Vericella’s resignation
first step in mending HVCB


The head of the tourism marketing bureau stepped down after a scathing audit of the bureau's spending practices.

WHEN an agency or organization comes under fire, it is often its leader who takes the heat. For Tony Vericella, the controversy surrounding the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau, exacerbated by a blistering state audit of its spending practices, became too hot for him to continue as president and chief executive.

Vericella's resignation should cool the situation, but questions about the bureau will smolder until it adjusts its taxpayer-funded operations to conform with appropriate accounting methods and ethical rules.

Vericella, who had been at HVCB's helm since 1997, was a visible target since the audit last month revealed a number of operational problems. Among them were the bureau's picking up the tab for his personal expenses that included parking and speeding tickets, his family's travel and in-room movies at hotels. However, that $670 outlay paled in comparison to other issues brought forth in the audit that involved awarding a lucrative contract to its departing vice president and creating potential for conflict of interest by having an airline pay a portion of an employee's salary while he was supposed to promote other airline companies as well.

Although HVCB's board gave him its unanimous vote of confidence last week, Vericella did the right thing in resigning. As he said in a statement, his continued leadership would have been a distraction from the bureau's ability "to move forward" with tourism marketing. In addition, his departure comes as HVCB attempts to realign its operations in light of the audit.

Vericella's resignation still leaves the bureau facing further scrutiny with the state Attorney General's Office conducting an investigation and legislative committees poised to jump in should lawmakers decided a probe is needed. Meanwhile, the Hawaii Tourism Authority, which is the state's primary agency for promoting tourism and which had contracted for the bureau's marketing services, is also considering a more comprehensive audit. However, the HTA itself remains under a cloud since the audit report also faults the authority for its lax oversight.

Tony Guerrero, chairman of HVCB's board of directors, is "confident" the bureau will be able to fill Vericella's post quickly. Let's hope so. The job is central to stabilizing the bureau, which has long been the foremost organization for Hawaii's tourism marketing efforts. Guerrero's optimism notwithstanding, the pressures of the critical audit and pending investigations may discourage candidates. Whoever takes on the challenge should recognize -- as Vericella properly did -- that the buck stops on the leader's desk.



Oahu Publications, Inc. publishes the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, MidWeek and military newspapers

David Black, Dan Case, Larry Johnson,
Duane Kurisu, Warren Luke, Colbert
Matsumoto, Jeffrey Watanabe,
Frank Teskey, Publisher

Frank Bridgewater, Editor, 529-4791;
Michael Rovner, Assistant Editor, 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor, 529-4762;

Mary Poole, Editorial Page Editor, 529-4748;

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin (USPS 249460) is published daily by
Oahu Publications at 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-500, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813.
Periodicals postage paid at Honolulu, Hawaii. Postmaster: Send address changes to
Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

E-mail to Editorial Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --