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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, October 21, 2001

Hilo firm's LeMahieu tie pursued

 •  Public schools' future cloudy

By Alice Keesing
Advertiser Education Writer

After hearing yesterday from the woman at the center of allegations about the improper awarding of education contracts, legislators said they still have concerns about a conflict of interest.

Kaniu Kinimaka-Stocksdale yesterday confirmed that her relationship with Paul LeMahieu had "crossed the line."
The joint House-Senate Felix investigative committee has raised concerns that former schools chief Paul LeMahieu had a relationship with the owner of the Hilo-based company Na Laukoa, to which he granted a contract.

Like LeMahieu earlier this week, Kaniu Kinimaka-Stocksdale yesterday ended months of speculation when she confirmed that their relationship had "crossed the line."

She said it happened only once and in late October 2000, two months after the contract was awarded.

Na Laukoa's share of the contract was about $680,000. Kinimaka-Stocksdale said she personally had earned $36,000 since May 2000. LeMahieu has said that nothing about the relationship interfered with his decision to grant the contract, but he admitted the controversy played a part in his resignation last week.

Committee co-chair Sen. Colleen Hanabusa said she still has questions about a conflict because the contract was awarded even after Department of Education employees and the court monitor had raised concerns about Na Laukoa's ability to do the job.

Kinimaka-Stocksdale told the committee that details of the company's work would be better addressed to her staff. While many say Na Laukoa's work resulted in school-level improvements, Kinimaka-Stocksdale acknowledged that her company got numerous complaints in the early days. She characterized them as growing pains.

Kinimaka-Stocksdale said she thought her firm had experienced resistance within the DOE because she has only a high school diploma.

The former hula dancer and performer said she is pursuing a degree in psychology and education. Na Laukoa won the contract on the strength of an employee who has since been hired away, she said.