HONOLULU — Hawai‘i Gov. Neil Abercrombie sought resignations from members of five key state boards and commissions who were appointed by former Gov. Linda Lingle, and he’s leaving his picks in place, his administration confirmed to The Associated Press on Monday.
Abercrombie sent letters last week asking for the voluntary resignations of 28 people who are members of the Aloha Stadium Authority, Public Utilities Commission, Board of Land and Natural Resources, Land Use Commission and Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority.
The governor said he needs collaboration among state agencies so he can achieve his goals for maintaining public housing facilities, developing a statewide vision for sporting events and changing management policies for the state’s limited land resources.
“It’s important that all boards and commissions have the opportunity to have a fresh start, so they can work in alignment with other state agencies and move quickly on important issues,” Abercrombie said in a statement Monday. “The people of Hawai‘i voted for a change in direction, a New Day. I need the opportunity to move forward with a team dedicated to that proposition.”
The Democratic governor said his request for resignations isn’t a reflection on board members’ service or personalities.
Those board members not asked to resign include Public Utilities Commission Chairwoman Hermina Morita, the only Abercrombie appointee to these panels so far confirmed by the state Senate.
Others exempt from the resignation request are three members of the Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority — the governor’s representative to the board, Debbie Shimizu; the Department of Human Services representative, Deputy Director Pankaj Bhanot; and the attorney general’s representative, Krislen Chun.
Five other members on the HPHA board were asked to resign, and the board has four vacancies.
All nine members of the Aloha Stadium Authority, six members of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, two members of the Public Utilities Commission and six members of the Land Use Commission were asked to step down.
A seat on the Board of Land and Natural Resources and three spots on the Land Use Commission are vacant.
None of the 28 people being asked to quit have a legal obligation to do so, and many of them have terms that don’t expire until 2014.
Most were appointed to four-year terms by Lingle, a Republican who served eight years in office before Abercrombie was elected in November.
At least one person so far has signaled an intention to resign, said Abercrombie spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz.
Nathan Eagle – The Garden Island
LIHU‘E — Kaua‘i’s sole member on the state Board of Land andNatural Resources said Monday that he intends to continue servingfor the remainder of his term despite receiving a letter from thegovernor asking for his resignation.
Ron Agor was appointed under Republican Gov. Linda Lingle’sadministration seven years ago. His second four-year term on theboard expires June 2012.
The Lihu‘e architect said he received a “very polite” letter lastweek from Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
“I wasn’t at all shocked by the letter,” Agor said, adding that hedid not take offense. “But at first I thought it was just me and Ithought, what did I do?”
He said he felt better though after learning 27 other board andcommission members were also asked to voluntarily resign.
“I did wish that the governor would have called me in to lay outhis plan,” Agor said. “I’m sure we would have the samegoals.”
There are several reasons Agor said he wants to finish up his termon the BLNR.
“Besides the projects I have scheduled myself to get done before Ileave, I think Gov. Lingle had basically appointed me, really, forthe full term. She had confidence in me to do the job. So in honorof my commitment to the governor to serve as her appointee, I’dlike to stay on.”
The upcoming projects Agor said he wants to complete within thenext year include repairing the Hanalei Pier, installing a welcomebooth at Koke‘e State Park and developing a Neighborhood Watch-likeprogram where citizens would “shepherd” areas mauka to makai.
Past projects Agor said he similarly helped facilitate withvolunteer groups include fixing the road to Polihale State Park andrepairing Kikiaola boat harbor.
Beyond the completion of projects, Agor said he believes thecurrent board and commission system appropriately allows foroverlaps into incoming gubernatorial terms.
“The reason is continuity, and it gives another level of checks andbalances,” he said.
•Nathan Eagle, managing editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext.227) or neagle@thegardenisland.