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UH hires law firm to help prepare for Senate hearing on concert

By Ferd Lewis

LAST UPDATED: 02:25 p.m. HST, Sep 20, 2012

The University of Hawaii has retained Honolulu attorney Robert S. Katz and his firm, Torkildson, Katz, Moore, Hetherington & Harris, to help prepare for Monday's state Senate hearing, the school confirmed today.

Katz specializes in employment law and has more than 40 years experience, according to the firm's website.

A UH spokeswoman said she was not immediately able to say how much the firm is being paid.

She said Katz and his firm have been retained "for a fairly wide scope of services" relating to the hearing.

The State Senate Special Committee on Accountability has asked at least five UH figures, including Board of Regents chairman Eric Martinson, and school president M.R C. Greenwood to appear at Monday's hearing regarding the Stevie Wonder concert fiasco and other operations. A followup hearing is tentatively set for Oct. 2.

In July, UH officials canceled the ill-fated Aug. 18 Wonder concert, which was supposed to be a benefit for UH athletics. They revealed that $200,000 of UH money was missing after being wired to a Florida company as a deposit to secure the concert. UH officials say they apparently were victims of fraud.

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tod wrote:
So UH is wasting even more money on this whole fiasco because they do not have the internal capacity or compentency to prepare for a Senate hearing by themselves. Why do they have several PR people paid in the 6 figures or attorney on staff who probably paid the same if they have to hire outside help? Incompetent!!!
on September 20,2012 | 02:35PM
allie wrote:
Agree..all the UH leadership has to do is to speak the truth. Who did what when. How did it happen? How can we prevent it from happening again? It is not rocket science! Stop wasting tax payer money!
on September 20,2012 | 02:40PM
ghstar wrote:
Don't forget the thousands they already spent on outside legal help to do the initial Wonder "investigation". It is taxpayer and student fee money they are wasting to cover their rear ends. Get rid of the whole lot of them.
on September 20,2012 | 03:48PM
admiral wrote:
That previous legal bill amounted to $30,000 for an attorney representing Donovan to write UH a single threatening letter. That's it. Not only was that an outrageous overcharge, but Donovan didn't have a case. It was just an example of the way UH has operated for many years. When threatened by a lawsuit, however frivolous, their in-house attorneys invariably advise them to settle....which, of course, encourages outside attorneys to file suit and to pad their client fee, knowing that UH will pay it.
on September 20,2012 | 04:56PM
islandsun wrote:
So True!
on September 20,2012 | 05:02PM
Giligan wrote:
Donovan's lawyer got him a sweet deal, and even got us to pay his $30,000 fee, we should hire him next time.
on September 21,2012 | 06:19AM
frontman wrote:
OH GREAT..............by the time this fraud on Hawaii taxpayers is over, the $200K lost will be a drop in the bucket.
on September 20,2012 | 05:56PM
sjean wrote:
With Akaka gone and Inouye on nearing his retirement, the old Boy network is dying. This is another last grab at easy money. Same as the rail. Same as every frivolous expenditure the OBN has taken for granted since the birth of this banana republic. Look for more money grabs as they sail off into the dark horizon.
on September 20,2012 | 06:23PM
cabot17 wrote:
The UH leadership needs legal representation because they are afraid of incriminating themselves.
on September 20,2012 | 09:46PM
Giligan wrote:
UH leadership needs lawyers to defend their ineptness, and we pay.
on September 21,2012 | 05:58AM
false wrote:
the hits just keep on coming. Is the UH leadership on trial here? I thought this was a fact-finding hearing where UH leadership would be answering questions. Although with Donna Kim asking the questions, I'd probably take all the help I could get with the answers.
on September 20,2012 | 02:37PM
serious wrote:
I have never been accused of being too smart, but the UH who should have nothing to hide, has hidden behind a guise of $200,000 wired to "someone". I have wired many times, one has an address, a person or business that it goes to. What the hell is the problem??? Who got the money should be simple. So one hires a law staff, at taxpayer expense, to defend against the public that supports them--once again--I don't get it???
on September 20,2012 | 02:46PM
gsc wrote:
They are spending more taxpayers money.......... What do they have to hide.
on September 20,2012 | 02:52PM
SomebodyElse wrote:
Outrageous! "Katz specializes in employment law..." so what? I don't get it, why lawyer up? How inept is the UH administration? Why are MORE funds necessary? Hey, ho, somebody's gotta go!
on September 20,2012 | 02:54PM
paytheline wrote:
Maybe the lawyer fees are being paid by the ones hiring them which is how it should be. What authority do they have using public funds to represent them anyway?
on September 20,2012 | 09:40PM
mcc wrote:
Time to get rid of the administration and the board of regents Clean house.They are hiring an attorney to protect them from getting fired and they are doing it with our money,
on September 20,2012 | 03:16PM
808comp wrote:
Disgusting these people.Get rid of them all after their contracts are up.
on September 20,2012 | 03:23PM
false wrote:
this will be interesting. I think the point of having an attorney is to weigh each question at the hearing in context before answering it so that nothing incriminating is said that could be used against them later, possibly to terminate their employment or simply to lay blame. So, yeah, they're taking no chances and covering their okoles on the taxpayer's dime. Or maybe on the dimes of UH donors. Who knows where the funds are coming from. This is really sketchy and some might even say suspicious behavior for university leadership to circle the wagons like this simply because they're being called to answer questions.
on September 20,2012 | 03:31PM
CriticalReader wrote:
What UH interest is the lawyer protecting? It's a public institution. Now, the individuals may have things to hiide. But, then, they shouldn't be spending government (e.g. UH) money to hire lawyers to protect themselves. Seems like the just opened up a whole new area for Senator Kim to explore.
on September 20,2012 | 03:35PM
Wonderful_World wrote:
Seriously? If they feel they need to be represented by an attorney, they should be paying for it with their own personal funds! This does not sound right.
on September 20,2012 | 03:35PM
Giligan wrote:
Dock the multi-6 figure pay of Greenwood and Apple, and look into their other reimbusements.
on September 21,2012 | 06:02AM
kaleboy wrote:
And who's money are we using to pay for this circus?
on September 20,2012 | 04:08PM
sukebesan wrote:
Legal shibai on tap through use of taxpayers' monies. The high-muck-a-muck UH administrators msut be running scared and the UH Board of Regents does nothing but bury their heads in the sand at Wikiki Beach.
on September 20,2012 | 04:10PM
turbolink wrote:
STEWARDSHIP: Not a word in the UH leadership's lexicon.
on September 20,2012 | 04:13PM
visitor wrote:
It's a senate fact finding hearing. Why a private law firm? If the individuals are usiing their personal funds to pay for the attorney, fine. But not right to use public funds. If it is public funds, did they get the lowest bidder????
on September 20,2012 | 04:15PM
HowCan wrote:
very good questions
on September 20,2012 | 05:38PM
hon2255 wrote:
MORE WASTED TAXPAYER MONEY Courtesy of MRC Greenwood, thanks for nothing, now more attorney fees , for nothing , youre not on trial MRC and Tom ,we'r e just here trying to figure out how incompetent the both of you are . How hard is it to tell the truth and admit you screwed up everything ,the whole process is Pilau and it's on your hands. Resign and save us all some money otherwise you'll be fired for cause. Taxpayers ! Wake Up, we need to get rid of the current bosses at Bachman Hall and most of the Regents as well .!!!
on September 20,2012 | 04:27PM
Giligan wrote:
Is it not obvious? The more you screw the taxpayer, you are digging a deeper hole. End the misery, resign. Board of Regents, do something. (As we speak, they are probably working on a sweet severance for Greenwood)
on September 21,2012 | 06:07AM
bowlsrite wrote:
$$$$$$$$$$$, uh must really want to HIDE something........the truth!
on September 20,2012 | 04:40PM
ejkorvette wrote:
Awww, How da Cute!!! PAY/Hire someone from the outside to provide excuses as to why our beloved UH University misappropiated Funds. LUCKY WE LIVE HAWAII. LET'S HAVE A PARADE! YIPPEE, WOOO HOOO!
on September 20,2012 | 05:06PM
frontman wrote:
OH GREAT..............by the time this fraud on Hawaii taxpayers is over, the $200K lost will be a drop in the bucket.
on September 20,2012 | 05:06PM
poidragon wrote:
It seems that UH, it's regents and it's top executives are 'circling the wagons and hiding behind the skirts of the Lawyers' which makes me think that maybe they have something to hid after all, in this 'failed concert fiasco!' UH wants autonomy from the State legislature, this is surely not the way to go about showing how it can handle the job and prove that UH has the tenacity, the drive and the capacity to govern its own business dealings, without the State legislature's oversight! The Stevie Wonder Concert fiasco shows us that UH, it's regents and its top executives are not ready to take over the reigns of power and step it up to the next level of becoming a world class university and bastion of higher learning!
on September 20,2012 | 05:10PM
GAC wrote:
i agree with everyone here that posted. what a shame. we all post and we all know nothing will get resolved from this administration the university has. the best way is to boycott everything this university stands for. they all hurt our taxpayers pocket . now lets hurt them by not supporting this university as much as possible until we force a change, we need change, stop going to any athletic events, just that alone will hurt revenue. that will start a change fast. you'll start seeing government start really jumping in for investigation. rotten apple and the whole bunch needs to be terminated. if this happened in a private sector we will be gone instantly. but these people just sucking up our tax money. i don't know how these university top notch administrators can get up look themselves in the mirror and go out in public and act like everything is ok.
on September 20,2012 | 05:55PM
akuman808 wrote:
Shame on everyone involved in this debacle. Spending an additiona $75K in attorney fees for the incompetent $200K boondoggle is only in Hawaii kind of logic. Not to mention the $200K per year deal for that idiot Donovan who is beloved by these same legislators. Yes, Jim Donovan is the ultimate person responsible because he was the AD.
on September 20,2012 | 05:12PM
turbolink wrote:
I wonder how many people will get sick at work on Monday so they can go home and watch the proceedings on TV? Similar to SuperBowl Sunday. Who will provide the better entertainment, the legislative offense or UH defense?
on September 20,2012 | 05:35PM
HowCan wrote:
Disgusted...an institution that has professors teaching law and public relations needs to outsource this...its getting crazier. Each person being investigated should have to retain their own lawyer at their own expense.
on September 20,2012 | 05:36PM
localguy wrote:
.R C. Greenwood, please tell all taxpayers and tuition paying students you are not going to use their money to defend you and your minions for you willful failure with the wonder blunder. .R C. Greenwood, please tell us as the senior rep of UH Manoa, you accept full responsibility for the willful failure of you and your staff. .R C. Greenwood, please tell us you and all those responsible will resign from UH Manoa, with no bonus, no extra payment, you accept responsibility for your failures and will just walk away. Don't go away mad, just go away.
on September 20,2012 | 05:37PM
Giligan wrote:
Greenwood, the ship is sinking, bail out now before you get stuck on a deserted island.
on September 21,2012 | 06:10AM
lee1957 wrote:
Roll up the rug now so there will not be any place to hide.
on September 20,2012 | 05:41PM
danji wrote:
Here we go--the UH officials are running scared and now wasting money. If there is nothing to hide just answer the questions asked by the Senate inquiry panel. All the panel is doing is looking for transparentsy. Everyone want know who is responsible and how did the scam happen. With all those brillant minds of the administration(bachelors, masters, doctorate) we got scamed--you people shoould resign.
on September 20,2012 | 05:49PM
808chubs wrote:
why do they need a law firm to help them. why don't they just tell the truth?
on September 20,2012 | 06:31PM
rhs763 wrote:
Why spend more money? Remove Greenwood, dismantle the Chancellor's office, downsize the Public Relations department. Spend money on the students! Dobelle, Frazier, Greenwood. . .where does it end! Regents incapable of selecting qualified personnel and foolishly agreeing to contracts beneficial to applicants. Establish probationary employment period requirements to allow review of employment before giving away the farm.
on September 20,2012 | 07:19PM
onwardupward wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on September 20,2012 | 07:51PM
pridon wrote:
Maybe the 200 K had kickbacks involved, so they must continue to obfuscate. Let the attorneys talk, that way you won't be charged with lying before a state legislative committee. They should ask MRC if she has ever taken HGH or steroids.
on September 20,2012 | 08:52PM
Allenk wrote:
I am including this letter to the editor which I stumbled upon which says a lot about the situation up at Manoa. UH wasting money while students suffer I am a full-time undergraduate student at the University of Hawaii-Manoa and I pay more than $4,000 in tuition and fees. Most people know by now that $200,000 for a Stevie Wonder concert magically disappeared earlier this year and UH is spending another $200,000 on hiring the guy who was in charge at the time. There's also massive amounts of construction going on around campus that is undoubtedly costly, not to mention disruptive to learning. The sound of machinery and alarms going off, forcing building evacuations, is not what I paid $4,000 for. But the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back came as I reached for the lock on a bathroom stall. In its place was a chopstick fastened to the door with a plastic zip tie. The toilet paper rolls were also held in place with chopsticks. Chopsticks! We can't say we know where our money is going, but we definitely know where it's not going. Kimberly Sato Salt Lake
on September 20,2012 | 09:06PM
GAC wrote:
that's exactly why the sh...t going to hit the fan.
on September 20,2012 | 09:43PM
hon2255 wrote:
MRC do us taxpayers a favor and resign now, leave Hawaii , leave your posh digs in Waikiki that we're subsidizing you and your girlfriend ,instead of living in presidents residence , that way the students who are paying ever increasing tuition ,$5k per semester plus books, etc, and more, with less classes can get some sort of repreive knowing the incompetent head of UH has now left. You and Herman Frazier and Dobelle have been the worst set of honchos ever hired. Resign now or you'll be fired for cause, believe me there are many good causes for firing you. NO SOUP FOR YOU ! BACK OF DA LINE!!
on September 20,2012 | 10:02PM
Giligan wrote:
As we speak, the Board of Regents, are working on a sweet severance deal for Greenwood. If that happens, should we be happy or more pissed?
on September 21,2012 | 06:15AM
Giligan wrote:
Most of the Board of Regents are lawyers, most of the legislature are lawyers. Maybe if I were a lawyer, I would understand. I am only a first mate, but I can smell pretty good.
on September 21,2012 | 06:19AM