January 2, 2009

Hawaii GOP shuffles some appointees; Djou’s former staff pay the price

After being tipped off by a Big Island Chronicle post yesterday, today I notice the Hawaii Tribune Herald story that provides details of a shuffle among Republican appointees between Honolulu and Hilo.

You may recall that Honolulu Councilmember Charles Djou recently and abruptly dismissed three of his office staff.

[Djou] will keep his secretary, Sylvia Matsuda, and a part-time worker, Sylvia Lorenz. There is also another part-time community liaison for Djou who works outside of Honolulu Hale.

“[The three fired employees are] good people,” said Lorenz. “Councilman Djou had his reasons and they know what his reasons are.”

At this point it is becoming easier to deduce those reasons: Dylan Nonaka is clearly being groomed for a larger role in the Hawaii GOP. Lingle’s nomination of Nonaka to become the UH Student-Regent was rejected by the Senate in 2005. The East Hawaii liaison position Nonaka filled for Lingle was a consolation prize, or a graduation present, you might say. For a politically ambitious person, though, Nonaka’s assignment was definitely bush league. Working for Djou, who is clearly a megalomaniac an ambitious politician and (for better or worse) one of the highest-profile Republicans in Hawaii, is a step toward the Majors for Nonaka. Miranda, Nonaka’s replacement in Hilo, may or may not have higher political ambitions, but it’s definitely a promotion for him. The HT-H says Miranda’s former post was “assistant administrator of boards and commissions assistant administrator.” [Sic!] Sounds like a title from The Office…

This type of patronage machine is (or was) well-oiled on the Democratic Party side, of course. Loyal staff routinely become Democratic appointees (or are hired as lobbyists, heh) or even run for office—and win. The Hawaii Republicans seem to (finally) be getting in on that action. We’ll see if the Republican machine ever translates patronage posts into electoral victories, or if the process stalls at the appointee/staff level.


  1. Rather than a rise in GOP patronage, this shuffling of deck chairs may just be a reflection of the fact that the Republican talent pool — at least those who will deign to work in the public sector — is so incredibly shallow. Look at how long it took the Gov. to fill her boards and commission appointments at the beginning, and even now. The list of those who could even barely pass the Republican “sniff test” was quickly exhausted and even those were utterly clueless about the subject matter they were to oversee. It’s not that there isn’t talent out there, it’s just that Republicans have been back benchers so long, spent so much time deriding easy-to-target Democrats, that their rank and file took it all to mean that public service is not only not worthwhile, but is for the lazy, corrupt, and incompetent. Well, my GOP friends, you get what you pay for; your hand has been on the rudder for six years now so put up or shut up.

    Comment by Ted — January 2, 2009 @ 1:58 pm

  2. Patronage has its uses. As a perk when ideas are not all that stale and those same ideas have some resonance, patronage can advance those concepts.

    That said, they have only personal value when the ideas are not compelling.

    Comment by zatoichi — January 5, 2009 @ 8:55 am

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