KITV4: ‘Vacancies on State Boards and Commissions Rise to 26’

Updated 7/15/14

Click image to watch the video on the KITV4 site.

Click image to watch the video on the KITV4 site.

KITV4 – 7/14/14

Required Financial Disclosures Trigger Growing Exodus of Board Members

HONOLULU —Senator Maile Shimabukuro authored the bill that requires 15 additional state boards and commissions to make their financial disclosures public.

But she calls the more than two dozen resignations an unintended consequence.

“I am surprised that the numbers are so high,” said Shimabukuro.

The disclosures are something that lawmakers and certain state workers are required to do in the name of transparency.

Groups like Life of the Land, Common Cause and the League of Women Voters have pushed for improved accountability for years.

The financial disclosure forms include information about investments and debt that the groups say can be easily found just by Googling.

“The one thing that Google does not have is the conflicts of interest where you are making money from a certain source, and you are making rulings that affect that is the one thing. That is difficult to find on Google, that is the one thing that this bill would disclose,” said Life of the Land’s Henry Curtis.

The latest exodus of board members includes four from the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii that leaves a nine-member board with five– just barely enough for quorum.

Last week the list of resignations included five members from the State Land use Commission, leaving the nine-member board with just three members.

There were also four departures from the Agribusiness Development Corporation and the four resignations from the University of Hawaii Board of Regents.

Similar bills to require the public disclosures were vetoed by previous administrations. Gov. Neil Abercrombie let the bill go into effect without his signature.

Life of the Land wasn’t surprised about the departures, but said the new law is about accountability at all levels.

“Why should the regents be protected, but the deans disclose? it makes no sense.” said Curtis.

Curtis would like to see the law expanded to cover boards like the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii which handles millions of dollars of contracts every year.

Shimabukuro hopes that the governor can reach fill the vacancies as soon as possible.

“There was an outpouring of support this legislation, so hopefully going forward, we will see stability, so the public knows going forward that this is a requirement. Hopefully, all this will pass,” said Shimabukuro.

The state ethics commission had planned to release current financial information for members sitting on boards and commissions online Monday.

But according to Les Kondo, of the state ethics commission, the state attorney general said releasing information that was previously private, would be improper.

The commission is expected to take up the matter at its meeting next week.

Read the article on the KITV4 site.

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