Senate votes against reconfirming Lagareta
By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer
By Derrick DePledge
The state Senate voted yesterday to reject communications executive Kitty Lagareta for another term on the University of Hawai'i Board of Regents.
The 16-9 vote came after several senators said Lagareta should bear some responsibility for problems at the university, from the firing of Evan Dobelle as president to the departures of June Jones as football coach and Herman Frazier as athletic director.
Senators also cited the selection process of new president David McClain, management shortcomings identified by the state auditor, and the deteriorating conditions at many of the university's campuses.
Lagareta, a friend and former political adviser to Gov. Linda Lingle, has served as board chair and vice chair since she was named as a regent by the governor in 2003.
"We need to do better," said state Sen. Norman Sakamoto, D-15th (Waimalu, Airport, Salt Lake), chairman of the Senate Education Committee, which had voted Monday against recommending Lagareta's nomination to the full Senate.
Lagareta said she was proud of her accomplishments, including the improvement of accreditation ratings at university campuses, and said she would not want to serve further if board decisions were going to be micromanaged by the Legislature. She also believes her friendship with Lingle had an influence on the vote.
"If we ran the university the way they seem to want us to, we wouldn't need a president and we wouldn't need any chancellors, the Legislature would tell us what to do and the regents would go do it," Lagareta told reporters. "And that is not the way I'm ever going to perform in a job like that. That's not good governance, and I'm actually happy because, if reconfirmed, and if I were expected to perform that way, I couldn't do it."
State Sen. Sam Slom, R-8th (Kahala, Hawai'i Kai), said he, too, has been critical of some of the regents' actions but said it is unfair for the Senate to place all the blame on Lagareta. He described some of the complaints by senators about Lagareta's openness and leadership style as "cheap hearsay."
"Why are we picking on one individual and placing all of the responsibility and all of the blame on that individual?" he said.
The Senate voted yesterday to confirm three other Lingle nominees to the UH board:
Lingle withdrew the nomination of Joshua Wingstrom, a student nominee, because of technical problems with the nomination.
Staff writer Treena Shapiro contributed to this report. Reach Derrick DePledge at firstname.lastname@example.org or 525-8070.
Reach Derrick DePledge at email@example.com.