Monday, July 6, 2009


CAN’T YOU SMELL THAT?: The Board of Ethics (BOE) is meeting this Thursday and as usual the agenda promises a fun-filled theater of the absurd. All the “regulars” will all be there and you couldn’t find a better morning’s entertainment.

Just show up at 9 a.m. at Liquor Conference Room on 1st Floor of the Mo‘ikeha Building.

For a preview of one item here’s a piece titled “Fair Treatment” from BOE watchdog Horace Stoessel.

If a person had been treated like the Board of Ethics and county attorney’s office have treated Charter Section 20.02D, how would the person feel?

During the last year and a half the board, relying on legal opinions, has (1) given Jonathan Chun permission to continue representing clients before county agencies even though 20.02D prohibits such activities by officers of the county, and (2) dismissed three ethics complaints filed by Rolf Bieber alleging violations of 20.02D.

Note: According to Charter Section 20.05G, the complaints could not be upheld as long as the Chun decision remains in force.

I have followed the process closely. There has been no shortage of statements from the board and attorney’s office aimed at proving that 20.02D cannot possibly mean what it says, or that the County Code amends or modifies the language of 20.02D, or that 20.02D is unfair and leads to absurdities and therefore should not be enforced.

County officers pledge to support and defend the charter. Bearing that fact in mind, I tried to remember statements I had heard or read from the board and the attorney’s office supporting and defending 20.02D. I couldn’t think of a single example.

20.02D appears in an executive session item on the board’s agenda for July 9 related to the ethics complaints dismissed by the board on June 4. The notice for executive session reads in part: “…to consider a communication from the County Attorney clarifying the opinion he gave to the Board on June 4, 2009 and providing the substantive basis for that opinion regarding Charter §20.02 D, County Code 3-1.7 and prior Attorney’s opinion dated March 5, 2008.”

Following the executive session the board will publicly “ratify” matters from the session. Since the board has already approved Chun’s actions and dismissed the complaints, can we reasonably expect the board or the attorney to “support and defend” 20.02D on July 9?

In case you missed it, check out our three part series on the BOE, titled “Unethical Culture- Government Service with a Personal ‘Touch’” linked on the left rail or click here for other PNN/gw? coverage of the circus.

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