DLNR - NOT FIRST CLASS

March 24, 2015

After fielding a number of phone calls and emails,  as well as meeting with fishermen, hunters, environmentalists, employees of the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), and other concerned citizens,  I am finding the image of the DLNR is becoming less than first class.  Following are two situations that show this to be true.


First, through interviews and other research I learned  Mr. William "Bill" Aila , former Chairman of the DLNR, authorized an employee, Mr. Frazer McGilvray,  to fly first class on all business trips.  This authorization was granted prior to Mc Gilvray's official start date of employment with the DLNR.   DLNR's Senior Communications Officer, Mr. Dan Dennison,  told me Frazer McGilvray was officially employed by the DLNR from August 26, 2013, to November 4, 2014.    McGilvray's official title was Aquatic Resources Program Administrator.   His starting salary in 2013 was $112,596.  Effective  7/1/2014, it was increased to  $117.096.

It was reported that Aila's decision to allow first class travel was based, in part, on McGilvray's submittal of information claiming that flying coach or economy class would have a negative impact on his health, but first class or business class would improve his health.

Some of those I spoke with while researching this subject informed me they were concerned that both the agency's  and the tax payers' best interests were being ignored, particularly after they learned DLNR paid for Mr. McGilvray's  physical exam for scuba diving.  Understandably, their concerns were not misplaced because these same people also knew that, based on his medical condition,  McGilvray had been granted a waiver by Chairperson Aila  that allowed  him to fly first or business class whenever traveling on official duty.    They pointed out that scuba diving is very strenuous and is more physically demanding than sitting on an airplane in the coach or economy section.  They also expressed concern that Aila  gave special treatment to McGilvray in the hiring process and cite the dive physical and the flying waiver as examples of the special treatment Aila extended to McGilvray.   Others complained that  DLNR purchased a telephone for McGilvray in May, 2013, a couple of months before McGilvray was officially hired. 

Phote credit:  picture posted by McGilvray on his FaceBook page

Reportedly McGilvray, during his short tenure as Aquatic Resources Program Administrator, made approximately twenty-seven trips to the outer islands using business or first class tickets.  Many of these trips involved additional expenses of car rentals, per diem, and fees for changes to flights and extra lodging.     Within the same time period  McGilvray also took two trips to Portland Oregon, as well as trips to Washington, D.C., Saint Louis, Missouri,  Denver, Colorado, The United States Virgin Islands,  and San Antonio, Texas, to attend various wildlife conferences and meetings.  The State of Hawaii  paid business or first class fares for these trips, as well.

Other information provided by sources claim McGilvray  scheduled  a trip to Sydney, Australia,  to attend the IUCN 2014 World Parks Congress  Conference.  However, he did not attend the conference  because he resigned from his job as the Aquatic Resources Program Administrator a few days prior to the scheduled flight to Sydney,  Australia.  The State of Hawaii also paid business or first class fares for that trip.   My anonymous sources were not able to provide any information regarding what happened to the unused charges, or if the airline ever reimbursed the State of Hawaii for the tickets due to Mr. McGilvray's cancellation.  It is also unknown if the registration fee of more than one-thousand dollars for the IUCN 2014 World Parks Congress Conference was refunded to the State of Hawaii .   It should be noted, like the IUCN 2014 World Parks Congress  Conference, some if not all of the other conferences attended by Mr. McGilvray required a registration fee that was paid by the State of Hawaii.

I can only wonder who or what benefitted from this  very short but expensive  relationship between the DLNR and McGilvray.  Based on a posting on McGilvray's FaceBook page, and information from other sources , McGilvray claimed that prior to being hired by DLNR he was employed by Conservation International, an international non-profit organization.  One of their programs specializes in coral and sustainable fisheries.  This begs the question,  if McGilvray's claim of being a coral expert are true,  why would the DLNR have to foot the bill for McGilvray's scuba physical and other associated costs for scuba.   As a coral expert, how did he conduct his dives prior to becoming an employee of DLNR?   An even bigger question is,  did Aila even question how McGilvray's sitting in the coach section of an airplane would negatively impact McGilvray's health, and ignore the physical demands and potential threats scuba diving would present to McGilvray's health when he approved McGilvray's request to fly first or business class because of McGilvray's medical condition?
My sources also informed me that on several occasions McGilvray  traveled to the outer islands to attend activities  sponsored by the Hawaii Fish Trust, and attend meetings with Conservation International (Mc Gilvray's former employer), and  with Eric Co,  the Senior Program Officer of Marine Conservation for the Harold K.L Castle Foundation. 

During my investigation into this matter I was informed that there are internal activities that allow certain members of the non-profit groups to have an "unfettered influence" on policy and regulations relating to bag limits, area closure, enforcement , fee increases and other matters within the DLNR.  While I can't personally give you specific evidence to this claim,  I can state that, after McGilvray left the DLNR he was employed by the non-profit organization, Malama Moanalua, where one of the board members is Mr. Mitchell H. D'Olier.   D'Olier is also a board member for the Harold K. L. Foundation, which made financial contributions and is working with the DLNR on programs like the North Maui Community Fisheries Enforcement Unit.

I did find specific information indicating Conservation International works with the Harold K. L Castle Foundation.   The information shows that the North Maui Community Fisheries Enforcement Unit (NMCFEU) of DLNR has a partnership with  Conservation International's Hawaii Fish Trust and the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation.  In addition, the two nonprofit organizations provided resources and equipment, including a dedicated vessel,  to NMCFEU to "improve the waters off North Maui".
Giving Away the Candy Shop

As I look for solutions to rid government of these questionable and taxing practices in the DLNR, I am presented with other situations that continue to boggle the mind.  I recently learned that in September of 2013,  DLNR DOCARE and the Division of Boating and Recreation investigated complaints alleging Maui resident Wilson Keahi was charging fees for storage of private boats outside the area of his official month-to-month lease  in the Mala area, under Revocable Permit #5867.  The complaint also alleges  a building on the leased property was being used unlawfully as a dwelling,  and utilities were being  used illegally.

I spoke with some of the boat owners who were interviewed by DLNR DOCARE and the Division of Boating and Recreation (DOBOR) during their investigation.  The boat  owners  told me they gave statements confirming they paid money to Mr. Wilson Keahi for boat storage, and provided documentation to support their claims in 20013.  Some of the boat owners told me they paid between  four and six hundred dollars a month to Keahi.

I contacted Mr. Bill Williams and Mr. Ed Underwood of DOBOR and was informed  they had received a complaint against Keahi alleging violations of theft of utilities, use of an unauthorized dwelling, and unauthorized storage of boats belonging to others. 
I filed a  Uniform Information Practices Act Request for a copy of the report that was completed in 2013.  The request was denied by Acting Chief of Enforcement Jason Redulla , who claimed the matter was still under investigation.  This raises concerns that DOCARE is covering up the foot dragging and failure on DOBAR'S  part to address these allegations against Keahi,  even after some of the boat owners came forward during the investigation in September 2013, and confirmed that they were paying Keahi to be allowed to store their boats  on state property outside Keahi's authorized leased area.
I sent the following questions to Mr. Williams and Mr. Underwood, and received answers as indicated below :
TO:  Mr. Ed Underwood, DOBOR
         and Mr. William "Bill" Andrews

This letter concerns allegations that unlawful activities are being committed by a lessee Mr. Wilson Keahi on leased state property TMK: (2) 4-5-005:019, located at the Mala Boat Yard on the island of Maui, Hawaii.  More specifically the allegations claim that Mr. Keahi is subleasing or renting portions of his property he leases from the State of Hawaii Division of Boating and Recreation (DOBOR) to a number of boaters.

I would like to ask your assistance in obtaining answers to the following questions:

Q:  Does Mr. Keahi currently lease the above property from the state of Hawaii DOBOR? If yes, please provide the initial date(s) of the lease, the amount and the number of the lease.
A:  Mr. Keahi has a Revocable Permit (S-5867) that was issued by the Division of Land Management in 1981.  In April 2010, the area was Executive Ordered over to the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation and some time after that DOBOR assumed the RP.  

Q:  What is the length of the lease or rental agreement for between the state DOBOR and Mr. Keahi for land identified as TMK: (2)4-5-005:019?  
A:  RP's are month to month for one year.  

Q:  Can Mr. Keahi sublease any portion of land he is leasing from the state?  If yes please advise the authorization and conditions Mr. Keahi is allowed to sublease the property?
A:  No  

Q:  Has the state authorized Mr. Keahi to use, rent or sublease adjoining properties to other boaters or businesses?  If yes, please provide a copy of the authorization and conditions.
A:  DOBOR has not. Don't know about other agencies.

Q:  Is Mr. Keahi required to obtain insurance for his lease?
A:  Yes

Q:  Are Mr. Keahi's sub lessees required to obtain insurance to operate or store boats on any of the property Mr. Keahi leases or rent from the state DOBOR?
A:  Subleases are prohibited

Q:  Has the state DOBOR received any complaints regarding the allegations contained in this letter?
A:  Yes

Q:  Did DOBOR or any other state agency conduct an investigation of the allegations of wrong doing by Mr. Keahi.
A:  Yes  
Q:  If an investigation was conducted please identify the agency or branch that conducted the investigation.
Q:  If an investigation was conducted.   What is the final disposition of these complaints?
A:  On-going and can't discuss.

Q:  Did the DOBOR or other state agencies investigate allegations against Mr. Keahi for illegal and unauthorized use of electrical power and water at the property leased he leases or rent from DOBOR? Yes  If yes, what was the final disposition and the name of the agency that conducted the investigation into the allegations?  

A:  DOCARE.  On-going and can't discuss.

f an investigation has been conducted and completed please provide a copy of the report of investigation and the penalties assessed or punishment assigned for the violations if any were confirmed. See above

Thank you,
Carroll Cox


In another letter Mr.Underwood stated the following:

"Aloha Mr. Cox,
Just to let you know, Bill Andrews in now working in our harbors and I will be able to help you until we get our other Property Managers up to speed. Mr. Keahi  can charge rent for boats stored on the property he is leasing but cant sublease his property".

Why has the DLNR failed to bring closure to the Keahi matter and allow the boaters to lease the property from the state instead of paying Keahi, as the boaters allege?   It is disturbing to learn that after doing nothing for nearly two years to rectify this matter and provide the boaters relief from their relationship with Wilson Keahi,  Mr. Underwood ordered his staff to post a "FINAL NOTICE TO VACATE AND NOTICE OF INTENT TO IMPOUND" on the boats.    Why wasn't this action taken back in 2013 when the boaters first informed the state investigators of their rent payments to Keahi?  Is Underwood punishing the boaters and not punishing Keahi, who is profiting from an illegal use of state lands? 
Like many of the boat owners and users of the harbor, this writer believes that Mr. Ed Underwood and Redulla has overstayed their  welcome and should be shown the door immediately.   Mr. Underwood and Acting Chief of Enforcement Jason Redulla's actions serve only to confirm the corrupt and unethical practices we have learned to expect from DLNR. Hiding reports of investigations or fact finding reports that have been completed  for nearly two years, and harassing boat owners to cover-up their inability to properly administer and enforce the rules of this state clearly demonstrate the agency has no class. Underwood's posting of a "FINAL NOTICE TO VACATE AND NOTICE OF INTENT TO IMPOUND" confirms that the boaters have been unlawfully using the area to store their boats while making payments to Keahi.  The boaters' receipts and statements that were provided to DOCARE during its investigation should be more than enough to prosecute Keahi.  I am curious to know what legal actions will be taken against Mr. Wilson Keahi .

I will continue to investigate these and other matters and hope to share my findings in future issues of the Hawaii Fishing News.  I believe  a system that does not tolerates frivolous spending by the DOBAR chief and unauthorized use of state land at Mala without compensation to the state, could, in fact, operate efficiently without taxing boaters and other users unfairly.

Link here to our story on HawaiiNewsNow, 3/26/15.