Hawaii’s election chief won’t be getting a pay hike
NO RAISE: Hawaii Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago will not get a $36,000 annual pay raise. Photo by Mel Ah Ching
by Malia Zimmerman, Watchdog.org, August 22, 2013
HONOLULU — The man at the center of 2012′s general election disaster will not get a $36,000 pay hike.
The Hawaii Salary Commission, an independent appointed board that recently OK’d pay hikes for the state’s executive, judicial and legislative branches, decided Wednesday against increasing Chief Election Officer Scott Nago‘s salary to $116,000 a year. He earns $80,000.
The commission’s decision came after a closed-door session, which was challenged by Hawaii Reporter and supported by Hawaii News Now, the state’s largest television news station.
Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom, the only legislator at the election commission hearing, told commissioners considering a pay raise for Nago was “outrageous.”
Slom noted there were no consequences for Nago’s poor management of 2012 primary and general elections that left hundreds of people waiting in line to vote. Some precincts didn’t have enough ballots to accommodate voters. Other precincts had ballots with the wrong candidates listed and another had ballots available only in Japanese.
IN PUBLIC: Hawaii Elections Commission went behind closed doors to consider a record pay hike for the chief elections officer.
While prominent community leaders and activists have called for sanctions against Nago or his dismissal, elections commissioners refused to do either.
The commission conducted its own internal investigation and found no wrongdoing by Nago.
Xana Marshall, left, a member of the Hawaii Elections Commission , asked her fellow commissioners to keep the discussion on the salary increase public, but they refused
Slom indicated he would be seeking bipartisan legislative support to narrow any state agency board or commission’s ability to move into executive session and shut out the public.
Nago has served as chief election officer since 2010 and worked in the office since 1998.
The commission will meet again on Nov. 6.