'Dissidents' Win Board Seats

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HONOLULU - Members upset with a board seen as having awarded itself too many perks have ousted a CU's incumbent chairperson and voted in two new members who had been calling for changes.

Controversy surrounding generous travel and benefits packages for the board at Hawaii State FCU had led to front-page coverage in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser here and helped to boost participation in the board elections, with more than 13,500 members casting ballots and some of the winning candidates receiving nearly 10,000 votes.

Members of the $1-billion Hawaii State elected Lowell Kalapa, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, and local attorney Bill Milks. Local businessman Tom Pires, who, along with Kalapa and Milks had been active in seeking to change the board, lost his race to incumbent David Shimabukuro.

Failing to be re-elected was Chair Beverly Ing Lee, who had been identified in newspaper reports as the owner of a travel agency used to handle board-related travel, often at rates above market prices. That practice and others were flagged in examiners' reports (CU Journal, Jan. 24). A former board chair, Peter Leong, who was not cited in the NCUA report, chose not to seek re-election.

"This will change the poisoned culture of the board, ensuring that the directors concentrate on representing members' interests rather than their own," Warren Hamamoto, a retired banker who campaigned for the new directors, told the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

At issue were extensive benefits for the board, which included up to seven trips per year (including four to the mainland), reimbursed spouse and companion travel, and health care cost reimbursements. The Star Advertiser reported that following its initial story the board voted earlier this year to trim some of those benefits.

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