Monday, November 23, 2009


Legislative auditor joins call for Ted Liu removal

by Larry Geller

Today’s Advertiser breaking news features the story Hawaii auditor calls for removal of DBEDT Director Ted Liu which begins:

The state auditor, citing "numerous and egregious acts," has recommended that Gov. Linda Lingle remove Ted Liu as director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

The auditor speaks with some authority (the article is based on a draft, the final report may be different).

For those wanting more detail than found in today’s short stories, of course it will be necessary to wait for the full report to be released. But there has been enough reported to give some background to the auditor’s recommendation.

Some of us formed opinions earlier based on that background. I wrote on October 24, 2008:

Let’s have some balance around here. Rex Johnson was forced to resign over forwarding offensive emails from his work computer. Fine. Now, a lengthy investigation by the Senate has reached conclusions over alleged violations of state procurement law on the part of Ted Liu, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism's (DBEDT), and his management team.

I quoted a few results from a Senate investigative committee report:

• That the DBEDT Director (Director) sought to manipulate the procurement process and bypass procurement laws and rules to steer the Hydrogen Fund Management Contract to his favored bidder;
• That the Director had a pre-existing personal relationship with Barry Weinman which he concealed upon questioning by the Committee;
• That the Director allowed Mr. Weinman to be inappropriately involved throughout the procurement process including the preparation of the work plan which ultimately led to the Request for Proposals for the Hydrogen Fund Management Contract (RFP);

And the last one:

• That there is a reasonable belief that the actions taken constitute a knowing and intentional violation of the State procurement laws and rules by the Director and his top management team.

On November 8, 2009, still waiting for Liu’s resignation, I cited Bob Jones’ MidWeek column, Governor Lingle And The Liu Ruse which began:

It’s res ipsa loquitur - the thing speaks for itself - that Gov. Lingle should have fired state business director Ted Liu for incompetence and malfeasance.

Any reasonable person must conclude that upon reading the Senate Investigative Committee findings on how Liu awarded management of the state’s $8.7 million Hydrogen Investment Fund.

and went on:

If the story eluded you, Liu ignored advice he was legally required to take (the law against favoritism) and awarded a lucrative contract not to the No. 1 or No. 2 qualified bidders, but to No. 3 that was fronted and advised by Lingle’s well-moneyed supporter Barry Weinman.

It wasn’t just the Senate report. The Advertiser summarized the issue in a single, succinct paragraph today:

In a draft report, state auditor Marion Higa alleges the department filed false financial reports related to a federal grant, spent lavishly on a trade mission to China in 2005, and mishandled finances at overseas offices in Beijing and Taipei.

The Advertiser breaking news story ends with:

Lingle is expected to issue a statement later today defending Liu.

Reviewing the reports, one might conclude that she shouldn’t do that, although Bob Jones’ has explained why she might (the contract award cited above).

A Star-Bulletin breaking news article also indicates the Governor will continue to back Liu:

Also Lenny Klompus, Lingle's senior assistant for communications, said the governor would not dismiss Liu.

"To attempt to make criminal what may be likes and dislikes -- disagreements or differences in judgment or approach -- to seek to paint everything with a paintbrush of 'violations', to constantly review and re-review old issues for political purposes, is in my view, unfair and unproductive," Liu said.

The Governor herself is selective in what laws she obeys, choosing not to implement laws passed by the Legislature at her whim. But this is different. Filing false reports, for example.

Check the articles linked above. As taxpayers, are we not entitled to better?

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Doesn't it appear that Lingle shares Liu's guilt in this issue?

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