Abercrombie Overstepping

Governor Neil Abercrombie has made a bold statement to those who may not agree with his political vision, requesting several appointed members of boards and commissions to step down from their positions, many of which still had years remaining on their terms. According to the Star Advertiser, Abercrombie stated the removal of several appointees “would give his administration maximum flexibility in shaping public policy”.

Appointees are chosen by the governor, confirmed by the state Senate, and then cannot be forcibly removed without a justifiable reason until their term expires.  Governor Abercrombie hopes to influence these appointees into resigning on their own accord by issuing these mass resignation requests. He claims that a new group of appointees personally chosen by him will be able to better fulfill his vision of “A New Day in Hawaii”, while stating this is not a personal attack against the current appointees.

This attempted power grab made by Abercrombie should not be taken lightly. If every governor had attempted to enact a wholesale replacement of his or her predecessor’s appointees, very little would have ever been accomplished within the state of Hawaii. Former governor Cayetano disagrees with Abercrombie’s actions, stating he does not “think it’s wise to ask for wholesale resignations”. By replacing the current appointees, Abercrombie seeks to centralize power and reduce his possible opposition. Instead of working through opposing points of view with diplomacy, Abercrombie would rather ask the opposition to resign and appoint his choices in their place.

Abercrombie has a history of disagreeing with the appointment process. According to the Star Advertiser, the Governor became frustrated at a community meeting by his inability to select members of the Land Use Committee until their terms had expired. Abercrombie also recently convinced lawmakers to allow him to select members of the Board of Education without any prior screening through an advisory council.

The decision to request these resignations left many appointees stunned and confused. Travis Thompson of the Public Housing Authority believes Abercrombie is making “an assumption that the direction we were currently going in was somehow not the correct one”. Others worry that the governor’s statements will discourage potential nominees from accepting appointed positions in the future.

However, it will be the current appointees will make the final decisions regarding their resignation. Those currently working hard and making progress with their committees should continue to do so, and ignore the inane response from the government. These appointees were previously chosen and approved by the state Senate for a purpose, and resigning now would risk continuity and accomplishing these goals. Appointees should not feel pressured from a governor attempting to overstep his boundaries, but instead think of the public and what most benefits them.

The edited version of this article for the Ka Leo may be found here.

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