HTA names top choice for CEO


POSTED: Friday, February 27, 2009

After nearly five months without a permanent leader at the helm, the embattled Hawaii Tourism Authority has named Mike McCartney, the former state senator and Democratic Party chairman, as its top choice for president and chief executive.






Mike McCartney

        » Birth date: Dec. 17, 1959

» Current position: Executive director of the Hawaii State Teachers Association


» Tourism background: Former chairman of the Hawaii Tourism Authority


» Political background: State senator from 1988 to 1998 and Democratic Party Chairman in 2006


» Education: Graduate of Castle High and Pacific University in Oregon


An HTA search committee recommended McCartney for the job yesterday during a closed-door meeting. The agency, which already has vetted McCartney, is expected to tender him a formal job offer at next Friday's meeting, said HTA Chairman Kelvin Bloom.

McCartney succeeds former HTA CEO Rex Johnson who resigned in October of 2008 in deference to community outcry regarding allegations that he had used his state laptop to forward pornographic e-mails and racist and sexist jokes to friends.

“;I am honored to be selected by the committee for the position of HTA's president and CEO,”; McCartney said. “;Helping to ensure the success of Hawaii's leading industry is a responsibility that I embrace, and I look forward to working with the board, the industry, the community, our leaders in government and the HTA staff.”;

McCartney's compensation will not be disclosed until after next week's meeting; however, Bloom said it would be in line with his predecessor's salary, which was originally set at $240,000 but was dropped to $200,000 following disciplinary action.

McCartney, who currently heads the Hawaii State Teachers Association, has served as HTA chairman. However, most of his work experience is in other private and political sectors. He has served as president and CEO of PBS Hawaii and director of the Hawaii State Department of Human Resources.

“;In selecting Michael, we felt that he will bring the right combination of industry knowledge, community credibility and ability to build bridges between the many stakeholders that the HTA serves,”; Bloom said, adding that about 200 other candidates had applied for the job.

Other names discussed within the industry as possible candidates for the position had included airline and tourism-industry executive Paul Casey; Tim Lyons, president of the Hawaii Business League; destination management specialist and business owner Mary Charles and Rick Egged, director of the Waikiki Improvement Association.

Rep. Joey Manahan, who chairs the House Committee on Tourism, Culture, & International Affairs, praised the HTA's choice.

“;I've known Mr. McCartney since he was on the HTA board and I've seen him in my tenure during the Legislature. From my experience, he is a good leader and I look forward to working with him,”; Manahan said. “;I think that he can provide the leadership that they need at this time.”;

Keith Vieira, senior vice president and director of operations for Starwood in Hawaii and French Polynesia, said McCartney is well connected in the community and in politics, but voiced concern about his lack of industry and marketing experience.

“;I worked with him on the HTA board and found him to be smart, articulate and a great politician,”; Vieira said. “;Unfortunately, he has no industry or marketing experience. While community and Legislative relations are important to us, at the end of the day, it is about having the best person to drive tourism revenue into the state.”;