CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU
Date and Place: January 31, 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
Charles W. Totto, Executive Director and Legal Counsel (EDLC)
Matthew J. Viola, Outside Counsel
Stenographer: Norm Fisher
I. CALL TO ORDER
The 381st meeting of the Ethics Commission (Commission or EC) was called to order at 11:35 a.m. by the Chair.
II. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF THE OPEN SESSION OF THE DECEMBER 14, 2004 OPEN MEETING
The minutes of the open meeting of December 14, 2004, were unanimously approved.
III. OLD BUSINESS
A. Confirming the date and time of the February 22, 2005 meeting and setting the date and time for the March 2005 meeting
The EC confirmed the February 22nd, 2005 at 11:30 a.m. meeting and set the date and time for the March 22nd, 2005 at 11:30 a.m. meeting, in the Standard Financial Plaza Conference Room, Suite 211.
IV. NEW BUSINESS
A. Introduction of Matthew Kobayashi
The EC welcomed aboard Matthew Kobayashi as a member of the Ethics Commission.
B. Administrative News
The EDLC reported that he met with Carrie K.S. Okinaga, Acting Corporation Counsel. The EDLC reported that he has been invited to speak at a cabinet meeting for the new city administration in February 2005.
The EDLC stated that he has informed the Mayor’s office of the EC’s request to have all EC positions filled. Currently there are two vacancies.
C. Highlights of the 2004 COGEL conference
The EDLC reported the following highlights of the 2004 COGEL conference:
Municipal Roundtable – this session was attended by about 15 local ethics officials. There was a discussion about attempts to obtain guaranteed funding independent of the legislative or executive branches.
Michael Josephson, founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics delivered an inspirational talk about fostering positive values in public servants.
Ethics Officer Programs – discussed the program popular in some Florida counties of having ethics officers in each department to act as liaisons with the local ethics agency and to be someone who can be easily contacted regarding ethics issues.
Performance Standards for Ethics Agencies – this session focused on measures of effectiveness for ethics programs.
Three Rules for Win-Win Negotiation – basics on creating cooperative settings for negotiations.
“Pay-to Play” Politics – references to illegal campaign contributions by those seeking contracts with government in the hope of influencing the award of contracts.
Roundtable on Enforcement of Ethics – emphasized that if your agency doesn’t have the authority to fine or the resources to support investigations and enforcement, your agency will not be very effective in deterring ethics violations or improving the public’s view of government ethics.
The EDLC stated that he felt this was the best COGEL conference to date.
V. EXECUTIVE SESSION SUMMARY
A. Approval of the minutes of the executive session of the December 14, 2004 meeting
The minutes of the executive session of December 14, 2004 were unanimously approved.
B. Report and recommendation regarding possible violations of RCH Sec. 11-104 (fair and equal treatment policy) by a City officer, EC No. 04-028 (w)
The EDLC reported that this case involves the misuse of city position by a City officer. The City officer selected contractors to provide service of process (e.g., delivering subpoenas to witnesses) for a city agency from July 1997 through June 2004. During this period the City officer selected her sister and sister-in-law for 7 contracts valued at about $100,000. The City officer also selected three contractors who had worked for the election of a public official in 1996 and/or 2000. The City officer had been one of the main coordinators of this public official’s campaigns in those years. The campaign workers received 16 contracts worth about $243,000 over the seven-year period.
The EDLC directed the EC’s attention to a copy of a proposed draft of a Stipulation Regarding Violations of the Standards of Conduct (Stipulation) and a copy of a proposed draft advisory opinion.
The EDLC reported that the Stipulation describes the relatives and campaign co-workers who the City officer recommended and selected, along with the terms and amounts of the contracts, and also lays out a proposed agreement between the Commission and the City officer whereby the EC would recommend discipline of the City officer in the form of a one-month suspension from duty without pay. The EDLC reported that the proposed advisory opinion describes in fuller detail the facts of this case, the analysis of the violations and the reasons for the recommended discipline. The EDLC reported that the City officer had agreed to and signed the Stipulation.
The EDLC reported that it is the staff’s recommendation that the EC approve the Stipulation and the draft advisory opinion, and that the opinion be made public without any redactions.
After discussion, the EC moved, seconded, and unanimously carried to adopt the staff recommendations, however, amending the one-month suspension without pay to a two-week suspension without pay.
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 12:20 p.m.