Wednesday, July 7, 1999

Fellow lawyers
say Anzai has right
stuff for A.G.

Earlier this year, the Senate
refused to reconfirm Anzai as
state budget director

Bullet Reader reaction: What our online readers have to say.
Bullet About Earl Anzai: His experience and education.
Bullet His way: Anzai has a reputation for being the bearer of bad news.
Bullet Mine field: Senate faces a political minefield.
Bullet Senators speak: Several speculate on Anzai's chances for confirmation.

By Pat Omandam


Despite a late start as a lawyer, 57-year-old Earl Anzai has all the makings of a good state attorney general, some attorneys say.

And they say traits that made Anzai a respected state budget director -- candid, patient and bright -- will be strong assets at the attorney general's office as well.

"Earl's kind of a tough, no-nonsense type of guy," said attorney Colbert Matsumoto, who worked with Anzai on the Senate Ways and Means Committee headed by then-Sen. Ben Cayetano in the 1979 and 1980 legislative sessions.

"He's not one to put up with a lot of fluff. He's very direct and to the point, and I think that in a way, he'll bring his powers of analysis to bear as attorney general. And I think that will be very helpful because he'll demand very critical thinking and thorough analysis of issues," said Matsumoto, an executive vice president of Island Insurance Co. and court-appointed master for Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate.

Anzai yesterday said he believes he is qualified to be attorney general. He earned his law degree in 1981 from the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law, some 15 years after he earned a UH master's degree in economics in 1966.

"One of the misperceptions is that I'm a budget guy," he said. "But I've spent more time practicing law than doing the budget."

"If I wasn't a lawyer, I wouldn't be appointed. If I had no experience, I wouldn't be appointed. Doesn't it help that I know government? Doesn't it help that I had a private practice and I know what it is like to do that?

'He's not one to put up
with a lot of fluff. He's
very direct . . . .'

Colbert Matsumoto


"Working for (attorney David) Schutter wasn't the minor leagues in Honolulu, you know," Anzai said.

Anzai worked for Schutter from September 1983 to October 1988, concentrating on civil litigation with an emphasis on personal injury and commercial litigation. He and attorney Alfredo G. Evangelista then left Schutter to form their own law firm, and were partners from October 1988 to June 1993.

Evangelista yesterday said Anzai will make a great attorney general because he has a knack for grasping complex litigation and has the patience to see a lot of cases through.

Moreover, he said, Anzai had the investigative skills to find the "smoking gun." The two handled many cases involving malpractice and products liability.

"He never backed down from a fight because of the type of cases we handled," Evangelista said. "Even if we had to go out and sue our brethren."

Anzai was attorney/chief investigator in the special Senate Health Committee investigation on the pesticide heptachlor in milk between April 1982 and February 1983. About the same time, he served as a law clerk for judges Robert G. Klein, Frank T. Takao and Patrick K.S.L. Yim.

Anzai went into solo practice from June 1993 to January 1995, when he became state budget director.

Attorney Michael J. Green, a critic of former Attorney General Margery Bronster, and who represented Lokelani Lindsey in her removal trial as a Bishop Estate trustee, said Anzai will make a good attorney general because he is beyond reproach and impeccably honest.

"His only weakness would probably be in the area of criminal work that the AG's office does, but he's smart enough to surround himself with really good people ... ," Green said. "He had standards, and people will know those standards. He just looks scary, and I don't mind that you say that. He's a dear friend of mine."

Senate faces a political minefield

By Richard Borreca


Earl Anzai made his reputation in state government as the man who says "no." Now he seeks a "yes" from the state Senate.

Gov. Ben Cayetano is sending Anzai's name back to the Senate, which a little over two months ago rejected him as budget director in part because they said he didn't follow attorney general opinions regarding the budget.

Cayetano called Anzai courageous and honest. Within the state administration he served as the principal bearer of bad news, telling departments they had to lay off employees, cancel programs, not take trips, not buy new equipment and generally cut spending.

Legislators, lobbyists and former state officials all said the move by Cayetano was an example of the bare-knuckle type of political maneuver that Cayetano has used effectively in the past. But because the governor, even as a lame duck, commands considerable power, few wanted to speculate on the record about the move.

However, Cayetano's former political opponent, Linda Lingle, now chairwoman of the state GOP, said the governor was playing political games and should be spending his time working to improve education in the state.

Now the Senate has to pick one of several options, all fraught with political risk and bereft of major political benefit.

Bullet The Senate can call itself into special session to take up the Anzai appointment and the appointment of Neal Miyahira, who was nominated May 24 as budget director.

Bullet Senators can wait for a possible special legislative session to be called jointly by the House and Senate to handle pending legislation.

Bullet Finally, and most likely, the Senate can wait until next year and take up the matter during the regular session.

The third option would give both Anzai's supporters and opponents time to find reasons to either support of dump him.

By himself, Anzai has few supporters in the Legislature.

He came to political prominence as a staff assistant for Cayetano when the governor was a senator. And Anzai is known primarily for handling budgets, not legal issues.

After the Senate rejected Bronster, Cayetano said he was having trouble finding a replacement for her because most qualified lawyers either had a conflict due to involvement in legal cases with the state or they didn't want to take a cut in pay.

Earlier ‘no’ voters have
mixed reactions to

By Alisa LaVelle
and Pat Omandam


If Earl Anzai is to win confirmation as state attorney general, he will need approval of the majority of the 25-member state Senate. Here's what senators who voted against Anzai as state budget director this spring say about his chances to be confirmed as attorney general:

Bullet Whitney Anderson (R, Kailua): As budget director, Anzai ignored laws when it came to balancing the budget. "I think its a slap in the face to us."

Bullet Jan Yagi Buen (D, Waihee): Has to evaluate his nomination. "The way it looks now and from what I know, it looks like a "no.' "

Bullet Robert Bunda (D, Wahiawa): "I don't know what to vote," but he will keep an open mind.

Bullet Jonathan Chun (D, Lihue): If no change in his attitude, will not change vote just because of a change in office.

Bullet Carol Fukunaga (D, Makiki): No comment.

Bullet Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae): Keeping an open mind but has questions about him as an attorney.

Bullet David Ige (D, Newtown): Has no reaction other than to wait and see. "Nothing the governor does surprises me anymore."

Bullet Marshall Ige (D, Kaneohe): not available

Bullet Les Ihara Jr. (D, Kaimuki): not available

Bullet Brian Kanno (D, Ewa Beach): not available

Bullet Cal Kawamoto (D, Waipahu): Anzai has good management practices in the budget arena, one of his concerns in the management of the former attorney general. "I'm sure he'll be coming around to talk to us."

Bullet David Matsuura (D, Hilo): not available

Bullet Norman Mizuguchi (D, Aiea): Confirmation open for discussion but he needs more information.

Bullet Sam Slom (R, Kalama Valley): "I couldn't support him for his disregarding the attorney general's ruling on the spending and expenditures ceiling, so how can I support him now when there's no check and balance on him whatsoever."

Bullet Rod Tam (D, Pauoa): Wants public hearings outside the state Capitol on Anzai's nomination. "I have to look at his resume, job qualifications ... But I'm willing to look at it. I'm open."

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