Sunday, November 29, 2015         

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Governor gets 1 appointee's papers

A housing authority member is alone in honoring a request for resignations

By Derrick DePledge


A week after Gov. Neil Abercrombie asked 28 members of state boards and commissions to resign so he could better implement his "A New Day in Hawaii" plan for change, only one person has formally agreed to step down.

Matilda Yoshioka, who represents Kauai on the board of directors of the Public Housing Authority, said she would step down. The state Senate confirmed Yoshioka last year for a second term that would have expired at the end of June 2014.

"I am honoring his request," she said.

Many of the other appointees — who were chosen by former Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, and confirmed by the Senate — have indicated they will likely remain until their terms expire.

Abercrombie has explained that his request for courtesy resignations was not a reflection of the appointees' performance, but an attempt to have maximum flexibility in shaping policy and regulatory structure.

"I just think it makes good sense for anybody who comes in to do it. So I thought, as I said, quite candidly for them, this is not a comment on your service any more than it was for the elected Board of Education (replaced by an appointed board)," the governor told reporters Thursday night after a community meeting at Washington Middle School.

"But I think the record so far of the appointed board is pretty good, and I'd just like that opportunity. There's a lot of things that, as you can see tonight, people are anxious about. They're a little bit scared, they're a little concerned that we're not going to be able to move on things like housing that fast enough.

"So I just simply wanted the opportunity to be able to put forward our vision."

But Abercrombie has been criticized for not speaking with appointees about their views on his "New Day" plan before asking for their resignations and for the way his request dribbled out publicly over two days. The Governor's Office acknowledged the resignation requests after surprised appointees told the news media.

The requests were sent last week to Lingle appointees to the Public Utilities Commission, the Land Use Commission, the Public Housing Authority, the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the Stadium Authority.

Donalyn Dela Cruz, the governor's spokeswoman, said Friday that the administration has received only two formal responses, one from Yoshioka and another from Marcia Klompus, who plans to remain until the end of her term on the Stadium Authority.

Several other appointees have confirmed that they, too, plan to stay on.

Travis Thompson, chairman of the state housing authority, told the governor in a letter that he feels honor-bound to fulfill the commitment he made to the former governor and lawmakers.

Abercrombie says he has not heard from Thompson.

"The public members of the board of Hawaii Public Housing Authority were appointed to serve staggered terms of office. It was the intent of the Legislature to ensure that there would be continuity in the policy direction and leadership of the state's public housing," Thompson wrote. "I personally experienced the challenge of having an entirely new board of directors, when the board of the former Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawaii resigned en masse in late 2002. It took months for the new board to form together in an effective leadership role.

Thompson noted that as of July 1, seven of the board's 11 members will be Abercrombie appointees, a majority that can "implement the new directions that you seek. It is my belief that your recent appointees will benefit from the knowledge and experience of the carry-over directors."

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