NO RAISE: Hawaii Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago will not get a $36,000 annual pay raise. (photo by Mel Ah Ching)
NO RAISE: Hawaii Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago will not get a $36,000 annual pay raise. (all photos by Mel Ah Ching)

HONOLULU — The man at the center of 2012′s general election disaster will not get a pay hike that could have been as high as $36,000.

The Hawaii Salary Commission, an independent appointed board that recently OK’d pay hikes for the state’s executive, judicial and legislative branches, asked the Hawaii Elections Commission to consider whether Chief Election Officer Scott Nago should get a pay increase next year. His current salary is $80,000 but under Hawaii law, Nago could receive as much as $116,000 a year.

The Hawaii Elections 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.”

IN PUBLIC: Hawaii Elections Commission went behind closed doors to consider a record pay hike for the chief elections officer.

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.

While prominent community leaders and activists have called for sanctions against Nago or his dismissal, elections commissioners did not do either.

The commission conducted its own internal investigation and found no wrongdoing by Nago, but asked him to recommendations to improve the election system.

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, because there have been similar issues arising with other boards.

After the commission emerged, the chair of the commission said Nago would not be getting a pay increase at this time.

Nago has served as chief election officer since 2010 and worked in the office since 1998.

The commission will meet again on Nov. 6 about other matters.

 


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Hawaii Reporter is an award-winning, independent Hawaii-based news and opinion journal founded in 2001 and launched in February 2002. The journal's staff have won a number of top awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including the top investigative news reporting awards, business reporting awards, government reporting awards, and online news reporting awards. Hawaii Reporter has a weekly television news show, News Behind the News, which airs on Mondays at 1:30 p.m. and Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.