Screeners complain to Case

Airport workers say they are unhappy
with management decisions

LIHUE >> U.S. Rep. Ed Case said Hawaii airport screeners have deluged him with complaints about Transportation Security Administration management, with most concerns coming from Lihue Airport.

"Sixty of the 84 Lihue screeners have sent some form of complaint about the TSA management at the airport," Case said in an interview Wednesday.

Many of the complaints have to do with promotions, vacation time, favoritism and retaliation in shift assignments. The screeners, who are federal employees, are not covered by civil service laws.

Two weeks ago, TSA ombudsman Kimberly Walton traveled to Lihue to talk with screeners about their complaints. Walton reports to Undersecretary for Transportation Security James Loy.

Case said Walton is scheduled to brief him on her findings next week.

The original federal security director for Lihue Airport was Robert Schoonmaker, who came from the U.S. Customs Department.

Schoonmaker was moved out of Lihue this year. Several sources have said he is the subject of a TSA internal investigation. He was replaced by Robert Peru, who has a background in airport operations but not in security.

Airport security has been breached twice recently at Lihue.

In May, a gunman bypassed security in a baggage area, threatened a TSA guard with a loaded pistol, fired two shots into the ceiling and floor, and made his way to an airline gate. He later surrendered to police.

Last month, a man with a knife climbed the Lihue Airport perimeter fence, threw a rock at an airplane and threatened workers on the tarmac.

"Lihue has, by far, the most problems of any airport in the state," Case said.

The TSA has refused to answer Case's questions about problems at the airport, he said. Case estimated that, beginning late last year, he has sent the agency between 30 and 40 letters.

"It flabbergasted me that I raised dozens of issues and not had any answers," Case said.

The TSA did not return a call yesterday seeking information.

Case said a group of TSA administrators met with him in July and promised more timely responses. They said the agency had been overwhelmed with Congressional requests for information about complaints.

The agency announced Wednesday that it plans to replace at least some of the 242 screeners at Hawaii airports who were laid off in May.

The agency is hiring part-time screeners for Honolulu, Kona, Kahului, Lanai and Lihue airports. But TSA isn't saying how many jobs will be restored.

Information about the new screening jobs is available at or by calling (800) 887-1895.


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