Friday, March 19, 2004

University of Hawaii

UH panel wants
background check
on builders

University of Hawaii regents want to know if contractors who win up to $10.6 million in UH planning, design and construction contracts going out to bid have been convicted or have pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign donations.

A regents' committee adopted a motion giving the go-ahead to the contracts yesterday calling for disclosure of contractors' illegal donations.

Interim UH regent Ted Hong, who made the motion, said he is looking at changing UH procurement rules to bar contractors who have made illegal campaign contributions from receiving UH contracts.

"My whole intent is to make sure that people who are guilty of a crime involving dishonesty shouldn't be rewarded by getting any university contracts," Hong said.

However, regent Charles Kawakami wondered if the university would be cutting too many companies out of bidding by adopting such a procurement rule.

"We might not have any bidders," he said, adding that "they have already been penalized. They've been embarrassed."

Since 2000 the state Campaign Spending Commission has issued more than $1 million in fines to 75 government contractors for making illegal political donations to Democratic candidates. Up to 40 more companies are still being investigated.

The $10.6 million in UH contracts going out to bid before the end of the fiscal year include $3.5 million for the design of a new Science and Technology building at UH-Hilo, $1.1 million for the replacement of grease traps in the food service buildings at Kapiolani Community College, and $650,000 for roof repairs at Maui Community College.


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