Prison official's past not all good, but could help
The governor has appointed a veteran prison administrator to head the Department of Public Safety.
STATE Sen. Will Espero says he hasn't heard anything negative about the man he encouraged to seek the job of public safety director, apparently unaware of a $4.1 million judgment the state was compelled to pay in a high-profile gender discrimination suit that involved the long-time prison official.
As chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee, Espero should revisit the case, if not for his own instruction, then to assure the public that Clayton Frank's "experience will be a big plus," as the senator has asserted.
Gov. Linda Lingle chose Frank as interim director of the department that oversees Hawaii's prisons after her nominee, Iwalani White, was bluntly rejected by Espero's committee and the full Senate last month.
Lingle said she considered Frank's history, but believes he "is the right person for the job." However, she also noted that she had difficulty finding another nominee because of White's grueling experience in the hearings that Espero conducted.
A jury in 2001 found Frank, former public safety director George Iranon and three other supervisors had unlawfully discriminated and retaliated against female employees, awarding the women a total of $4.1 million.
The case could be troublesome for Frank should the governor nominate him for the permanent position. But because he has worked in the department for 26 years as a warden and administrator, his experience and familiarity with employees might prove advantageous.
White, a former city prosecutor who had not worked in the department before her interim appointment, ran up against a dozen current and former employees who testified against her. In that atmosphere, Lingle has opted for an insider, hoping to have someone in place to get the department back on track.
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