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State Senate confirms four UH regents

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COMThe University of Hawaii at Manoa campus.
    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
    The University of Hawaii at Manoa campus.

The state Senate on Thursday confirmed four of Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s nominations to the University of Hawaii Board of Regents.

The Senate confirmed Stanford Yuen, an engineering consultant and former special assistant to the Navy; Lee Putnam, a retired UH administrator; Jeffrey Portnoy, an attorney; and Michelle Tagorda, a UH master’s degree student in public health.

Yuen, Putnam and Portnoy were appointed to terms that run through June 2019. Tagorda’s term will run through June 2016.

Sen. Brian Taniguchi (D, Makiki-Tantalus-Manoa), the chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, said all of the nominees were well-qualified to serve on the Board of Regents, which oversees the university.

Sen. J. Kalani English (D, East Maui-Upcountry-Molokai-Lanai) and Sen. Clayton Hee (D, Heeia-Laie-Waialua) complained, however, that some of the nominees did not reach out to them about their confirmations.

English and Hee had particular criticism for Portnoy, a former member of the state Judicial Selection Commission, who is familiar with the confirmation process. Portnoy, who often represents the news media — including the Honolulu Star-Advertiser — had clashed with Hee over a bill that would have extended a shield law to protect journalists from disclosing sources.

Hee said he cited the oversight not because he thought he was important, but that the job of regent was important enough that the nominees should have consulted with all senators.

English and Hee voted against Yuen, Portnoy and Tagorda. Sen. Malama Solomon (D, Kaupulehu-Waimea-North Hilo) also voted against Portnoy. Putnam — who had sent a letter to Hee regarding her nomination — was confirmed unanimously.

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