Political Radar

Cabinet selecting

January 4th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 3.51.57 PM(Photo courtesy of Office of the Governor)

Gov. David Ige said he expects to finish the task of appointing his Cabinet in the next two weeks, which would complete the process before the start of the regular session on Jan. 21.

Ige has yet to make appointments to the posts of attorney general and labor director. Russell Suzuki and Dwight Takamine, respectively, continue to serve in those roles as holdovers from the previous administration.

In an interview with the Star-Advertiser on Friday, Ige provided a glimpse into his thought process in selecting members of his Cabinet and the qualities for which he is looking.

See more of the interview with Ige in Monday's Star-Advertiser.

Question: How would you assess the process of selecting your Cabinet?

IGE: It is one of those things, coming back from the National Governors' Association (meeting in November) and just talking with other governors about that -- there are a couple of things that became very clear. I had the shortest (transition) time in the country, from Election Day to Inaugural. There was one other state, I think, that had a Dec. 1 inaugural as well, but there are not a whole lot of them.

Second point, I think, that a lot of the governors had made when we talked about it was that you’re Cabinet is the team that you put together that really will help you be successful. Nobody can be successful by (himself). Just talking about it with other governors, they really felt that the Cabinet is one of the very first, most important decisions that you have to make and it really is worth it to take the time necessary to assemble the team that can help you be successful. ... [S]ome things are worth taking more time, and putting the Cabinet together -- the consensus of all the governors there -- was that that is something that is worth taking the time to find the right people. It did make it a little easier for me to be more thoughtful about the Cabinet selection.

Question: What are the qualities you’re looking for in an attorney general candidate?

IGE: The attorney general has a special responsibility. Once I make that appointments, the attorney general is the people’s lawyer as well as the governor’s lawyer and, you know, in 90 percent of the issues that’s one in the same, but there are some issues that being the governor’s lawyer might be slightly different than being the people’s lawyer.

It’s about trying to find someone who can provide sound and balanced legal advice. I stick to the core principles for all the Cabinet members – I want to find people who are collaborative by nature, that really are open to consider all options and then are about doing the right thing the right way, so process is important. The ends do not justify the means in all instances. It really is about recognizing and being willing to commit to good processes as well as good outcomes.

Beyond that, I, as a manager of people, really believe in empowering our people to make the best decisions on behalf of the people of Hawaii. I am looking for leaders who are collaborative. More importantly, I think, I'm looking for leaders who believe that the community is part of the solution -- people that are willing to be engaged and take public comment and input.


4 Responses to “Cabinet selecting”

  1. Kolea:

    I think one of the reasons Ige has been somewhat slow in naming his cabinet is that he had refused, during the campaign, to strike the routine sort of bargains with special interests in exchange for campaign contributions. He had an oft-repeated slogan, "No quid pro quos!" As a result, he was outspent ten to one in the primary. But retained his integrity and freedom.

    A gubernatorial candidate can reassure special interests if he can tell them, privately, "Don't worry. I will put So and so in charge of 'regulating' your industry." Ige did not avail himself of that advantage.

  2. Ted Baker:

    I hope Kolea is right in his(?) assessment of the reasons for the deliberate, if not slow, pace at which the Governor is making his cabinet appointments. Others have suggested exactly the opposite, that key constituents called the tune, that he was unable to attract candidates for certain positions, or that he is unsure what he's looking for.

    For example, some believe that former AG David Louie, who was not politically active before becoming AG, was the former law partner of Ige's campaign manager, and was generally well regarded, was not reappointed because he refused the Matson/A&B settlement offer in the molasses spill case and used their clout to make sure a more friendly regulator would take his seat. That sounds like someone was punished for being what the Governor says he's seeking, the "people's lawyer."

    Others have said that the administration asked numerous retired judges to take the position but was turned down. The name most mentioned recently is an attorney in private practice for land developers carving up Kakaako for investor consumption. I'm not sure such a portfolio matches with that of the "people's lawyer." Practically speaking, this attorney also lacks any experience dealing with collective bargaining employees who make up a substantial portion of the 500-600 people who work for the AG. As the Governor suggests, collaboration will be necessary in this position, but the name rumored to be under consideration is said to possess no inclinations to collaboration of any kind.

    One has to wonder what the Governor means by the "people's lawyer." Constitutionally, and by statute, the AG is the State's chief legal officer. It may seem like a subtle distinction, but the State and the people (as individuals) are not one and the same. As has been said, we are a "society of laws, not of men," and (hopefully) the AG will do what is legally and constitutionally correct, not what is political or popular.

    I hope that the time the Governor is taking will lead him to make a good choice for AG. Most people don't realize it, but the AG is the one cabinet officer the Governor cannot summarily terminate. Removal of the AG is subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. If the Governor doesn't get the AG selection right, he -- and the "people" -- will be pretty much stuck with his choice.

  3. Kolea:

    I would like to thank Ted Baker for his warning about the possible AG nominee. I have heard similar things, to the point of becoming alarmed. I am hoping the attorney in question is not a finalist for the position. I really want to be able to like Governor Ige for a few years before becoming disillusioned.

    Such an appointment would speed up that disillusion. Once I climbed out of my shock and despair.

  4. Ted Baker:

    Today's announcement that Doug Chin will be the nominee for AG is very encouraging. By all accounts he is smart, accomplished, tireless, and humble. He essentially ran the prosecutor's office under Peter Carlisle and did the same for the City when he was Carlisle's Managing Director. Putting aside whatever feelings one may have about the former prosecutor/mayor, Chin got solid reviews for the work he did, which should prepare him well for being the State's chief legal officer, understanding the legal needs of a large public entity, its officers, employees, and taxpayers, and running the largest law office in the State.

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