CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU
Date and Place: July 11, 2007
Standard Financial Plaza
Conference Room, Suite 211
Present: Lex Smith, Chair
Susan S. Heitzman
Cynthia M. Bond
Matthew K. Kobayashi
Wayne T. Hikida
Charles W. Totto, Executive Director and Legal Counsel (EDLC)
Matthew J. Viola (Outside Counsel)
Stenographer: Norm Fisher
Excused: Raymond H. Fujii (Vice Chair)
I. CALL TO ORDER
The 406th meeting of the Ethics Commission (Commission or EC) was called to order at 11:45 p.m. by the Chair.
II. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF THE OPEN SESSION OF THE
JUNE 4, 2007 MEETING
The minutes of the open meeting of June 4, 2007 were unanimously approved.
III. OLD BUSINESS
A. Approval of the minutes of the open session of the April 25, 2007 meeting
The minutes of the open meeting of April 25, 2007 were unanimously approved.
B. Confirming the date and time for the August 8, 2007 meeting and setting the date and time for the September, 2007 meeting
The EC confirmed the date and time for the August 8, 2007 at 11:30 a.m. meeting and set the date and time for the September 6, 2007 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 July 9, 2007 outlining the number of cases pending and the ethics training conducted to date in fiscal year 2007.
B. Report regarding Senate Bill No. 755
The EDLC reported that the bill was vetoed without a legislative override.
C. Report regarding a proposed ordinance to establish the process by which the Commission may impose civil fines on elected officers who violate the ethics laws
The EDLC reported that Council Chair Marshall asked for a Corporation Counsel (COR) review of a minor issue raised in the bill.
D. Report regarding the processing of employee complaints
The EDLC reported that the targeted roll out date has been moved to August or September and, for the time being, will be limited to matters of fraud, waste, abuse and ethics violations.
E. Report and recommendation regarding guidelines on the use of city resources
The EDLC directed that Commission's attention to proposed guidelines on the use/misuse of city resources. The EDLC stated that the guidelines are intended to explain how the fair and equal treatment policy controls the proper use of city resources. In developing the proposed guidelines, staff focused on the major topics that have arisen over the last seven years, using examples to explain how the guidelines work in practice, and balancing keeping the guidelines relatively simple while explaining some of the hot button issues that arise.
The EDLC stated that although the Commission receives the majority of its complaints and requests for advice about the proper use of city resources, the Commission has only developed the Guidelines on Campaign Activities.
Upon reviewing the proposed guidelines, the Commission decided to defer further discussion regarding the proposed guidelines on the use of city resources to the August 8, 2007 meeting.
F. Elections of officers
This matter was continued from the last meeting, and has been deferred until the August 8, 2007 meeting.
G. COGEL Conference September 16-19, 2007
The EDLC reported that the COGEL Conference will be held in Victoria, British Columbia. The EDLC stated that the Commission's budget allows for two to attend the conference.
The EDLC and Commissioner Matthew Kobayashi shall attend the COGEL Conference.
V. EXECUTIVE SESSION SUMMARY
A. Approval of the minutes of the executive session of the April 25, 2007 meeting
The minutes of the executive session meeting of April 25, 2007 were unanimously approved.
B. Approval of the minutes of the executive session of the June 4, 2007 meeting
The minutes of the executive session meeting of June 4, 2007 were unanimously approved.
C. Report and recommendation regarding a city department's request for reconsideration of Advisory Opinion No. 2005-5, EC No. 07-078(w)
The EDLC reported that the EC had asked the state Office of Information Practices (OIP) whether it should release the complete version of Advisory Opinion No. 2005-5 to a reporter who had requested it. The OIP determined that the Commission should release the unredacted opinion and so advised the EC in an opinion letter.
Before the unredacted version was published, the Department of Corporation Counsel (COR), on behalf of a city department, asked if the city department could submit a motion for reconsideration of AO #2005-5, not the decision to make public the unredacted version. Based on the request, staff did not publish the full version of the opinion.
(NOTE: An officer of the city department was granted an opportunity to address the Commission regarding its motion for reconsideration.)
The city officer referred to the request for reconsideration filed by the city department on June 29, 2007, and its response to EC questions filed July 6, 2007. The city officer stated that although he does not dispute that there was possible wrongdoing by a city employee, he believes the EC should reconsider its opinion, and issue an opinion that re-characterizes its recommended discipline to be less specific. This would minimize the disparity between the EC's recommended discipline and the actual discipline imposed on the city employee by the department.
The city officer stated that the city department has also requested OIP to reconsider its opinion, and OIP is currently reviewing the request.
Upon discussing the issue, and taking into consideration the city department's request and responses and the comments of the city officer, the Commission moved, seconded, and unanimously carried to deny the city department's motion to reconsider AO #2005-5. The Commission will wait to publish the unredacted opinion until OIP has made a decision on the city department's motion to reconsider the OIP opinion letter.
D. Report and recommendation regarding possible violation of RCH Sec. 11-103 (failure to file a written disclosure of conflict of interest) by a city official, EC No. 020(w)
The EDLC directed the Commission's attention to a proposed advisory opinion in this matter.
The EDLC stated that based on the facts of this case, he believe the city official was honestly mistaken about what triggered his duty to file his written disclosure. This opinion should help city officials and other city officers and employees understand the need to promptly file a disclosure whenever a conflict arises between their private interests and city duties.
After reviewing the proposed opinion, the Commission requested that the EDLC add to the opinion summary that the city official's failure to file a disclosure was based on a mistake in what triggered his duty to file a disclosure, and then to resubmit the proposed opinion for signature.
E. Annual job performance review for Executive Director/Legal Counsel
This matter was deferred to the August 8, 2007 meeting.
F. Report regarding the Fiscal Year 2008 salary of the Executive Director/Legal Counsel
The EDLC stated that although the EC approved a salary for him of $90,000 for FY08, he will accept the salary of $88,876, which is the amount recommended by BFS and budgeted for FY08. The EDLC stated that he would submit a request for a salary increase for FY09 based in part on the salary hikes received by the excluded managers in range 7.
Upon discussion, the EC moved, seconded, and unanimously carried to pay the EDLC an annual salary of $88,876 beginning July 1, 2007. The EC instructed the EDLC to draft a letter to COR for the Chair's signature requesting approval for the EDLC's pay raise. The Chair noted that he will contact Carrie Okinaga, Corporation Counsel, to discuss the Commission's position on salary issues regarding the EDLC.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:45 p.m.