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Abercrombie fills vacancies on land board, ethics panel

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 6:28 p.m. HST, Jul 11, 2014

Five people were appointed to two critical state panels by Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Friday.

Named to the seven-member Board of Land and Natural Resources were Vernon Char, Ulalia Woodside and Christopher Yuen.

Nominated to the five-member Ethics Commission were David O'Neal and Melinda Wood.

At least one of the five appointments is from a slate of resignations in recent weeks spurred by a new law requiring public disclosure of the financial interests for members of various state boards and commissions. Abercrombie's office, as of Wednesday, put the number of resignations by members who cited the law in their resignation letters at 18. 

One of the 18 was BLNR member Reed Kishinami, whose vacancy was filled on Friday. Another BLNR member resigned in June only weeks after being appointed, citing personal reasons, said Justin Fujioka, Abercrombie's spokesman. The third BLNR vacancy was due to a term expiration of a member who did not seek reappointment.

Char, an attorney, has served 20 years on various state boards and commissions, including eight years on the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Woodson is a former Department of Land and Natural Resources employee and is currently the regional asset manager for natural and cultural resources with Kamehameha Schools. Yuen is an attorney who formerly served eight years on the board and was a one-time Hawaii County planning director.

Businessman O'Neal is a reappointment to the Ethics Commission. Wood is the grants development specialist at the East-West Center. She replaces longtime member Leolani Abdul, whose request for reappointment was denied by Abercrombie.

Both the BLNR and Ethics Commission now have their full complement of appointees, Fujioka said.

The board and commission vacancies have caused some to cancel meetings due to a lack of quorum.

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