Lingle angles to hold Lagareta at UH post
The restructuring of the Board of Regents complicates the issue
Setting up a possible constitutional confrontation with the Democratic-controlled Senate, Gov. Linda Lingle said a University of Hawaii regent whose nomination was rejected by the Senate can still serve for two more years.
Remaking the UH Board of Regents
The Board of Regents consists of 15 people, although there are only 10 members of the current board.
» Continuing: Chairman Allan Landon (until 2009), James J.C. Haynes II (until 2010), Ronald Migita (until 2009)
» Regents whose terms expire June 30: Vice Chairman Andres Albano Jr., Byron Bender, student regent Michael Dahilig, Ramon de la Pena, Marlene Hapai, Jane Tatibouet, Kitty Lagareta
» New regents who start July 1: Artemio Baxa, Carl A. Carlson Jr., Teena M. Rasmussen, Harvey Tajiri, Howard Karr, Dennis Hirota
The Senate voted 16-9 Thursday against another term for Kitty Lagareta, an adviser to the Republican governor and an outspoken critic of the Legislature's involvement with the university.
Lingle said yesterday that she thought the Senate's vote was "a big mistake," and went on to say that she believes Lagareta will not have to leave the board, which oversees the management of the state's public higher-education system.
"She is a holdover, and she will be able to continue serving," Lingle said. State law allows regents to hold over or serve after the expiration of their terms "until the member's successor has been appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate."
But the state Constitution says regents must be approved by the Senate.
What is complicating the issue is a new law and constitutional amendment that created a committee to select regent candidates and expanded the size of the board to 15 from 12 members.
Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser said, "it is not in the best interest of the university" for the governor to attempt to keep Lagareta on the board.
"I think its clearly an attempt to circumvent the constitutional authority of the Senate," said Hooser (D, Kauai-Niihau).
"The Senate intent is very clear."
Lagareta said yesterday she was not aware that the governor might try to keep her on the board.
"I really don't know anything about it," Lagareta said. "I haven't talked to her (the governor) about it."
Besides the constitutional question over Lagareta, the issue of holding over regents could affect the composition of the board after June 30.
Six new regents were confirmed by the Senate before the Legislature adjourned, but the governor still must name six others.
If she does not nominate anyone else for the positions, regents whose terms expire on June 30 may be asked to continue, and under Lingle's interpretation, they would be able to serve for two more years without Senate approval.
Regent and former legislator Jane Tatibouet said yesterday she has not been told what will happen after her term expires, but would continue to serve if asked.
Tatibouet said a board with so many new members would need some transition time to learn about the workings of the university system. "There's a huge learning curve involved in being a regent."