Hearing addresses state title agency
About once a week, a worker at the state agency that records land titles has a problem to solve and calls Sandra Furukawa.
As a 29-year veteran of the Bureau of Conveyances and its former head, Furukawa answers the workers' questions, she testified yesterday at a legislative hearing.
The problem is, Furukawa now works for Title Guaranty, the largest title company in Hawaii, said Sen. Jill Tokuda, co-chairwoman of the committee that is trying to figure out ways for the bureau to work more effectively.
Even if bureau employees are calling Furukawa, who left the bureau in 1994, with current Registrar Carl Watanabe's permission, the situation could have an appearance of favoritism, Tokuda said yesterday after a 2 1/2-hour hearing.
"If I were another title company, I'd be concerned," Tokuda said. "I have questions about the bureau tapping outside support. ... The bottom line is, they should be able to solve problems within the bureau."
Furukawa testified that her assistance to bureau employees does not grant her special favors or access.
"I've done my best to do things well, to do things correctly," Furukawa said. "I've always conducted myself with integrity."
"Negative and unfounded allegations" of favoritism for Furukawa or Title Guaranty have come from bureau workers who blocked her and other managers from the bureau office during a 1994 strike.
"The dissenting group at the bureau made it very difficult for the rest of the bureau employees to work together," Furukawa said.
Tokuda started yesterday's hearing with a plea that testifiers "take the committee seriously."
During four months of testimony, the Joint Senate-House Investigative Committee on the Bureau of Conveyances has received conflicting information, Tokuda said.
For instance, Bradford Ishida, formerly of Island Title Corp., testified two weeks ago that when mistakes in numbering were made on documents for a large Navy housing project, he corrected the documents with correction fluid.
But Furukawa testified yesterday that any changes made with correction fluid would have to be notarized.
Such inconsistencies need to be straightened out for the committee to make valid recommendations, Tokuda said.