By NANCY COOK LAUER
Fired elections warehouse manager Glen Shikuma has died, leaving his friends shocked and grieving, a police investigation in turmoil and a personal injury attorney contemplating the next move.
Shikuma, a 12-year employee of the county Elections Division, was fired in January, along with his boss, Elections Administrator Pat Nakamoto, and two other workers after evidence of running a sign-making business and holding drinking parties in the county warehouse was reportedly uncovered by County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi and County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong.
Nakamoto and another employee have since been reinstated; Shikuma’s union arbitration proceeding was set for October. Kawauchi did not return a telephone call for comment Wednesday.
“I was very shocked. … He was in very good health up to when he got terminated,” said James Arakaki, a friend and former County Council chairman. “When I saw him last, he was under tremendous stress. He looked terrible.”
Arakaki said he’d hoped the union grievance process and legal proceedings could have moved more quickly, as Shikuma was under a doctor’s care and taking blood pressure medication, and his wife, Karen, was also under a lot of stress. Shikuma, who was in his 50s, apparently died Tuesday of a stroke, he said.
Arakaki praised Shikuma as a talented sign-maker, hard worker and all-around good person who was the “behind-the-scenes backbone” of the local junior golf program.
“I was hoping things would be resolved sooner,” Arakaki said. “I sure would have liked him to see the finality of it, up or down.”
Acting County Prosecutor Charlene Iboshi on Wednesday said her office is still investigating evidence provided by the Hawaii Police Department to see if it meets the standard required for it to be admissible in court.
Police Capt. Mitchell Kanehailua, who oversees the Hilo area Criminal Investigations Division, had told Stephens Media in June that police collected materials and information related to three allegations: trademark violations associated with possible counterfeit labels, second-degree theft of county resources and a county ethics code violation of fair treatment of county officers and employees, an allegation related to using county resources for campaign purposes.
Among the materials found in the county warehouse were stencils to make Arakaki campaign signs, Kevin Anthony of Corporate Specialized Intelligence & Investigations LLC, an investigator hired by the county clerk, had said in June. Shikuma was paid $975 on Sept. 11, 2002, to make signs for Arakaki’s re-election bid, according to Arakaki’s campaign report filed with the state Campaign Spending Commission.
Arakaki said Wednesday he had picked the signs up at Shikuma’s house, not the warehouse, and Shikuma had told him he’d made them at home.
When questioned through his attorney, Ted Hong, about the Arakaki signs in June, Shikuma provided Stephens Media a sworn declaration under oath that he didn’t move his sign-making equipment into the county warehouse at 210 Makaala St. until 2003.
Between 2000, when he first started work for the county, and 2003, he stored his sign-making equipment at a warehouse at 231 Makaala St., across the road from the elections warehouse, he said. There is no record of Shikuma as a leaseholder for that property, Carol Ginoza, owner of property management company Ginoza Realty, said in June.
“On my personal time in 2002, I prepare signs for James Arakaki at the warehouse space located at 231 Makaala St.,” Shikuma said in his June 13 sworn statement.
Hong, who has been representing three of the four fired workers, including Shikuma, and unsuccessfully filed claims on their behalf with the County Council, said Wednesday the family has asked for privacy while they deal with their loss. Dodo Mortuary Inc. is handling arrangements.
Hong had threatened to sue the county for $500,000 per employee for personal injury, defamation and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and then offered a settlement of $10,000 per employee, a public apology and their jobs back. The council rejected the settlement in April, leading Hong to again threaten to sue.
He said Wednesday he’s giving the Shikuma family time to get over the shock of their loss, but he plans to meet with them soon.
“In terms of Glen Shikuma’s lawsuit, this is definitely something that will cause us to re-evaluate,” Hong said. “The family’s going to meet with me and we’re going to discuss what their options are.”
Email Nancy Cook Lauer at firstname.lastname@example.org.