BY JIM DOOLEY – Under pressure from above, Robert “Bobby” Hall is retiring as deputy chairman of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

Sources said Hall had been asked by Governor Neil Abercrombie to resign, but Abercrombie spokeswoman Donalyn Delacruz said this afternoon the governor made no such request.

When asked today if the governor had asked him to resign, Hall said, “I am going to retire.”

He declined further comment.

Dela Cruz said Abercrombie “has been in contact with” DHHL chairman Alapaki Nahale-a about recent news stories concerning the department’s unauthorized purchase of an exercise treadmill.

But the governor has not asked for anyone’s resignation, she said.

Nahale-a confirmed this evening that Hall was retiring. In a brief written statement, Nahale-a said 0f Hall,  “I wish him well on his journey. He is a warrior with a lot of aloha for the Native Hawaiian people and a lot of institutional knowledge about housing issues.”

Several sources said Hall’s job difficulties were related to the treadmill acquisition. The apparatus was delivered to the DHHL’s executive offices April 29, as Hawaii Reporter first disclosed May 5.

Some DHHL employees have also been critical of Hall’s handing of a DHHL home-construction agreement with Habitat for Humanity, it was learned.

DHHL spokeswoman Crystal Kua said May 5 that Nahale-a had no involvement in ordering the treadmill and was conducting an investigation into the matter.

“After Chairman (Nahale-a) discovered that the treadmill was delivered to DHHL, he began making arrangements for the treadmill to be returned. No trust funds have been expended for the treadmill,” she said.

“This action was wrong and actions like this will not be tolerated by this administration in the future,” Kua said.

No other details of the treadmill purchase or of the Habitat for Humanity contract have been provided by the department.

Abercrombie’s November appointments of Nahale-a and Hall to the top posts at DHHL were among the first he made to his cabinet.

He said the two men would complement each other in a close partnership at the helm of the department.

Nahale-a, 42, of Hilo, was executive director of the Hawaii Charter Schools Network.

Hall, 57, is a career state employee who was executive assistant DHHL when elevated to the deputy chairman job by Abercrombie.

Hall is also an accomplished professional musician, working as a founding member of the Peter Moon Band.

Hall does step aside is the second Abercrombie cabinet appointee to depart since the governor took office.

Dr. Neal Palafox abruptly resigned as Department of Health director in January at Abercrombie’s request amid unconfirmed reports that Palafox was the subject of a criminal fraud investigation.

Palafox and his attorney have said repeatedly that they were unaware of such an investigation.

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com