Senate committee releases UH concert documents

Senate committee releases UH concert documents
Published: Sep. 24, 2012 at 10:44 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 25, 2012 at 1:24 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawaii's Stevie Wonder concert fiasco was the product of a systematic breakdown and not the fault of a single university official, internal UH documents show.

On Monday, the state Senate Committee on Accountability released more than 1,700 pages of UH documents that also show that the university has paid more than $2.5 million in buyouts to six former UH officials during the past 12 years.

"At the end of the day, we'd like to know what this whole thing costs, besides the $200,000, besides the attorney fees, the PR fees," said State Sen. Donna Kim, the committee's chair.

The documents show that a number of officials including former UH Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw, the school's in-house attorneys as well as several athletic department staffers helped push the concert but didn't do enough to prevent the university from losing its $200,000 deposit.

Former UH Athletic Director Jim Donovan and Rich Sheriff, who headed the Stan Sheriff arena, were suspended with pay in wake of the scandal.

But the two were later given new UH jobs due to political pressure from state lawmakers and threats from Donovan's attorney that he would sue the university, saying his client was made out to be the scapegoat.

The documents released Monday also included emails and testimony by UH's Chief Financial Officer Howard Todo, who raised concerns with Manoa campus officials about the concert nearly two weeks before it was canceled.

Todo later met with UH President MRC Greenwood and both concluded that all they could do at that point is "hope the concert would be successfully conducted."

The documents also show that the UH spent lavishly for outside legal work -- before and after -- the Stevie Wonder concert fiasco. These lawyers billed the UH nearly $2.2 million between April 2011 and March 2012.

Law firms hired by the UH to investigated the bungled concert will be paid up to $75,000 dollars. Some of these top attorneys are being paid as much as 300-dollars an hour.

The committee was also given a summary of buyouts totaling $2.5 million paid to former UH officials during the past 12 years. Details regarding the buyouts have not yet been released by the committee.

The documents are just the first in a series that will be made available to the public. More disclosures are expected as the committee releases additional UH records.