Some thoughts of my 40 years at Hawaii airports
Deputy Director of Transportation / Airport Administrator 1996 - 2002
When Jerry Matsuda arrived at the DOT-A, I was the Managing Director of Circle Rainbow Aviation (CRA). CRA was not doing well financially and I spent more of my time with the business, trying to generate more income. I didn't get to know Jerry until early 1998 when I left CRA to start Bradley Pacific Aviation with Bob Yosaitis.
CRA along with Century Aviation (CA) and Air Service Hawaii (ASH) did not want Bradley Pacific Aviation to have any opportunity to even begin to operate in Hawaii.
The three FBO operators made every effort to try and stop us which included many visits to Jerry Matsuda's office to give reasons why we should not begin operations. See more at BPA -Start Up / OGG Home / Kahului DBH ...below.
I remember on one occasion, I had scheduled a meeting with Jerry to review BPA operations. I tried to schedule periodic meetings to keep the DOT-A up to date on our extensive fuel operations statewide. I also hoped that these meetings would foster a better relationship with Jerry after many push backs in previous months.
When I arrived for the meeting, Jerry was still in a previous meeting and after waiting awhile, I was called in. Jerry had been meeting with Ben Shlapack (Planning...before he took on HNL Airport Manager), Roy Sakata (Operations manager - just arrived at DOT-A) and discussing BPA. Jerry was very agitated and waving a copy of a letter he just received from Century Aviation's attorneys (which met with Jerry about an hour before I arrived). He was quite concerned with our attempt to keep CA from accessing the fuel storage facilities in Honolulu and Kona. He would not stand for BPA blocking a competitor from doing business. After his rant, I asked if I could see the letter he is refereeing to.
After reading it, I asked him if he did. BPA had a contract to manage the Kona Fuel Storage Facility for the Hawaii Fuel Facility Corporation (airline consortium) with Air Group International doing the same for Honolulu International Airport. The letter stated that all operators accessing the HFFC facilities must comply with state and federal rules and requirements as well as industry standards to ensure safe operations. This letter went to all companies that access these facilities. What part of this letter does the state have a problem with? CA spent more on attorneys than they did on keeping equipment up to code. After the back and forth, the meeting was adjourned and I walked away without giving my update and as far as relationship building... tomorrow is another day.
That was my first meeting with Roy Sakata and from that day we never seemed to be on the same page. And that was twenty years ago.
For me, Jerry Matsuda was not a good administrator. I never had a problem with a rule or regulation and prided myself on understanding them. I may not agree with some rules but when they become law, I will comply. I operate my business based on those parameters. When decision are based on who knows who, it becomes difficult.
Once again, Owen Miyamoto served 26 years as airport administrator,
serving three Governors.
Even though he certainly deserved a break from such an intense position he was not ready to retire (evident in his continued work in the industry).
Ben Cayetano decided to install Jerry Matsuda. Barry Fukunga was on the short list for the position and would have certainly been the best choice. Not only did he not get the position but he was removed from the airport.
Davis Yogi was up next.
"You can observe a lot by just watching" Yogi Berra another Yogi
Century Aviation continued to struggle financially and appealed to Governor Cayetano for relief on paying state GET taxes. Lulu Miyasato claimed that the previous owners and management (me) made false claims in the sale which left them in severe difficulties. Cayetano waived tens of thousands of dollars without batting an eye. More on Century and DOT-A later.
more Matsuda stories...
Chapter 10 - Pay to Play / Airport Games (page 119 - 126) excerpts
Jim Dooley writes...
In 1996, after I decamped from the Advertiser to television news, my first major project at KITV involved a hard look at Honolulu International Airport consulting contracts.
I had developed a very good source inside the airport bureaucracy. Airport officials, my source told me, were skirting provisions of a new procurement code and awarding consultant jobs to firms with political connections to the new governor, Ben Cayetano. ...
I lined up interviews with the head of the airports division, Jerry Matsuda, and his boss, Kazu Hayashida, the man who formally picked TM Designers for the job. (it appeared the pick was before bid process was completed)
I interviewed Jerry Matsuda on camera and told him that Ernest Kurosawa said consultant awards were being politically manipulated. "He did?" Matsuda answered. "I'm not familiar with that." I asked Matsuda if he had discussed with Kurosawa the companies that the administration preferred for consulting jobs. "No not to my knowledge" he said. It was a lukewarm denial.
I thought I was on my way to career at 60 Minutes. The men in these interviews were understandably nervous, but they also looked very shifty, something difficult to convey in newsprint.
Later in the interview, Matsuda collected himself and said flatly that there was nothing political about the selection.
Pick up a copy of Jim Dooley's book to read more