Investigative committee wastes taxpayers' money
WHY are we spending $150,000 of taxpayers' money to conduct an investigation into the state Bureau of Conveyances (Star-Bulletin, July 12) that already is being performed by the attorney general and the Ethics Commission? As an appointed member of the legislative committee investigating the bureau, I oppose using tax dollars for the auditor to duplicate this work.
Instead of looking for legislative solutions to improve the Bureau of Conveyances, this Investigative Committee wants to pin blame on Peter Young, former director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. And it's asking the taxpayers to foot the $150,000 bill.
Senate committee members, who voted against reconfirmation of Young for a second term as chairman of the DLNR, might want to rehash closed-door information they received during the confirmation hearings. I believe that is the wrong focus for the Investigative Committee. We need to find legislative solutions to longstanding problems at the bureau, a division of the DLNR that processes property titles and land transactions.
PROBLEMS at the Bureau of Conveyances go back at least three administrations. In 1984, the Department of Budget and Finance recommended organizational changes. Budget and Finance noted, "Organizations are dynamic and should change to meet new requirements." B&F suggested reorganizing the bureau. Since those changes weren't made, a subsequent report from the Legislative Reference Bureau in 1987 noted: "As of August 1987, the backlog (in the land court system) had increased to twenty-two months (and) the backlog in the regular system branch as of August 1987 was six months."
Fast-forward to June 2005, when the Hoike Findings and Recommendation Report was prepared, which spotlighted the underlying problem: "Resistance from staff to implement (operational) changes"; "Resistance from unions to implement changes." The Hoike Report continued: "Staff committed to preserving status quo"; "Lack of flexibility"; Union intervention." In view of these major obstacles, the Hoike Report proposed outsourcing certain functions, such as the customer service function and the scanning and indexing function.
AS AN Investigative Committee, we should be focusing on such legislative solutions to these union and employee barriers, rather than rehashing complaints from the five or six employees who spoke to senators in their closed-door meetings during the Young confirmation hearings.
Is there a legislative solution to this dysfunction, which is causing backlogs at the bureau? Yes, provided we ask people to testify who have knowledge about the system and title companies who use the system.
And the drafters of the Hoike Report should be at the top of the list.
But the way our Investigative Committee is proceeding, it appears we will "justify" the rejection of Young and enable employee dysfunction to create Bureau of Conveyances backlogs and ultimately an unreliable recording system. Taxpayers should be angry. I am.
Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R, Kailua-Kaneohe Bay) is the assistant minority floor leader.