The Hawaii Senate Education Committee on Friday deferred for 10 days a vote on Gov. Neil Abercrombie‘s nominees to the University of Hawaii Board of Regents.

Committee Chairwoman Jill Tokuda said the committee members felt they needed more time to vet the five nominees:

  • Patrick Naughton
  • Saedene Ota
  • Coralie Matayoshi
  • Jan Sullivan
  • Sandra Scarr

Tokuda did not cite specific concerns with any of the individual nominees, but said the confirmation hearings got contentious at times.

“We went a little bit more in depth with some of the nominees about their positions and perspectives on various issues,” Tokuda said. “Given their autonomy, these positions are really critical. It’s such an important board that I think it deserves us really taking a good look at the nominees and making sure that we’re doing our best by the board in appointing these individuals.”

But public testimony submitted to the committee reveals that of the five nominees, only one received negative testimony — and a lot of it. Psychology professor Sandra Scarr, from West Hawaii, received “oppose” statements from nine different individuals. (She also received nearly 50 supporting statements.)

Several of those opposing Scarr’s nomination appear to have worked with her on various coffee boards and committees on the Big Island, but only one elaborated on his concerns.

Koa Coffee business manager Brent Hight cited a “negative fiscal accountability track record.”

“The business experience and negative fiscal accountability track record that Ms Scarr represents, both
politically and factually is a huge concern during these hard economic times,” he wrote.

Tokuda said there will be no further hearings, but the committee will be looking more closely at all of the testimony submitted for Abercrombie’s nominees. If any are not confirmed, it would be a first for the new governor.

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