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Lingle faulted for not choosing regents


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POSTED: Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The state Supreme Court faulted Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday for failing to replace University of Hawaii Board of Regents members despite having had several months and opportunities to select names from a list of candidates.

The court issued a 24-page opinion to explain why it ordered Lingle to nominate six new regents to the 15-member board that governs the 10-campus public university system.

On Dec. 4, the court gave Lingle 30 days to pick six people from a list provided by the Regents Candidate Advisory Council on Feb. 21. The justices ruled that she violated state law by holding over six regents whose terms had expired at the end of June.

In its opinion the court noted that Lingle could have submitted nominees during three special sessions held by the Legislature this year. It also pointed out that nearly 10 months have passed since Lingle was given a candidate list, calling it “;an unreasonable period of time.”;

“;They just sort of said, 'Well, the governor seems to not really be trying to meet her responsibilities here,'”; said Jon Van Dyke, a UH constitutional law professor who represented Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and Education Chairman Norman Sakamoto, the Democratic leaders who brought the case against Lingle, a Republican.

Calls seeking comment from Lingle and the state attorney general's office were not immediately returned. The Lingle administration, which had argued state law did not provide a deadline for the governor to nominate regents, has said it will comply with the court's order.

The court also raised concerns about whether decisions made by the Board of Regents since July are valid because the held-over regents participated in meetings, though it declined to rule on that issue.

The Board of Regents will meet Thursday at Honolulu Community College to discuss possible implications of the ruling on earlier board actions, said university spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka.