The Hawaii governor’s office is racing to fill state boards as more members quit over a new law requiring them to publicly disclose their financial interests. 

Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Friday appointed three people — Vernon Char, Ulalia Woodside and Christopher Yuen — to the seven-member Board of Land and Natural Resources, pulling it from the brink of being unable to meet for lack of a quorum.

“Because of several recent resignations, these appointments were expedited to ensure that the land board would have sufficient members to conduct business without interruption to its meeting schedule,” Abercrombie said in a release

Empty Seats

Empty seats are going to be more common at some state board meetings.

Max Wolfe/Flickr

The list of resignations had grown to 26 members across 10 boards by Friday, according to the governor’s office. 

The law, which took effect Tuesday, added 15 important boards and commissions — roughly 120 members altogether — to the list of about 180 state employees who already have to file public financial disclosure statements.

The reports say where the person works and provide business affiliations. Salary information is given by letters representing broad ranges, as are details about how much a person’s property is worth, along with stock values and any loans. 

Abercrombie, who decided last week to let the legislation become law without his signature, has said the new requirement will deter people from serving because they won’t want to share their financial information with the public. 

Supporters of the law say there are still plenty of qualified people in the community who are willing to serve and abide by the financial disclosure requirement.

While the governor’s office scrambles to find people to fill four seats vacated on the University of Hawaii Board of Regents, five seats on the Land Use Commission and many others, Abercrombie seemed pleased with the BLNR appointments.

“Vernon, Ulalia and Chris all have extensive background in public service, and Hawaii’s resources will benefit from their commitment and passion,” he said.

The land board, which oversees the Department of Land and Natural Resources, wields considerable power. The agency manages public lands, water resources, minerals and 750 miles of coastline.

Woodside resigned from the Natural Area Reserves Systems Commission to accept the land board appointment. She fills the seat vacated by Reed Kishinami.

Char fills a seat that became available due to a member’s term expiring. Yuen’s seat was vacated by Wesley Furtado, who resigned after being appointed in June

The five LUC resignations have left the nine-member commission without a quorum, halting its ability to conduct business since it cannot meet to take action. There’s been no word from the governor’s office on the effort to appoint at least one new member to give it a quorum.

Here is the list, as of Friday afternoon, of people who have resigned:

University of Hawaii Board of Regents

  • Saedene Ota
  • John Dean
  • Carl Carlson, Jr.
  • Tom Shigemoto

Land Use Commission

  • Sheldon Biga
  • Dennis Esaki
  • Ernest Matsumura
  • Carol Torigoe
  • Lance Inouye

Agribusiness Development Corporation Board of Directors

  • Derek Kurisu
  • Patrick Kobayashi
  • Joan Namkoong
  • Kekoa Kaluhiwa

Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation Board of Directors

  • Paul Kyno
  • Ralph Mesick

Board of Land and Natural Resources

  • Reed Kishinami
  • Wesley Furtado

Commission on Water Resource Management

  • Ted Yamamura

Natural Area Reserves Systems Commission

  • Ulalia Woodside

Hawaii Public Housing Authority

  • Trevor Tokishi
  • Sheri Tanaka

Hawaiian Homes Commission

  • Patricia Sheehan

Four ex-officio members — Donald Thomas, Todd Low, Lawrence Visocky and Brian Moore — of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority have also resigned. These are non-governor appointments and no resignation letters are needed.

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