East Hawaii News

Mizuno Reconfirmed as Regent; Vote Not Unanimous This Time

April 22, 2013, 5:12 PM HST
* Updated April 23, 10:36 AM
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The state Senate has confirmed Big Island businessman Barry Mizuno to a second term on the University of Hawaii Board of Regents.

However, unlike his last confirmation vote a year ago, this time there was some opposition.

Sens. Sam Slom and Russell Ruderman of Puna cast the two negative votes against Mizuno.

Slom told Big Island Now that while he believes Mizuno is a man of integrity and character, he objected to what he said was his lack of action during his current term on a variety of issues that the university has faced.

He said those issues included the Stevie Wonder concert debacle, procurement issues including the questionable need for the school’s hiring of outside attorneys, and high salaries for university administrators.

Critics of the university note that more than 70 university employees earn in excess of $200,000 annually.

“We in the Senate are accountable for the people we consent to,” he said.

Ruderman expressed similar concerns.

“It didn’t seem like he had much to say about those issues,” he said. “We need people who are engaged and involved.”

Mizuno’s new term will expire in 2018.

Four others voted yes “with reservations” on Mizuno’s nomination including Sen. David Ige, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and Sen. Les Ihara Jr., the Senate majority policy leader.

 Mizuno is a former manager for the Puna Geothermal Venture who left the company in 2006 to form BTM LLC, a private energy consulting firm. He retired in 2012.

The former PGV executive has also served in finance and managing director positions for the Hawaii County government.

Mizuno moved to the Big Island in 1983 to take a post as chief financial officer and treasurer of Hamakua Sugar Co.

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