosecutor, focused on her management style and handling of internal investigation of complaints.
About a dozen current and former employees testified that White was heavy-handed and created an atmosphere of low morale and feelings of ill will.
White said she sympathized with the employees and respected them for coming forward, but added that all of her decisions were based on consultation with other administrators and done in accordance with the union contracts.
Since Thursday's committee vote, White has quietly been lobbying for support.
"I need for people to hear my side of the story," White said yesterday in a meeting with Star-Bulletin editors. "They have disagreed on my decisions. I don't know whether or not they have appreciated, taken into consideration or even thought about the procedure that led up to the decisions.
"They're just focusing in on what I did and not how I got there, and I don't think that's fair."
The full 25-member chamber could still confirm White to the post.
Two weeks ago, senators approved Lingle's nomination of Oahu Circuit Judge Glenn Kim despite rejection of his nomination by the chamber's Judiciary Committee.
Public Safety Chairman Will Espero (D, Ewa-Honouliuli-Ewa Beach) said he does not expect the Senate to go against the committee vote.
"I feel that we looked at Iwalani White very carefully, and I believe my colleagues feel that we treated her fairly and did a thorough job," Espero said yesterday. "At this stage, I don't see much opposition, except for maybe from the Republican side."