named regent

Lynne Kaneshiro replaces a UH
regent who quit in protest

By Pat Omandam

Gov. Ben Cayetano named businesswoman Lynne Kaneshiro to the University of Hawaii Board of Regents after interim appointee Michael Hartley resigned in protest over UH President Evan Dobelle's televised endorsement of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mazie Hirono.

Dobelle appeared in a commercial supporting Hirono for governor that ran the weekend before the election.

Hartley, a co-founder of Cheap Tickets Inc., submitted his resignation on election day.

"He (Hartley) said he was going to leave the Board of Regents because he thought that what President Dobelle did was inappropriate," Cayetano told KHON-TV. Hartley could not be reached for comment.

After a news conference yesterday, Dobelle told reporters he does not believe his public endorsement was wrong or inappropriate.

For instance, Dobelle said, former UH President Al Simone publicly supported then-Gov. John Waihee during both his elections for governor.

Republican governor-elect Linda Lingle has told Dobelle that she thought his endorsement was inappropriate. Both said they have now moved beyond the incident.

When questioned, Dobelle explained no one forced him to do the ad and that as president of a university, he is expected to speak out on issues.

He said he approached Hirono about the ad, and no one approached him to do it. People did tell him that doing so may hurt him politically, but Dobelle felt differently.

"I'm proud of what I did, and if I could endorse Mazie Hirono again, I would because I care about her. I'm devoted to her personally," Dobelle said.

"That's nothing to do with Linda, and I'm happy to work with her and serve as a member of her Cabinet. And I will be a loyal member of her Cabinet," he said.

Kaneshiro, president of Island Title Corp., begins her regent duties immediately. Her appointment must still be confirmed by the state Senate during the Legislature's next session, which begins in January.

Cayetano said Kaneshiro has a impressive background in business and the community and that the board will benefit from her experience.

Kaneshiro's term is one of six seats on the 12-member board that expires June 30. Lingle said this week she wants three of those appointments to be out-of-state residents, with possibly another regent named by the UH Professional Assembly, the faculty union.

Two regents whose terms expire next summer told the Star-Bulletin yesterday they do not plan to leave before their time is up.

"I have no intention of leaving," said Kathleen K.S.L. Thurston. "I look forward to the new Gov. Lingle administration. And I think the whole reason why I serve as a volunteer is hopefully to provide a positive platform for the university."

Regent Ah Quon McElrath said she has not spoken with her board colleagues since the election and said Lingle's election does not change a thing.

"After all, I was appointed to do a specific public service, and I'm going to continue to do it until I'm done," McElrath said.

Meanwhile, Dobelle said he wants to talk to Sam Callejo, Cayetano's chief of staff, about working at UH after the governor leaves office Dec. 2.

Dobelle believes Lingle would be lucky to keep Callejo in her Cabinet. Callejo, an engineer and former city managing director, was not at work yesterday. His office said he will return to work Tuesday.

"If Linda doesn't keep him, which she probably ought to, then I don't know what his future would be," Dobelle said. "I certainly would like to talk to him."

Star-Bulletin reporter Craig Gima and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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