And after many attempts to make a joke of our County Charter provision that simply doesn't allow an "officer or employee of the county" to "(a)ppear on behalf of private interests before any county
This means that the "you scratch my back, I'll scratch your" prohibition will be dead except in the narrowest of situations.
Right now if a member of the salary commission is a lawyer for a developer, he or she could represent their client asking to rezone 1000's acres of ag land to build a resort and then turn around and give all the councilmember raises. Or a member of the Civil Service Commission could ask for $100,000 for a pet project their non-profit is pursuing and then make sure the swing vote on the council's uncle got a nice cushy county job. Or a member of the Board of Review could do the same and then rule for a councilmember's- or for that matter her family, friend or business associate- appeal of the assessment value of their home.
We could go on but you get the picture as to why this standard provision is an important part of our charter's code of ethics.
But when the resolution to put the measure on the ballot came before the council two weeks ago many councilmembers sat there nodding their heads as Yukimura decried how her mucky-muck friends were having ethical problems simply because they had a blatant conflict of interest- as if the highest an mightiest of the Kaua`i Good Old Boys and Girls were the only ones who could possibly serve on these boards and commissions.
Apparently Yukimura, the former champion of the little guy has been hanging out with the ruling elite long enough that she sees them as irreplaceable, as they flit from board to commission and back again, round and round the revolving door, while at the same time coming for a handout that they could conceivably repay with their vote the next time they need to rule on something a councilmember might want.
This goes for all the board and commission members like the planning commissioner or police commission and, conversely goes for the member's families and even friends.
Oh no" they say "these people would never abuse their positions. Why we resent the implication."
But that isn't the issue. It's the appearance of a conflict of interest that is to be avoided if government is ever to have the confidence of the electorate. It's one reason you don't see much of a turnout at the polls.
You don't need a "quid pro quo" - giving something to get something- to have an apparent or potential conflicts of interest. It's that simple.
If the council approves the resolution tomorrow it would go on the November ballot. You can send testimony to the council at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more read PNN's three part series
on the Board of Ethics debacle, Unethical culture- Government service with a personal “touch”
For more on the Board of Ethics click here
For more specifically on Charter Article 20.02(D) click here