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Proposed resignation rule for Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority board members criticized

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Hawaii Tourism Authority
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HONOLULU — A proposed rule for Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority board members would have them resign before publicly opposing a board action.

The tourism authority's new code of conduct is part of an effort to reorganize after facing legislative scrutiny and community pushback.

Some members of the agency's Administrative Standing Committee, which reviewed the proposed changes last week, objected to the line in a draft that says a board member must “resign his/her position as a board member if she/he intends to publicly oppose a board action before doing so.”

HTA Vice Chairman David Arakawa likened it to a “gag order.”

“My major concern is this: Is HTA so paranoid that they want to propose a gag order on board members?” he said.

There was no intent to silence board members, said Keith Regan, the tourism authority's chief administrative officer, who authored the draft proposal.

He said the line that some take issue with was inspired by the Society of Actuaries code, which he consulted while researching possible updates to the conduct code.

Public board members need to have freedom to state their views, said Keliʻi Akina, president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaiʻi.

The proposed draft is subject to a full board vote.

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