Hawaii’s dwindling and fragile natural environment is facing a far greater threat from the local government, where administrative abuse has gone unchallenged or has been ignored for years, than from invasive species and global warming.   Not only are there long, slow lines at the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting (as reported in The Honolulu Advertiser, 7/13/07), there are many other resources effected by the lack of response at DPP.

We have been warned about environmental threats from outside elements, such as the introduction of alien species, but rarely are we willing to publicly acknowledge the threat that the local mayoral administration is posing to the environment by appointing unskilled and unethical political appointees to head up city and county agencies.   Take, for example, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s appointment of Mr. Henry Eng to the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting.  During Eng’s tenure as head of the DPP he has failed to recruit and fill critical positions that perform impact analysis that various projects have on the surrounding environment.    This staff shortage has become critical.

Some details regarding the staff shortage at DDP, and our concerns, are addressed in the attached editorial.   



We requested additional details regarding the staff shortage in a letter to Mr. Eng and received the following response that seriously downplays the extent of the shortage:



On July 10, 2007, we sent another letter on requesting additional information on Caroline McCabe’s leave of absence but have not received a reply.   However, we have learned that she is currently working in Manhattan with the US Army Corps of Engineers.


     LINK TO LETTER:        

Not only is this staff shortage causing long lines and delays for the permitting process, and exposing our resources to unnecessary pressures from lack of appropriate analytical review, it is raising the question of where our taxes our going, particularly what is saved by staff taking a long term leaves of absence.    With so many positions open for so long, in this and other agencies, the savings in salary must be building up.  On what is it being spent?   Can staff from lower level positions be trained for promotion from within?   In the time it has taken to [not] find new hires, several people could have been trained and promoted for the benefit of all. 


The heads of our governmental agencies need to seriously look at their business needs, and take their staffing and job requirements into account.   As we have found and reported in the past, some agencies have people wasting time because they do not have enough to do.   Let’s start treating government as a business, owned by the people as well as serving the people.