Wednesday, December 12, 2001

LeMahieu claims
to have full story

He calls the Felix report
flawed, saying that the
panel rigged the conclusion

By Crystal Kua

A report issued by a Joint Senate-House Investigative Committee on state spending in the Felix consent decree is faulty because the committee didn't get the rest of the story, former state schools chief Paul LeMahieu said yesterday.

"What is important is whether or not the product of that committee can be possibly seen as anything other than hopelessly flawed without information that I am the only person in the state who holds," said LeMahieu, who resigned as head of the public school system in October.

But the chairpersons of the committee said that the ball has been in LeMahieu's court in deciding whether to talk to the committee.

"The choice has always been his as to whether he wanted to come forward and testify," Sen. Colleen Hanabusa said.

"He had an opportunity to testify and he chose not to," added Rep. Scott Saiki.

Hanabusa and Saiki said that if LeMahieu has additional information he wants to provide to the committee, he's more than welcome to.

They added, however, that the committee didn't feel it was necessary to subpoena LeMahieu.

After several months of hearings, the committee last week released a preliminary draft of its findings.

A final draft is expected after the committee receives responses from those who either testified before the committee or were impacted by its findings.

The report details what the committee said were abuses and waste during the state's effort to comply with the federal mandate to improve mental health and educational services to special-needs children.

LeMahieu resigned after allegations surfaced over whether a personal relationship he had with a Hilo woman led to her company being part of a contract he awarded under special powers given to him by the federal court.

LeMahieu has denied wrongdoing but did admit that he "crossed the line" with the owner of Na Laukoa.

He has not appeared before the committee since his resignation.

LeMahieu said yesterday that he plans to respond to the report, but added that his meeting yesterday with Star-Bulletin editors and reporters also was a response to the report.

"My biggest concern is that we will be led to a course of policy action and legislative action that will not serve this place well at all," he said.

He said the message the report is sending is one that calls for more legislative oversight.

"If you read the entirety of the report, what you will see is it says over and over and over again: Legislature control is a good thing, loss of legislative control can lead to bad things. We found some bad things there -- more legislative control," he said.

He also said that the committee determined what it wanted to hear to get the conclusions that it wanted to.

Not so, Hanabusa said.

The committee's conclusions were the result of hearing the totality of information, she said.

"The committee didn't pick and choose," she said.

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