Balancing Budget on Backs of Students Ill-advised

Senate President Donna Mercado Kim introduces resolution urging UH officials to not raise student fees to fix Athletic Department’s potential $2 million deficit

Senate President Donna Mercado Kim is strongly urging University of Hawaii officials not to balance a potential $2 million budget deficit by raising student fees. Through a senate resolution, she points out the already high student fees per semester that amount to $1,400,000 per year to the UH Athletics Department. Students currently pay a $50 mandatory fee per semester.

Officials have blamed the deficit on a disappointing 1-11 football season with low ticket sales and the inability to meet a $1 million fundraising goal. However, although acknowledging these facts, the resolution also points out that the discontent and dissatisfaction of some longtime financial supporters with the leadership and transparency of the Board of Regents and the President, and their public statements on no longer contributing funds.

“University officials made bad leadership decisions and now we are seeing the result of them,” said Kim. “Why are we asking our students to pay for the shortfalls of university decision makers? We shouldn’t allow students to shoulder the burden of the UH Athletics Department or any other department.”

According to the resolution, student fees should be based on an objective criteria or an appropriate formula rather than an apparently arbitrary amount decided by the University. It goes on to say that if fees are raised to close a budget deficit, once it is balanced, those fees should be reduced accordingly.

“This is not what we want to teach our future generation of leaders,” she added. “By passing the buck to them, we’re saying ‘Look, if you make a mistake and don’t meet expectations, you can just force someone else to deal with it.’”

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Senate Spotlight Featuring: Senator Brian Taniguchi

Senator Brian Taniguchi (Senate District 11- Manoa, Makiki, Punchbowl, Papakolea) talks about his goals for the 2013 Legislative Session. Chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, Senator Taniguchi discusses the committee’s priorities, including following up on the 2012 Senate Special Committee on Accountability’s investigative hearing and improving the University of Hawaii System. He also touches on building a “sense of place” for his community.

To view video: http://youtu.be/kcnIRqLKsSI.

Briefings to Discuss University of Hawaii Salaries and Tuition

Honolulu –  The Senate Committees on Ways and Means and Higher Education will be holding two joint informational briefings to discuss employee salaries and student tuition at the University of Hawaii (UH) system.  UH’s Board of Regents (BOR) has been requested to present at both briefings.

There are growing demands for state resources.  A better understanding of how the university uses its money will help determine how state funds are allocated,” said Senate Ways and Means Chair David Ige.

 

We’re hoping to gain insight on the University’s processes and possibly look for ways of doing things better,” said Higher Education Chair Brian Taniguchi.

The first informational briefing will be held on Friday, February 1 at 9 a.m. in the State Capitol’s room 211.  The BOR has been asked to present information on salaries and compensation inclusive of the following:

1. Policies and processes used to determine salaries;

2. Salaries of highly compensated positions;

3. Types of compensation and benefits awarded other than salary; and

4. Employee contract buyouts

The second informational briefing will be held on Tuesday, February 5 at 9 a.m., also in room 211.   The BOR has been asked to present information on tuition inclusive of the following:

1. Policies and processes used to set tuition;

2. Tuition schedules from 2006 to 2017;

3. Amounts of revenue the tuition increases from 2006 to 2017 have and will provide the university;

4. Policies and processes used to determine how to allocate and spend existing and incremental increases in tuition revenue; and

5. The use of tuition revenue increases received for the past 6 years and the projected use of expected increases under the current tuition escalation schedule

Senate President Introduces UH Bills that Respond to Issues Raised in the Failed UH Concert

Honolulu – Senate President Donna Mercado Kim is proposing six bills in her legislative package that directly impact the University of Hawaii.  The bills are based on findings and recommendations from the Senate Special Committee on Accountability’s informational briefings to review the oversight, accountability, and transparency of the operational and financial management of the University of Hawaii System, chaired by Senator Kim in September and October 2012.

The discussion and call for University of Hawaii flexibility and autonomy has been around since the 1980s. Over the past three decades the Executive and Legislative branches of the State of Hawaii have worked together to provide the University of Hawaii with more flexibility and autonomy.  However, that autonomy and self governance has evolved to a point where the Senate feels that, in the interest of statewide concern, the University of Hawaii needs to be held more accountable and operate in full transparency,” explained Senate President Donna Mercado Kim.

The proposed bills range in topics from procurement for construction projects, to revising the number of University General Counsels, having the Board of Regents undergo annual training on board policies and procedures, requiring the Board of Regents to file annual disclosures of financial interest which would become public record, clarifying how the members of the Board of Regents are selected by the Governor, and revising the makeup of the Board of the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii (RCUH).

For reference purposes, the bills are:

SB 1383 – Repeals the President of the University of Hawaii’s authority to serve as the Chief Procurement Officer for construction contracts.

SB 1384 – Limits the Board of Regents to appointing one University General Counsel.

SB 1385 – Requires the Board of Regents to undergo annual training and certification.

SB 1386 – Requires the Board of Regents to file annual disclosure of financial interest.

SB 1387 – Gives the Governor the authority to reject the list of nominees to the Board of Regents presented by the Regents Candidate Advisory Council.

SB 1388 – Reduces the number of members of the Board of Directors of the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii (RCUH) and removes the authority of the President of the University to also serve as the President of RCUH.

Senate Special Committee on Accountability Releases Report on UH

Honolulu — The Senate Special Committee on Accountability today released its report resulting from the informational briefings that looked into the oversight, accountability, and transparency of the operational and financial management of the University of Hawaii, including but not limited to the University of Hawaii’s athletics program.

Some key points of the report include:

  • The committee finds that for reasons that remain unclear, the University started pre-selling tickets to the Concert even though proper cancellation insurance had not been procured. Nobody at the university seemed to have questioned the decision to go forward with ticket sales even though no insurance was in place.
  • Despite President Greenwood’s claims that the University was the victim of a “sophisticated” scam, the Committee believes that there were many opportunities for the University to take a step back and to stop the Concert prior to wiring the $200,000 deposit. Regardless of the fact that federal authorities have issued an indictment against two defendants in the scam, the Committee believes that proper oversight, due diligence, and communication among University administration and personnel would have presented an adequate number of opportunities to prevent the loss of the $200,000 deposit.
  • No one had been terminated but UH President assured the committee that there would be consequences.

The committee also made recommendations for the University’s administration and Board of Regents.

For more on the committee report:  http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/specialcommittee.aspx?comm=SCA02

“We hope the University will take this committee report into serious consideration and begin the process in becoming more transparent and accountable as they move forward and put this unfortunate event behind them,” said Senator Donna Mercado Kim, chair of the Senate Special Committee on Accountability.   “We would like to see the University move toward its highest potential as the only public, taxpayer supported institution of higher learning in Hawaii.”

“The recommendations will be turned over to the new Senate Committee on Higher Education chair and as a member of the committee I will be able to follow up with the progress during the legislative session,” Kim added.

The Senate Special Committee on Accountability held two hearings, on September 24, 2012, and October 2, 2012, in response to public concern over issues regarding the University of Hawaii in the wake of the failed Stevie Wonder concert fundraiser.

Senate Special Committee on Accountability to Discuss Findings from Informational Briefings on UH

Honolulu –  The Senate Special Committee on Accountability will be holding an informational briefing to discuss its findings and recommendations resulting from the informational briefings that looked into the oversight, accountability, and transparency of the operational and financial management of the University of Hawaii, including but not limited to the University of Hawaii’s athletics program.  The briefing will be held on Monday, November 19, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. in conference room 221 at the State Capitol.

“We will be discussing the committee report which outlines our findings and recommendations after hearing more than thirteen hours of testimony from University officials, UH Board of Regents, Jim Donovan, attorneys and all others who came before the committee,” said Senator Donna Mercado Kim, chair of the Senate Special Committee on Accountability.  “We hope the University will take the recommendations that we will make into serious consideration in order to move forward in restoring the public’s trust and support.”

The Senate Special Committee on Accountability held two hearings, on September 24, 2012, and October 2, 2012, in response to public concern over issues regarding the University of Hawaii in the wake of the failed Stevie Wonder concert fundraiser.

No public testimony will be accepted at the informational briefing.

If you require special assistance or auxiliary aids or services to participate in the informational briefing (i.e., sign language interpreter or wheelchair accessibility), please contact the Committee Clerk at 587-7200 to make a request for arrangements at least 24 hours prior to the briefing.  Prompt requests help to ensure the availability of qualified individuals and appropriate accommodations.

Senate Committee on Accountability Held Hearings to Shed Light on the Failed UH Concert

Senator Donna Mercado Kim, Vice Chair of the Hawaii State Senate and Chair of the Senate Special Committee on Accountability

By Senator Donna Mercado Kim

The Senate Committee on Accountability recently held two hearings to shed light on the failed concert fund raising attempt by the UH Athletic Department. In the wake of the UH administration and Board of Regents’ unwillingness or reluctance to explain what had happened to a confused and frustrated public, we gave the Regents, President M.R.C. Greenwood, Chancellor Tom Apple, Jim Donovan, and Rich Sheriff an opportunity to clear the air. Our hearings were open to the public and televised live.

Neither myself nor any of my Senate colleagues called for Dr. Greenwood’s dismissal. In fact, it was made clear at the onset of the hearings that our purpose was to simply bring openness and accountability to UH governance, qualities that had been sorely lacking during this unfortunate event.

The recent action of the BOR to review Dr. Greenwood’s contract has many speculating that it was due to “political pressure.” The Regents should have been forthcoming with the public that it was Dr. Greenwood’s attorney who demanded that the BOR give her a vote of confidence or “buy out” her contract, which then forced them to hold a private meeting and hire their own attorney to advise them.

President Greenwood and her PR consultants have cleverly twisted the issue of accountability into an issue of “political interference and micromanagement.” Yet, she testified at our hearings that no one ordered her to create the $200,000 new position for Jim Donovan and that the governor only provided advice that she had solicited.

It should be noted that Dr. Greenwood has been very visible at the Legislature during her tenure, more so than any recent UH leader. When I was Ways and Means Committee chair, she called often for my counsel on myriad UH concerns. It’s ironic that she’s now construing well-meaning advice to be inappropriate political meddling.

The President needs to take responsibility for what has happened at the UH rather than deflect blame with innuendos of her being the victim of a “campaign of false statements.” Please, President, in the interest of openness, elaborate on these so-called false statements.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser columnist David Shapiro’s assertion on this matter regarding my disagreement with former UH President Evan Dobelle was vintage Shapiro: a cynical half-truth. What riled legislators, and UH insiders, was that Dr. Dobelle squandered $1 million for renovations to College Hill, pledged to raise private funds to deflect criticism, and failed to do so. He promised and failed to raise $150 million in private funds for the Kaka‘ako medical school. He appointed friends or former associates to highly paid UH positions and hired others as consultants. I was very candid about these problems in a report, entitled “Dangerous Equations,” which I co-authored with Dr. Amy Agbayani, Dr. Ralph Moberly, and State Rep. Mark Takai.

Personally, I feel that President Greenwood should be retained and held accountable to correct the UH’s problems. While I can’t speak for other legislators, I can tell you unequivocally that there’s been no call from the Senate committee to remove President Greenwood or interfere with the school’s autonomy.

However, what we do demand is openness and accountability from the UH administration and Board of Regents. As public servants entrusted with overseeing the state’s only institution of higher learning, they have a moral and legal responsibility to uphold the law and the oath they took. We expect no more and no less.

Senate Committee Looks into UH Oversight, Accountability and Transparency

The following video clips were segmented from the video transcripts of the September 24, 2012 and October 2, 2012 Senate Special Committee on Accountability informational briefings. These videos were shared by Senator Donna Mercado Kim, chair of the Senate Special Committee on Accountability.

During the briefings, the Committee reviewed the oversight, accountability, and transparency of the operational and fiscal management of the University of Hawaii (UH) System, including but not limited to UH’s Athletics Department.  The committee was convened in response to the public’s concern over issues that recently surfaced at UH.

Contracts with law firms retained by the UH for the investigation into the failed Stevie Wonder concert, the timeline of events that led to the failed concert, events leading to the removal of Jim Donovan from his post as UH Athletics Director, public relations staff and contracts, the creation of a director of external affairs and community relations position under the UH Manoa Chancellor’s Office, as well as the UH Board of Regents’ policies were among issues discussed.

 

Following the Money Trail

This video focuses on the money trail for the funds transferred by the UH to a third party account in Florida. Click here to view the video entitled, Following the Money Trail: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjbbOGj-PEA.

New “No Name” Position Created

This video takes a look at the removal of Jim Donovan from his post as UH Athletics Director and his reassignment to a newly created position in the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Office of the Chancellor. Click here to view the video entitled, New “No Name” Position Created: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYwpuqlcCJw.

What is this Costing Taxpayers?

This video shows the investigation into the running cost incurred by UH relating to the failed concert and other relevant costs. Click here to view the video entitled, What is this Costing Taxpayers?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pnYWPEZmZU.

 

M.R.C. Greenwood, UH President; Tom Apple, UH Chancellor; Jim Donovan, former UH Athletics Director; Rich Sheriff, Stan Sheriff Center Manager; Dennis Chong Kee, Cades Schutte LLP, “fact finders” into the failed concert to raise money for UH Manoa Athletics Department; Robert Katz and Jeffrey Harris, Torkildson, Katz, Moore, Hetherington & Harris; Eric Martinson, UH of Regents Chair; James Lee and Carl Carlson, UH Board of Regents Vice Chairs and Coralie Matayoshi, UH Board of Regent, testified before the Committee.

These videos have been edited from their original versions.  To view the original versions in their entirety, please visit  http://olelo.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=13.

Briefing Addresses Oversight, Accountability, and Transparency at the UH System

Honolulu — The Senate Special Committee on Accountability continued its informational briefing today on the oversight, accountability, and transparency of the operational and financial management of the University of Hawaii System, including but not limited to the University of Hawaii’s Athletics Department. Today’s briefing was the second in a series of meetings. A previous meeting was held on September 24.

Attorney Jeffrey Harris (Torkildson, Katz, Moore, Hetherington, Harris), University of Hawaii Chancellor Tom Apple, Stan Sheriff Center Manager Rich Sheriff, former University of Hawaii Athletics Director Jim Donovan, University of Hawaii Board of Regents Vice Chairs James Lee and Carl Carlson and University of Hawaii Board of Regent Coralie Matayoshi testified before the committee.

The timeline leading to the failed Stevie Wonder concert, contracts with various law firms hired by the University of Hawaii, public relations staff and contracts, the creation of a director of external affairs and community relations position under the UH Manoa Chancellor’s office, as well as the University of Hawaii Board of Regents’ policies were among the issues discussed.

Through these briefings, I’m glad that we were able to shed some light on many concerns with UH, but there are still many unanswered questions. I am hopeful that these hearings will result in more transparency and accountability from the University. I am optimistic that if positive changes occur quickly, they will begin to regain the public’s confidence and trust,” said Senator Donna Mercado Kim, chair of the Senate Special Committee on Accountability.

Briefing to Address Oversight, Accountability, and Transparency at the UH System Continues

Honolulu –  The Senate Special Committee on Accountability will continue its informational briefing on the oversight, accountability, and transparency of the operational and financial management of the University of Hawaii System, including but not limited to the University of Hawaii’s Athletics Department on Tuesday, October 2 at 1 p.m. in the State Capitol’s room 211.

University of Hawaii Chancellor Tom Apple, Stan Sheriff Center Manager Rich Sheriff, University of Hawaii Board of Regents Vice Chairs James Lee and Carl Carlson and University of Hawaii Board of Regent Coralie Matayoshi were invited to testify before the committee.   An invitation to attend the briefing was also sent to Bob Peyton.

“At this briefing, we will continue where we left off on September 24 and we expect to gain some insight into the University’s budget policy.  We hope to learn many aspects about the budget, including how the outsourcing of services, such as legal counsel and public relations, and contract buyouts impact UH’s overall budget,” said Senator Donna Mercado Kim, chair of the Senate Special Committee on Accountability.

The informational briefing may be viewed on Olelo Channel  52 on Oahu. Neighbor Island viewers may consult their local community television station for broadcast and rebroadcast information:

  • Kauai:  Ho’ike Community Television (http://www.hoike.org), phone (808) 246-1556 (no web-streaming)
  • Maui:   Akaku:  Maui Community Television ( www.akaku.org), phone (808) 871-5554 (web-streaming available).
  • Big Island: Na Leo O Hawaii (www.naleo.tv), phone (808) 935-8874 (Hilo) or (808) 329-9617 (Kailua-Kona) (web-streaming available).

The briefing can also be watched on a live webstream at:

http://olelo.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=13


Only written testimony will be accepted.

In Person: Deliver to Committee Clerk in room 210, State Capitol.

E-Mail: Submit testimony to
SCATestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov (10MB limit)

Fax: 808-587-7205, or fax to 1-800-586-6659 (toll free for outside Oahu); 5 page limit

 

For special assistance or auxiliary aids and/or services to participate in the informational briefing please contact the Committee Clerk at (808) 587-7200.

 

For more information on the informational briefing:

http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2012/hearingnotices/HEARING_SCA02_10-02-12_INFO_.HTM

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