Vote on regents rejects Lagareta
A key Senate panel has voted down the appointment of Kitty Lagareta to serve a second five-year term on the University of Hawaii Board of Regents.
Lagareta, chairwoman of the public relations firm Communications Pacific and a strong supporter of Gov. Linda Lingle, was the only incumbent nominated by the governor to fill one of five vacancies on the board.
The vote by the Senate Education Committee on the motion to reject Lagareta was 5-2, although four of the "yes" votes were cast "with reservations," meaning those lawmakers could still change their minds when her nomination comes to the Senate floor for a vote by the full chamber. That vote is expected Thursday, the final day of the 2008 session.
"I don't know what the next outcome will be," Lagareta said after the committee vote yesterday. "In the five years I've served, I'm very proud of the work I've done."
Education Chairman Norman Sakamoto was critical of the board's handling of several well-publicized actions, including the buyout of former President Evan Dobelle, the lack of a national search to find his replacement, the proposed University Affiliated Research Center at the Manoa campus and the deteriorating conditions of facilities highlighted by former quarterback Colt Brennan and football coach June Jones.
Sakamoto turned over folders of newspaper clippings and read numerous headlines to highlight the damaging effects that the events, and the board's handling of them, had on the university.
On repair and maintenance, for example, Sakamoto noted that the university has done a poor job in seeking private funds to help defray some of the costs.
"To me, some of it is us in our funding, but some of it is better advocacy," said Sakamoto (D, Salt Lake-Foster Village). "Not all of the funding needs to come through this body.
"There are opportunities to do more than blame us here."
Sen. Sam Slom, the lone Republican on the Education Committee, said he shared some of Sakamoto's concern but thought it unfair to lay all of the blame on one person.
"I think there's plenty of blame to go around, or plenty of criticism," said Slom (R, Diamond Head-Hawaii Kai). "I think you're giving the nominee too much credit -- that she gets to make all these decisions, that she was the one who influenced all of these things. ... It was a full board of regents."
Slom supported Lagareta, as did Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland (D, Kalihi-Liliha).
The committee approved three other regent nominations yesterday: First Hawaiian Bank Executive Vice President and former UH Foundation Chairman Howard Karr, Artemio C. Baxa and Dennis Isao Hirota.
A decision was deferred on the nomination of Joshua J. Wingstrom as the student representative on the board, after a typographical error was discovered in Lingle's appointment message. Sakamoto said the Governor's Office and the state boards and commissions manager would have to determine how to proceed with the matter.