CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU
Date and Place: May 5, 2010
Standard Financial Plaza
Conference Room, Suite 211
Present: Susan S. Heitzman, Chair
Wayne T. Hikida
Patricia Y. Lee, Esq.
Charles W. Totto, Executive Director and Legal Counsel (EDLC)
Matthew J. Viola, Ethics Commission Outside Counsel (ECOC)
Stenographer: Norm Fisher
I. CALL TO ORDER
The 431st meeting of the Ethics Commission (Commission or EC) was called to order at 11:45 a.m. by the Chair.
II. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF THE OPEN SESSION OF THE
APRIL 8, 2010 OPEN MEETING
The minutes of the open session of April 8, 2010 meeting were unanimously approved.
III. OLD BUSINESS
A. Confirming the date and time for the June 8, 2010 meeting and setting the date and time for the July, 2010 meeting
The EC confirmed the June 8, 2010 meeting, but rescheduled the time to 11:00 a.m., and scheduled the date and times for the July, 2010 for July 15, 2010 at 11:30 a.m. in the Standard Financial Plaza Conference Room, Suite 211.
IV. NEW BUSINESS
The Executive Director and Legal Counsel (EDLC) referred to his memorandum dated May 3, 2010 regarding the following agenda items:
A. Adminstrative News
Attending meeting via video conference
The EDLC reported that at the request of several Commissioners, staff is reviewing procedures needed to attend Ethics Commission meeting via video conference (for emergency situations, i.e., to attend to make a quorum).
Interns for the EC
The EDLC reported that intern Sam Alton will graduate from U.H. and his last day of internship for the Commission will be on May 14. However, the EC will have a new intern, Dulguun "Dugi" Enkhbold, a U.H. graduate student in the Public Administration Program, who will begin on May 10. Ms. Enkhbold's internship with the EC will be until June 18.
The EDLC reported that staff will shortly commence a new wave of Ethics re-training for supervisors, elected officials, and board members and commissioners.
B. FY 2011 budget, salaries and workload
The EDLC reported that the additional attorney's position and funds is still in the Council's proposed FY11 budget.
C. Report and recommendation regarding a procedure for the release and publication of formal advisory opinions
The EDLC reported that at the last meeting the Commission asked staff to develop procedures to guide the Commission's release and publication of formal advisory opinions to ensure that the procedure is used with each formal advisory opinion. The EDLC provided the Commission with a draft of the proposed procedure.
The EDLC stated that the procedure differentiates between formal advisory opinions that result in a finding of an ethics violation and those where there is no violation. It also distinguishes what may be released based on who is requesting or receiving the opinion.
The EDLC stated that the draft procedure is intended to clarify the steps the Commission takes in transmitting and publishing formal advisory opinions and to incorporate the relevant analyses that are required. The procedure also categorizes the types of opinions where disclosure of the identity of the subject of the advisory opinion into 3 groups: requests for advice, complaints where there is no violation found and complaints where misconduct is found. The procedure also notes the situations where the advisory opinion must be presented to the appointing authority.
After reviewing the procedure, the Commission stated that the procedure should also include a policy statement that clarifies the competing interests to be weighed in deciding whether to disclose an advisory opinion to the public, and requested that staff draft such a statement for its review.
V. EXECUTIVE SESSION SUMMARY
A. Approval of the minutes of the executive session of the April 8, 2010 meeting
The minutes of the executive session meeting of April 8, 2010 was unanimously approved.
* * *
The EDLC referred to his memorandum dated May 3, 2010 regarding the following agenda items:
B. Report and recommendation regarding subpoena of a city officer's records
This matter was reported by Matt Viola, the Commission's Outside Counsel (ECOC).
The ECOC reported that the EC received a complaint alleging that a city officer engaged in unethical conduct by not timely reimbursing a private party for the advancement of cost of a round trip plane ticket. The ECOC stated that if the city officer did not timely reimburse the company he/she might have violated the city's fair and equal treatment policy by using city resources for non-city purposes.
The ECOC stated that staff emailed the city officer and asked him/her to voluntarily provide, by April 30, 2010:
1. A copy of a cancelled check for reimbursement to the company; and
2. A copy of his/her financial institution account statement or, if the check was not cashed, a copy of the account statement for the month in which the check was cashed.
The ECOC stated that the city officer has not provided the requested documents, yet. Among his/her reasons for not producing the cancelled check and bank statements is that he/she does not want to incur any charges the financial institution might charge to search for the canceled check, which is now stored on microfiche. He/she also has stated that he/she is concerned that the complaint is politically motivated.
The ECOC stated that staff requests that the Commission approve the draft resolution authorizing the issuance of a subpoena to the city officer's financial institution requiring it to produce bank statements, as well as a canceled check. The ECOC stated that the Commission has the power to issue subpoenas pursuant to sections 11-107 and 13-114, Revised Charter of Honolulu, and section 3-6.3(h), Revised Ordinances of Honolulu (ROH). However, before issuing a subpoena, ROH section 3-6.3(h), requires the Commission to pass a formal resolution describing the nature and scope of its inquiry.
Upon discussing the matter, and after reviewing the information provided by the Commission's staff, the Commission moved, seconded, and unanimously carried to approve the resolution authorizing the issuance of a subpoena to the city officer's financial institution requiring it to produce bank statements for the relevant period, as well as a canceled check, but instructed staff to hold off on issuing the subpoena to give the city officer an additional 30 days to voluntarily transmit the cancelled check.
C. Request by complainant for review of determination of no probable cause by Commission staff
The EC decided to defer this matter until the next meeting because the Complainant was unable to retrieve certain documents.
D. Annual performance review of the Executive Director and Legal Counsel
The EC decided to defer this matter until the next meeting to give the members more time to review the performance of the EDLC.
The EC moved, seconded, and unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 1:35 p.m.