State of Hawaii

Lingle fills 3 high-level
department positions

By Pat Omandam

Gov. Linda Lingle has named an administrator in the state Department of Human Resources Development as head of the agency.

Kathleen Watanabe is currently the personnel program administrator of the department. It oversees classification and compensation plans, recruiting, employee benefits, safety and workers' compensation for civil service employees.

Watanabe knows employment labor law and understands government, Lingle said. Watanabe has served as state deputy attorney general and as deputy attorney for Kauai County. She was also a per diem judge for Kauai Circuit Court and in private practice specialized in administrative and employment law.

"She has gained the respect of her peers in the legal field and among her fellow employees at the state and county levels," Lingle said.

The governor also named attorney Kurt Kawafuchi as deputy director of the state Department of Taxation. Kawafuchi is a tax attorney with Goodsill Anderson Quinn and Stifel and was appointed a trial attorney with the tax division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

He is also a certified public account in Hawaii and California, and has taught graduate tax and business courses at the University of Hawaii and Hawaii Pacific University.

"It's clear by his background this is an area that Kurt truly excels in and is committed to, and he will be an outstanding deputy tax director for our administration," Lingle said.

Meanwhile, Lingle has named retired U.S. Deputy Marshal James Propotnick as interim director of the state Department of Public Safety after nominee Stephen Watarai, an assistant Honolulu police chief, withdrew his name from consideration because of financial reasons.

Propotnick currently works as a contract investigator for the FBI and has been a licensed private investigator with the state since 1997, the year he retired from the U.S. Marshals Service.

State of Hawaii

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