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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, June 19, 2001

Search for new OHA administrator takes ugly turn

By Johnny Brannon
Advertiser Staff Writer

The search for a new Office of Hawaiian Affairs administrator may become a bitter power struggle among the nine trustees who control the $300 million agency.

The panel met yesterday to discuss upcoming interviews with six finalists for the job, but spent most of the time arguing over hiring procedures and pondering whether the position should pay more.

At one point, chairwoman Haunani Apoliona ordered trustee Clayton Hee to leave OHA's chambers after he grabbed agency attorney Sherry Broder's arm and insisted they step outside. Hee refused to go, but walked out later after whispering something to Broder.

The trustees will select a new boss for the Native Hawaiian assistance agency after interviewing the finalists in private at the Pacific Club through tomorrow. The final candidate will need the support of at least five trustees.

Candidates for the $85,000 per year job are: Patricia Brandt, a former assistant to then-Gov. John Waihe'e; Jan Dill, a local businessman who owns an environmental consultancy; Colin Kippen, OHA's deputy administrator; Clyde Namu'o, a state judiciary deputy administrator; Robert Ozaki, a former vice president at the Queen's Health Systems and at Amfac, Inc.; and Winona Rubin, an aide to OHA chair Apoliona and a former state Human Services director.

The list was supposed to remain secret until a choice is made, but it was leaked several days ago. Hee said the names should have been public from the beginning, and he demanded an explanation.

"Secrecy, as you have advised me, does not bode well for this office, because there are no secrets at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs," Hee told Broder. "You work for us, or do you work for just one of us?"

Broder said OHA had used the same process when it selected current administrator Randy Ogata, and that the University of Hawai'i had acted the same when it chose its new president.

"Thank you, counsel, I will never forget this," Hee replied before he walked across the room, grabbed Broder's arm, and told her to go outside with him. She ignored him, and he later cupped his hand to her ear and whispered for about 20 seconds before leaving.

Trustees Charles Ota and Oswald Stender said OHA should offer administrators up to $150,000 per year, almost twice the current salary, in order to attract the best applicants.

Kathryn Inkinen, a consultant brought to assist with the hiring, said additional candidates had bowed out because they thought the pay was too low.

Trustee Rowena Akana complained that spreading the interviews over several days would waste time, and also objected to having Inkinen's firm involved. Akana said that implied that the trustees were not up to the task.