Senate committee advances DHHL confirmation, despite opposition

Complaints that led to DHHL chair's removal now being lobbed against top deputy

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Senate committee voted in favor Tuesday of Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Deputy Director William Aila’s confirmation — despite opposition to his nomination.

The move comes days after the Ige administration decided not to nominate DHHL Chair Jobie Masagatani to another term.

“The department is broken. The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is broken. We need to fix it. It needs to be fixed," said Molokai homesteader Marlene Kamuela Purdy.

Papakolea homesteader Harold Johnston added that he’s also concerned about the department’s growing wait list and the millions in federal funds that has gone unspent.

“We’re not happy with the direction. We’re not happy with the lack of energy," said Johnston.

"We’re not with the happy with the unresponsiveness where you can make 14 calls over a six-month period for a housing initiative for a kupuna and nobody returns those calls,” he added.

Supporters, including outgoing DHHL chair Masagatani, point to Aila’s decades of community service and recent improvements at the department.

“On top of the large accomplishment of this administration, (we’ve) had the highest level of general funding, over 700 lots completed and ready for award," she said.

The department also promised to improve its customer service.

“We’ll be opening a contact center at the end of this month. It will be a one-stop ... solution and hopefully we can resolve the customer’s problems," said DHHL staffer Paula Aila.

The full Senate will now take up Aila’s confirmation.

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