The University of Hawaii’s controversial plans to develop a $27.5 million center dedicated to the late Sen. Daniel Inouye are being stalled because the UH administration now wants to ask the Legislature for just $5 million for the project — not $15 million as originally pencilled out in the university’s supplemental budget proposal.
The university is no longer seeking $10 million from the federal government, either.
The significantly reduced $5 million budget request means that construction on the center won’t begin next July as originally anticipated. (The university is still sticking with plans to seek an additional $2.5 million through revolving funds and private donations to support the design process.)
The decision, which was requested by UH Interim President David Lassner and approved at a Board of Regents meeting this morning, came on the heels of testimony from Jennifer Sabas, who served as Sen. Daniel Inouye’s longtime chief of staff and spoke on behalf of Inouye’s widow and son.
Wary of how quickly the university has embarked on the multimillion dollar project, Sabas urged officials to “take stock of” their plans before moving forward.
Sabas suggested the university seek more feedback from the community and engage in more “thoughtful conversation.” She and the Inouye family want the university to spend time coming up with a “more accurate dollar figure and square footage requirements.”
"Questions were raised because the (planning) process was so fluid, and we did not have ready answers, which in turn led to additional questions of transparency and accountability," Sabas said."This has begun to give rise to still another round of questions that are becoming rather hurtful and are questions the senator would never have wanted or asked …"
Photo: Cartoon rendition of planned Daniel K. Inouye Center. (John Pritchett/Civil Beat)
— Alia Wong