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Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Battling back from Sex Harassment charges, Stacy Higa gets a nod from leading Feminists
By Andrew Walden @ 12:06 AM :: 11508 Views :: Hawaii County , Ethics, Higher Education

by Andrew Walden

After being hounded for years by charges of sexual harassment leveled against him by a former aide in a 2006 EEOC complaint, former Big Isle Council Chair and Mayoral candidate Stacy Higa has been named Executive Director of the Hawaii State Commission for National and Community Service, which oversees AmeriCorps programs in Hawaii.

His appointment was announced to Commissioners at their May 26 meeting at the Hee Hing Restaurant in Honolulu.

The Community Service Commission operates under the control of the University of Hawaii. The Commission's UH Administrator Karen C. Lee is resigning to become Executive Director of the Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education, which a news release describes as "a collaboration of the Early Learning Council, the Hawaii State Department of Education, and the University of Hawaii System...." One of Lee's last acts as Administrator was to oversee the selection of Higa as Executive Director.

The Commission's UH Liaison is Amy Agbayani. Agbayani is close to the Abercrombie administration and to President Obama's sister Maya Soetoro.

Higa, who will be starting July 1, replaces retiring Executive Director Issac Watson. Higa, who had formerly chaired the Commission for eleven years starting in the 1990s, says he looks forward to returning in his new role:

"With the dire budget cuts, my goal is to maintain and then grow the Hawaii programs to make sure that volunteerism and 'kokua kindness' continue to prosper in Hawaii."

Former Council aide Melissa M. Chang pursued her $272,000 suit against the County of Hawaii under a gag order imposed at the request of her attorney.  Higa was not named as a defendant, but was apparently mentioned in the sealed complaint.  In 2008 Federal Administrative Law Judge William Schmidt ruled in Chang's favor, and imposed fines and fees against the County of approximately $200,000. The County appealed and in 2010 settled the suit for $22,000.

At the time Higa's lawyer told reporters, "(The settlement amount) is below what you'd pay for a nuisance. It just shows that Stacy Higa was right all along."

Asked if he believes an appointment coming from such well-known feminists is further confirmation that he was right, Higa responds:

"Regarding the Chang issue, it was always innuendo and baseless. I stand by everything that I have stated previously, and I cannot comment further, because I still have pending litigation issues with the county regarding representation issues (malpractice)."

Higa's lawsuit (#3CC081000293) against the County of Hawaii is still before State courts. A Federal suit by Higa was dismissed by Judge Michael Seabright in 2009.

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