Abercrombie serves up waffles on BOE

Neil Abercrombie campaigned for governor as a straight shooter who would always let us know where he stands, but as governor-elect he’s been more of a moving target on the matter of how the new appointed Board of Education will be constituted.

Voters said by a solid margin that they want the governor to appoint the BOE and be held accountable for the results. The question on the ballot couldn’t have been more clear:

“Shall the Board of Education be changed to a board appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, as provided by law?”

Now some legislators and interest groups that feed off of public education seem intent on thwarting the will of voters by limiting the governor’s choices to as few as two candidates put forth by a screening committee mostly controlled by interest groups and the Legislature. It would provide no more accountability than the current system.

Abercrombie has been all over the map. During the campaign, he avoided a straight answer on whether he supported switching from an elected to an appointed school board, a change opposed by the teachers’ union that gave him a key endorsement.

He finally said he voted for the constitutional amendment, but suggested he had reservations.

On the question of how the school board would be appointed, he initially indicated that he would work with what the Legislature gave him. Then, in a meeting with senators, he was reported to have expressed a preference for appointing directly without being restricted by a selection committee.

Now, an excellent analysis by Dave Koga in yesterday’s Star-Advertiser reports that he’s waffling again:

A three-point memo from his staff says Abercrombie wants to hear different views on the process, will work with legislators to pass enabling legislation and wants the matter “resolved quickly and in a way that best reflects the voters’ decision and serves the public interest.”

I don’t begrudge Abercrombie a shot at working things out collegially and certainly don’t expect him to get in a public fight with the Legislature before he’s even sworn in.

But I do expect him to be more up front on where he stands, and in the end to stand up for the accountability on education that voters unmistakably said they wanted.

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12 Comments on “Abercrombie serves up waffles on BOE”

  1. charles Says:

    Would have been interesting if the legislature overrode the bill that implemented the apppointed BOE and the voters voted for the con am anyway.

    It would then take away Dave’s central argument, big time.

  2. Household God Says:

    Abercrombie stands with the HSTA. He is against the appointed BoE but, having lost that point, will embrace any plan which minimizes his culpability for DoE performance over the next 4 years.
    He is also against an audit.
    What we have here is a fight between HSTA, HGEA, UH, and KSBE and other DoE contractors over who gets the biggest share of the pie.

  3. Michael Says:

    My, are you punny today!

    Hope Governor Abercrombie need not
    scramble his eggs to get what he wants.
    Maple syrup with Canadian.
    Sweeten up the deal. I think Neil
    may be more of a loco moco type of guy.

  4. Kolea Says:


    I like your second to the last paragraph, but am not sure how you reconcile it with the rest of your commentary.

    While I am not a big fan of the appointed BOE, I agree with your interpretation of the voters’ intent. A problem arises when the Lege has to write a law spelling out a specific process to implement the intent of the amendment.

    You clearly are itching for some public fireworks, despite your protestations to the contrary. I think it is probably better if Neil tries to negotiate with the Legislative leadership behind closed doors rather than through the media. Unless or until there is an impasse.

    Pre-inauguration (and pre-session) negotiations are a bit impaired by the delay in organizing the House leadership. Perhaps you will concede that point?

    Or perhaps that is irrelevant because, sometime when I was distracted, we elected Neil king?

  5. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    The VETOED bill – HB2377 HD3 SD2 CD1 – was going to be on the Special Session Agenda that also included HB444; however, the decision not to hold a Special Session killed the bill.

    The Legislature has to establish an implementing bill in order for the Constitutional Amendment to go into effect.

    The final version the bill which would have set up a Board of Education Selection Advisory Council passed in the House on 4/28 with the following voting NO: Bertram, Carroll, Ching, Finnegan, Hanohano, Marumoto, McKelvey, Rhoads, Souki, Thielen, Ward.
    Five out of the six Republicans (Ching, Finnegan, Marumoto, Thielen, Ward) voted NO – only Pine voted YES. Five of the other NO votes represented Neighbor Island – Bertram, Carroll, Hanohano, McKelvey, Souki. The only O`ahu Democrat voting NO was Rhaods

    The Senate’s vote 4/28 passed with 22 AYES of which nine were With Reservations: Baker, Bunda, Chun Oakland, Green, Hee, Kidani, Nishihara, Takamine, Taniguchi. There were two NO votes: Espero & Slom. Escused: Ihara.

    NOTE: I have calls out to several senators asking them to list their concenrs leading to their YES WITH RESERVATIONS vote.

    Back to your arguments: You stated earlier that the language is different in the two Amendments and that should be the overriding argument for keeping all the selection power in the Governor’s hands.

    I argue that the Board of Regents selection process has greatly improved over the past three years with respect to openess as well as to the quality of the candidates presented to the Governor.

    Click https://www.hawaii.edu/rcac/ for access to the Regents Candidate Advisory Council website to read more about the Council and what it does.

    Here is a brief description of its history

    The Regents Candidate Advisory Council of the University of Hawai‘i identifies candidates for the university system’s governing Board of Regents. The council presents pools of qualified candidates to the governor of Hawai‘i from which candidates are nominated and, with the consent of the state senate, appointed by the governor.

    The advisory council was created by Act 56, 2007 Hawai‘i Legislature, in conformity with the amendment to Article X, Section 6 of the Hawai‘i State Constitution ratified by the voters on Nov. 7, 2006. The council is tied to the University of Hawai‘i for administrative purposes. In 2008, Act 56 was amended by Act 9. In 2010, Act 58 was passed to establish a seven-member student advisory group.

    Seven members comprise the advisory council. They establish the criteria for qualifying, screening and forwarding candidates for membership on the UH Board of Regents. The council advertises pending vacancies and solicits and accepts applications from potential candidates.

    PDF files can be viewed using the free Adobe PDF Reader.

    Press release for the 2011 recruitment https://www.hawaii.edu/rcac/docs/2011_Press_Release_with_Maui_seat.pdf

    You can nominate a candidate online, print a nomination form or request a form be mailed to you.

    I have attended several RCAC meetings in the past. Everything is sunshined. Its members are themselves highly qualified.

    This is the best way to keep the public directly involved in the selection process.

    Why do you make the argument that this process restricts the Governor from selecting the best qualified individuals to serve on the BOE.

    I urge you and others who feel the same way to go read the CVs of all the Regent candidates whose names were sent to the Governor for her selection over the past three-plus years.

    Then go back to 2000 or 1990 and check out the qualifications of the Regents serving at that time.


    As I wrote earlier, I voted BLANK on the Amendment because it did not have an implementing bill to get it started.

    Education issues are very important to me personally AND professionally which is why I took the time to run for the BOE in 2002’s Special Election and again in 2004’s regular election.

    However, I’ve now moved on to other related issues such as funding. The problem with any Hawai`i BOE regardless of how its members are selected is that it does not have direct taxing and spending authority like other boards do across the country.

    Furthermore, it is worth looking at the possibility of creating a semi-autonomous Department of Education similar to the way that UH is now run which could include county-wide boards athorized to deal with day-2-day operations with each chair sitting on a state-wide board to establish Big Picture Policies.

    Lots of possibilities here, but the Board of Education Advisory Council system is the best way to keep the public involved in the process for selecting its members.

  6. David Shapiro Says:

    Kolea, not looking for fireworks, really, just a consistent position that doesn’t change every time a statement comes out. I was satisfied with what he told the senators last week, but now that seems to have changed again.

  7. Kolea Says:


    Neil can have his personal preference, but because the implementing legislation remains to be written by the Legislature, he has to remain open to their proposals. Like I said, we did not elect Neil to be king.

    And even if we agree (you and I) on the “clear intent” of the voters in passing the amendment, the incoming Abercrombie administration needs to carefully navigate any implementing legislation through the Legislature.

    I suggest what you are calling “waffling” is simply basic diplomacy at a fairly early stage of the dance. There will (probably) be a time for more direct, confrontative talk as the session goes on, but why should we be in a hurry to see the positions harden before the guy is even sworn into office?

    Maybe you are suffering withdrawals from the Sturm und Drang of the recent combative election? Maybe a bit of calm negotiations is the best approach at this time? We have Democrats in control of both the Lege and the FIfth Floor. Let’s give them a chance to see if they can cooperate and accomplish things on behalf of the people of Hawaii.

    Though I admit, it would be less FUN than seeing Neil and the Lege leadership fighting with each other.

  8. ppcc Says:

    Prior to the public voting for the Gov to appoint the BOE, not hard to figure out they had a two pronged attack. Spend money trying to mount a PR campaign for the public to vote ‘no’ on the measure, using teachers, current BOE members, UH faculty who had students in public school, etc. However that all failed when 3 previous Govs (Ariyoshi, Waihee, Cayteno), Lingle AND former Super of Ed. Hamamoto spoke out in favor of an appointed BOE. HSTA failed “plan A” however their “plan B” involved spending $$ on Abercrombie and his gubernatorial campaign and now spend serious $$ on current and new State legislatures to get them and Aber to create a screening committee that is guarantee “loaded” with HSTA plants. It would be ironic, but could actually happen in Hawaii, in which the current BOE members are removed and an HSTA loaded screening committee is put in place in which some of the same BOE members such as Toguchi, Coco, Penebacker, etc are nominated by the screening committee in which the gov will have no choice but to choose the exact same people who were removed! The appointed BOE might actually be WORSE cause now a screening committee could select 100 PERCENT of the candidates with a hidden HSTA agenda that would be presented to the Gov. to choose.

    This has already happened with the screening committee that selected the last UH President. With ex HGEA union boss Russell Okata as the chair of the UH presidential selection committee, they already PRESELECTED one candidate, Greenwood, to the BOR who had only had the choice of either of selecting Greenwood or not choosing a president at all. Was in the news that Greenwood wants to physically expand UH with a new Cancer center, UH West Oahu, etc. spending many hundreds of millions for new construction costs using bonds and greatly raising UH student tuition rates. It just boggles one mind who an ex labor union boss was made chair of selecting a university president. Of course wasn’t it a union labor boss, who has since been convicted of over a 100 felonies, Rodrigues, who used to be on a “committee” to select judges and former KSBE trustees?

    Talk about coming full circle. Found this article online in which Dave wrote about Rodrigues

  9. Michael Says:

    Would the queen want Green Eggs and Ham?
    Maybe the King and Ihop will have someone fall off the wall. Pancaked, but not Waffled.
    SOS goes better with Toast.

  10. todayisthesame Says:

    The problem is that the Legislature writes the Constitutional Amendment question adding things like “as provided by Law.” Thus, the legislature fools the people into thinking they are deciding what is best for the State, with the Legislators laughing behind their backs because it is the Legislature and only the Legislature that will decide. The same junk was done with the gay marriage ban, leaving it once again to the Legislature. The same with steel-on-steel rail. These are not the questions we wanted to vote on or the results we needed. It’s business as usual or even worse. For example, the BOE will become totally political and as accountable as the Legislature — in fact, I expect to see a lot of former legislators appointed to the BOE and BOE salaries increased accordingly. The Legislature corrupts everything.

  11. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:


    Members of the Board of Education serve without compensation except for reimbursement for travel expenses. They are provided with an office and secretarial staff who do get paid, but BOE members do not.

    They are not full-time volunteers either. About half of them are retired and the rest hold down full-time jobs.

    Where do you get information?

  12. Gargoyle Says:

    “I expect to see a lot of former legislators appointed to the BOE and BOE salaries increased accordingly.”

    “Members of the Board of Education serve without compensation except for reimbursement for travel expenses.”

    Therefore any salary is a salary increase. Perhaps “zero” is outside of your information range, Capitol-ist? Or you just don’t like listening to the peasants grumble aout YOU and you think you can talk down to them by twisting words.

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