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Advisory Opinion No. 132

The question is whether or not employment as a manager of a fast food restaurant is incompatible with the duties of a wastewater service investigator [investigator] with the Department of Public Works.

After considering all of the information presented, the Ethics Commission [Commission] is of the opinion that the investigator's employment with the fast food chain [ABC] is incompatible with the standards of conduct set forth in the Revised Charter of Honolulu 1973 (1984 Edition) [RCH] and the the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu [ROH]. Therefore, the Commission looks to the language of those provisions in formulating its opinion.

Section 6-1.2(2), ROH, provides that no officer or employee of the City shall "[a]cquire financial interest in business enterprises which he has reason to believe may be directly involved in official action to be taken by him."

"Financial interest" is defined in Section 6-1.1(6), ROH, as "an interest held by an . . .  individual which is . . . (C) an employment . . . ."

The investigator's interest in ABC is an "employment" and, therefore, falls within the definition of "financial interest" as defined in Section 6-1.1(6), ROH.

In the investigator's meeting with the Commission, he informed the Commissioners that the primary duty he performs for the City is the inspection of businesses and restaurants to determine if their grease traps are properly installed and maintained. The "Sewer Ordinance" (Ordinance No. 4611) which he enforces authorizes him to impose penalties on businesses that do not properly maintain or install their grease traps. Thus, the inspections of businesses, the enforcement of the "Sewer Ordinance," and the possible imposition of penalties are all part of his official duties.

Clearly, ABC fast food restaurant is directly involved in official action required to be taken by the investigator. He is required to inspect ABC to determine that it properly maintains its grease traps and, if necessary, to enforce appropriate penalties. As stated previously, his interest in ABC is a financial interest. Section 6-1.2(2), ROH, specifically states that he may not have a financial interest in a business enterprise which is directly involved in official action to be taken by him. Thus, the Commission finds that his interest in ABC is incompatible with the standards of conduct set forth in the ROH.

The Commission submits for consideration a suggestion which it believes will eliminate the incompatibility of the investigator's two employments. The Commission requests that his supervisor submit to the Commission within twenty working days from the date of this opinion a written statement, signed by the supervisor and the investigator, which states that:

(a) Another investigator will conduct any and all inspections of ABC and its central kitchen;

(b) As long as the subject investigator remains an employee of ABC he will not inspect any ABCs and their central kitchen.

If the foregoing recommendation is unacceptable to the investigator or his immediate supervisor, the Commission should be so informed no later than twenty working days from the date written on this opinion.

Dated: February 15, 1984

MAZEPPA K. COSTA

Chair, Ethics Commission

Last Reviewed: Monday, August 12, 2002