Naming top-level posts among Lingle's first steps
By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer
In addition to those top aides and cabinet members, Lingle can look ahead to appointing more than 1,200 people to various boards and commissions that handle a wide variety of issues, from campaign spending and ethics to the Land Use Commission and the King Kamehameha Celebration Commission.
And Hawai'i Supreme Court Associate Justice Mario Ramil said yesterday that he will retire Dec. 31, about 4 1/2 months before his 10-year term expires.
His departure gives Lingle the chance to select Ramil's replacement to the five-member high court.
As soon as her victory was clear on election night, governor-elect Lingle began receiving résumés. She has repeated an invitation to people of any political party to apply for positions.
Lingle campaign press secretary Lloyd Yonenaka said yesterday there is no real deadline for cabinet appointments, "but it is likely that she will have some appointments ready by the time of her inauguration at noon Dec. 2.
Lingle campaign communications director Lenny Klompus was encouraging people to send in their résumés, and applications can even be made through the Web site, www.lindalingle.com. "There are openings for any position you'd like to be (in)," Yonenaka said.
From her time as Maui mayor, Lingle has a record of making appointments based on skill and not political affiliation, he said. "She has never, ever asked them what political party they belonged to. She thought that was a totally inappropriate question to ask."
Gov. Ben Cayetano said he will work to make the historic transition smooth because it's the right move for the state.
"The election is over. Lingle is now the governor for everyone," Cayetano said in an interview yesterday. "I think it's important that she be given every fair opportunity to succeed."
Cayetano said he received hundreds of applications in 1994 when he was first elected and screened them through committees before he interviewed finalists.
Lingle is likely to make it a priority to fill 194 high-level jobs within her first 30 days, said Cayetano communications director Jackie Kido. That number includes department directors, their deputies, their secretaries, about two dozen people within the governor's office and other key positions including the directors of various offices, the insurance commissioner and the state's top labor negotiators.
Jim Dote, of the Department of Human Resources Development, said that state appointees last got a pay raise in 1990. The 16 directors under the governor earn $85,302 a year, while the 24 deputies' salaries range from $72,886 to $77,966.
Lingle will also begin appointing 1,250 people to 160 boards and commissions, Dote said, but those terms are staggered so the changes will occur over time.
Cayetano said opening up the process brought in many talented people, including his attorney general, Margery Bronster, praised by many for her independent voice but eventually rejected by the state Senate.
All of the appointments to boards and commissions must be confirmed by the Senate.
Cayetano said it's often difficult to find talented people willing to work for much less than they can earn in private business.
"Given the pay scale, it's going to be really difficult to get people from the private sector for very long," he said.
Cayetano said he believes large complex agencies such as the Health Department warrant higher pay for the director.
"You really should be paying someone well over $100,000 to do that," he said.
Advertiser staff writer Dan Nakaso contributed to this report.