Poor Management of Department of Land and Natural Resources Contributed to Aiona’s Failed Gubernatorial Election

Courtesy Ilikai 604
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Courtesy Ilikai 604

BY WILLIAM E. MOSSMAN – The November 8, 2010 Star Advertiser featured an article entitled, “Aiona’s Margin of Defeat Surprises,” which analyzes several theories on why former Congressman Neil Abercronbie trounced Lt. Governor Duke Aiona so badly this past election in the governor’s race. I would like to add another, in the hopes that it will improve the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) under the new governor’s administration.


Some of the credit for the trouncing of Aiona can be traced to the unprecedented level of public animosity provoked by the Lingle/Aiona administration, specifically by Laura Thielen’s management of the DLNR — especially amongst the boaters (under DBOR – Ed Underwood) and the fishermen (boat and shoreline).

The highly opposed rule changes that were rammed down the public’s throat and the finagling of data to justify them, coupled to the “ham handed” (my way or the highway) management style of the DLNR Director Laura Thielen and her lapdog Land Board, made this DLNR regime the worst I have seen in my 30 years involvement.

Without doubt, the large vote for Abercrombie was spiced up by the intense desire of the thousands of boaters and fishermen to get rid of Thielen et al.

The 15,000+ boat owners (plus their crews), and the 100,000+ shoreline fishermen who have been alienated by the Lingle/Aiona and Thielen did not want to take a chance that if elected, Aiona would retain Thielen and continue the arrogant modus operandi of the current DLNR Administration.

A highly respected leader of a fishing group stated in an email (to many) that, “This issue is so significant that I am willing to take my chances that someone other than the current DLNR Chairperson could make things worse.”

This feeling is rampant within the fishing and boating communities throughout the State. As a result, this “albatross” hung heavy around Aiona’s neck on November 2, 2010.

We hope the next DLNR Director will recognize that humans (aka, “voters”) are an important part of our “ecosystems,” and that their rights, needs and expectations should not be cast aside in developing new policy and changing rules.

Our new DLNR Director must be more conscious and respective of the positions of the Hawaii people that they serve, and their positions must be included in the formulae that seek and determine proper ecosystem balance.





  1. Mr. Mossman hit the nail on the head here with his theory about why Aiona lost his election bid! However, it wasn’t just the boaters and fisherman who took umbrage with Thielen and the Lingle Administration. It was the entire environmental community, the bulk of surfing community as well as canoe paddlers and home owners who were put on the defensive by DLNR. Months before the November election I personally called every member of the Republican party basically warning them that our parties failure to rain in DLNR would be our utter ruin! Weeks before the election I even called the GOP headquarters requesting a sit down between the environmental community and Republican candidates. I was wanting to talk strategy with candidates, citing the Super ferry and the Renaissance program as our blind spot knowing what I knew about how widespread angst within the recreational community over Thielen and her antics.

    Needless to say I was severely chastened with what could only be described as a religious denunciation of my unworthiness. It was something akin to being disfellowshipped because my shellacking came in the form of a religious ultimatum. Serve the Republican agenda or you are unrighteous!! At one point I was called a defector being accused of wanting to vote for Abercrombie! Apparently I had made the mistake of saying I was against the way the Super Ferry process was handled, and saying this I was shown the door (figuratively speaking). DLNR’s contempt for the recreational community won’t end with a new administration unfortunately. Stepping into Thielens shoes?, Senator Clayton Hee (or so we are told). As the Chair of Water Land Hee could have done what I and other were begging for which was a Full Senate investigation into DOBOR and DOCARE, who I contend had succumbed to willy nilly and who had run circles around the Senate Committee on Water Land on a variety of projects that should have been stopped dead in it’s tracks. Perhaps money was a concern for Senator Hee? In the end nothing was done to expose willy and nilly, who we know are first cousins of ruff-shod! You see its a family affair down there at DLNR!

    Kudo’s to Mr. Mossman for writing this article!!

  2. Excellent article by Mr. Mossman. I’m glad that the recreational community came out in full force. There were also employees within DLNR that didn’t want to see Aiona win as that would’ve meant more of Thielen. Although, they try to paint a happy DLNR family that’s far from being true. There are those of us who are tired of dealing with working with the cart before the horse. Hopefully, the next chair will be more sincere when dealing with the public and employees within DLNR and put the horse before the cart.

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