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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Senators oppose Lagareta

By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Kitty Lagareta

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The state Senate Education Committee voted 5-2 yesterday against recommending communications executive Kitty Lagareta for another term on the University of Hawai'i Board of Regents.

Lagareta, the chief executive officer of Communications Pacific, is a friend and former political adviser to Gov. Linda Lingle. Lingle appointed Lagareta to the board in 2003 and she has served as the board's chairwoman and vice chairwoman.

The committee's recommendation clouds Lagareta's chances for confirmation when her nomination reaches the Senate floor this week.

"It's a difficult issue to vote 'no' on anyone," said state Sen. Norman Sakamoto, D-15th (Waimalu, Airport, Salt Lake), the chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

Sakamoto said Lagareta was in a leadership role on the board during the controversial firing of Evan Dobelle as UH president and questioned whether she has been collaborative with other board members and lawmakers.

Lagareta said she is proud of her service on the board and has worked to improve the accreditation ratings for the university's campuses. If she had to do anything differently, she said, she could have been more collaborative with lawmakers.

Her term on the board expired last year, but she was kept on while lawmakers made changes to the appointment process.

"It felt like they really were working hard to find a good reason to keep me out," Lagareta said of the senators on the committee.

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.