Time for Legislature to undo its mistake on UH regents

I hate to say I told you so, but the political chickens of Democratic legislators are coming home to roost on their ill-advised decision to force the governor to appoint University of Hawai’i regents from a list provided by a selection panel.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie yesterday withdrew two of his five regent appointments after they were rejected by the Senate Education Committee.

Sen. Jill Tokuda, the committee chairwoman, said questions arose about the qualifications of Big Island nominees Sandra Scarr and Patrick Naughton. Abercrombie’s spokesperson blamed the selection panel, saying the governor requested more candidates to choose from but was denied.

Tokuda said the appointment system needs to be reviewed. Duh.

The selection panel that was pushed through by lawmakers and ratified by voters was a bad idea enacted for the wrong reasons.

The old system in which the governor appointed whomever he or she wished as regents subject to Senate confirmation ā€” similar to the process recently enacted for appointing the Board of Education ā€” worked well enough.

Democratic lawmakers enacted the change solely for the purpose of handcuffing former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle and limiting her choices.

Former UH President David McClain derided the selection panel as a “Noah’s Ark” of special interests. The leading national organization for accrediting colleges and universities recommended strongly against the change as bad practice.

But the Democrats were determined to have their pound of political flesh; especially egregious was the Legislature’s decision to allow the panel to give the governor as few as two candidates to choose from, leaving the executive little meaningful role in shaping the state university and providing zero accountability ā€” as seen in the current finger-pointing.

At the very least, legislators need to change the law to require the panel to give the governor four to six candidates to choose from, which is the standard for such selection committees.

Better yet would be for lawmakers to admit their politically motivated mistake and put a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot taking us back to the traditional appointment system that served us well for over 40 years.

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4 Comments on “Time for Legislature to undo its mistake on UH regents”

  1. zzzzzing Says:

    No, I think they ought to live with their “mistake” – why undo it just because the Governor is a Democrat? Let Abercrombie suffer the same as Lingle. It’s only fair.

  2. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Sorry, but I have to disagree with you, David. However, I cannot take the time to go over each point right now, but perhaps we can bring the issue back for discussion the second week in May.

  3. Michael Says:

    I see an attempt to better things in Hawaii, since I don’t expect a miracle overnight.

  4. el guapo Says:

    Shapiro, you have transparency and accountability, so what are you complaining about? What do you want next, judges appointed by the governor without being nominated by the judicial selection committee?

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