CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU
Date and Place: August 30, 2005
Standard Financial Plaza
Conference Room, Suite 211
Present: Robin D. Liu, Chair
Lex R. Smith, Vice Chair
Susan S. Heitzman
Raymond H. Fujii
Matthew H. Kobayashi
Wayne T. Hikida
Charles W. Totto, Executive Director and Legal Counsel (EDLC)
Matthew J. Viola, Outside Counsel
Stenographer: Norm Fisher
I. CALL TO ORDER
The 387th meeting of the Ethics Commission (Commission or EC) was called to order at 11:30 a.m. by the Chair.
II. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF THE OPEN SESSION OF THE
JULY 25, 2005 OPEN MEETING
The minutes of the open meeting of July 25, 2005, were unanimously approved.
III. OLD BUSINESS
A. Confirming the date and time of the September 27, 2005 meeting and setting the date and time for the October 2005 meeting
The EC rescheduled the September 27 meeting to September 28, 2005 at 11:30 a.m. and set the date and time for the October 18, 2005 at 11:30 a.m. meeting in the Standard Financial Plaza Conference Room, Suite 211.
IV. NEW BUSINESS
A. Administrative news
The Executive Director and Legal Counsel (EDLC) referred to his memorandum dated August 30, 2005, outlining the total amount of web site hits and ethics training conducted in fiscal year 2006.
B. Report on Bill 52 (2005) for the transfer of regulation of lobbyists from the Council to the Ethics
The EDLC reported that he met with Council Chair Dela Cruz and Executive Matters Committee Chair Charles Djou who support the bill. The EDLC stated that Bill 52 (2005) will be heard beginning in September 2005.
C. Election of new officers
The EDLC reported that the EC usually elects the Chair and Vice Chair in the first quarter of each calendar year.
The EC moved, seconded, and unanimously carried to maintain the current Chair and Vice Chair until December 31, 2005.
D. COGEL Conference
The EDLC reported that the 2005 COGEL Conference will be held in Boston from December 4 through 7. The EDLC stated that based on current estimates, the EC should be able to send 4 people.
The EC approved the attendance of Commissioners Lex Smith, Ray Fujii, Wayne Hikida, and the EDLC, Chuck Totto, to the 2005 COGEL Conference.
E. Charter amendment clarifying that the Department of Corporation Counsel does not have the authority to withhold or transfer money from the ECís budget or control personnel actions
The EDLC reported that the fourth and final issue in the ECís packet to the Charter Commission is one that will help assure that the Commissionís budget is protected from raids by Corporation Counsel (COR), or a reduction by the Council or administration based on political motives.
The EDLC reported that it is clear that the framers of the Charter intended that the EC would be free of budgetary interference from COR. However, from time-to-time COR has taken funds from the EC. The EDLC stated that the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services (BFS) sanctions this because it considers the EC to be a division of COR rather than an independent agency.
The EDLC stated that in FY2003 through 2005, the EC budget was pressured in several ways. First, COR withheld or took back some funds. Second, the administration stated that any increase to the EC budget would have to come out of CORís budget. Third, COR reviewed and approved or disapproved each expenditure and personnel action.
The EDLC stated that under the Charter, the Commission is attached to COR ďfor administrative purposes only.Ē However, ďadministrative purposesĒ are not defined in the law, but include operational items such as payroll, purchasing services and goods, tracking funds and expenses and the like. The EDLC stated that the BFS personnel (including the past 2 directors) who control the EC budget lump the EC in with COR for budget purposes. The EDLC stated that the EC has also been subjected to across-the-board budget cuts by the administration.
The EDLC stated that the staff recommends that the EC ask the Charter Commission to consider a Charter amendment that sets forth: (1) the independence of the EC; (2) clarifies that the EC, not COR has control over the Commissionís budget and personnel actions; and (3) sets forth the applicable minimum budget for the Commission.
The EDLC stated that this approach is also easily modified to drop any of the three components, should the Charter Commission wish to do so. The EDLC stated that this proposal will have to be reviewed by COR for legality on behalf of the EC and the Charter Commission and suggests doing this within the next two weeks.
After discussion, the EC moved, seconded, and unanimously carried to adopt the staffís recommendation, adding that the EDLC first take the budget and personnel issues to BFS and COR to try to work out a mutual agreement on an approach for the Charter amendment.
V. EXECUTIVE SESSION SUMMARY
A. Approval of the minutes of the executive session of the July 25, 2005 meeting
The minutes of the executive session of July 25, 2005 were unanimously approved.
B. Annual performance review of the Executive Director and Legal Counsel
The EC Chair appointed Commissioner Ray Fujii to prepare a draft performance review of the EDLC for the ECís review and discussion at the September 28, 2005 EC meeting.
The EC moved, seconded, and unanimously carried to return to the open session.
The EC moved, seconded, and unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 12:10 p.m.