The recent story about the director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Nelson Befitel, and how he was set up for a workplace violence charge by one of his hostile, racist employees, brings back some bad memories from the years 1994 to 2002 when Ben Cayetano was governor of the state of Hawaii.

The former Democrat governor used this Department to punish his enemies or those who spoke against the state government or him personally. Those days were truly nightmarish and third world.

One has to wonder how Mr. Befitel, who was hired by the new Republican governor, Linda Lingle, who is attempting to make the business climate much more business-friendly, is able to cope with the left over Cayetano regime. Protected by the employee organizations and given the protection of years of service, these “leftovers” rather than help make desperately needed changes, are plotting and scheming to setup the new Republican administration to fail.

After a July 23 incident where Mr. Befitel reportedly put his hand on the arm of Mr. Decker as he tried to leave his office and was so charged with “workplace violence,” the news media showed the Director apologizing and taking his five day suspension.

However, the mainstream news reports did not discuss the entire investigation as was published in full in Hawaii Reporter. That was unfortunate.

See the full investigative report at “Befitel Beef: Befitel Sanctioned by Governor for Employee Incident”

It would be terrific if the mainstream news reported the whole story. In this case, the media did not discuss or mention that Mr. Decker did not provide a credible story about his encounter with his boss. Nor did the media mention the possibility that the director was set up, as is indicated by the state investigator and as written by Hawaii Reporter.

No mainstream media discusses the fact that Mr. Decker was insubordinate and discriminatory in his actions. If he were in the private workforce, Mr. Decker would have been flat out of luck and work.

After all, how many employers in the private sector would permit one of their employees to demand a “request in writing” for a task that the employer directed as Mr. Decker did of Mr. Befitel? More than likely, this person would not be sitting in a meeting to discuss the insubordination, rather they would be terminated and free to seek employment elsewhere.

And another bothersome point, mentioned in the mainstream media, but not focused on as it should be: What does it mean when a Caucasian man from Wyoming calls a brown skinned person “boy” as Mr. Decker called Mr. Befitel?

Mr. Decker assures the media “boy” is not a racial slur but a comment about Mr. Befitel’s age, even though Mr. Decker is 41, just 4 years older than Mr. Befitel. Please, does Mr. Decker think the people in Hawaii are that ignorant? Take it from someone who spent time living and working in the mainland: when a white man calls a dark skinned man “boy” it has nothing to do with age — it is a derogatory racial name for one who is not white and so a lesser person.
But to set the record straight, here is what Mr. Decker needs to get straight in that head of his:

*Mr. Befitel is the state’s designee and the authority for all dealings between the state and the federal government’s regional administrator.

*Mr. Decker works for the director and he has no authority to “demand” that the director state his directives in writing to perform the tasks that the taxpayers fund.

*Mr. Decker needs to understand that prejudice won’t help him get his work done and that his white skin color has nothing to do with the organizational structure in this state. He also needs to understand that the director, even though he is brown skinned, is the director and his boss.

*If Mr. Decker has any doubt his racial slur is just that, he Mr. should go out into the community and call the local brown skinned people “boy.” Not many of the local boys would treat that as a non-racial slur.

*Mr. Decker should understand that he is paid by the taxpayer, most of whom are brown skinned “boys.”

The new governor’s administration has proceeded with the changes promised during the campaign and have involved the community into the decision making processes as she was elected to do.

Meanwhile the taxpayers would like to know more about Mr. Decker — what is he doing for the taxpayer other than creating hate and discontent?

Personally, I would like to know why my taxes are being used to pay your salary for a job that you will not do? I would like to know why you think it is acceptable to be paid by my taxes and you can bring your discrimination and superior attitude to our home land? I would like to know why the state of Hawaii has to put up with your antics to goad and setup our government officials? I would like to know why we have to watch and hear about your disrespect for your boss, and our leaders, and your discrimination against us?
What’s up with that?

A final message to Mr. Decker and all of those people who think brown-skinned people are just a bunch of dumb locals:

We are a proud people, we are strong in our support for our family and our leaders. We will support our leaders in their attempt to change the way government and business work together. We will be here to stand by our “boys” and we do ”’not”’ need the discrimination and the plotting of a white boy from Wyoming. We will not stand by while you treat one of our own with contempt and disrespect. I am angry and unhappy with your treatment of our Director of Labor and Industrial Relations. I take your racial slur as an insult personally and to all of the taxpayers of this state. I need not ask what’s up with that because I understand discrimination and the hatefulness that comes with it. We do not need it here and we do not accept it.

To the governor: Knowing the racial slur that came from Mr. Decker, I have to ask the governor what will be done? We have lived through the previous 8 years where the department was used to wreak havoc on targeted businesses. We have a person with a demonstrated perception of superiority and discrimination in a job that requires fair treatment of locals. He must be removed from the HIOSH position where he can retaliate and discriminate against those he considers “boys.” I demand that Mr. Decker’s discriminatory action be addressed and that he be removed from public service. As a taxpayer I demand that he and any other insubordinate employee who cannot follow orders be removed from the freebie of a state salary funded by my taxes. I demand that he not be permitted to inspect our work places, review citations, negotiate informal conferences, and that he not be allowed to use his discriminatory actions/attitudes against the local employers.

To the state of Hawaii employees: There is much talk and gossip about state employees who are plotting, scheming and doing whatever to setup the administration’s officials. All of your efforts to degrade the administration, or to slow them down or to cast doubt is a waste of taxpayers’ monies. We need everyone to work together and to work toward the common goals to better our state. We do not need to create obstacles and to create doubt against our elected leaders. We cannot allow someone with a discriminatory attitude to affect how we will treat each other and how we will be.

”’N. Retlaw is a resident of Honolulu.”’

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Hawaii Reporter is an award-winning, independent Hawaii-based news and opinion journal founded in 2001 and launched in February 2002. The journal's staff have won a number of top awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including the top investigative news reporting awards, business reporting awards, government reporting awards, and online news reporting awards.