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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 24, 2008

UH list for bowl omits 45 travelers

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Jeff Portnoy

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Before going public yesterday with a list of people identified as the University of Hawai'i's official travel party to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, the school blacked out 45 of the 550 names.

The release, and the estimate of $1.9 million in expenses for the game, came in response to a request filed by The Honolulu Advertiser March 13 under the state's open records law, the Uniform Information Practices Act.

The list did not include at least six people who UH said had paid their own way to the Jan. 1 game against Georgia.

UH had said it would make the names public the first week of June, and the newspaper said Thursday it would file a lawsuit to obtain travel records based on the university's refusal to produce public records in a timely manner and challenging its authority to remove the names of people who reimbursed UH for the trip.

The list was delivered to The Advertiser shortly before 4 p.m., and just after the newspaper filed a lawsuit in Circuit Court to obtain Sugar Bowl travel records.

In response to the lawsuit, UH-Manoa spokesman Gregg Takayama said Advertiser attorney Jeff Portnoy "was informed this morning by attorneys for the University of Hawai'i that the documents would be released this afternoon. So, we don't understand why the lawsuit was filed by Mr. Portnoy."

Portnoy said: "After having been informed this morning that some list with redactions would be provided to the newspaper in the early afternoon, we waited until after 3:30 to see what might be on the list. When no list was provided as represented, the lawsuit was filed.

"More importantly, even if the list provided had been made available prior to the filing of the lawsuit, the lawsuit would still have been filed because the list failed to comply with the legal requirements as it contained unwarranted redactions and did not explain whether anyone was able to have their name removed from the list as a result of any repayment to the university.

"Moreover, providing the list more than two and a half months after it was required to be produced is, in itself, a violation. Finally, The Advertiser has spent significant sums on attorney's fees, which would not have been required had the list been produced in March or even as late as last week."

UH OFFERED OPTION

UH told 20 to 25 staff members and others on Tuesday that they could have the option to keep their names off the list and from being made public by paying for what their charges would be, an action the state's Office of Information Practices quickly said Thursday was not allowed.

UH spokesmen have refused to say how many took the school up on the offer or what they paid.

All the redacted names on the list were members of the Hawai'i Government Employees Association or their family members, Takayama said. UH said their names were redacted because "disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."

Takayama would not say who the unnamed and unredacted people were or in what capacity they attended the game.

Under NCAA rules, players were allowed to take spouses and children, as were coaches. Some UH athletic department staffers were offered the opportunity to take a spouse and up to two children. At least five children of UH staff members were on the list, and department sources said some others who were said to have made the trip did not appear on the list.

Then-athletic director Herman Frazier's long-time fiancee, Caroline Beal, was on the list.

UH paid an average of $341 per person in per diem and incidentals.

UH projects a net $2.48 million from the Bowl Championship Series game, a figure that is expected to help it balance the athletic department budget for the current fiscal year that ends June 30.

REGENTS' COSTS LISTED

The names of six regents whom UH paid Sugar Bowl expenses for were also released yesterday.

A total of $18,030 in Sugar Bowl-related costs was incurred by the six as of May 1, but $9,963 was paid back to the school, according to UH. Costs included airfare, hotel, tickets and gifts.

Regent Michael Dahilig was listed as taking his brother and a friend on the trip. He paid back $2,777 of $5,285 in costs. UH footed the bill for Dahilig's costs and a $125 ticket for his brother, according to UH.

Regents Ramon de la Pena and Marlene Hapai were listed as having costs paid for themselves and spouses ($3,834), but both reimbursed the school for their spouses' costs.

Regent James Haynes II reimbursed UH the total cost for himself and his spouse ($3,934).

Regent Jane Tatibouet ($795) and Chairman Allan Landon ($350) incurred partial costs for themselves and spouses. Landon reimbursed the school for the total amount, while Tatibouet did not make any reimbursement, UH said.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com.