Two months ago, they headed the city prosecutor’s office; soon they will be in charge of the entire City and County of Honolulu.
Mayor-elect Peter Carlisle yesterday said he would nominate former First Deputy Prosecutor Doug Chin as the city’s new managing director.
Carlisle introduced Chin in remarks to the City Council yesterday before its regular monthly meeting.
"He’s an absolutely gifted administrator," Carlisle said. "He is good with people, he’s good with issues, he is extremely bright, and handling personnel matters is something that he is talented at, not only legally but by disposition. He really enjoys doing it.
"Many of the times when you saw me immersed in large cases … I could do that all because of the tremendous skills that Doug has."
Chin told Council members, "I’m not coming over here as a prosecutor. I’m coming over here because I really want to be at your service. I really look f orward to being able to get to know you and I hope I’m able to earn your trust."
Political analyst Neal Milner said Carlisle’s selection of Chin seemed to be about picking someone he could trust.
"There are different ways to think about a managing director," said Milner, a University of Hawaii professor of political science. "A managing director, in his eyes, is not someone who’s so much of an expert on the city but someone who’s smart and knows how to problem-solve, but in particular is someone that he trusts and someone that will tell him the truth about things."
The managing director is the second-in-command at City Hall, filling when the mayor is absent and serving as the administration’s representative on legislation and other matters before the Council.
Carlisle said Chin played a similar role at the prosecutor’s office, dealing with personnel matters such as hiring and firing, discipline, scheduling and budgeting.
"The first deputy is essentially the administrative officer of the entire department," Carlisle said. "He is constantly in meetings with people, he’s constantly figuring out how to do things more efficiently and effectively."
Chin said one of his priorities would be addressing social services at a time of tighter budgets.
"I think we’re at a time where we need to be fiscally responsible, but at the same time we need to be thinking about the various needs of our community," he said.
Chin’s nomination is subject to Council approval.
On having two prosecutors leading the city, Council Chairman Todd Apo, an attorney, said it’s "probably not your classic model."
"That said," he added, "I think they recognize this isn’t the prosecutor’s office. I think the legal background and critical and analytical thinking skills that are gained from the practice of law and from trial practice can be helpful in operation."
Apo said he wasn’t 100 percent familiar with what role Chin had as first deputy, but he expected to learn more about it through the confirmation process.
"I’ll be interested in having those discussions with Doug about what exactly he’s been doing and how it equates," Apo said. "It might equate very well. On the other hand, it may not, but that’s what those discussions are going to be needed for, is to see whether any significant gaps exist."
Chin has been with the prosecutor’s office since 1998 and became first deputy in 2006. He had been acting prosecutor since July, when Carlisle resigned to run for mayor. Chin previously worked in private practice at the law firm of Carlsmith Ball in Honolulu.
» Age: 44