CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU
Date and Place: May 20, 2003
Standard Financial Plaza
Conference Room, Suite 211
Present: Robin D. Liu Chair
Raymond H. Fujii
Lolinda D. Ramos
Charles W. Totto, Executive Director and Legal Counsel
Matthew J. Viola, Esq., Staff Attorney
Stenographer: Janet L. Granich/Norm Fisher
The 365th meeting of the Ethics Commission (Commission or EC) was called to order at 11:50 a.m. by the Chair.
I. OPEN MEETING
The minutes of the open meeting of April 2, 2003, were unanimously approved.
II. OLD BUSINESS
A. Confirming the date and time of the May meeting
The EC unanimously confirmed the next two meetings for Friday, June 13, 2003, at 11:30 a.m., and Friday, July 8, 2003, at 11:30 a.m., in the Standard Financial Plaza, Conference Room, Suite 211.
III. NEW BUSINESS
A. Administrative news
1. Request for Advice
The EDLC referred the EC to his memo report on oral and written requests for advice, and reported that at the current rate of requests and complaints being received by the EC, the total by the end of the year should be around 550, which will be down about 100 from the previous year.
2. Web Site
The EDLC reported that the web site is still popular. There were over 600 hits last month.
3. Education and Training
The EDLC reported that the “Ethics Checklist Training” for the new employees is reaching fewer employees due to fewer new employees being hired. The mandatory Ethics Training Program requires current managers, supervisors, board members and commissioners be trained by the end of June 2003. The EDLC calculates that there will be another 250 people to train by June 2003. A total of approximately 2,200 managers and supervisors will have been trained by then.
In response to the Commissioner’s inquiry regarding holding private presentations for the Mayor and councilmembers, the EDLC reported that he has arranged for a 30 to 40 minute meeting for the Mayor and his staff. The EDLC also reported that Councilmember Tam would be attending one of the currently scheduled regular meetings.
B. Appointment of additional commissioners
The EDLC reported that Vicky Borges informed him that she has two potential members she is working on.
C. New Legal Clerk
The EDLC introduced Norm Fisher as the EC’s new Legal Clerk.
D. New Staff Counsel
The EDLC introduced Matthew J. Viola, Esq. as the new staff counsel. Mr. Totto further stated that Mr. Viola was a part-time District Court Judge.
E. Report and recommendation regarding (1) request for
advice whether a gift in excess of $200 to a councilmember
is prohibited under Ordinance No. 02-15 or merely triggers
a conflict of interest for which the councilmember may
disclose the gift and (2) report and recommendation
regarding a position on Bill 33 (2003).
The EDLC directed the Commission to his memo regarding this subject. One major question asked by the Council’s Executive Matters Committee was whether acceptance of a gift of over $200 is prohibited. Mr. Totto informed the commissioners that his first response to the councilmembers—that accepting a gift valued over $200 would be viewed as a conflict of interest, only requiring the councilmember to disclose it—was incorrect. After further research, Mr. Totto revised his response, stating that accepting a gift in excess of $200 is prohibited. This was communicated orally to Councilmember Cachola. The EC voted unanimously that Ordinance No. 02-15 prohibit a city officer or employee from accepting a gift in excess of $200.
The second question by councilmembers was the EC’s position on Bill 33, which would repeal the gift cap. Upon request by Commissioner Susan Heitzman, Mr. Totto apprised the EC of the state and city laws regarding acceptance of gifts. After discussion, the EC voted unanimously that the current city gift cap law, Ordinance No. 02-15, should be maintained.
The EC moved into Executive Session to pursue confidential matters and seek the advice of its attorney.
IV. EXECUTIVE SESSION SUMMARY
The minutes of the Executive Session of April 2, 2003, were unanimously approved.
The EC heard comments from a concerned citizen regarding the processing of an EC investigation.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:20 p.m.