A Chance To Cut Ties With Dobelle

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - May 18, 2005
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Will we never be rid of Evan Dobelle?

The regents could cut the last cord this week, but it will take a remarkable act of political will and risk a lawsuit.

The short-time UH president was fired last summer. Part of the settlement was to pay him $250,000 and allow him up to 20 months to produce booklength research on his specialty — urban planning. It was a sop to avoid litigation while he looked for a job — which he now has elsewhere.

As of May 9, all he’d produced was a one-and-a-halfpage memo to Manoa chancellor Peter Englert on his ideas about city-university economic interactions. It omits a comma between Hartford and Connecticut, and wrongly inserts a comma and wrongly uses a personal pronoun in this phrase: “The University of Pennsyvania, is incorporating the railroad yards around 30th Street Station into their campus…”

Dobelle includes Kona as a Hawaii “neighborhood” (along with Kaka’ako) and spells Moiliili this way: Molili. And he uses the word complimenting where the word complementing (making mutually complete) was called for. Pretty serious lapses for a supposed scholar and education leader.

The memo looks like something cooked up on the spur of a moment and not checked. He was supposed to have had this progress report in to Englert no later than last Dec. 31.

He writes: “My research is focused in communities that represent best practice in the areas of encouraging the multiplier effect with dollars spent on higher education to enhance the institution as well as broad community and economic goals.”

Well, duh!

I want my $250,000 back. We might do better just handing the money to the Moiliili Community Association.

No, I did not jump immediately into that dispute over classified Navy research at the University of Hawaii.

Editorial writers, columnists and bloggers compete for your minds. We have to carefully consider what we say we want, lest we get it and regret it.

And this campus flap with its sit-in element of Grand Guignol theater isn’t urgent. As a faculty senate member pointed out, they’ve been doing classified government research at the UH for decades. Who knew or cared?

Nobody’s forced to participate.

Scholars do it only if they want to.

No weapons of mass destruction research.

Some students and some professors want lower-case democratic governance at UH, not lower-case republicanism — the ideology of government by representatives that was the wish of America’s founders.

I sense that UH interim president David McClain is too smart to let the school devolve into a parody of Walden School of the Doonesbury comic strip. He also was smart enough to let the office-occupying protestors act out their improvisational play and go home on their own. He bought time and intuits that this will taper off over summer vacation.

Political science and ethnic studies lecturer Tony Castanha has written in the Advertiser that the protest was to “bring real peace and justice to our university.” Anybody have a clue what that means? I’m not saying that the Navyaffiliated research center is good or bad, right or wrong for the university. Or that tuition should or should not be raised. I am saying those are matters of decision for the regents and McClain.

It’s important that McClain and the regents listen to the students and even let them go through the illusion of victory dances.

Then this fall it’s thumbs up or thumbs down. McClain and the regents are the play’s producer and directors. The students and faculty are cast members.

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