UH agrees to turn over
documents on Dobelle
The University of Hawaii will comply with state law and turn over documents relating to the decision to fire former UH President Evan Dobelle to the state Office of Information Practices, UH Board of Regents Chairwoman Patricia Lee said yesterday.
The Star-Bulletin and other news media appealed to OIP after UH Associate General Counsel Presley Pang denied access to the final audit of Dobelle's protocol fund and other documents.
In a letter Monday, OIP Director Les Kondo threatened to take the university to court after Pang denied OIP's request to see copies of the documents, citing the ongoing mediation between Dobelle and the university to resolve a potential lawsuit over Dobelle's June 15 termination.
"The fact that the University of Hawaii may have agreed to certain confidentiality conditions as part of the mediation involving Dr. Dobelle does not supersede or otherwise alter this office's statuary right to review the records," Kondo wrote. "The University of Hawaii simply has no authority to and cannot enter into agreements that require the University of Hawaii to violate state law."
Giving copies of the documents to OIP does not necessarily mean they will be opened to the public, but it will help OIP formulate a legal opinion about whether the documents can be kept confidential.
OIP can only advise the university if the documents should be made public. It will then be up to the university to make the documents public or risk a lawsuit by going against the state agency's written opinion.
Pang said yesterday that because of the volume of material requested, the university may not be able to copy all of the documents by the end of the week. However, he said he will work with OIP to work out a schedule to turn over the requested documents.
Dobelle was fired "for cause" on June 15. The firing for cause denied the former president a $2.2 million severance payment.
Citing legal advice from their attorneys, regents have not revealed the cause for Dobelle's firing, although they did consider the audit in making their decision.
Dobelle has hired attorneys who are investigating a possible lawsuit against the university.
Since the beginning of the month, attorneys for Dobelle and the university have been in closed-door mediation trying to work out a settlement.
Regents are meeting tomorrow, also behind closed doors, to hear from their attorneys about the progress of the mediation.