Why Did Hawaii’s DLNR Chair, Suzanne Case, Lie to a State Senate Committee?

Ed Underwood Outed Over Lying to the Public

Has Lying Become Normalized at the DLNR?

Testimony of SUZANNE D. CASE, Chairperson
Before the Senate Committee on WAYS AND MEANS
Friday, February 15, 2019 1: 15 PM
State Capitol Conference Room 211
In consideration of:
SENATE BILL 1257, SENATE DRAFT 1  (Testimonies here)

". . .  The State currently has a total of 164 liveaboard slips located in the Ala Wai small boat harbor (129 slips) and Ke‘ehi Lagoon small boat harbor (35 slips). Liveaboard permittees pay an additional fee to reside on their vessels. This liveaboard fee has not been increased since 1991. The additional fee charged to liveaboard tenants is intended to offset the cost of providing additional services such as increased use of utilities, showers and restrooms, security, and other administrative costs."

Fact Check:
⊕ "Liveaboard permittees pay an additional fee to reside on their vessels."   CORRECT

⊕ "This liveaboard fee has not been increased since 1991."  CORRECT

⊕ "The additional fee charged to liveaboard tenants is intended to offset the cost of providing additional services such as increased use of utilities, showers and restrooms, security, and other administrative costs."  ?!


Liveaboards use more water (at their dock) than most regular tenants, this being the sum total of their "additional services."  Liveaboards do not receive any value-added for the additional five dollars per foot of vessel length per month.  None.  And this is exactly the reason why there hasn't been justification to increase these fees since 1991. Case testified that the reason why they didn't bother increasing the liveaboard fees at the public harbors since 1991 is because they were constrained to increasing them by only 5%.  So, um, Ms. Case, why hasn't the DLNR been increasing the fees by 5% every year since 1991?  In addition to engaging in lying in order to make her point to the WAM committee, she thought she could get away with insulting that committee membership's intelligence.  Case knows full well that there are scant additional services available to liveaboards in the public harbor system, and yet she chose to lie about this to the Senate's Ways and Means Committee.

In reality, the whole fee-for-liveaboard scheme seems to be nothing more than State-sponsored protection racketeering.   Non-permitted liveaboards live under the perpetual fear of being caught on their vessels after midnight and risking heavy fines and possibly being ejected from the harbor system.  What permitted liveaboards are paying for is the peace of mind that they will not be punished for living on their own vessels.  Aside from that, they are not entitled to anything more than non-liveaboards.

During a recent survey by HON, it was found that approximately 75% of permitted harbor liveaboards at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor use the bathroom facilities "very infrequently", or, "not at all," opting, instead, to join nearby yacht clubs in order to use those facilities, or, alternatively, having installed, on their vessels, the proper shower and bathroom equipment.  The reason given by liveaboards for avoiding the bathroom facilities at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor was that the perpetually "deplorable" state of those facilities made them difficult to use.  The harbor bathrooms conundrum has always been well known in Chair Case's office.

There are no 'additional services' available to the liveaboard in the State harbor system. None. Chair Case knows this and yet, for some reason, she felt a need to lie to Hawaii's senate about this information point.

It is a well-known fact that the DLNR provides no security at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor, something that Chair Case is well aware of yet chose to lie about in her above Senate testimony.

There are negligible additional administrative costs associated with processing harbor liveaboards as opposed to regular tenants, yet Chair Case chose to misrepresent this information to Hawaii Senators.

Generously, perhaps Chair Case wasn't lying.  Maybe she is just so out of touch with the harbor community that she simply does not know the reality of the liveaboard experience in Hawaii's public harbor system.

Dear Hawaii Senators, here is the truth about liveaboards in the State of Hawaii's harbor system:
Living aboard in the Ala Wai is not the same as renting a condo.  Legal liveaboards bring their own housing to the small space provided by the State. Liveaboards are paying for a space, not a unit + space.  And, while they don’t burden our harbor any more than a non-live-aboard, legal liveaboards pay a much higher rate while, at the same time, performing a valuable service for the State and the surrounding community: liveaboards are the eyes and ears of security in the current harbor system. It is common knowledge that DOCARE is incapable of enforcing in the harbor system and so the burden falls on the Honolulu Police Department, at the behest of alert liveaboard residents.  Rescind, or reduce, the liveaboard fee and properly acknowledge the service that liveaboards provide.  Again, liveaboards do not receive any value-added amenities for the additional fees that they are being charged, and they do provide the State with a much needed service.

Suzanne Case's DLNR now appears to be mired in ethical misconduct, where lying to the public, and State Senators, has become normalized communication behavior.   It would seem to us, at this juncture, that the DLNR needs a top-down overhaul, including a complete top-down shake-up of its DOBOR division, in order to become even minimally effective in serving the public's interests and to get out from under its now complete lack of credibility with the community that it's supposed to be serving.

DOBOR's Ed Underwood has been similarly outed for lying, this time to Hawaii's public.  (See our account of that episode here.

UPDATE: Addtionally, it has been confirmed by Representative Tarnas that Mr. Underwood lied during a legislative hearing on Friday, March 15, 2019 regarding SB1257.  Underwood lied to Rep. David Tarnas regarding his agency's execution of its responsibilities to the public as defined by Hawaii's Sunshine Law. 

As of this writing, Hawaii's Attorney General, Clare Connors', who is supposed to be protecting the public from exactly this kind of dishonesty, seems to not be interested in investigating blatant lying and Sunshine Law violations committed by the State's agency representatives.  Sad, because if the AG is not interested in protecting the people of Hawaii from these kinds of abuses at this level, the public can expect little in the way of intervention on other more important issues.



Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments