So Governor Neil Abercrombie has decided to replace outgoing Board of Education member Wesley Lo with Grant Chun. In October, Maui Memorial Medical Center CEO Lo resigned from the board eight months before his term ended, citing work constraints. In choosing Chun, vice president of the Alexander & Baldwin, as Lo’s replacement, Abercrombie has gone with one of Maui’s most powerful individuals.
Here’s how the governor’s press release–sent out moments ago–describes Chun:
“Grant Y.M. Chun, a resident of Wailuku, will represent Maui on the BOE. Chun is currently vice president of A&B Properties Inc. and the former managing director of the County of Maui. He is a practicing attorney and brings a strong background in administration and law to the position. Active in the community, Chun serves on the board of directors for A Keiki’s Dream, Alexander and Baldwin Foundation, Maui Chinese Cultural Society, Maui Economic Development Board, and Maui Economic Opportunity, as well as on the executive board of the Boy Scouts of American [sic] Maui County Council, on the Maui Regional Board of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, and on the Chancellor’s Advisory Council for UH Maui College. He is also a life member of the Maui Young Business Roundtable. Chun earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and public relations from the University of Southern California. He also holds a law degree from the University of California–Hastings College of the Law.”
Missing from that bio is any mention of the fact that A&B wields an astonishing amount of power in Hawaii. Data collected from the state Campaign Spending Commission shows that since late 2006 (as far back as the online data goes), A&B’s Hawaii Political Action Committee has donated campaign money to virtually every state and local elected official in the state. The PAC gave well over $10,000 statewide in just the first six months of this year, and Abercrombie himself accepted $6,000 from A&B’s HIPAC in 2011.
The press release listed three other appointments from Abercrombie, including Doreen Napua Gomes of Kula to the Hawaiian Homes Commission. The permit facilitator for Palekana Permits in Honolulu, Gomes replaces Perry Artates of Makawao, who was asked to resign from the commission back in August after Abercrombie discovered Artates and his wife had pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud and false loan application charges in June.