East Hawaii News

Tributes Follow Death of Fired Election Worker

August 23, 2012, 4:48 PM HST
* Updated August 24, 12:04 AM
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Funeral services are pending for Glen Shikuma, the former county elections warehouse manager who died Tuesday on Maui.

A woman answering the phone at the Shikuma home who declined to give her name said the family is not ready to comment. She referred questions to Hilo attorney Ted Hong.

“In this troubled period of time the family is asking for privacy,” Hong said today.

Hong has been representing Shikuma in the case involving his termination in January by County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi, who also fired three other Elections Division workers, including the office’s administrator, Pat Nakamoto.

The firings occurred after Kawauchi and County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong allegedly found that Shikuma had run a sign-making business at the election warehouse, and that post-election parties involving alcohol were held there.

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Following a union grievance procedure, Nakamoto has since been reinstated to her job but was then immediately placed on paid leave by Kawauchi.

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Shikuma’s union arbitration was scheduled for October.

Hong also represents Nakamoto and a third fired worker. The council in April voted to reject a settlement offer of $10,000 per employee, public apologies and reinstatement to their former positions.

Hong said he intends to meet with the Shikuma family to discuss their legal options.

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The county had reportedly been looking into possible criminal activity in connection with Shikuma’s activities involving trademark violations, theft of county resources and violations of the county’s ethic codes.

Comments posted on a local blog have been praising Shikuma’s attributes and critical of the county’s treatment of him.

Brian De Lima, a Hilo attorney, former council chairman and currently the vice-chairman of the state Board of Education, posted that he knew Shikuma growing up in Hilo. He called the situation “all political shibai,” referring to a Japanese word sometimes used to refer to lies.

“Bless your family and rest in peace Glen,” his post on Big Island Chronicle said.

“It’s really a shame he was made a scapegoat of sorts,” De Lima told Big Island Now.

“It is so sad that Glen had to leave this good earth with all this fiasco at the elections office,” Lorraine Inouye, a former state senator and Big Island council mayor wrote on the blog. “I can just imagine what this turmoil did to his self-esteem, to see his hard work go amiss.”

Ed Kozohara, who was Nakamoto’s predecessor as elections administrator, posted as “Ed K Glen’s Former Boss.” He wrote that the county was fortunate to have had him as an employee.

“I am positive the West Hawaii ballot delivery fiasco would not have occurred had Glen been employed,” the post said, referring to late deliveries of voter supplies that delayed the opening of several precincts for up to an hour and 40 minutes in the Aug. 11 primary election.

Former county clerk Ken Goodenow wrote that he was very sad to learn of Shikuma’s passing.

“Glen was a tireless worker who did a great job,” he said in his post.

Even Nakamoto, who has not commented publicly on the terminations, broke her silence to comment on the blog.

“He will be truly missed by those of us who were fortunate enough to call him our friend,” she wrote.

Kawauchi did not return calls seeking comment.

 

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