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MINUTES

ETHICS COMMISSION

CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU

 

 

Date and Place:            May 13, 2009

                                    Standard Financial Plaza

                                    Conference Room, Suite 211

 

Present:                        Lex Smith, Esq., Chair

                                    Susan S. Heitzman, Vice Chair

                                    Matthew H. Kobayashi

                                    Wayne T. Hikida

                                    Patricia Y. Lee, Esq.

                                    Geri Marullo

                                    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 422nd meeting of the Ethics Commission (Commission or EC) was called to order at 11:40 a.m. by the Chair.

II.                 APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF THE OPEN SESSION OF THE

APRIL 16, 2009 MEETING

            This matter has been continued to the next meeting.

III.       OLD BUSINESS

A.        Confirming the date and time for the June 16, 2009 meeting at 11:30 a.m. and setting the date and time for the July, 2008 meeting

 

            The EC confirmed the June 16, 2009 at 11:30 a.m. meeting, and scheduled the date and time for the July, 2009 meeting for July 15, 2009 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 8, 2009 regarding the following agenda items:

            A.        Administrative news

            The EDLC informed the Commission on the number of cases pending and the ethics training conducted to date in fiscal year 2009.
 

B.         Report regarding the number of complaints investigated to date in fiscal year 2008

The EDLC reported that staff has had an upsurge of complaints compared to the past fiscal years.  Normally, staff receives about 31 complaints each year that warrant investigation.  As of the end of April this fiscal year, staff had begun investigating 71 complaints.  The EDLC stated that part of the increase can be explained by the 20 political activity complaints submitted regarding the 2008 elections.

C.        Annual election of officers

 

            The EDLC stated that over the last several years the Commission has voted to select a Chair and Vice Chair at (or near) its April meeting.  There is no restriction on who may be elected to the positions.

            Upon discussing the matter, the Commission moved, seconded, and unanimously carried that Lex Smith shall remain Chair, and Susan Heitzman shall remain Vice Chair, for another year.

 

D.                 Report on meeting goals in the 2009-2011 Operating Plan

 

            The EDLC presented the Commission with an annotated copy of the 2009-2011 Ethics Commission Operating Plan.  The EDLC stated that the Operating Plan describe the status of the various action items that staff has been addressing in this fiscal year.

V.        EXECUTIVE SESSION SUMMARY

A.        Approval of the minutes of the executive session of the April 16, 2009 meeting

            This matter was continued to the next meeting.

            The EDLC referred to his memorandum dated May 8, 2009 regarding the following agenda items:

B.         Hearing regarding charge against a city employee alleging a violation of RCH Section 11-102(d) (receipt of outside compensation for city work) and RCH Section 11-104 (use of city position for personal benefit); EC No. 07-005(w)

 

            Deputy Corporation Counsel Geoff Kam, presented the Commission with a draft opinion in this matter for the Commission's review and approval.  The Commission will review the draft opinion.

C.        Report on cases presenting likely violation of the standards of conduct that have been referred to the respective agencies for review and action

                       

            The EDLC reported that the Commission's Rules of Procedure, Rule 1.11, permits the EDLC to give written opinions based on the EC's precedent or if the case is clear under the relevant law and the Commission's opinion would not likely differ from staff's.  The EDLC stated that staff believes that the following criteria should be met before a case is transferred to the appointing authority without a formal Commission opinion:

1.                  There are no disputes over materials facts in the case;

2.                  The Commission's precedent and/or the law is clear on the relevant points;

3.                  It is unlikely the Commission would render a different opinion; and

4.                  The discipline for the violation is less severe than suspension or termination of the employee.

 

            The EDLC presented the Commission with a list of cases transmitted to the appointing authority under these criteria

D.        Report and recommendation regarding amendments to ROH Section 3-6 and the Rules of Procedure of the Honolulu Ethics Commission

 

            The EDLC reported that the relevant ordinance and rules are not concise and have not been significantly modified for about 25 years. The EDLC stated that staff has worked on-and-off over the last two years to rewrite the procedural ordinance and rules to meet the demands placed on the EC. 

            The EDLC presented the Commission with a proposed ordinance and proposed rules.  Upon review the proposed draft documents, the Commission moved, seconded, and unanimously carried to have staff send the draft documents to Corporation Counsel for their review and approval, and then resubmit them for the Commission's approval.

  E.          Annual job performance review for the Executive Director/Legal Counsel

 

            The Commissioners stated that they are still discussing the matter, and will provide the EDLC's annual job performance review at the next meeting.

VI.       ADJOURNMENT

            The EC moved, seconded, and unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting.  The meeting was adjourned at 12:40 p.m.

 

Last Reviewed: Monday, June 22, 2009