DLNR staff hit Young over harbors budget
Department of Land and Natural Resources Director Peter Young has neglected state boat harbors and historic preservation, current and former employees testified yesterday at the second day of his Senate confirmation hearing.
A key allegation from Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation staff was that Young allows almost 20 percent of that division's $11 million budget to be diverted to the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.
The $2 million is supposed to pay for enforcement of boating and fishing regulations, but there is no evidence of how much of that money has been used to pay for water patrols, said Richard Rice, who was head of the boating division for two years. The lack of law enforcement documentation has resulted in the loss of at least $600,000 in federal boating-safety grant money, he added.
Rice said he left the job last year in protest of Young's policies, which he believes are depriving state boat harbors of badly needed improvements.
Gov. Linda Lingle has nominated Young for a second four-year term as DLNR chief.
Young gets his chance to respond to allegations made by Rice and other subpoenaed witnesses when he appears today before the Senate Water, Land, Agriculture and Hawaiian Affairs Committee. Also to testify are four employees of the Bureau of Conveyances, one of 11 DLNR divisions, and an attorney representing the Ka Loko Dam landowner.
Four former state Historic Preservation Division workers complained in their testimony yesterday that division Administrator Melanie Chinen created a hostile work environment that makes it hard to keep archaeologists and other professionals.
Nineteen people have left that division since 2005, said Holly McEldowney. The situation leaves remaining staff with "crushing workloads" under a supervisor who "could be quite temperamental and accusatory."
As he left the hearing, Young said his testimony will provide a different perspective on the situations at the troubled divisions.
The committee went into executive session after 6 p.m. to hear testimony from an attorney general's office employee regarding an ongoing investigation of possibly criminal matters in the Bureau of Conveyances. That investigation does not center on Young, officials said.