New locks keep Dobelle,
aides out of UH offices

A university attorney says the regents
must wait to reveal why the president
was fired

Locks to the office doors of fired University of Hawaii President Evan Dobelle and some of his top aides have been changed, and their offices have been secured.

UH spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka confirmed the actions yesterday but referred questions about why they were taken to UH legal counsel Walter Kirimitsu, who said he could not comment because it is a legal matter.

Kirimitsu also said the regents cannot release the reasons for Dobelle's dismissal or the Deloite & Touche audit of his protocol fund until the regents formally communicate the results of his third-year evaluation to him.

Kirimitsu said that the evaluation, which led to Dobelle's firing on Tuesday night, is still considered private.

"Until that process is completed, because the president still has a right of privacy in his evaluation, we are not able to release any information," he said.

Kirimitsu said once Dobelle is officially notified, the university will "make a determination and respond according to his response."

Regents Vice Chairwoman Kitty Lagareta said yesterday that Dobelle has not returned the board's calls.

Yesterday, Lagareta and board Chairwoman Patricia Lee went on the radio and television morning news shows to answer criticism of the board's firing of Dobelle while he was on vacation.

In an April 30 memo, Dobelle informed the board that he would be out of town taking his son on a college tour from June 2 through 16.

Dobelle, in a phone call from a Chicago hotel, said he also discussed his vacation plans with the board at the April board meeting two weeks earlier.

Lagareta said Lee told Dobelle in subsequent correspondence that he should attend the meeting.

She said the board office is working on a chronology of events dating back to February, when the board and Dobelle discussed conducting his third-year evaluation in June.

But Dobelle said while he remembers e-mails discussing whether the meeting should be opened or closed to the public, there is no memo or letter that he read telling him he had to be at the Tuesday meeting when the regents fired him.

"If they have a memo, they've typed it up in the last 24 hours," he said.

Lagareta said Dobelle should have been aware of the seriousness of what was going to be discussed at Tuesday's meeting because he was at a May 11 teleconference where a consultant hired to conduct the evaluation briefed him of his findings.

She said Dobelle also had a copy of the draft audit of his protocol fund and met with the board for 90 minutes on June 2 when he was questioned about his self-evaluation.

Dobelle said he was expecting the Tuesday meeting to result in a letter that he could respond to. He complained that he was not given a chance to talk to the board and work out his dismissal in private, which would have protected the university.

"Why would you do it this way?" he asked.

Meanwhile, Tanaka said Dobelle's executive assistant Prescott Stewart and assistant Kristin Blanchfield turned in their resignations this week.

On Thursday, UH Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer J.R. Wick Sloane was put on administrative leave with pay until the end of his contract in December. Sloane was given a one-year notice last December that his $227,000-a-year job would not be renewed.

Tanaka said Sloane was put on leave after consultation with the Board of Regents and acting UH President David McClain.

Stewart also turned in his resignation Thursday from his $111,552-a-year job. Stewart had been on leave without pay for personal reasons, Tanaka said. Blanchfield turned in her resignation Monday. She had a base salary of $93,168.


New regent looks
past Dobelle firing

The newly appointed member of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents said one of his priorities will be to make sure the university "gets through its current challenges with respect to (UH President Evan) Dobelle's firing."

Hilo investment adviser John Kai said he has no knowledge of what went into the decision to fire Dobelle, but is confident the board took the time to review all of the information before them in making their decision.

Kai said he believes the firing may have created an unfavorable public perception of the university, and his task as a regent will be to help people understand the process that led to the decision.

Gov. Linda Lingle announced yesterday that Kai will serve as one of two Big Island representatives on the board on an interim basis until the state Senate confirms him.

Kai, 38, president and co-founder of Pinnacle Investment Group, also serves on the board of ML Macadamia Orchards, where acting UH President David McClain is also a director.

Lingle and key lawmakers have praised McClain, saying he is a worthy successor to Dobelle.

Kai is Lingle's sixth regent appointment from the business community.

On Thursday, UH alumnus Andres Albano Jr., a vice president with CB Richard Ellis Hawaii Inc., a commercial real estate firm, was sworn in as a regent. He has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and a master's in business administration.

Lingle said she expects to name one more interim regent within a week and has another seat to fill to bring the board up to its full 12 members. After making those appointments, Lingle will have appointed 10 members, including student regent Trent Kakuda, who was recommended by Democratic Senate President Robert Bunda.

"Since I've been governor, who would have any idea we'd have this many appointments?" said Lingle, a Republican elected in 2002.

Kai, a1983 Honokaa graduate, said he brings to the board his perspective as a native Hawaiian and parent of two prospective UH students. He said his sons, ages 15 and 16, have expressed interest in attending UH-Manoa. His wife's daughter is a junior in UH's College of Business.

He is also past president and current director of the Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce, is a past director of the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce and a charter member of the governor's East Hawaii Advisory Committee.

Kai received his Associate in Arts degree in business administration and marketing from Sacramento City College.


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --