Political Radar

Full circle

May 17th, 2013

Genevieve Salmonson has been nominated as the interim director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie described Salmonson, who previously led the OEQC from 1999 to 2007, as "experienced in working across public and private sectors toward resolution and environmental compliance."

Gary Hooser, a former Kauai state senator who had been tapped by Abercrombie for the OEQC, often clashed with the administration on environmental policy. Hooser left after being elected last year to the Kauai County Council.

Interestingly, Salmonson led the OEQC during the controversy over the Hawaii Superferry project. The state determined that $40 million in harbor improvements for the Superferry did not require an environmental review, a decision that was rejected by the state Supreme Court and ultimately doomed the project.

Hooser was among the state lawmakers who had called for an environmental review of the project.

17 Responses to “Full circle”

  1. Kolea:

    More specifically, Genevieve Salmonson, as head of the OEQC, issued a determination the harbor improvements to accommodate the SuperFerry, did not require an EIS.

    In discussions on the PLDC, I had said Lingle had only sought to exempt the SF from an EIS and people got upset. Then along comes Abercrombie, with his PLDC proposal, seeking to exempt a broad swath of government and "public-private partnership" projects from environmental review.

    Because of the outrage generated by the PLDC, Abercrombie's advisors scrambled to drag him away from his tight embrace of the proposal. After all, he was likely facing a SERIOUS primary battle and he needed to start mending fences with the neighbor island county councils, environmentalists, progressives, good government groups and the public if he were going to survive Hurricane Hanabusa blowing throw the state.

    Now that the PLDC is dead (or in deep disguise) and Hanabusa has decided to run for the US Senate against Schatz, Abercrombie announces his appointment of Lingle's OEQC director as his choice, citing her "experience in working" towards public-private solutions?

    Even if Hanabusa has decided not to run for Guv, I think the public interest would be served if a credible Democrat would emerge to run against Abercrombie, if only to force him to suppress his bad side and let his "better angels" prevail. If only temporarily, between now and the August 2014 primary. Pretty please?

  2. Kolea:

    Here's a very thorough article on the debate within the Lingle administration over whether the harbor improvements and operation of the SF might require an environmental review. (I was in error above when I said the harbor improvements were exempted from an EIS. They were also held to be exempt from an EA, an "environmental assessment," which is a less rigorous review.

    And it appears Genevieve Salmonson's agreement was a critical component in getting the go ahead for the SF. It would be interesting to know what was said to her, presumably by Bob Awana, as the administration's handlers were trying to "get their ducks in a row." And who plays the Bob Awana role in this administration? Hooser reportedly was pressured to be more of a "team player" when he took his role as OEQC director seriously. He had to tell them to back off, that the OEQC director does NOT "serve at the pleasure" of the Governor and could not be fired without "cause." Does Salmonson understand her duty is to her job description and not the Governor's Office? Because she didn't under Lingle.

  3. Kolea:

    Here's the link. The author is a rather insightful reporter by the name of Derrick DePledge:


  4. Andy Parx:

    Actually Superferry enjoyed precisely the same exemptions from county permitting (including SMA) as the PLDC did-because all harbor development is exempt. THAT law deserves the same fate as the PLDC.

  5. Especially Incognito:


  6. Guy:

    Kolea, there are a few other things you need to correct in your comment. For one, PLDC wasn't an Abercrombie proposal. It was Senator Dela Cruz' bill. Sure, the Governor supported the concept, but so did all the Legislators who signed it. It passed the Leg, after all. If your under the impression this was Guv's bill, it worries me what other parts of your rant are misinformed.

  7. Kolea:


    Delacruz introduced the bill, but the Governor and his people were instrumental in shaping the bill, including adding some of the amendments which made it more objectionable. If I am to judge you by the fact you look at the name of the author without having any knowledge of the backstory, I think I can safely ignore YOUR rants.

  8. Guy:

    So you're admitting your posts are rants...

    And how exactly does a Governor amend a law? Really, I'd like to know. How exactly?

  9. Nikki Heat:

    Guy: Much of the exemption language, as I understand it, was requested by Land Board Chair William Aila so the Administration helped shaped the final bill that emerged from conference as the PLDC enabling act so Kolea's "rant" is basically true.

  10. Goober:

    Birds of a feather stick together.

    Information updated.

  11. Kolea:


    I can't tell whether you are just grossly uninformed or just a troll, looking to cause trouble. SB1555 was introduced by Delacruz. That appears to be where your "knowledge" begins and ends. The bill started with a focus on small harbors controlled by the DLNR. If you check the testimony, those are the people who were paying attention. Then, when the bill went to the House Water, Land and Ocean Resources Committee, it was drastically changed, at the request of the administration. Yes, it was Bill Aila who presented the administration's changes, which broadened the exemptions of state projects from county laws and shrank the PLDC board by cutting out neighbor island members.

    The governor took a strong and, at times, personal interest in the PLDC. I heard from people deeply involved that it was his top political advisors who coaxed him into distancing himself from the PLDC once public opposition erupted. Part of the narrative they adopted was that it was "Delacruz's bill" not the Guv's. You are faithfully replicating that talking point, but it is a face-saving spin rather than the actual truth. Yes, Donovan originated it, but it was adopted and shaped by the administration, who inserted some of the more objectionable features into the bill. And those big changes did not take place on the Senate side, where Delacruz had the most influence. They happened on the House side, when Speaker Say was in control.

  12. Guy:

    Why is it so hard for you to have a back and forth discussion without throwing insults?

    My point was that it seemed to me you were giving Dela Cruz and every other Legislator who signed off on the creation of the PLDC a free pass. But in the end, it was the Guv who took action -- back in November -- by implementing an administrative halt to the PLDC. Legislators later passed a bill to repeal it. Thankfully, the Guv signed it.

  13. Goober:

    Watch out it may file a civil suit against you.
    Excessive bullying.

  14. Kolea:

    Guy, If you check the course of the "back and forth discussion," you will notice you were the first to insult me. You said my "rant" was so "misinformed" that it called into question my other postings. My posts may, on occasion, contain errors, but I strive to be as accurate as I can and, I think, have a pretty good record on that.

    And the position from which you insulted my post was based upon your "knowledge" that Donovan had introduced the original bill. Wow, what a deep understanding you have of the legislative process. No wonder you felt free to insult me.

    The administration embraced SB1555, pushed to amend it in ways which made it more objectionable to many of its opponents and only backed away from it when the public outrage was seen a possible threat to the Governor in his possible contest with Congresswoman Hanabusa. There is nothing "misinformed" about that assessment and I have access to people who were involved in those discussions.

    I am not eager to give Delacruz a "free pass." Nor "every other legislator who signed off on the creation of the PLDC. But before we judge too harshly those who had originally voted for the PLDC's creation, we have to keep in mind the way the bill was handled, very few people were aware of its contents. The WAM hearing, which would have been the first opportunity for the public to testify on the broader, more obnoxious version of the bill, was announced less than two hours before the hearing. So the public was denied an opportunity to inspect and comment upon the bill before it was passed. And the legislative process is such that few legislators will buck the committee chairs unless community groups bring concerns to their attention. So it was not just the public that was denied a fair opportunity to review the bill, it was also a majority of legislators.

    Once the movement against the PLDC started gaining steam, the test of legislators was whether they would listen to the public and help kill the bill. Most did. And the Governor, who had earlier explicitly threatened to veto any repeal, was also persuaded it was wiser to go with the flow than resist it. What with an election coming up.

  15. Goober:

    Tantrums of a hissy conservative.

    Sprouts facts like a plagiarist. Assuming and approximations made
    to look like facts. Seems a conservative should conserve
    their breath. Oh, my bad, they are already without breath.

  16. Goober:

    Show Kolea what the bird is.

  17. Haupia:

    As fallout from the Governor's decision to call both chambers into special session on October 28, 2013, to deliberate and act on the gay marriage bill, all nonjudicial interim appointments must be vetted by the Senate. Be assured that Genevieve Salmonson will have a confirmation hearing during the October 28, 2013, special session. Get your testimony ready for submittal.

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