Monday, July 28, 2014         

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Regents resign over disclosure bill

By Associated Press


Two members of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents have resigned after state lawmakers unanimously passed a bill requiring public financial disclosures from people serving on more than a dozen state boards and commissions.

Regents John Dean and Saedene Ota submitted resignation letters to Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie this month, citing the bill. The university provided the letters to the Associated Press on Friday.

The measure, SB 2682, would make annual financial disclosure statements publicly available for the 15-member board and other agencies. Abercrombie included the bill on a list of 10 he intends to veto, but has not made a final decision or given specific reasoning for considering the veto.

The board had previously objected to the expanded disclosures and sent a letter to Abercrombie asking him to veto the bill.

Abercrombie said in a statement that several people on voluntary boards and commissions have expressed concerns about the bill. "That is why I am taking this time to carefully consider this measure before making a final decision prior to the veto deadline," he said.

Abercrombie declined comment on the resignations themselves.

Ota, owner of a Maui strategic design firm and an apparel company, said in a letter dated Thursday that she has no qualms about disclosing her financial information but doesn't want it released publicly.

"This information is personal and confidential," said Ota, who said she and other regents already sacrifice family time and personal business affairs. "(The bill) sends a clear message to me as a regent that effectively goes beyond the call of volunteer service."

Dean, chief executive of Central Pacific Financial Corp., said in his June 12 letter that he objects to making his family's personal financial information public.

Dean declined additional comment beyond the letter through a Central Pacific spokes­woman. Ota did not immediately return a message left at her Wai­luku design firm, Sae Design.

Lawmakers have not given an indication whether they would attempt to override a veto. The Senate's only Republican, Sam Slom, has called for one but said he doesn't expect Demo­crats to defy the state's top Demo­crat, especially during an election year.

"We need people that are unafraid and willing to disclose just like elected officials, particularly in those important positions," Slom said.

The state ethics commission doesn't have the resources to review rec­ords currently submitted to look for potential conflicts of interest, lawmakers said in the bill that passed. Members of the public are in better position to identify conflicts, the lawmakers said.

Oskar Garcia, Associated Press

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MalamaKaAina wrote:
If you make Public Policy decisions that effect other peoples livelihood then you should be required to disclose how you make your livelihood!!!
on June 28,2014 | 02:07AM
brb905 wrote:
I agree with you 100%. All public employees have their salaries available online. Why shouldn't the Board of Regents? What is good for the employees should be good for the employers of public entities.
on June 28,2014 | 02:19AM
pcman wrote:
All public employees and consultants work for the people. No need to review all disclosures at hiring but they can be reviewed "as required." Disclosures should be updated at least annually or when changes need to be made.
on June 28,2014 | 10:27AM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Only 2 resigned? I think they should all resign for willful incompetence and wasteful spending of public resources.
on June 28,2014 | 10:56AM
Nultech wrote:
So, if one wants to serve on the board of regents, one is now signing up for A): intense public scrutiny, B): public exposure of one's financial condition, and C): Zero compensation for the work. And the legislature imagines people will still want to serve under these conditions?
on June 28,2014 | 04:51AM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Do you actually think these people are doing the Regent job out of the goodness of their own heart? NOOO, the governor gives these positions to his friends in the business community that gave him campaign money. They in turn direct UH's taxpayer resources to their families and friends in the business world. Haven't you ever wondered why UH hires an endless stream of consultants, lawyers, CPA's, public relations firms and investigators to perform work for the school when UH already employs many people to perform these functions? That's right...Corruption at it's best and done right out in the open. Why do you think Abercrombie sent his incompetent Transportation Director back to UH? So he can direct the billion dollar backlog of maintenance work and ensure ALL the right people receive that money.
on June 28,2014 | 11:18AM
wiliki wrote:
Baloney, two of the Regents have already resigned. And the only reason is the lack of privacy.
on June 28,2014 | 02:09PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Yea ... they want to keep their connections to businesses that perform work for UH private. Lots of do nothing 6 figure jobs at UH for the politicians to hand out to family and friends.They end up contracting out everything to private businesses of the regents choosing.
on June 28,2014 | 06:08PM
klastri wrote:
Do you have any evidence to support anything you're saying? Have you brought it to the Attorney General? I didn't think so ....
on June 28,2014 | 07:47PM
klastri wrote:
That's quite a conspiracy you've uncovered. Too bad you just made it up. There isn't a shred of evidence of any kind to support anything you've said. None. I know some of the regents and they sacrifice a tremendous amount of time to serve without any compensation whatever. Qualified and successful people who want to hold onto a shred of financial privacy will not accept appointments.
on June 28,2014 | 07:41PM
klastri wrote:
Exactly. This will greatly reduce the pool of qualified candidates.
on June 28,2014 | 07:46PM
fbiguy wrote:
All of this would go away (in a positive fashion) if the Ethics Commission was given funding for an investigator in order to audit disclosure statements.
on June 28,2014 | 05:13AM
wiliki wrote:
That's a reasonable expectation. And legislators should have increased funding for investigators. They realize however, that the public and the news media trust no one.
on June 28,2014 | 02:14PM
false wrote:
Then let them resign. How absolutely ridiculous that these volunteer public servants think they can serve the public fairly while hiding potential conflicts of interest. Move on - there are plenty of other well qualified people.
on June 28,2014 | 05:14AM
inHilo wrote:
John Dean? From the Nixon days? No wonder he wants to keep things on the down low.
on June 28,2014 | 06:14AM
cojef wrote:
The comments thus far posted mostly indicate favoring full financial disclosure. Guess the Board's past history of questionable decisions may be the cause. Public figures, like elected officials must be accountable to its citizens and openness becomes a prerequisite. Tough standards require open conscience.
on June 28,2014 | 08:31AM
klastri wrote:
I think it's more likely that people commenting just haven't thought through the unintended consequences of this bill. It will keep otherwise qualified public servants away from the BOR. I've served for years on the board of trustees of a large private university (equivalent to the UH BOR) and I would bet that the entire board I serve with would resign if we had to put our personal finances on the internet. My money is a private matter. Period.
on June 28,2014 | 07:56PM
Bdpapa wrote:
These 2 regents are making a common sense decision. I commend them for this. No one needs to know anything about their personal finances. Only conflicts of interests should be investigated.
on June 28,2014 | 08:37AM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
How are we to know a conflict exists when they will not disclose their financial interests? I think it raises a red flag that these people didn't even wait for the governor to decide on a veto before they resigned. They must have something to hide, something they don't want to come out. I wish all 15 would resign, the decisions made by this Board over the past 2 years are absolutely reprehensible.
on June 28,2014 | 11:25AM
Bdpapa wrote:
Personal finances is one thing but business affiliations is another. Monitor business affiliations!
on June 28,2014 | 12:28PM
maluao wrote:
But how do you draw that line? Business affiliations are embedded THROUGHOUT one's personal finances!
on June 28,2014 | 07:04PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
It's just like our crooked lawmakers to have an ethics commission but not give them any resources to actually investigate anyone. Corruption within the ruling democratic party is out of control. Developers, monopoly businesses and Unions run this state.
on June 28,2014 | 11:04AM
mcc wrote:
2 down, only 13 more to go. Hurry up, get out you are ruining the University.
on June 28,2014 | 11:33AM
alohacharlie wrote:
Override any veto so that we can all see how financially connected all of these folks are and who of them are contributing to elected officials. Someone posted a question asking who would take that position at UH if they had to disclose their financial situation. I would and I am sure that there are many good folks out there that would also.
on June 28,2014 | 12:07PM
maluao wrote:
Ditto. I would too. Chart the course of a major university, complete with problems to solve? Absolutely! How much more fun could one have with his free time? And that doesn't even touch on the perks...
on June 28,2014 | 07:03PM
danji wrote:
The resignation is because these two have something to hide and we do not need them on the regents board. Voluntary boards?? They are compensated through passes to games and alike. That is payment
on June 28,2014 | 02:57PM
maluao wrote:
Yes, but passes to games are only the beginning... Contracts and implicit bribes abound!
on June 28,2014 | 07:01PM
Dawg wrote:
More like the questions should be how much money did or does you family/company make from the UoH?
on June 28,2014 | 08:39PM