Thursday, April 29, 1999

By Craig T. Kojima Star-Bulletin
Attorney General Margery Bronster talked to reporters
after the Senate voted to reject her and another of Gov.
Cayetano's appointees, Budget Director Earl Anzai.
The announcement of the Senate's rejection of
Bronster was met with a chorus of boos in the gallery.

Cayetano, losing his attorney
general and budget chief, insists ...

'A deal was cut'

The governor accuses senators
of trading votes so that both Bronster
and Anzai would be defeated

Trustees deny ouster role

Bronster, Anzai profiled

By Craig Gima


Legislature '99 A few weeks ago, Gov. Ben Cayetano predicted this could be another "do nothing" Legislature.

Yesterday the Senate proved him wrong, but not in the way he intended.

Amid allegations of vote trading, undue special-interest influence and just plain politics, the Senate rejected two of Cayetano's highest-ranking Cabinet appointees: Attorney General Margery Bronster and Budget Director Earl Anzai.

"I think the Senate will be able to call these two rejections their biggest accomplishment this session," Cayetano said.

But when asked what that says about the Senate, Cayetano replied, "Let the people decide."

The governor, saying "a deal was cut," accused senators of trading votes on Bronster and Anzai so that both nominees would be defeated.

After the 14-11 vote to reject Bronster was announced in the Senate yesterday, a chorus of boos filled the gallery.

"This Senate, I think, has disgraced itself," said Beadie Dawson, the former attorney for Na Pua a Ke Ali'i Pauahi, a group working to remove the trustees of the Bishop Estate.

Dawson suggested voters will remember the vote against Bronster, who is arguably Cayetano's best-known and most popular appointee.

Cayetano said Bronster's investigation of the Bishop Estate will continue, despite the political setback of losing his attorney general.

He added that he will have a tough time replacing both Cabinet members, especially if prospective candidates witnessed the confirmation process.

"If I can find another Earl Anzai or Marge Bronster, I'm going to get on my knees and beg those folks to join this administration, because those are the kind of people that I want with me, and I was very proud to have them as members of my Cabinet," Cayetano said.

He said he will be meeting with Anzai and Bronster next week before they leave the administration to talk about the transition to new department heads.

By Craig T. Kojima Star-Bulletin
Margery Bronster got a standing ovation from the
audience before yesterday's vote in the Senate Chamber.

"Obviously, it's disappointing," Bronster said after the vote. "I have a tremendous relationship with my staff and the people of this state. We've done and accomplished a great deal. I'm sorry I won't be here to finish a lot of the battles that we started."

When asked what she plans to do next, Bronster said she still needs time to think about it.

"I haven't been looking for job offers," she said.

Anzai said he's already received one job offer, but will take his time before deciding what he will do after his term ends on the day the Senate adjourns.

Senate President Norman Mizuguchi said yesterday's vote was a "historic day."

Mizuguchi said there are a number of reasons that senators rejected Bronster, including problems with her management style, lack of communication with other departments and labor issues.

"My concern is when she tried to propose an exemption to Act 230 (the privatization law). This would mean public employees would lose their jobs once we privatize the state hospital. That was the main reason because job security is important to me," Mizuguchi said.

Asked whether the Senate was sending a message to the governor, Mizuguchi said: "There's a need for engagement. I think we've had throughout the session -- there were some problems regarding the executive and the Senate."

The Vote on Bronster

Yes (11):

Bullet Robert Bunda (D, Wahiawa, North Shore)
Bullet Avery B. Chumbley (D, East Maui, North Kauai)
Bullet Suzanne Chun Oakland (D, Palama, Alewa Heights)
Bullet Les Ihara Jr. (D, Kapahulu, Kaimuki, Waikiki)
Bullet Lorraine R. Inouye (D, North Hilo, Kohala)
Bullet Randy Iwase (D, Mililani, Waipio Gentry)
Bullet Andrew Levin (D, Kau, Kona)
Bullet Matt Matsunaga (D, Waialae, Palolo)
Bullet Norman Sakamoto (D, Moanalua, Salt Lake)
Bullet Sam Slom (R, Kalama Valley, Aina Haina)
Bullet Brian Taniguchi (D, Manoa, McCully).

No (14):

Bullet Whitney Anderson (R, Kailua, Waimanalo)
Bullet Jan Yagi Buen (D, North/West Maui, Molokai, Lanai)
Bullet Jonathan Chun (D, South Kauai, Niihau)
Bullet Carol Fukunaga (D, Tantalus-Makiki)
Bullet Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae, Maili, Makaha)
Bullet David Ige (D, Pearlridge, Pacific Palisades)
Bullet Marshall Ige (D, Kaneohe, Enchanted Lake)
Bullet Brian Kanno (D, Ewa Beach, Makakilo)
Bullet Cal Kawamoto (D, Waipahu, Pearl City)
Bullet David M. Matsuura (D, South Hilo, Puna)
Bullet Norman Mizuguchi (D, Fort Shafter, Aiea)
Bullet Bob Nakata (D, Kaneohe, Kahuku, Heeia)
Bullet Rod Tam (D, Downtown, Nuuanu)
Bullet Joe Tanaka (D, Wailuku, Upcountry, Kahului)

Sen. David Matsuura (D, Hilo) said the administration has to work closer with the Senate.

"The economy's tough. Families are hurting. We really got to work together. Lots of communications, especially with finance, were on real touchy terms," he said.

But Cayetano said that's not the message he got.

"The message that I see is that a deal was cut."

He added: "What happened in this case was that there were a few senators who were opposed to Anzai, and there were others who were opposed to Bronster from different factions, and they cut a deal. Simple as that."

Vote trading denied

Mizuguchi denied the allegations of vote trading.

"I told my senators they would have to vote their conscience on these two individuals, and they did."

Mizuguchi also denied that the vote signals a reorganization. However, Mizuguchi voted against Judiciary Co-Chairmen Avery Chumbley (D, Kihei) and Matt Matsunaga (D, Palolo), who would normally be part of Mizuguchi's majority coalition in the Senate.

Matsunaga and Chumbley yesterday would only say that they are disappointed that the Senate president voted against them.

"I don't think that (a Senate reorganization) is an issue right now," Chumbley said. "What's important is to close the budget and to finish session on time."

Cayetano, however, said a reorganization struggle made a pivotal difference in some senators' switching their votes.

By Craig T. Kojima Star-Bulletin
Sen. Whitney Anderson looked the gallery as he
explained why he was voting against Bronster.

Before it became apparent that Bronster would have trouble getting confirmed, three senators who are part of the majority coalition -- Mizuguchi, Sen. Carol Fukunaga (D, Makiki) and Sen. Brian Kanno (D, Makakilo) -- told the Star-Bulletin they would be voting in favor of Bronster. Last week, their votes switched to undecided, and yesterday they voted no on both Bronster and Anzai.

Fukunaga, the Ways and Means co-chairwoman, said she had concerns on Bronster because of the lack of support the attorney general provides to special-education teachers involved in the Felix consent decree.

In a floor speech, Kanno cited a number of reasons for voting no, including the attorney general's handling of election issues and delays in approving contracts for the state health fund.

Mizuguchi also dismissed suggestions that the Bishop Estate influenced the vote.

"I think those charges are absurd," Mizuguchi said. "I believe politics is always a criticism when they talk about the Senate or reasons why we don't agree with him (Cayetano)."

What do you think?

What do you think about the Senate's rejection of Margery Bronster as attorney general?

Bullet Call: 545-5867, e-mail, or fax to 523-8509 before 7 tonight, Hawaii time.
Bullet Leave: A brief reason for your answer, your full name, telephone number and the area you live in. A reporter may call you back.

Where does the state
go from here?

Question: When will Margery Bronster and Earl Anzai leave office?

Answer: Their jobs officially end on the day the Senate adjourns, which is scheduled for May 4. But Gov. Ben Cayetano said both Bronster and Anzai will still assist in the transition to a new attorney general and budget director after their jobs end.

Q: Can they be reappointed to their jobs or serve on an interim basis?

A: No.

Q: Can Margery Bronster be appointed as a special counsel to the Bishop Estate investigation?

A: Bronster said the new attorney general can hire a special counsel, however, hiring a special counsel would have to be done through competitive bidding through the state procurement process. It's possible Bronster's bid would not be the lowest or best bid. It is also not clear if she would be willing to submit a bid.

Q: What happens next?

A: The governor will begin searching for a new attorney general and budget director. Once he appoints them, they must be confirmed by the end of the next Senate session.

Q: What will happen to the Bishop Estate investigation and the lawsuits against the oil companies?

A: The investigation, lawsuits and other business of the attorney general's office will continue.

Compiled by Craig Gima, Star-Bulletin

Trustees deny ouster role

Bronster, Anzai profiled

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