State Enforcement Chief Leaving Position at DLNR

By Shikina, Rob | Honolulu Star - Advertiser, June 22, 2016 | Go to article overview

State Enforcement Chief Leaving Position at DLNR


Shikina, Rob, Honolulu Star - Advertiser


Thomas "Tommy" Friel, chief of enforcement for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said he is resigning from his position after only six months on the job because he wasn't getting the support from above to clean up "a culture of waste, fraud and corruption" in the department.

"I'm just trying to do my work as best as I can. ... I'm not getting the support from above," Friel said by phone Tuesday. He said he opened more than a dozen investigations. "The push back is coming from those that I'm investigating, which are actually management that has been in place before I came on the various islands. There's a lot of politics being played here."

DLNR Chairwoman Suzanne Case said Tuesday in a statement praising Friel that she accepted his resignation and applauded his efforts while in the position, but in a June 16 letter to Friel, she said she was not extending him past his six-month probationary period.

Friel's last day as head of DLNR's Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement will be Monday.

Environmental watchdog Carroll Cox said Tuesday that Friel was forced out of the job because he initiated investigations into misconduct by high-level supervisors, making him unpopular with leadership before his employment probation ended.

In the letter obtained by Cox, Case said she was not retaining Friel beyond his probation because he failed to foster a positive working relationship with his leadership team. She also said Friel did not use proper channels to issue personnel-related directives.

"It is with sincere regret that I am not extending your initial probation or employment at DLNR," Case said.

The letter said Friel has the right to appeal.

Cox said Friel was pressured to resign, thereby eliminating his opportunity to appeal. …

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