UH releases full list of Sugar Bowl delegation
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This University of Hawaii released yesterday - more than five months after initial media requests - a complete list people who went to New Orleans last December at a cost estimated at $1.3 million as the school's delegation to the Sugar Bowl.
UH distributed the same list May 23 but with 45 names blacked out at the request of the Hawaii Government Employees Association.
The Hawaii State Ethics Commission requested release of the entire list to determine whether some of the people traveling at state expense were doing so with no state function, which is illegal.
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The University of Hawaii provided 45 names yesterday that were blacked out from a list of 550 released to media outlets two weeks ago, plus the names of another 39 people who paid their own way. All of the people listed went to the Sugar Bowl last December as part of the school's travel group.
Click here to view a list of the additional names released by the University of Hawaii.
The completed list was also given to the Hawaii State Ethics Commission yesterday. The commission asked for all of the names in order to check for possible violations of state law. At issue is whether some people on the trip - including spouses and children - were traveling at state expense but not fulfilling a state function.
Commission Executive Director Daniel Mollway said there is no timetable on determining whether laws were broken.
"We'll just review it to see who went," Mollway said. "If we have questions, we'll ask them."
UH blacked out the names on the original list to try to honor a request from the Hawaii Government Employees Association to protect its members' privacy.
The complete list was released only yesterday for several reasons, UH spokesman Gregg Takayama said.
View the list of those who made the Sugar Bowl trip.|
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"We basically told (the union), 'We understand your concern, but we don't feel you have a strong case,'" Takayama said. "Also, we took pains to edit out the names of children best we could. That was a lengthy process, as well as (conferring with) our legal counsel. There were many moving parts."
News outlets, including the Star-Bulletin, have requested information about the Sugar Bowl travel list since before the group left Dec. 25 for the BCS bowl game. The Star-Bulletin received information about the chancellor's delegation on Dec. 27, but nothing further was disclosed by UH until May 23. That was when the list with the blacked-out names was distributed, only after a suit was filed in Circuit Court by the Honolulu Advertiser.
In a May 22 letter from HGEA's Kevin Nakata to UH President David McClain, the union asked the school to withhold releasing the names of its members and their guests. The letter reads in part:
"Unfortunately, it appears that the university failed to inform the affected employees that their travel would be subject to public disclosure. Had that fact been shared with potential travelers they might have declined the opportunity to travel. As a result of the university's oversight, HGEA respectfully
requests that the university not release the names of the affected employees and their guests."
HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira said the employees were in New Orleans to work, and the union's request to black out the names was to discourage "scrutiny, including 'why he went and why he didn't go.'"
"Granted, it's an assignment no one would turn down, but the bottom line is they were going for a purpose," he added. "Our organization was not seeking to protect their (UH's) interest. Our interest was to maintain confidentiality for our employees. We didn't want to see employees subjected to questions like 'Why'd you get to go?'"
Guests, including spouses and children, might fall under a different level of scrutiny from employees, Perreira said.
"We're not looking to contest what the ethics commission is doing, but I don't think the ethics commission should question if staff was invited inappropriately," Perreira said. "Undoubtedly, there are others who should be questioned.
"Our organization does not think it's right for people to travel on the state's dime for no good reason."
Six people who were guests of UH employees have reimbursed the school for Sugar Bowl travel expenses. They are the wife and four children of associate athletic director Carl Clapp, and a guest of then-media relations employee Markus Owens.
Below are the 45 names left off the original Sugar Bowl list released by the University of Hawaii two weeks ago and the 39 names of individuals who did not have their trip expenses covered by Sugar Bowl proceeds:
DEPARTMENT STAFF (45)
OTHERS WHOSE TRIP
EXPENSES WERE NOT
PAID BY SUGAR BOWL
Lita de la Pena