Regents marred Dobelle
evaluation, state says
The University of Hawaii Board of Regents did not give adequate public notice and improperly amended its agenda when it considered the evaluation of UH President Evan Dobelle in secret last summer, the state Office of Information Practices says.
In a letter to the regents on Wednesday, OIP Director Les Kondo said giving adequate notice would have allowed Dobelle to open the process to the public, rather than holding it behind closed doors.
But Kondo said because this year's evaluation has started, it makes no sense to redo last year's evaluation.
He suggested a remedy would be to release minutes from last year's meetings while withholding the identities of those promised confidentiality. Doing so would require Dobelle's consent.
Dobelle said yesterday he needs to discuss the release of the minutes with the board and cannot do that officially until next month's meeting.
But he said minutes should not be released with anonymous allegations against him. "This really transitions the evaluation to being a hit piece," he said. "It's been clear for a long time that the process is unfair."
Regent Kitty Lagareta, chairwoman of the personnel committee that conducted the evaluation, said the regents were following the advice of its legal counsel last year. Now, she said, the board is giving proper public notice.
"Our instinct is to make sure we're doing it in as open and forthright way as possible. We want to do it right," she said.
Kondo said the only public notice of the evaluation was for a discussion of the process for the evaluation. He said the process should be discussed in public, and the law does not allow the board to amend its agenda to discuss the evaluation itself.
Kondo also offered suggestions for future evaluations. He said if an employee opens an evaluation to the public, the board may not close meetings to interview people in private.
However, should people wish to give anonymous information to the board, the law allows a small group of regents to interview people outside the meeting and report back in open session to protect identities.
During the meetings with OIP, Dobelle was represented by attorney Bert Kobayashi Jr. while the regents were represented by the university's general counsel.
Dobelle said the university's lawyers have said that when his interests and the boards interests differ, he has the right to hire an outside attorney.
Dobelle said he did not know what the bill is for Kobayashi's services. He said he is not sure if he will pay the bill, but that it's his understanding that it is allowable for the university to pay for his attorney.