State of Hawaii DLNR/DoBOR Response Suggests State Sponsored Fraud, Fiscal Malfeasance among Ethics and Statute Violations

Hawaii's Underwood Responds to our questions . . . his answers are an indictment and a warning to residents

Underwood and Sen. Moriwaki in knowing collusion amounting to Hawaii's version of genocide?

This is our response to DoBOR Ed Underwood's July 7th, 2021 email to us regarding questions from the public

(Note to reader: clicking on a reference link in this article will open a new tab in your browser so that you can read the reference at your leisure without interrupting your current read of this article)


The following recent email exchange between Hawaii Ocean News and DLNR/DoBOR administrator Ed Underwood should be an urgent red flag to every resident in Hawaii.

Mr Underwood's 7/7/2021 email to us:

Dear Ms. Lindell,

We are following up since we have not heard back from you regarding setting up a Zoom meeting to discuss your concerns regarding the Ala Wai small boat harbor (AWSBH).  A town hall style Zoom meeting sponsored by Sen Moriwaki & Rep Tam was held on June 23, 2021 and it appears you were not able to attend the meeting.  We understand you are on the Senator’s email distribution list that announced the meeting so you were welcomed to attend and ask your questions at that time.  We had a robust discussion and Q&A with our DOBOR staff, Chief Redulla, DOCARE, and Officer Virardi, HPD.  We had an open discussion on the outcomes of the 2021 legislative session, including the fee increases, abandoned vessels bill, and capital improvement and enforcement appropriations that will help improve the harbor.

As a result of that town hall meeting, my staff and I met with the AWSBH Citizen Patrol, a group committed to making the harbor what it should be “the jewel of Waikiki.”  I am pleased to announce that they will be working with my staff to improve the harbor.  They will be bringing concerns such as yours to my staff and we will work collaboratively to ensure that we enforce the law and rules;  and identify R&M and Capital Improvement Projects for the facility.  Thanks to the Legislature, we are repairing the 600 row finger piers and will be starting a major project to replace the water system throughout the facility.   We are committed to continuing to work on planning for the harbor so we can have a quality place to work, live and play.

Please forward any concerns you may have to Gordon Wood, Chair of the AWSBH Working Group, and we will review them.  Mr. Wood can be reached at  We will respond to your questions below in blue.

Thank you,

Edward R. Underwood, Administrator
Department of Land and Natural Resources
Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation
4 Sand Island Access Road #4
Honolulu, Hawaii 96819
(808) 586-9314


Hawaii Ocean News responds:

Aloha Mr. Underwood,
Actually, you had heard back from us; our 6/16/2021 email:

6/16/2021 12:08pm

My apologies for not getting back to you sooner regarding our hosting of a town hall meeting with you and DoBOR staff.

Unfortunately, we were only able to find a scant few boaters who were willing to appear on ZOOM with DoBOR staff.  The primary reason given for declining participation was a fear of retribution from DoBOR harbor staff in the future.

In lieu of a meeting, we've asked boaters to send us the questions that they would have asked if they'd been at the ZOOM meeting.

Included below is a list of questions for which the public wanted answers; thank you for your response.

Katherine Lindell

And, in fact, there were scant few boaters at Sen. Moriwaki’s Zoom meeting on June 24th, 2021 — 6 in total, 5 if you don’t count the guy in the back of that group of three who didn’t interact and seemed a bit nervous about being there.  For a “town hall” meeting focused entirely on the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor, the largest in the State, one would have thought that there would have been hundreds of boaters from that harbor eager to participate.  Instead . . . 6 boaters showed up.  Why?  Fear of retaliation.

Mr. Underwood, why should any Hawaii resident have to fear retaliation from its own government just for showing up at a State sponsored ZOOM meeting and speaking the truth?

Regrettably, boaters are justified in being cautious, especially after the Mitch Roth incident on the big island where you retaliated against a county prosecutor (now mayor) for his investigation into similar allegations from boaters on the Big Island.


Regarding your responses to the questions from the public (reproduced below with your responses and our observations):

Mr. Underwood, in some of your responses you confirm that DoBOR is involved in State-sponsored fraud.  Please see our comments in questions 13 and 16, below.

Your responses to questions 1 and 2 suggest your and Senator Sharon Moriwaki’s knowing collusion in a kind of State sponsored genocide against a target demographic in her district. You instigated and Moriwaki introduced SB795, a measure that she voted for and that will generate homelessness in this demographic –- her district. There is clearly no help in the State of Hawaii for those victims.

Your “privilege” answer (co-authored by Sen. Sharon Moriwaki) to question 2, aside from sounding like State sponsored protection racketeering, is nothing more than a deception, an attempt to create the perception of moral high ground designed to garner support from those in our community who are unfamiliar with the harbor environment.

Your responses to questions 3, 5, 7 and 9, suggest that you are mostly unfamiliar with the same public harbor system over which you preside, leading to unregulated harbor office administration, ripe for fraud.

Your responses to questions 8, 11, 14, 15, 17, 35, 36, 37, 40, and 41, aside from suggesting just how difficult it is for the public to access public funds ledgers, more than suggest fiscal malfeasance in the handling of public funds. Please see our comments associated with these questions.

Your response to questions 3 and 4 suggests that DoBOR policies were a factor in helping to spread Covid-19 in our community. Please see our comments associated with these questions.

Your response to questions 6 and 10 point to your agency’s knowing violation of HRS statute. Please see our comments associated with these questions.

Your response to questions 1, 2, and 7 detail the length to which you and Sen. Moriwaki will go in order to accomplish your mutually shared (along with DLNR Chair, Suzanne Case's) goal of handing over Hawaii’s publicly owned lands to private multinational corporate interests.   Please see our comments associated with these questions.

Your response to question 23 more than suggests ethics violations relating to a breach of Sunshine Laws. Please see our comments associated with these questions.


Questions submitted by the public (please see our updates to your responses, Mr. Underwood):

1) The approximate doubling of rents for Principal Habitation Permit holders in the State's harbor system will, of course, create huge hardships for some families. Can those families who experience sudden and immediate hardship as a result of the doubling of their rents (right in the middle of a pandemic) expect to get help from DoBOR in seeking State-sponsored rental assistance so that they are not made homeless?

Mr. Underwood responds: No.  Permittees are encourage to reach out to the appropriate resource agencies if they need assistance.  Harbor staff can assist with providing contact information.

HON staff observations:  And which agencies might those be, Mr. Underwood.  You’ve instigated SB795 on the basis of a fraudulent appraisal, and now this law will generate still more homelessness in our state — especially in SB795 introducer, Sen. Sharon Moriwaki’s district.  We are now number one, per capita, in the nation for homelessness, at a cost of $3,000 per homeless per month.  Specifically, which agencies can provide suitable shelter for the families you will have made homeless?


2) Related to the above question:  You intend to effectively double liveaboard rates at the AWSBH and the KSBH.  Given this huge increase in principal habitation permit fees, what additional benefits over regular tenants can liveaboard tenants expect?

Mr. Underwood responds: The fee is for the privilege of living on ones vessel in the harbor.  No additional benefits will be given over regular mooring tenants.

HON staff observations:  Because of the horrible condition that our public harbor system is in and because the legally permitted liveaboard receives zero additional benefits, amenities, or value added, the only "privilege" that you are referring to here is that permitees will not be harassed in the middle of the night by DoCARE officers searching for illegals. This is nothing more than another form of State-sponsored protection racketeering.   Do condo renters feel like they're "privileged" when they pay a condo owner every month to live in their building?

Your "privilege" comment is nothing more than a deception -- based on befuddled arrogance -- an attempt to create a perception of moral high ground designed to garner support from those in our community who are unfamiliar with the harbor environment.

“Privilege”?  Anyone in the State of Hawaii can apply for a liveaboard permit . . . anyone.  They will have to wait on line for their turn ― sometimes for many years — and then they will have to pay, in cash, up front, deposits for first and last month’s rent plus a security deposit, often amounting to thousands of dollars. They will have had to have purchased a suitable vessel — often tens of thousands of dollars, on up, and once they are assigned a permit, they will have to acclimatize themselves to the horrific conditions at the AWSBH, unmistakably a product of deliberate mismanagement for the express purpose of nurturing a perception among the general public of a need for privatization. 

And Because DoBOR and DoCARE have chosen to ignore security at the State’s largest public harbor, the new liveaboard will need to prepare him or herself for the crime, the half-crazed homeless population who see the AWSBH as a safe haven because of the State’s deliberate failure to enforce there, for years on end, and the threats posed by individuals on meth.


The liveaboard option is the very last true affordable housing option left in Hawaii, an option that is available to every single resident of Hawaii, should they choose to take advantage of it. While Hawaii's state leadership has been giving this topic lip service for years, in actual fact it doesn't seem that they're very concerned about providing the public with any viable “affordable housing” option.  This State of Hawaii principal habitation permit is the last true affordable housing option. A place to live — shelter ― is a “privilege”? 


3) Kaneohe Bay anchorage ban: We've recently discovered that the designated anchorages clearly marked on NOAA charts of Kaneohe bay have suddenly and inexplicably been banned by DoBOR to public boaters. What statute, specifically, gives DoBOR the authority to do that? What exactly was the rationale?

Mr. Underwood responds: The four offshore mooring areas are open for mooring on a space available basis.  Please check in with the Heeia Kea small boat harbor office for availability or to place your name on the waitlist.

HON staff observations: Your comments contradict those of the harbor agents at Heeia Kea who are aggressively enforcing the “Sandbar only” mandate.  You might want to check in with your harbor agents from time to time. Herding all visiting boaters into a single location, the sandbar, in the middle of a pandemic seemed like a bad idea that would help to spread the virus further in our community . . . similar to your forcing boaters waiting for service at your offices to cloister in close quarters just outside your office doors.


4) Pandemic Public Risk Factors:  While you've taken the necessary precautions within your harbor offices to comply with the governor's pandemic recommendations, what steps have you taken to enforce covid precautions right outside your harbor office doors by people now forced to group together outside your harbor office while waiting for service. At the Keehi office, for example, the public can wait for more than an hour for service outside in a sweltering alcove, covered head-to-toe in flies, shoulder-to-shoulder with people who refuse, in some cases to wear a mask. Why has DOBOR refused to address this issue, one that is actually responsible for potentially spreading still more Covid 19 infection in our State?

Mr. Underwood responds: Individuals are required to follow CDC guidelines.  Harbor offices have remained open during most of the pandemic to accommodate harbor user needs.  Should the wait time be to long, it is recommended for people to come back at a different time.  We have taken precautions to ensure the safety of our staff and the general public.

HON staff observations: You have absolutely not taken the requisite precautions to ensure the safety of the general public during this pandemic.  Not even close. 

Yes, the CDC had made it’s recommendations, but the State of Hawaii knew full well that there were many individuals in our community who were not following them. This is why the State implemented “Emergency Proclamations” and special precautions inside our harbor offices.  Are State operatives within DoBOR so dimwitted that they couldn’t see the danger right outside their office doors, or were they just being instructed to not worry about it?

One Keehi tenant suggested to the harbor agents there that they implement a system whereby boaters waiting for service at that harbor office out in the alcove just outside the harbor office door (often covered in flies and in scorching heat) be notified by text on their phones that they are next in line.  This is a very common technique used in many public places where people wait on line for services. This would allow those waiting for service to wait in their cars with the AC on until they are texted. The harbor agent at Keehi didn’t even offer the courtesy of a reply to that suggestion, and, in fact, it was never implemented and the horrible system remained in place throughout the pandemic, clearly helping to spread Covid-19 in our community.


5) Related to the above question:  Why is it that harbor agents at the KSBH disavow any regulation from DoBOR.  We'd received a credible report that named a certain harbor agent there (Gina) as telling tenants that her office is above DoBOR and HAR rules and regulation?  We know that can't be true, but why would a harbor agent in your system feel empowered to say something like that in the first place?

Mr. Underwood responds: Please forward the report to our office and we will investigate.

HON staff observations:  Staff has reached out to the individual who filed the complaint, asking that they come forward with a report.  They replied back that they had sent a full complaint, by email, to the Keehi harbor office.  They never received even the courtesy of a reply and obviously no one at that office forwarded the complaint to the District  Manager ― or the District Manager completely ignored the complaint.  The boater has been frustrated in his attempts to contact someone who cares at that office, or at DoBOR, and has given up and does not want to pursue the matter further because “. . . I have to deal with the Keehi harbor office regularly and they are highly selective about how they treat individual boaters coming to their counter . . .  .”  It seems to us that this is just another example of harbor offices acting independent of State guidelines and still another example of a boater afraid to speak out for fear of DoBOR retribution.


6) Navatec II Incident:  What statute gave DoBOR the authority to transfer a known derelict 85' commercial vessel from the Department of Transportation's commercial Honolulu Harbor, into the State's public recreational small boat harbor at the AWSBH, instantly debiting the cost of handling and disposing of this vessel from the recreational harbors' Boating Special Fund -- a fund you say is depleted?

Mr. Underwood responds: Hawaii Revised Statutes,  Section 200-10.

HON staff observations:  Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 200-10 (c)(1), (1)(B) and (B)(2) implies an unmistakable distinction and separation between Hawaii’s Department of Transportation commercial harbor and commercial vessels, and DLNR public recreational vessel harbors.  I wonder if you wouldn’t take a crack at this question again? What statute gave DoBOR the authority to transfer a known derelict 85' commercial vessel from the Department of Transportation's commercial Honolulu Harbor, into the State's public recreational small boat harbor at the AWSBH, instantly debiting the cost of handling and disposing of this vessel from the recreational harbors' Boating Special Fund ― a fund you say is depleted(Underwood refused to elaborate)


7) Access to Liveaboard Permits: Wording in the rules that allows for liveaboards in Keehi and the Ala Wai: DoBOR has recently changed wording in this statute from "will" to "may" which now makes issuing a liveaboard permit optional on DoBOR's part.  Why was this change made? People are still paying to be on the liveaboard list hoping to be chosen to be a recipient of the State's Principal Habitation Permit at some point. Is this change in wording just a way to block further access to principal habitation permits in the harbor system?  If so, why do you keep taking people's money in exchange for their remaining on the liveaboard wait list?

Mr. Underwood responds: We have not issued new liveaboard permits because it became apparent that people were not using their vessels according to the intended purposes outlined in the Hawaii Revised Statutes and were instead using their vessels as housing.

HON staff observations:  Could you show us how you’ve quantified that? How often do you actually visit the AWSBH and speak with liveaboard tenants there?  While there are some liveaboard vessels that are only used once a year, there are many non-liveaboards — regular tenants ― who also only use their boats once a year.  In fact, there are nearly whole-piers-full of regular tenants who rarely use their boats.  The reasons for this are many and personal, but a major factor is the Ala Wai’s location. The waters, just outside the harbor entrance can often be quite challenging so that only the experienced mariner would consider going out. 

Use of a vessel has less to do with whether it’s a liveaboard or not and more to do with a boat owner’s personal situation (work, family, etc.) and their ability and confidence in being able to safely operate their vessel in some of our challenging ocean conditions.

And dangerously, DoBOR harbor agents demonstrate a lack of understanding of fundamental sailing basics, sea conditions, marine weather, International Maritime Law, etc., leaving them poorly prepared when it comes to mandated yearly buoy runs that are required for slip renewal.  We’ve often feared that this combination of DoBOR ignorance and the realities of Hawaiian sea state conditions might eventually result in the loss of life and a whopper of a lawsuit against the State of Hawaii.

Mr. Underwood responds: The new working group is working on this issue to ensure that current liveaboards are actually operating their vessels beyond the confines of the harbor at least every 90 days as required in the statute.

HON staff observations:  What new working group? Who are the members of this group and how can the public contact them?  The so-called 90-day rule was implemented into statute years ago but never enforced because your harbor agents protested loudly and in unison that such a rule was not workable because of the huge workload that it would place on all harbor offices and staff.

Mr. Underwood responds: We tell people that apply on the waitlist that we do not intend to issue any new liveaboard permits but we can’t prevent people from applying on the waitlist.  If they want to apply, we are required to charge the appropriate fee.

HON staff observations:  So, if I understand you correctly, you maintain a paid waitlist for a permit that you have no intention of giving out?  Mr. Underwood, in the real world, taking people’s money for something you never intend to provide is called fraud — regardless of what you tell them before you take their money.  In any other system, competent legal counsel would have provided advice to this effect.


8) Loss of Revenue from 800 Row AWSBH:  The 800 row, with approximately 60 slips, remained completely vacant for nearly three years at the AWSBH, with a loss of revenue to the State from all of those vacant slips over a 3-year period. Could you shed some light on what exactly happened with regards to the contractors that were hired to make repairs to that region of the harbor and what exactly caused delays in making the necessary repairs so that that valuable mooring space could again earn revenue for the State?  Three years of lost revenue from 60 moorings seems like a lot of money.

Mr. Underwood responds: The electrical contractor failed to perform according to the contract and we were not permitted to hire a new electrical contractor until the dispute was resolved.  We relocated vessels back to the 800 row as soon as it was safe to do so.

HON staff observations:  This is, by no means, the first contractor fail for DoBOR. This most recent 800-row debacle cost the Boating Special Fund hundreds of thousands of dollars in contractor-related debits and lost revenues over the past three years.  This raises the question about how you’ve been choosing contractors to fulfill State contracts.


9) Related to the above:  Why has the inspection dock in front of the harbormaster's office at the AWSBH, remained inoperable, dangerous, and unrepaired for more than three years?

Mr. Underwood responds: The dock was deemed unsafe and needs to be replaced.

HON staff observations:  Mr. Underwood, that was years ago and this is an administrative-critical dock ― and the only safe landing in that area for both trailer-launched boats and vessels seeking requisite inspections from the State.

Mr. Underwood responds: DOBOR is designing the dock in-house but will need CIP funding to for the construction of the new dock.

HON staff observations: Interesting how CIP and Boating Special Funds are arbitrarily shuffled around as excuses for not doing anything in the State’s harbor system. Mr. Underwood, could you make available to the public a complete ledger showing debit and credit specifics for the Boating Special Fund? 


10) Failure to Increase Harbor Rates as per Statute:  Hawaii Revised Statutes 200-10 required that DoBOR raise harbor rates according to Hawaii's Cost of Living Allowance index, after the Colliers appraisal. It seems that DoBOR has repeatedly violated this statute in not doing that. What other Hawaii statute gave DoBOR the right to ignore the requirement to increase fees yearly according to Hawaii's CoLA index?

Mr. Underwood responds: DOBOR followed the statute as written when determining the new mooring rates.

HON staff observations: However, DoBOR clearly ignored this same statute, prior to the illegal rules update you refer to; prior to 2019, DoBOR was required to increase rates yearly according to Hawaii’s CoLA index. If DoBOR had done this, the State’s Boating Special Fund would have been far healthier.  Why did DoBOR ignore statute, and why was there no consequences for this obvious breach of statute?


11) How Funds are Used to Address Deferred Maintenance:  Specifically, why haven't you made it clear which of our deferred maintenance projects in our harbors can be addressed directly from funds in the Boating Special Fund, and which projects need to be funded with Capital Improvement Funds authorized by the Legislature?  Why haven't you been asking for more CIFs?  Where did you get the money for the new DoBOR facility at the KSBH?  And the money for tne new DoBOR vehicle fleet?

Mr. Underwood responds: The Boating Special Fund can be used for repair and maintenance projects and all CIP needs to be approved by the Legislature.  We request CIP funding but the Legislature has the difficult task of determining how to allocate the State’s resources across all Department.  We have received CIP funding at that is how we are currently improving the water system in the harbor as well as replacing finger piers on the 600 row.

HON staff observations:  This contradicts Assistant DoBOR Administrator, Meghan Statts’ comments during the legislature’s FIN hearing on March 31, 2021: this video link to that FIN hearing will take you to the precise spot in the video.


12) Question about Proposed New Liveaboard Fee Metric:  My question is two parts: First, there is a great deal of confusion about how liveaboards will by charged under the new fee structure. The current liveaboard fee metric is length-of-vessel-on deck X $5.51. That metric was established based on the fact that liveaboards live with in the confines of their deck space. Will the new liveaboard fee be per-foot length-of-vessel on deck x $13.00? Secondly, as I've said, liveaboards are currently paying at a rate of $5.51 per-foot on-deck-length-of-vessel in addition to $13 per foot vessel overall length. How are we to calculate the new proposed liveaboard fee?

Mr. Underwood responds: The liveaboard fee is now calculated at twice the mooring fee.  This is done by determining the vessels overall length or slip length, whichever is greater.  For example, if a 27’ vessel is moored in a 30’ slip.  The mooring fee would be 30’ x $13.00 for a total of $390.00 per month.  If a person is living aboard, then the total mooring and liveaboard fee would be $390.00 x 2 for a total of $780.00 per month.

HON staff observations:  (Note: This was one of two questions represented here that were answered during Sen. Moriwaki’s Zoom meeting)  The problem with this calculation is that it tosses out the very necessary metric of assessing vessel liveaboard space (a metric which is now in place) and replaces it with an overall-length metric that does not reflect liveaboard space.  For the more perceptive among you there at DoBOR, A family living aboard cannot live in their anchor hanging from the bow, or in their outboard motor hanging from the stern.


13) Flat Rate Electrical Fees for unmetered slips:  I had a question about the electrical flat rate fees as per §13-234-10 for vessels on floating piers who are not on HECO electrical meters. Electricity is a consumption item and is usually charged for by the kilowatt hour of consumption. Many of our boaters are not consuming anywhere near $40 per month for regular tenants and $100 per month for liveaboard tenants. What happens to the windfall overages paid by boaters who consume nowhere near the amount of electricity that they're being charged for?

Mr. Underwood responds: When determining the electrical fee, we took an average of what people were paying for the service.  We asked liveaboards who had an agreement directly with HECO to share their monthly bill with us and they graciously did.  We took an average of those statements to determine the liveaboard fee.  For non-liveaboards, we calculated an average monthly cost based on usage in the facilities.

HON staff observations:  The only problem with this, Mr. Underwood, is that your assessment is missing obvious critical metrics, and the very same HECO bills that you say you used for this assessment have somehow vanished and are “unrecoverable” (your words), and so cannot be cross-checked by an independent observer.

Obvious critical metrics:  Electricity is a consumable commodity and cannot be assessed for all by looking at a few HECO bills for a few vessels.  First of all, if you were using HECO bills to make your flat rate determination then your assessment was based on vessels that would not be the target of the flat rate fee.  The majority of the targeted vessels are on the floating piers.  Many of those vessels are much smaller than vessels on the street piers, the ones using HECO-monitored outlets. So flawed is this metric that the single person living on a 26’ sailboat is assessed the exact same rate as the family of four living on a 60’ trawler  Again, what happens to the windfall overage that the State receives as a result of overcharging the little guy in this scheme?  Is this yet another example of the poor subsidizing the rich in Hawaii?

Mr. Underwood responds: Ultimately, people are not required to pay for electricity if they don’t use it.  If they do, they pay the base amount stated in rule.

HON staff observations:  You never answered the question about illegal windfalls:  What happens to the windfall overages paid by boaters who consume nowhere near the amount of electricity that they're being charged for?  (We suspect that had you had competent legal counsel, he or she might have advised you that this scheme constitutes fraud)


14) Identify Projects Completed as a Result of fee increases since 2010:  In multiple legislative hearings over the past decade DOBOR has pointed to a $300 million deferred maintenance  figure to justify fee increases in 2010, 2019, and in the 2021 legislative session as well. Can you identify a single project that has been completed since 2010 towards completion of that deferred maintenance? (Underwood will point to installation of docks and 700 row repairs, but these were initiated PRIOR TO his takeover in 2007.)

Mr. Underwood responds: All fees generated in the State small boat harbors are deposited into the Boating Special Fund and used to support all the facilities statewide regardless of where the funds have been generated from.  Tens of millions of dollars has gone into statewide harbor repairs.  We can have our Engineers provide you with a breakdown of ongoing and completed projects.  Please let us know if you are interested in the list of projects.

HON staff observations:  We’d like to see that, along with where the money came from and how it was allocated.  Please send at your earliest and we will share with the public.   Your statement, “Tens of millions of dollars has gone into statewide harbor repairs”: most of this Money that came from revenues generated at the AWSBH . . . while the Ala Wai itself, Hawaii’s largest publicly-owned harbor, looks like it was the target of a recent terrorist attack.


15) Cost and Funding for DoBOR's New Building and Vehicles:  How much did DOBOR’s new office at Keehi cost and were Boating Funds used to build it? And what about the recent new fleet of vehicles for DoBOR, where did the money come from to purchase those?

Mr. Underwood responds: A combination of both Boating Special Funds and CIP funds were used to build the Admin building and replace the aging vehicle fleet.  The Admin building cost a little over $2 million to build and DOBOR no longer is required to pay rent at downtown Honolulu rates.

HON staff observations:  Listening to Assistant Administrator, Megan Statts testimony in front of the legislative FIN committee on March 31, 2021, and then reading your above comments, it appears that CIP and Boating Special Funds are arbitrarily shuffled around with no clear allocation scheme.  Where can the public view the guidelines for CIP and Boating Special Fund project allotments?  Where can the public view the Boating Special Fund account, complete with up-to-date debits and credits?  Where can the public view CIP allotment and expenditure details?  (Underwood did not respond to this question)


16) Lack of Allocation of Liveaboard Permits:  Why is DOBOR so insistent upon increasing fees for liveaboards instead of offering out liveaboard permits up to the 129 allowed at AWSBH?  (FACT: Currently there are less than 70 Principal Habitation permits issued and DOBOR stopped issuing offers prior to 2019). Is the goal to get rid of them?  Why have you told harbor agents to stop issuing liveaboard permits while simultaneously taking money from boaters wishing to remain on the liveaboard waitlist?

Mr. Underwood responds: See response to Access to Liveaboard Permits above [Question #7].

HON staff observations:  Likewise, please see our response to the latter (Question #7).


17) Questions about Anu Hittle and DTL Contracts:  Addressing the rumors that have been circulating, did you or anyone at DLNR suggest in any way, written, verbally or otherwise that the Anu Hittle and DTL contracts price be under $100K non bid limits to avoid competitive bidding?  And a related question, how did you and DTL or Anu Hittle come to those similar non bid contract proposals? If yes, please explain.

Mr. Underwood responds: No.  Procurement procedures were followed and we reached out to HCDA to ask who they used for outreach for their harbor project and they recommended DTL.

HON staff observations: Mr. Underwood, you didn’t answer the question.  The contract bids noted above came in at just under $100,000, the trigger for competitive bidding.  Odd coincidences, can you explain to the public your association with principals at DTL and especially with Anu Hittle? (Underwood refused to comment further)


18) Question about Possible Improper Exchanges: Have you or anyone in your immediate family (wife or children) received anything of value at or above the statutory limit from any person, entity or agent contemplating doing business, including vendor, lease, work of any kind whatsoever with the state? If yes, please explain.

Mr. Underwood responds: No

HON staff observations: Seems highly improbable: with the huge potential profits at stake, it would seem that back-door motivation would be a given in our government's current corrupt environment.


19) Question about Leaked Advanced Information about a Federal Investigation:  Has any official or non-official provided you with any information indicating that a federal investigation of DLNR, its employees or administrators is ongoing for bribery or corruption? If yes, please explain.

Mr. Underwood responds: We are not aware of any Federal investigation.


20) Clarification about Having been Subpoenaed in Federal Investigation:  Have you been subpoenaed or testified in a federal investigation relating to any crime regarding the state and in particular employees or administrators at DLNR? If yes, please explain.

Mr. Underwood responds: No


21) Question about retaliation, special treatment, and selective enforcement in our public harbor system:  Have you at any time conspired with others or in writing or verbally instructed any subordinate to punish or penalize any lessee at Ala Wai harbor for their complaints regarding claims of mismanagement or corruption by you or any others at DLNR or state or legislature? If yes, please explain.  (Note: Based on HON surveys, it seems that most boaters feel that this is a very real threat.)

Mr. Underwood responds: No

HON staff observations:  We find your answer contradicts the long history of documented retaliation against "problem" boaters. In fact, there is so much evidence to refute this (see question #5 and our message to you in this email)  that many boaters have lost all respect for the DLNR's DoBOR and its administrator.  We’ve gotten numerous reports from vessel owners that certain harbor agents at the Ala Wai and Keehi small boat harbors actively discriminate against, selectively dispense favors to, and retaliate against certain boaters considered “whistleblowers” at these harbors.  The complaints have been so persistent that they are hard to ignore.  What kind of oversight are you providing in order to stop this illegal activity from occurring in your harbor offices? See question # 5 and our message to you in this email.


22) Question about the Handling of Impounded boats:  Impounded boats have recently been moved to Keehi and immediately destroyed without auction or giving owner time to pay and reclaim their property?  What is the legal basis for this change in due process?

Mr. Underwood responds: Hawaii Revised Statutes and Hawaii Administrative rules are followed when impounding and disposing of vessels.  There has been no change to due process.

HON staff observations: Unfortunately, Mr. Underwood, the arbitrary and capricious administrative methods and carte blanche that your harbor agents enjoy, have resulted in numerous wrongful seizures over the years -- carefully buried in your administrative jargon so as to cover your tracks.


23) Question about the RFP "boardI wonder if you'd be so kind as to name those who are on the RFP "board"? Request for Proposals are made on behalf of the public, so it is reasonable that the public, whose assets are being auctioned off, should know those who are involved in that decision-making process?

Mr. Underwood responds: That is considered confidential information and can’t be shared at this time.

HON staff observations:  Request for Proposals (RFPs) are made on behalf of the public.  During an RFP, the State of Hawaii is attempting to privatize, through leasehold, publicly owned lands and assets.  Because the auctioning off of public interests is central to this process, the public demands the right to know who, exactly, is making these decisions on their behalf.  What/who are the board members’ affiliations, private interests . . . what do they have to gain by sitting on this board?  The public demands an answer to these questions, and the State of Hawaii has an obligation to provide them, otherwise it’s a government-in-the-sun ethics issue.  (Underwood refused to comment further on this question)


24) Question about input from superiors or outside interests:   Mr. Underwood, has any superior in state government instructed you to put the interest of any kind whatsoever of the tourist industry or visitors (including but not limited to hotels, beach concessions, commercial lessees) in Ala Wai Harbor, Waikiki or Kakaako areas ahead of or over the interests of boat owners at Ala Wai Harbor?

Mr. Underwood responds: No

HON staff observations: Of course, Mr. Underwood. Of course.


25) Another question about input from superiors or outside interests: Mr. Underwood, has any superior in state government instructed you to meet with or otherwise privately work with hotel owners Hilton or Hughes development, their agents or assigns to privatize Ala Wai Harbor?  If yes, when and what was discussed?

Mr. Underwood responds: No

HON staff observations: Underwood refused further comment on this question.


26) Another question about input from superiors or outside interests:  Mr. Underwood, have you in your official capacity privately met with hotel owners Hilton or Hughes development, their agents or assigns to privatize Ala Wai Harbor?  If yes, when and what was discussed?

Mr. Underwood responds: No

HON staff observations: seems highly improbable given the fact that you wrote the glossy brochure announcing to the world your (and Suzanne Case's) plans to privatize the public harbor system.


Other questions from the public:

27) What has been the change in harbor occupancy between October 2019 and now?

Mr. Underwood responds: Please work with Harbor Staff and they can provide you with accurate numbers.

28) What is the average income of harbor residents?

Mr. Underwood responds: We don’t collect this information.

29) How many harbor residents are on fixed income?

Mr. Underwood responds: We don’t collect this information.


30) Did you reach out to harbor residents to let them know SB 795 would increase the principal habitation permit expenses by 150% (from $5.20 to $13 per foot)? If so, how?

Mr. Underwood responds: This went through the legislative process and individuals had the opportunity to provide testimony.

HON staff observations: Mr. Underwood, you did not reach out to the affected public.  As you well knew, SB795 was/is a pivotal and game-changing piece of legislation that would hand over carte-blanche rule-making and fee setting to a demonstrably inept agency like DoBOR, without legislative oversight.  As you well know, the public is kept from "meddling" in the legislative process by a deliberate system of subterfuge that makes the timely finding of relevant pieces of legislation-in-progress nearly impossible for the average citizen.  One of your agency's most important responsibilities, Mr. Underwood, is to communicate with the public you serve.  Despite the fact that you have all of the resources to do this, you've chosen not to participate. This is just another, in a long list of red flags, suggesting DoBOR's choosing to operate out of the sunshine.


31) How much notice will be given for rate and fee increases?

Mr. Underwood responds: One to two months

HON staff observations: this is vitally important information to Hawaii's boaters . . . which one is it, Mr. Underwood, one months or two months?

32) How much money has been spent on impounding and disposing of impounded vessels? Does this money come from the special boating fund?

Mr. Underwood responds: All costs come from the Boating Special Fund.  We will need to research our records to determine statewide cost.  The implementation of the insurance requirement has substantially reduced these costs.

HON staff observations: You didn't answer the question.

33) What recommendations do you have for someone who cannot afford the increases and cannot sell their boat?

Mr. Underwood responds: We do not provide advice for these types of issues.

34) What recommendations do you have for those who cannot afford increases in the principal habitation permit fees but also cannot afford an apartment near their current residence?

Mr. Underwood responds: We do not provide advice for these types of issues.

HON staff observations:  So, as a representative of the State of Hawaii’s inner-circle governing body you are deliberately instituting rules that will end up turning people out onto the streets, coincidentally creating still further debt for Hawaii’s taxpayers (the homeless person costs taxpayers $3,000 per month per person) and yet you take no responsibility for what happens to these people, the additional debt you create, or the additional suffering you cause?  (There was no response from Mr. Underwood)


35) Should mooring rates be based on the current conditions of the harbors, or what their conditions may be 10 years from now?

Mr. Underwood responds: The statute requires mooring rates to be determined by an Appraiser.  We defer to their expertise when determining the mooring rates.

HON staff observations:  Mr. Underwood, we’ve been unable to obtain a full, detailed copy of this “appraisal”. We’ve also had several requests from the public for a look at the full appraisal, with all of it's detail, preferably online so that anyone who wants to view the details of this appraisal can do so. This is a public document that deals with public lands and the public has a right to see this document in all of its entirety. Or, alternatively, could you please send us the document, in all of its detail, and we will post it online for the public to see?  (There was no response from Mr. Underwood)


Questions from Big Island boaters:

36) Where is the SPECIAL BOATING FUND? In the House WTL Hearing for SB795, Administrator Underwood made reference to Special Boating Funds by law being required to be used in the boating program.

 Mr. Underwood responds: The Boating Special Fund is created in Statute.

HON staff observations: Is there a place online where the public can see this account’s activity, dynamic debits and credits from the Fund?  (No response from Underwood)


37) Where is the Special Boating Fund? Are the these dedicated funds held in a dedicated account?

Mr. Underwood responds: Yes

HON staff observations: Is there a place online where the public can see this account’s activity, dynamic debits and credits from the Fund?  Could you point us to that URL?  If this information is not online, could you send it to us so that we can publish it for the public to see (after all, it is the public’s money and they have a right to monitor it's use) (no response from Underwood)


38) What are the details of the Chart of Accounts for the Special Boating Fund?

Mr. Underwood responds: The Boating Special Fund is broken down into cost centers which pertain to the various facilities statewide.  20% of the gross is transferred to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs each year.

HON staff observations: 20% of the gross is transferred to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs each year.  Why?  (No response from Underwood)


39) What are the Categories for Income and Expenses for the Special Boating Fund?

Mr. Underwood responds: The categories list all the revenue and expenses of the Division.


40) Are Statements of Accounts including Profit and Loss Statements, Category Detail Reports, DBOR 1099 Contractor Expense Paid Report, and Cash Flow Statements available for the last 5 years for the Special Boating Fund?

Yes, upon request and fees may be due depending on what is being requested.

HON staff observations: In other words, the public will have to suffer the burden ― the loss of personal time, the expense and stress involved in filing a UIPA request — and then will be asked to wait unacceptable periods of time for an answer, hoping all the while that they will not be stonewalled and then denied their request as is customary and usual.


41)  Where are the DBOR AUDITS?  Are DBOR audits cited by Chairperson Case in testimony for HB2422 available for review?

Mr. Underwood responds: I believe they are public records and recommend you contacting the Auditor’s office to make a request.

HON staff observations: The DLNR's history of fiscal mismanagement has been documented time and again by independent audit.  Audits as far back as 2001, right up through January, 2019, indicate that DLNR funds mismanagement is widespread. 

Independent auditor, Les Kondo, in a January, 2019 report, wondered out loud whether state ethics and procurement laws hadn't been violated by DLNR operatives themselves.  When auditors attempted to question operative consultants, the latter refused to cooperate, triggering a subpoena petition. According to auditors quoted in West Hawaii News: Chair Case's DLNR is guilty of "poor oversight, budget shortfalls, inappropriate spending, lapsed funding and the department’s failure to adopt a strategic plan — a requirement of state law since 2006 — to guide the agency and its board in making decisions."


42) Wailoa River Bumper System.  DBOR removed the Wailoa River small boat harbor bumper system leaving leaving bare concrete wall.  Money was allocated to replace the bumpers. What is the status of the repair work?

Mr. Underwood responds: DOBOR is not installing bumpers but will be adding composite material to the concrete wall.  Our engineer’s are currently designing the project in-house and will place it out to bid after the design and permitting are completed.


43) Reed's Bay.  Why were boats in Reed's Bay required to hire and pay For Army Corps engineering permits?

Mr. Underwood responds: All offshore mooring permittees who installed their own moorings are required to follow this process statewide.


44) Why was Reed's Bay with no amenities appraised the same rate in 2019 as harbors with services?

Mr. Underwood responds: There is a standard rate for all offshore moorings and it is $3.00 per foot of vessel length if the permittee installed the mooring and $5.00 per foot of vessel length if the State installed the mooring.


45) Lanai Pilot Privatization Bid. Who was the person or group that DBOR was negotiating with to take over Lanai Harbor?

 Mr. Underwood responds: We were not negotiating with anyone and if it were to have moved forward it would have been a Request for Proposals open to any qualified bidder.

HON staff observations: So, Larry Ellison’s front, Pulama Lanai, had nothing to do with it despite the fact that Lynn McCrory (Pulama Lanai’s senior vice president for government affairs) petitioned long and hard to get the legislature to pass the public lands privatization bill (HB1032 2019) that most seem quite sure would have handed Lanai’s Manele Bay public harbor squarely over to Ellison?


Katherine Lindell, Editor
Hawaii Ocean News




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