Friday, December 18, 2009



(PNN) -- They say Diogenes’ search for an honest man came up empty because there aren’t any.

Board of Ethics member Rolf Bieber found that out in spades this week. After a year of trying to bring some ethical standards to county government he was unceremoniously dumped from the Board of Ethics (BOE) by Mayor Bernard Carvalho with little or no explanation.

Bieber say that Carvalho cryptically told him via telephone that his application for a full BOE term wouldn’t be approved and when he asked why Carvalho responded with one word: “balance”

“I asked for clarification” Bieber told us in a telephone interview this morning. “Afterall, I feel like I am the balance.”

Bieber has a Monday morning appointment to get further clarification noting Carvalho also claimed “it’s not me”.

But Bieber thinks it’s pretty apparent why his service was rejected- his attempts to get others on the BOE, to enforce county charter provision 20.02(d) which prohibits county officials from appearing on behalf of private interests before county agencies, board and/or commissions- including some who have engaged in such activities

Bieber filed complaints against BOE members Mark Hubbard and Judy Lenthall who had appeared on behalf of Kauai Action and Planning Alliance and the Food Bank respectively, hat in hand, asking for money before the county council saying he felt like that was part of the job of a BOE member.

“I took an oath of office and I honored that oath. Mark and Judy were breaking the law so what was I supposed to do?” Bieber asks.

“If I have to get fired for dong my job under this administration maybe I need to run for office again next November so they can’t fire me.”

Bieber ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Carvalho in the 2008 “special” election after the death of Mayor Bryan Baptiste.

Bieber addressed the supposed “chilling effect” enforcing the charter would have on finding people to fill the volunteer slots on the many B&Cs, as cited by Board and Commissions (B&Cs) Administrator John Isobe and others.

Bieber says that “the concept that they can’t find people to fill these boards and commissions is a myth and I’m a prime example of that.

“People were aware I wanted to continue the work on the BOE. In November I had reapplied at the Boards and Commissions office for BOE and I made public statements that I was seeking a second term.

“Here we have a person who wants to serve, who has no conflicts, who’s being rejected by the administration. They’re saying they can’t find folks without conflicts of interest and I’m one who doesn’t and who wants to continue to serve and they’re rejecting me.”

One of the most controversial issues was what Bieber and fellow BOE member Paul Weil as a "fatally flawed" advisory opinion from current County Attorney Al Castillo and his Deputy Mauna Kea Trask that, despite the fact that it was "advisory" Castillo claimed was binding on the board.

The opinion would use the “Code of Ethic” ordinance to redefine 20.02(d) virtually out of existence, violating supremacy of law principles.

So why does Bieber think he was rejected, to be replaced with another county insider, former Deputy County Attorney Warren Perry who many believe to have been one of the prime behind-the-scenes movers in the firing of ex- Police Chief KC Lum- due to a BOE decision- and the installation of his brother, KPD Chief Darryl Perry, who was “runner-up” when Lum was appointed chief?

“All I can come up with is that they’re afraid and angry because I didn’t drink the Kool-aid.” he says.

Bieber does say though that he is genuinely thankful for his original appointment that came after his endorsement of Carvalho in the waning days of last years election after Bieber was eliminated in the first round.

“I appreciate the opportunity and there’s a lot of work left to be done. I want to continue it but for some reason they don’t want me to.”

As to what specifically he sees as problematic Bieber says “there’s a certain quality of openness that’s missing among many who serve on board and commissions”.
He cites an example of how, when a county worker he knows appeared before the board he felt compelled to disclose his friendship. But when BOE member Lei Fuller, who serves on the YWCA Board, heard Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho’s testimony before the BOE about a budget rearrangements in her department that would be a windfall for the “Y” she failed to note any conflict or even feel any need to disclose any potential or even appearance of a conflict of interest.

“That’s what I’m trying to bring to the BOE- a higher standard of ethics than we have now” he says.

“Hubbard doesn’t even believe in the concept of appearance of a conflict of interest- it’s another example of my ethical standard verses those of some of the other board members”.

Bieber did note that he thinks that, at least partially through his efforts, fellow BOE member Lenthall has apparently seen how the law applies to her and has not sought another term on the BOE so she can continue her work at the Food Bank without any ethical problems.

“I hope that if nothing else I’ve been able to raise these issues and maybe in the future appointments of those with obvious conflicts will be a thing of the past.”

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