System for choosing UH regents falls short again

Once again, the regents advisory committee has given Gov. Neil Abercrombie only two candidates to pick from in filling a Big Island seat on the University of Hawai’i Board of Regents.

With no knock intended on the candidates — Kamehameha Schools vice president Gregory Chun and former Hawaii County managing director Barry Mizuno — that’s just too few for the governor to have a meaningful choice in shaping the board that directs the University of Hawai’i.

While the poorly conceived law passed by the Legislature to govern the selection panel allows members to turn over that few candidates, the customary number is for such advisory committees is four to six choices.

Giving only two effectively cuts the state’s chief executive out of the process and leaves choosing regents to a selection panel that represents a collection special interests that feed off the university and is accountable to nobody.

The issue flared earlier in the year when Abercrombie didn’t like any of the skimpy choices given him for two regents seats, but was turned down by the panel when he asked for more candidates. He appointed from what he had and the Senate Education Committee rejected both nominees as ill qualified.

The governor called the system broken and Senate Education Chairwoman Jill Tokuda agreed that the Legislature should consider changes next year.

Let’s hope they follow through. Ideally, lawmakers should put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to abolish the UH selection panel in favor of the successful model for Board of Education, under which the governor appoints whomever he pleases subject to confirmation by the Senate.

This is in line with the American tradition in which the executive appoints and the Legislature advises and consents, and it provides ample checks, balances and accountability.

At the very least, the Legislature must require the selection panel to give the governor four or more candidates to choose from for every seat.

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6 Comments on “System for choosing UH regents falls short again”

  1. el guapo Says:

    Abusing the corpse of a equus caballus again

  2. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Rather than using this blog to rail against a system that really does work, why don’t you 1) track the application process as it happens; 2) ask for the list of appliants or at the very least the number of applicants; 3) take the time, energy & effort to recruit qualified applicants.

    Here’s the website: You can also ask them to put you on their media contact list.

    I attend at least one Regents’ meeting each quarter and can attest to the fact that the quality of the Board as a whole has significantly improved since the law went into effect several years ago.

    Unfortunately, their regular full board meetings are usually held on the same day of the month and at the same time as the Stadium Authority which is also on my “high priority” list.

    Anyhow, why not join up with your state senator who happens to chair the Education Committee to work on reforming the bill if you feel that strongly about it.

  3. Doug Says:

    C/WD, you don’t get it. Shapiro is a journalist. Or was. Now he’s a columnist, a separate species? I dunno. In any case, journalists claim to hold to a high-falutin’ ethos that tells them it would be improper to ever engage in direct political action beyond voting (some don’t even do that!) and/or writing opinion pieces. This ethos also allows them to editorialize using general themes, without the hassle of working out the details that can make or break a policy. Clearly, journalists know what is best, if only the legislators would just do what they want! [wink]

  4. Hugh Clark Says:

    I suppose Dave and I may never agree on regent selections, (I always wanted governor removed from tis process — be it Lingle or Burns and all in between).

    That aside, I am angry Big Island is not represented now, just as it is drawing blanks in such things as the state reapportionment commission. Do we need to revolt in anger?

  5. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:


    Dylan Nonaka is moving – or perhaps already has – back to Big island. He is one of four Republicans on the Reapportionment Commission. Talk about being over-represented since there are only nine Republicans in the Legislature.

    Hope that the Star-Advertiser will print my response to Malama Solomon’s op-ed as to why the military should be counted in determining where state legislative boundaries will be drawn. FYI: they will be counted in determining the First and Second US House Districts will be.

    it is discomfiting indeed to have two sets of criteria and populations which are close to 75,000 apart.

    Orff to bed. Busy day coming up.

  6. el guapo Says:

    Well Doc it might be discomforting but that’s going to be the reality. Score one for the Big Island.

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