Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Lingle appointees scrambling for new jobs have few choices, but there is one still open
by Larry Geller
It’s that funny time of year when government is run by a strange animal called the “lame duck.” In Washington, they have enough time to do some good (or evil) before they have to clean out their file cabinets and head home.
In Hawaii, Lingle appointees must be looking around for continuity in their service. There are painfully few opportunities, and the window of opportunity is very short, with the new administration taking their seats in early December.
One opening is the still-vacant position of Executive Director of the Hawaii State Ethics Commission. There has not been a permanent ED since June, after a peculiar process of termination kicked out the long-standing ED.
The Commission has just scheduled two sequential executive sessions—today and tomorrow—which may indicate that an announcement is close at hand.
Or not. The Commission has carried out all of its deliberations behind closed doors, in executive session. Although I requested copies of their minutes, of course I have not yet received anything. I will be making additional requests. The discussion of personnel issues may be conducted lawfully behind closed doors, but the process of selection—for example, the discussion of criteria—is supposed to be conducted in full public view and the Commission must accept public testimony.
Was a nationwide search conducted? Why do the job criteria place so little emphasis on knowledge of Hawaii’s ethics laws? That should be the first and most important requirement.
Why has the selection process taken this long? Will an announcement be made before the new administration takes over, and will it be filled by someone expert in the ethics laws or by a soon-to-be-out-of-work-Lingle-lame-duck?
Curious minds want to know.
The new ED does not have to be confirmed by the Senate, nor were the Commissioners, unlike other boards and commissions where the governor appoints and the Senate confirms. This is a good reason why the Ethics Commission should be held to the highest level of transparency. Instead, they have worked in secret.
One last thought—I’m hopeful that the new administration will strengthen the Office of Information Practices. We need better visibility into the secrecy that keeps decisionmaking in Hawaii out of public scrutiny.
Many of those Lingle appointees made a mockery of hearings and public input by rudely shutting folks down. Then they went ahead and did what they planned from the beginning. Those frustrations translated into votes for Neil. Linda is more popular on the mainland and should realize that after 2 years as a Republican "leader" away, she will be even less popular here at home. Bye Linda...