Governor Still Seeking Water Panel Candidates

Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources

Five months after one of its members stepped down, Gov. Neil Abercrombie has yet to fill a vacancy on a seven-member panel charged with administering the State Water Code.

It's a pretty important job. Under the code, the Commission on Water Resource Management is tasked with the critical responsibility of protecting and enhancing Hawaii's water resources "through wise and responsible management."

Yet, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, to which the seven-member commission is attached, has had to advertise three times in 12 months for the position, most recently just last month. On two of those occasions, the deadline for nominations was extended to get a broader pool of applicants.

DLNR is also now seeking two applicants, as the term of a second water commission member is set to expire next summer.

A DLNR official told Civil Beat Wednesday the reason it has taken so long to find candidates is because the Office of the Attorney General raised concerns about the selection application process. The concerns center on whether it was legal for DLNR to extend and re-open the process.

But the delay is raising eyebrows. Abercrombie, after all, has aggressively sought to place his own people on important boards and commissions. At least one ally of the governor has expressed strong interest in the job.

Nominations are due Dec. 16, more than a year after Abercrombie took office.

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