Political Radar


January 14th, 2014

State House lawmakers are peeved over a public service announcement they say is aimed at pressuring the Legislature to fund the controversial pharmacy college building at the University of Hawaii-Hilo.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s proposed budget includes $28 million in state-backed bonds for the Daniel K. Ino­uye College of Pharmacy building.

The PSA that’s been running on KFVE came up during UH’s joint budget briefing Tuesday before the House Finance Committee and Senate Ways and Means Committee.

“Recently, the University of Hawaii has been running a public service announcement to pressure the Legislature to fund the pharmacy school. So my question is, whose decision was that and who should we thank for making that decision?” Rep. Sylvia Luke, the chairwoman of the House Finance Committee, asked interim UH President David Lassner.

“I understand although the public service announcement is free to the university, apparently, the university chose out of all the things that they could highlight about the university, they decided to use that spot to pressure the Legislature.”

She asked multiple times as UH officials dodged the question.

“David, maybe you should just take the credit for that,” Luke told Lassner. “It has to come from somewhere. Somebody must have said, ‘OK, let’s do this.’”

In the end, UH Hilo Chancellor Don Straney took responsibility. Straney said he wanted to highlight the importance of the pharmacy college in the community, but said "I don’t think that’s how it turned out."

“I understand that you made the decision to highlight the pharmacy school in the ads,” Rep. Scott Nishimoto told Straney. “I saw the ad, and I think there’s a difference between highlighting the pharmacy school and saying that the Legislature is not funding the new building."

UH spokeswoman Lynne Waters said the general manager of KFVE last August offered the university $50,000 worth of free airtime. She said the ad wasn’t intended to run now, as the Legislature is heading back into session, and said it has since been pulled.

-- From Nanea Kalani, the Star-Advertiser's education reporter.

15 Responses to “Pulled”

  1. ohiaforest3400:

    Is there no limit to the oxygen deprived, tone deaf decision making of UH "leaders"?

  2. Hawaiino:

    Not when all Leg decisions are based on the litmus test of factionalism, and the reasoning is through the biased prism of loyalties. Conservative wing v. Progressive wing/Republicrats v. Commucrats/Inouye v Abercrombie/ Say v Dissidents/ Bishop Street v everyone else/ etc.
    Whatever....it's counterproductive but central to the issue at hand.

    I havent seen the ads, but I'm completely familiar with the drama. Last session the sole BI legislator vote against the Pharm school building was based on a grudge...the reality is that this is the long overdue devolutionary process of investments in higher learning outside of Manoa. It should proceed rationally, it so far hasn't.

  3. Norman S. Stahl:

    The truth is the legislature has *not* provided funding for the College of Pharmacy. It is the only school of pharmacy in the State; its dean, faculty, and program of instruction is in place and producing pharmacists for Hawai'i. The school's provisional accreditation is in jeopardy because some O'ahu-centric legislators think that everything of import has to be on O'ahu. The University of Hawai'i at Hilo has the land, the instructors, the program, the library resources. Now the State needs to step up to the plate or our State will loose its only college of pharmacy and our kids will have to go back to going out of state to become pharmacists -- and most of them will not come back. It is past-time for the obstructionist legislators to get off their fat egos and fund the buildings.

  4. Especially Incognito:

    Those without breath.

  5. Especially Incognito:

    Has anyone ever responded to Hawaiiano's obfuscations? Has anyone called him(her) out and asked them to explain any of the offered inanities? Can there be one? It's gone on for a long time. I assume that the comments Hawaiiano provides are for most readers just a speed bump on the way to the next comment. Still, flow is interrupted and the meanness of spirit on display is, at the least, uncharitable.

    For me Hawaiiano is no Chauncy Gardner...Perhaps a simpleton but no universal wisdoms gleanable. The it is a genious.

  6. Guy:

    Incognito, regarding ha, I'm sure you're full of it

  7. gale:

    I do not agree that the votes in the Legislature are completely based on label factionalization. The Big Island legislator, OTOH, could very well have voted out of grudge. I am not familiar with that vote.

    That being said, i agree with Rep. Scott Nishimoto in his assessment and thank him for helping the UH to understand their cluelessness, which is mind-boggling. The Legislature will not be pressured, even if they liked Sen. Inouye, and would like to support the Pharmacy School, and UH.

    I was also curious to see UH Spokesperson Lynne Waters' statement that the ad was not intended to run now. When exactly was it supposed to run? And to what purpose? UH spent production money on that ad? Who approved the story board? Was UH assuming that the Legislature would again vote against the Pharmacy School and intending to retaliate against the Legislature as the legislators run for re-election?

    It now appears to me that the rot in UH Administration is deep. It is not a simple matter of replacing MRC Greenwood. One has to wonder too at the Abercrombie Administration's choice of Regents. They ultimately select these top UH Administrators. Perhaps it was another heavy-handed attempt by Gov. Abercrombie's team. Thank you, Derrick, for reporting the matter.

  8. zzzzzz:

    Is there enough of a market within the state to employ all the pharmacists who graduate from the UHH program?

  9. hossana:

    As much as there is "rot in the UH Administration" as inferenced by no. 6, the whole group of legislators are nothing but spineless nimrods who blame the UH administration for the tremendous backlog of repairs when they are the ones to release the funds which could have been done many yrs. ago to mitigate the funding backlog and like to just sit on their rear and criticize and blame everyone but themselves for the mess not only at the UH but everything else.....I guess they are trying to follow the lead of their spinelss leaders in the House and Senate but its just disgusting with the current crop of legislators who lack any kind of political acument and character not to mention life experiences to make decisions nor do they have the backbone to take action against even their own like when one of their colleagues came out last year and, in her racial tirade, said she don't want any artwork in her office that is done by japs, pakes, flips etc...only hawaiian artworks...yet no censure or repercussions was taken to shut her ignorant mouth....oh, well, another legislative session where these nimrods will photo op or obtain publicity for their reelection campaigns......what's new, pussycat????

  10. Especially Incognito:

    "Incognito, regarding ha, I'm sure you're full of it" Guy

    Not a Ha'ole.

  11. ohiaforest3400:

    Hossana, I don't necessarily disagree with your assessment of legislators but you are utterly clueless about the extent of UH's power to conduct its own affairs, abuse or neglect of which has gotten them to this point.

    UH has the fiscal autonomy -- including the statutory authority to issue bonds -- to build, maintain, and repair its physical plant. Instead, they have behaved like a child left home without a babysitter at too young an age; rather than make dinner with the ingredients left for them, they ate a half-gallon of ice cream, instead, and then wondered why they were fat and out of shape.

  12. Especially Incognito:

    Brain freeze.

  13. on this rock:

    HI is a small state which probably doesn't need more than 20 new pharmacists per year. For $28 million, we could give 20 students a year scholarships to go to the mainland for many years. Adding a clause to the scholarship that requires them to return to HI for some period of time would address the brain drain. This is routinely done in the military medical corps. Why do we really need this building or this college?

  14. Tiffany E Hunt:

    Working on a piece about the UHH College of Pharmacy. This is very enlightening, as far as legislators' attitudes go. I read this and I have to wonder if they think beyond putting college administrators on the whipping post. Do they even have any idea the level anxiety student pharmacists feel? Do they care? Do they have any notion of what PR they are giving the College of Pharmacy pr UHH as a whole? Do they care? are they that confident in their survival at the polls?
    Rep. Choy, who has put forward legislation to save the program from completing going down the tubes, seems to be the only reasonable legislator at this point. Others seem to be playing political football with what was supposed to be UHH's crown jewel. And our Big Island legislators seemed to be standing on the sidelines watching the game. If anyone has any insight as to why more legislators aren't more active in the preservation of the only pharmacy school in the Pacific region, please, by all means call me at (808)938-8592 or email newswoman@mac.com.

  15. on this rock:

    Things to think about.

    Washington, Oregon and California all border the Pacific Ocean and all have pharmacy schools, so the notion of UHH being the only school in the Pacific basin is just BS. There are also many schools of pharmacy in Eastern Asia (China, Japan, Korea) which are also in the Pacific basin. The claim to uniqueness is simply hype.

    That the legislators are not just dumping money into this project may be symptomatic of their concerns about their chances in future elections. A little fiscal responsibility may be a blessing when the State is still running a deficit. Why should the taxpayers plop down $28 million for a school that exports more than half of its students after graduation? It is a pity that UH administration and the Legislature didn't think a bit more BEFORE they allowed this program to start! Similar schools in other states are expected to raise most or all of the funds for new buildings, not depend on their taxpayers to foot the bill.

    Talking about crown jewels smacks of somebody engaged in empire building and not necessarily of either fiscal responsibility or producing the best product.

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