Abercrombie Cabinet takes shape

With all the speculation that he was about to name a bunch of state senators to his Cabinet, I thought Gov.-elect Neil Abercrombie made a smart move by avoiding politicians in favor of people with non-political expertise in his first wave of appointments.

William Aila for Land and Natural Resources, Jodie Maesaka-Hirata for Public Safety, Alapaki Nahale-a for Hawaiian Home Lands and Richard Lim for Business, Economic Development and Tourism are all well-regarded in the areas they’ll govern and were well-received.

It’ll soften the inevitable cries of political cronyism as Abercrombie moves on to putting fellow elected officials in Cabinet posts, starting with yesterday’s appointment of Sen. Dwight Takamine to head Labor and Industrial Relations.

Sen. Russell Kokubun is reportedly still under consideration for the Department of Agriculture, as is Sen. Brian Taniguchi for the Hawai‘i Labor Relations Board and possibly Sen. Josh Green for the Department of Health.

The Legislature isn’t necessarily where I’d look for talent to manage big and complex state departments; I’m having trouble thinking of former legislators who distinguished themselves as department heads other than Charles Toguchi as schools superintendent, but I’m sure you’ll remind me if I missed anybody.

One thing I’ll say for those Abercrombie is considering is that they tend to be legislative workhorses, as opposed to the show ponies who hog the headlines while others do the heavy lifting.

Takamine and Taniguchi both have extensive experience chairing labor and money committees, giving them intimate understanding of the issues they’d face in their administrative roles.

Kokubun was the driving force behind the Hawai‘i  2050 Sustainability Task Force, and he could be the right guy to lead the new governor’s promised pursuit of food self-sufficiency.

I have further thoughts on the way Abercrombie is putting together his administration in my column in today’s Star-Advertiser, “Campaign savvy translates to smart Cabinet decisions.”

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2 Comments on “Abercrombie Cabinet takes shape”

  1. Michael Says:

    Seems Governor Abercrombie’s cabinet wood be made of solid Woulds and not made of Would Knots. Would Rather have legislature on his team than opposing. Less Would rots.

  2. Guido Sarducci Says:

    Now David, you are becoming forgetful in your old age. Clayton Hee surely “distinguished himself” as OHA Chair. It is so very sad that poor Clayton doesn’t seem to be in line for an Abercrombie job. I just wanna cry.

    Maybe he could be put in charge of gang cesspool remediation. I think he has the skills….

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