Lingle says jobs will be hard to fill
Young's dismissal alerts candidates and detractors, she says
As the Legislature moves to close next week, Republican Gov. Linda Lingle is left with three Cabinet vacancies to fill.
The Democratic-controlled Senate yesterday handed Lingle her second defeat of the session by rejecting the nomination of Peter Young as director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Earlier this month, the Senate turned down the appointment of Iwalani White as public safety director. The state Labor Department directorship is also open, as Lingle did not nominate anyone to take the place of outgoing director Nelson Befitel, who is waiting for his replacement. Yesterday, Lingle said she has someone under consideration for the labor job, but has yet to interview the candidate.
Asked about how the vacancies will affect the Cabinet, Lingle said she will have trouble recruiting new executives.
"This process says to people considering government that you won't be necessarily treated fairly when you come for consideration, and it will make it tougher to find people," Lingle said.
She added that disgruntled employees are "emboldened" to go to the Senate with complaints about managers, and that will make it more difficult to find executives to work in government.
Before yesterday's 15-8 vote against Young, Senate President Colleen Hanabusa took the unusual step of surrendering her position on the podium to Senate Vice President Sen. Donna Mercado Kim so Hanabusa could ask for a ruling on a potential conflict in Young's confirmation.
Hanabusa said she had cleared the matter with the Ethics Commission. She asked Kim for a ruling, and Kim responded that there was no conflict on Hanabusa's part.
The issue arose because of an e-mail campaign last week alleging that she had a conflict as the attorney representing a company, Pilaa 400, owned by James Pflueger. Despite Hanabusa's work defending Pflueger, the company was fined $5 million by the land board, headed by Young, for a mudslide that damaged property and coral reefs.
During Young's confirmation hearing, another Pflueger attorney, William McCorriston, opposed his reappointment on grounds that his department had failed to inspect the Ka Loko dam on Kauai, which broke last year, killing seven people.
Supporters of Young complained that McCorriston had been allowed to use the Senate hearing to divert the blame for Ka Loko's breach from his client, Pflueger, a part-owner of the Ka Loko Reservoir.
Hanabusa, saying there was no connection to Ka Loko or her representation of Pflueger, voted against Young's nomination.
Attorney General wins second term
State Attorney General Mark Bennett won a unanimous vote of support yesterday as he was confirmed by the Senate for a second four-year term.
Bennett, a former deputy federal prosecutor and former attorney for the state Republican Party, was praised during his confirmation hearing by federal Judges Sam King and David Ezra. He also won the support of U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka and Rep. Neil Abercrombie.