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State Senate to hold hearings on UH's Wonder concert debacle

By Ferd Lewis

LAST UPDATED: 11:54 a.m. HST, Aug 30, 2012

The state Senate will hold hearings in September on the University of Hawaii's controversial handling of the Stevie Wonder concert fiasco.

Senate President Shan Tsutsui appointed a special committee on accountability "to conduct an informational briefing or briefings, as may be necessary, to review the oversight, accountability and transparency of the operational and financial management of the University of Hawaii system, including but not limited to the University of Hawaii at Manoa Athletics Department," according to a memo sent this week.

Sen. Donna Mercado Kim will chair the committee with Sen. Jill Tokuda as vice chairwoman. Several members of the UH administration will be asked to appear.  

The dates have not been set.

The other members of the committee are: senators Les Ihara Jr., Ronald Kouchi and Sam Slom.

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jprovenza wrote:
Great. We already wasted enough money on this fiasco and now we involve the State Legislature. It is a good thing we don't have real problems for the Leg to focus on.
on August 30,2012 | 09:17AM
copperwire9 wrote:
In case you care to know, the legislature's not in session right now. So the legislators who will be involved are being called in, in order to hold these hearings. . . . .You might wish to consider that they're doing that to try to protect your money, your taxes, your investment in Hawaii's future. . . . .When you say, "[i]t is a good thing we don't have real problems for the Leg to focus on," are you suggesting that a loss of $200,000 in taxpayer funds is not a real problem? Is that it?
on August 30,2012 | 09:40AM
copperwire9 wrote:
In case you care to know, the legislature's not in session right now. So the legislators who will be involved are being called in, in order to hold these hearings. . . . .You might wish to consider that they're doing that to try to protect your money, your taxes, your investment in Hawaii's future. . . . .When you say, "[i]t is a good thing we don't have real problems for the Leg to focus on," are you suggesting that a loss of $200,000 in taxpayer funds is not a real problem? Is that it?
on August 30,2012 | 09:40AM
Descartes22 wrote:
Precisely - they are not in session, so it will cost taxpayers thousands more to have these bozos grandstand. They will not magically uncover the money. With all of the policy issues in this state that need to be addressed, including the profligate waste of taxpayer monies far in excess of UH's blunder, this should NOT be the subject of a special session.
on August 30,2012 | 09:51AM
fairgame947 wrote:
Called in for free - highly doubt it. How much will all this cost? Do you think they will discover more than the FBI? Mistakes were made no question. But how will the legislature help? UH needs to look at their policies and procedures, see where things went wrong and then fix, but more legislation won't help. What ever happened to the promoter that Donovan and Sheriff were working with? I heard he's gone bankrupt.
on August 30,2012 | 11:12AM
copperwire9 wrote:
How will the legislature help...let's see...future funding concerns regarding the university are probably relevant, yes? It's a public university, greatly funded through public dollars. It's interesting to me that you seem not to want the legislature to carry out its responsibility and make sure the university doesn't "lose" another $200,000 in the future. Is that the case?
on August 30,2012 | 11:30AM
poidragon wrote:
because the legislature can't even take care of it's own business in a timely manner, and you expect them to do something about UH's leadership problems? Get real!
on August 30,2012 | 01:00PM
Descartes22 wrote:
You are deIuded, copperwire9, in placing faith or high hopes on the state senate. They will simply grandstand. See my points about larger issues and larger sums of monies.
on August 30,2012 | 01:05PM
copperwire9 wrote:
No. There might an additional expenditure to bring Ron Kouchi over from Kauai, but otherwise, no. They won't get paid anything extra; no extra staff people will be around.
on August 30,2012 | 11:25AM
Descartes22 wrote:
And I might add that one example of a proper and meaningful subject for a special legislative session would relate to UH losing the $181 million dollar supercomputer contract on Maui to a corporation called SAIC. As I said in a post to this morning's article on that subject: SAIC is a company with a documented history of bid-rigging and kickbacks. In March of this year, SAIC pleaded guilty to wire fraud involving kickback schemes with respect to a New York City payroll management contract. They agreed to pay $500 million to NYC - yes, half a billion dollars. Also, late last year, Hawai`i's Galiher Law Firm was one of the firm's that teamed with the Department of Justice to successfully sue SAIC relating to a $3.2 billion bid-rigging scheme at Mississippi's Stennis Space Center. SAIC is a company full of crooks. There is no doubt they engaged in their typical kickback business practices to steal the Maui contract from UH.
on August 30,2012 | 09:57AM
copperwire9 wrote:
It's NOT a special legislative session, Descartes. It's a legislative committee that will be holding hearings. Those are two different things. The hearings that are under discussion in this article involve five Senators who have been tasked with gathering information about the $200,000 fiasco. They do NOT involve the legislature going into session.
on August 30,2012 | 11:54AM
poidragon wrote:
legislators do not work for free!
on August 30,2012 | 01:03PM
copperwire9 wrote:
on August 30,2012 | 01:46PM
Dragonman wrote:
Yup, they will paid. Excuse me not paid, compensated. Sounds better. Of couse nothing will come of it.
on August 30,2012 | 06:51PM
Descartes22 wrote:
The distinction is impertinent, aside from not costing as much taxpayer monies as earlier thought. Again, with all the pressing issues and wasteful and rampant expenditures of taxpayer bucks throughout state government, there are better ways for the kid and his four senate colleagues to spend their time. Each state department is routinely tossing away multiples of 200K each fiscal year. If they really wanted to do something that mattered, they would conduct hearings on other compelling issues with huge dollar figures. These clowns do not need to gather information on this dead horse subject matter. 60K spend was already spent to gather information.
on August 30,2012 | 01:15PM
lowtone123 wrote:
Can't just sweep it under the rug.
on August 30,2012 | 09:19AM
allie wrote:
I think it makes sense to look at the lack of transparency and accountability at the UH. It is a real scandal and endangers our accreditation. Greenwood and her pack of fools need to resign and leave. Huge blow to UH to lose that super computer contract. Anyone to blame at the uH?
on August 30,2012 | 10:07AM
Dragonman wrote:
Yup, stuff just happens
on August 30,2012 | 06:52PM
Dragonman wrote:
Its already been swept under the rug.
on August 30,2012 | 06:52PM
HAJAA1 wrote:
Sometimes in business, that is exactly what makes sense for all involved.
on August 30,2012 | 09:31AM
Kapakahi wrote:
I initially misread the headline as saying the UH Faculty Senate would be holding hearings on the concert fiasco and thought, "This is an interesting development. It is great to see the "sleeping giant" finally rise from its slumber and start taking an interest in helping fix the dysfunctional university.

Now that I see it is the STATE Senate, I am less optimistic for an honest exchange of ideas.

on August 30,2012 | 10:12AM
gobows wrote:
I thought everything was swept under the rug ALREADY.......more nonsense to come....
on August 30,2012 | 10:12AM
hon2255 wrote:
Well ,it's about time Greenwood and Apple, be called to the carpet , why the lies? what happened to the money, no one caught yet? who else going to be held accountable , how about the President of UH ? It's time to ask for her resignation. This has been a monumental waste of taxpayer money and total incompetenancy from the top of the order!! We not only need a athletic director ,we need a new president of the UH system. Increasing tuition every year, cutting classes , and ignoring needs of teaching staff , poor facility maintenance, wasted money going to endless top heavy administrative positions that are not needed. Clean House !Legislature, Take back the University, they show they can't run it on there own, !!!
on August 30,2012 | 10:26AM
nitpikker wrote:
it'll be a "Wonder" if they dole out any punishment to the BOR, greenwood and the rest of the ilk.
on August 30,2012 | 10:39AM
JBS wrote:
How long did it take to think up that "clever" quip?
on August 30,2012 | 10:54AM
prest1948 wrote:
Do we need an audit of the UH system by Marion Higa. She's not one to pull any punches and will do a complete audit with recommendations for improvements. It may be a monumental task, but would be well worth the time and effort.
on August 30,2012 | 10:43AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
I'm for it. A total audit of the University of Hawaii. Take away the autonomy that we gave them since they've proven unfit to manage themselves. Flatten out the top management (too many chiefs), control salaries, and get people in there who want to make this university an academic gem. Downsize athletics to DII and direct more monies to the academic side of the ledger. There has ALWAYS been a hands off policy on UH. Taking apart this mess will be an even bigger task than the Bishop Estate debacle but it absolutely needs to be done.
on August 30,2012 | 01:30PM
csdhawaii wrote:
That would make more sense. While I do think this needs more looking into, the problem with the Leg doing it is that they - including specific individuals on this specially appointed committee - are friends with certain Regents and with Donovan. I fear that it may end up just being grandstanding as Descartes says, with no real results, just as the BOR took no productive action. Real problems exist at UH that are totally fixable, but you need the right leadership in place to do it. An audit by Higa would certainly help move that along.
on August 30,2012 | 01:59PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
I would suspect that the UH guys won't bother to appear.
on August 30,2012 | 10:51AM
kainalu wrote:
What do they need to know? Donovan was the head of a department that got snookered out of $200K. He should have been fired, and use that several hundred thousands of dollars you were going to pay him in a made-up position to defend yourself against his litigation.
on August 30,2012 | 10:53AM
islandsun wrote:
Most universities would have canned Donovan, he was the boss in charge that didnt take charge. At least they could have let him stay till the contract expired and dump him after March. Of course he loves UH, he has good reason. Theyve gainfully employed him for 18 years. Where else would he get that kind of dough? Upper management blew this one. Dont waste time on another hearing.
on August 30,2012 | 11:40AM
Oahuan wrote:
I hope the question as to why Donovan was removed if he was doing such a great job and drill them until the truth comes out. Also who was the counsel who reviewed and signed off on the contact and the name of the financial officer who cut the check and why they thought it was important to black out their names.
on August 30,2012 | 10:58AM
keola2011 wrote:
Why don't we fire the whole UH Manoa board of directors! That will solve the problem.
on August 30,2012 | 11:02AM
nyula wrote:
Progress! The students and tax payers in Hawaii deserve full disclosure.
on August 30,2012 | 11:03AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
"Senate President Shan Tsutsui appointed a special committee on accountability "to conduct an informational briefing or briefings, as may be necessary, to review the oversight, accountability and transparency of the operational and financial management of the University of Hawaii system"

As long as they have everyone together like that, they ought to take a look at the oversight, accountability and transparency of the operational and financial management of Honolulu Rail.
on August 30,2012 | 11:51AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
I can not wait to read the completely toothless resolution they write.
on August 30,2012 | 11:53AM
CriticalReader wrote:
I wonder if they're going to be sworn in? If memory serves, the last time Takai held hearings, they were "informal" and no one was sworn in.
on August 30,2012 | 12:13PM
copperwire9 wrote:
Read the article, CriticalReader.
on August 30,2012 | 01:17PM
copperwire9 wrote:
Read the article, Critical Reader.
on August 30,2012 | 01:31PM
CriticalReader wrote:
You reading a different article than I am?
on August 30,2012 | 06:04PM
false wrote:
Oh, so the Democrats are going to pretend to care.
on August 30,2012 | 12:22PM
Locokane wrote:
I am mystified why the UH CFO has never been interviewed in the Wonder Blunder fiasco. How was the money wired to Never Never Land without proper fiscal controls and oversight? How does the Chancellor and the President create a new, high paying position without any regard for other budgeted hiring and funding offsets? Are we still in the Fantasy Stage of Alice in Wonderland and not coming out to Reality?
on August 30,2012 | 12:37PM
allie wrote:
good points..lot more to the story than we know
on August 30,2012 | 01:11PM
Dragonman wrote:
Lots more.
on August 30,2012 | 06:54PM
Anonymous wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 30,2012 | 12:59PM
allie wrote:
well said
on August 30,2012 | 01:11PM
Pukele wrote:
It's great to see the legislature so interested in how the public's money is spent. Too bad, the city council is so flat tire when it comes to watching how the city spends our tax dollars.
on August 30,2012 | 03:34PM
Bean808 wrote:
Mercado Kim will grandstand.
on August 30,2012 | 03:44PM
GorillaSmith wrote:
Say what you will but this kangaroo court will be a lot more entertaining than a Stevie Wonder concert (circa 2012).
on August 30,2012 | 03:46PM
inverse wrote:
This is what I want these State legislatures to find out: There is documented evidence that UH President Greenwood LIED to the public regarding Greenwood's personal knowledge or lack of knowledge regarding UH's dealings and involvement with the Stevie Wonder concert project. Can this be used to fire Greenwood for cause, WITHOUT any negative legal or financial consequence to the State? Obviously UH board of regents do NOT want to explore this option so if State legislatures can build a legitimate case to warrant firing Greenwood, they should build they case and present it to the BOR and the public. Mark Takai should also reintroduce the proposal to combine the UH President with the UH Manoa chancellor position and eliminate the UH Manoa chancellor section to save UH and taxpayers something like $20 million per year. Greenwood would be removed and Apple by default will be the next combined UH President/UH Manoa chancellor. Think of this loss of $200,000 as a potential "gift" that will allow UH to be rid of an incompetent leader and save millions in wasted administration costs in the process. Might want to get rid of all of the 6 figure public relation positions starting from Lynne W, on down as well. This plan of retaining Apple provides some administrative stability and continuity, however removing Greenwood and the UH Chancellor office administration will FINALLY start removing the out of control, overpriced bureaucratic layers that is doing more harm than good; and steer UH in the right direction, which is out of the GUTTER.
on August 30,2012 | 03:52PM
MC_KAILUA wrote:
Excellent ideas! Donna Kim and Shan Tsutsui, please print the above paragraph.
on August 31,2012 | 06:35AM
Papakolea wrote:
I'm sure there are rules and protocol already in place that should have prevented $200,000 from being wired to a con artist. So: 1) where did the breach of protocol occur; 2) who breached the protocol; and 3) what's going to be done to make sure this doesn't happen again? Shouldn't the investigation by the high-powered law firm have found this out? They don't need a senate grandstanding committee to convene. Tsutsui just needs to tell Greenwood to send him the answers to those three questions by Monday or don't bother submitting the athletic department's budget in January.
on August 30,2012 | 05:43PM
Dragonman wrote:
Right, I don't think 200k was wired somewhere without the okay from upstairs , does anyone disagree.
on August 30,2012 | 06:56PM
localguy wrote:
Did you notice when Greenwood and her clueless staff were in front of TV cameras how they all looked like they were on drugs, deer in the headlight, a million miles away. No one exuded a professional image like they knew what they were talking about. Basically monosyllable answers. And we pay them how much money? Obviously we should tell all of them not to expect a bonus or a new contract. When your time is up, pack your bags and get out of here. Losers all of them. State Auditor Marion Higa needs to check UH finances and if she finds problems, fire Greenwood for failure to lead. I'm sure her contract has these clauses. Once again UH Manoa looks like a little 5th world school, hasn't got a clue what to do, how to act. Clean house now.
on August 30,2012 | 06:12PM
hon2255 wrote:
Marion HIga for UH president ,can them all ,no autonomy, run it like a business and not senseless spending as status quo. Move that old bag president Greenward and friend out of swanky Wakiki condo at 5k per month and put her up at the Pagoda if she dont want to live at the Presidents's house prior to her subsequent dismissal.!
on August 30,2012 | 09:09PM
Rickyboy wrote:
Why bother. Legislators have no power to compell UH personnel to appear. Photo op for everyone.
on August 30,2012 | 09:14PM
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