Former Council Candidate Wayne Joseph vs. Hawaii County Corporation Council Lincoln Ashida: Transcripts Released Regarding Hunter Bishops Blog Comment Section

*Disclosure* I worked as the timer during the debate that is mentioned in these transcripts.

There was quite a tiff going on between Former Council Candidate Wayne Joseph and Hawaii County Corporation Council Lincoln Ashida over a blog that Ashida commented on.  That particular blog posting I can’t seem to find anymore… even with the help of googles reader and cache.  *update* However, the video of the debate is still online here.

I just noticed that the transcripts have been released from the Board of Ethics meeting that took place on Dec. 10, 2008:

I’m just going to cut and paste the part of the meeting that pertains to Wayne Joseph and Lincoln Ashida:

a. Petition No. 2008-10: from Wayne Joseph, regarding whether Lincoln Ashida violated Hawai’i County Code Section 2-83.
CHAIR: Again, we welcome Ms. Adrianne fIeely from Maui. Because of potential conjlicts of interest, she will be representing the Board and serving as counsel for us during this petition. One thing I’d like to bring up first andforemost is disclosure of potential conjlicts of interest for the Board between Mr. Joseph and Lincoln Ashida, and just elaborate on that a little. Ms. Heely?
HEELY’ Mahalo and good morning, Chair, Vice Chair, andfellow Board members. Per your rules, Rule 1.5, that gives you specific guidance in terms of whether or not you should disqualifo yourselves if there’s potential bias or prejudice. Specifically, I want to cite to you the last sentence of your Rule 1.5, which says Board members may disqualifo themselves by filing with the Board a certificate that they deem themselves unable for any
reason to participate with absolute impartiality in the pending proceeding. So-and assuming that no affidavit was filed by the petitioner or respondent in this case asking you folks to disqualifo yourselves, that wouldn’t apply here. So if you guys feel that you can’t be impartial in your decision-making, then a certificate must be filed with your Board, stating that you cannot be impartial. But I would recommend that you disclose the relationship, and if that’s not going to affect your  impartiality in making your decision, then it’ll be okay to proceed.
CHAIR: Okay, just to clarifo-Mr. Joseph, Mr. Ashida, did you file any kind of affidavit relating to that?
(No audible response).
CHAIR: Okay.
L UM’ And everybody understands that some of us served on the Board with Mr. Joseph, and Mr. Ashida was our legal advisor at the same time.
CHAIR: Do either of you have a problem with us presiding on this?
JOSEPH: Not if you don’t.
CHAIR: Okay. Does anybody? Okay. All right, Afr. Joseph-
JOSEPH’ –Thank you.
CHAIR: –Thank you for coming this morning.
JOSEPH: May I make an opening statement?
CHAIR: Sure.
JOSEPH: Mr. Chair,first of all it’s nice seeing you again, Mr. Chair-
CHAIR: –Same here-
J6SEPH: –Miss Vice Chair, members of the Board. Nice to see two new members here and that we have a full seating Board, which is-has always been a problem with this particular Board, but thank you. And thank you for being willing to be open, honest, and impartial in this matter. I believe Mr. Ashida has agreed to stipulate that he did write those two letters-

ASHIDA: –Absolutely.
JOSEPH: –that the Board has, that he did write it during Corp Counsel time and that he did write it as the Corporation Counsel. Okay? So being as that-I believe you have both documents before you.
CHAIR: Could you have a seat, and then-
JOSEPH: –If you don’t mind, I prefer to stand. I mean, I spent 30 years in a classroom, and standing is how I think, and if I sit-it’ll be much more difJicult for me to think while I’m seated.
CHAIR: Okay.
JOSEPH: I’m much more relaxed and comfortable standing.
CHAIR: Okay. And now your opening statement –
JOSEPH: Yes, I’m getting ready to do that.
CHAIR: Okay. Okay, while you’re getting ready-
JOSEPH: –I am ready-
CHAIR: –Okay, wait, hold on a second. Ijust want to make it clear that the reason why we are here are for two rules that were specified in your petition in the Hawai’i County Code of Ethics, Rule 2-83(b)(3), you may not use County time, equipment, or facilities/or private business or campaign purposes, and also Rule-Section 2-83(3), which states that you may not use your County position to secure or grant unwarranted privileges or
treatment for yourself or others. The Board today, if we can focus on those two items and whether or not there is a violation here. Okay, Mr. Joseph, go ahead.
JOSEPH: Thank you, sir. Just to give you a chronological event of this, I was running withfour other people for the County Council seat held by incumbent Emily Naeole, and in that race, former incumbent Gary Safarik was also running, and myself along with two others. I believe on September 6th all of us were invited to do a debate at the Pahoa Community Center which lasted for two hours, from ten a.m. to noon, and during that
debate it was filmed by-I’m not sure who it was, but it was filmed and later put on the website. And I think that’s relevant, because I think Mr. Ashida wasn’t at the debate, and I think he got his information from watching the video. And he can clarify that later. But on September 9th , Mr. Ashida submitted a letter to Hunter Bishop which was placed on Hunter Bishop’s website blog, and in it he criticized me for my statements that I made
during that debate. And I’m perfectly fine with that. I’m perfectly fine with his criticisms. We’ve discussed these issues before, and whenI served as chairman of the Board of Ethics, I had difficulties with certain cases, believing that Corp Counsel may have been in a conflict of interest. I am quite aware of the Hawai’i Rules of Professional Conduct, which allows Corp Counsel to have many different defendants, including the
Board of Ethics while defending someone on the Council. In that Mr. Ashida decided to criticize me ten days prior to the primary, that’s perfectly within his right and scope as head of Corp Counsel. And that he was diligently doing his duties, I totally agree with that. He also criticized briefly Ms. Naeole as well, because Ms. Naeole agreed with me by making one short statement, one short sentence. I’m truly not sure if she agreed with me or not, but she’s not a co-plaint(ff in this petition. I think where Mr. Ashida overstepped his boundaries was that when he referred to Gary Safarik, and when he referred to Mr. Safarik, he singled out Mr. Safarik as being correct. He singled out Mr.
Safarik in a political race that the three of us were the three leading contenders. By singling out Mr. Safarik, I believe he erred in judgment and stepped over the boundaries of fair treatment. And he also signed with his letterhead-if you notice on the second sheet, Corporation Counsel, County of Hawai ‘i. I don’t believe I submitted-the following day, Mr. Hunter Bishop posted on his website a statement saying,_ “Was Ashida
Playing Politics?” And if you don’t have a copy of that, may INICHOLSON:
We have.
CHAIR: We do, we do. We have copies.
JOSEPH: You have a copy of this?
CHAIR: Hm hmm.
JOSEPH: Now, if you go down to the last paragraph on the first page –
CHAIR: This is the first paragraph of-
JOSEPH: The last paragraph on the first page-
CHAIR: “Ashida objects”–
JOSEPH: “Was Ashida Playing Politics?”
LUM: I think it’s a separate sheet. Here, last one.
JOSEPH: I mean, it all makes for interesting reading, but I just want to .. get through-
DILL: Okay, it’s Exhibit 5 for those of you who-go ahead.
JOSEPH: If you look at the last paragraph.
DILL: Um hmm.
JOSEPH: “It was surprising that Ashida would get into the issue with such vigor, which is why I posted his response immediately and in full yesterday. He certainly could have noted his disagreement with Joseph and Naeole without bringing Safarik into the discussion, which is the part that really politicized his response the most.” You know, I totally agree with that. He went from Corp Counsel to getting involved in a political race which he is not a constituent of He does not belong to County District 5. And I believe that’s the entire issue that you need to examine this morning, is did he overstep his boundaries? Did he play politics? Was this fair, by playing politics? I would have had
no problem at all had he done this as a member of the public, and wrote a letter to the editor as a member of the public. But by coming in as Corp Counsel, by using the letterhead and using his title as Corp Counsel, he put a slant on this. He prejudiced the
race against Ms. Naeole and myself and took sides in this issue.
CHAIR: Hold on-
L UM’ (inaudible) –opening statement, he gets to finish it.
CHAIR: Go ahead.
JOSEPH: If I may–
CHAIR: — Yes–
JOSEPH: –continue. The next day, Mr. Ashida did write a li!tter of apology, and I know it’s before you, and it’s very short, so if you don’t mind if I read it. It says, HI read your latest online entry, ” which is the one I’m’ referring to now, “concerning my  comments regarding the Board of Ethics, and you are correct. The Corporation Counsel should not make any statement or provide any inference that may be construed that a particular
candidate in a contested public election isfavored over another. I apologize for my earlier email to you, the candidates in the Council District 5 race, and to the readers who follow your website.” And notice he simply signed it “Lincoln, ” and he didn’t sign it the way he signed this first letter. I believe this is the issue that’s before you this morning, on whether or not Mr, Ashida did step over the boundaries.

CHAIR: Okay, to clarifY, the debate took place September 5th
JOSEPH: I’m sorry, sir.
CHAIR: September 5th is when the-
JOSEPH’ September 6th
CHAIR: September 6th, okay. And then the video was posted the next day or something-
JOSEPH: –It was posted close to midnight on the ih.
CHAIR: Okay. And then-I’m just trying to get the time line correct here. And then on the 9th_
JOSEPH: Mr. Ashida wrote his letter.
CHAIR: Okay. And then what happened after that?
JOSEPH: On the 10th, Mr. Bishop-.
CHAIR: –okay, wrote “Was Ashida Playing Politics? ”
LUM: –wrote an editorial-
JOSEPH: –and then on the 11th, Mr. Ashida apologized.
CHAIR: Okay. When did you file your petition?
JOSEPH: I waited till after the election was over. I did not want to draw any more attention to this matter.
CHAIR: Okay. Now, at some point-
JOSEPH: –and of course, I didn’t want to use this as a political football. I didn’t want anyone to get the impression that I was using this to get votes or to draw publicity. You know, I-as the former chairman of the Board of Ethics, I just think that sometimes we need to draw a line. And we need-we need to insist on a higher standard. And for those three of you that’s been on the Boardfor awhile, you know I’ve consistently said that, and I’ve at times got into conflict with Mr. Ashida over these issues.
CHAIR: Okay, then on the 1 i h is when Hunter Bishop brought up the possibility of whether or not that letter was an–
JOSEPH: –No, sir.
CHAIR: I have here Friday, September 1 ih_
JOSEPH: On the-
CHAIR: — “Was Ashida ‘s email an ethics violation?”
LUM: Yes.
CHAIR: Okay. I have it on the 12th.
JOSEPH: On the 9th Mr. Ashida wrot~ his letter, on the 10th Mr. Bishopwrote his “Was Ashida playin~ politics?” and on the llh Mr. Ashida wrote his letter of apology, and on September 26t
, six days after the primary election, I filed my petition with the Board

CHAIR: Okay, because I have something here that says-from Hunter Bishop’s blog, dated Monday, September 22nd, “Joseph hits Ashida with ethics complaint. “LUM’ That was after he filed–
CHAIR: –But he just said-
L UM: . –That was after he filed He filed

CHAIR:–on the 26th __
JOSEPH: I thought Ifiled on the 26th.
LUM: 22nd. The petition is dated the 26th.
JOSEPH’ Maybe Ijiled on the 22nd. I stand corrected
CHAIR: Okay. And in that-
JOSEPH: –But it was after the-it was after the primary election.
CHAIR: Okay, all right, so after, youfiled it.
CHAIR: And then in that-one thing that concerns me is it says, “Joseph emailed me a copy of the letter he filed this afternoon along with his formal complaint to the Ethics Board, in which he wrote, ” and then he quotes the petition. Under Rule 4.13 of our rules, it states that all co.mmunications, petitions, need to remain confidential. And serving as a former chair of this Board, were you aware that those things-that those petitions and things of that nature are to remain confidential?
JOSEPH: No, sir, I wasn’t.
CHAIR: Okay.
LUM’ I wonder, though, John, if that ruling of confidentiality only refers to us as Board members and that we really cannot control the confidentiality of the petitioner. I think that the rule says-
CHAIR: Do we (inaudible)-
LUM: It says the Board-
CHAIR: –I think it’s all communications and petitions until it’s presented to the Board, if I’m not mistaken.
LUM’ It’s Code of Ethics number 90, I think-
CHAIR: –4.13-
HEELY. If I may, Chair-
CHAIR: –Yeah, go ahead-
HEEL Y. –Just to quote your rules. Rule 4.13, Confidentiality, states in subsection a: “All records, reports, documents, exhibits and other evidence received by the Board shall be held in confidence, and no information as to the contents thereof shall be disclosed unless such items are presented and received by the Board at a hearing or meeting that is open to the public. ”
CHAIR: So they’re to remain-if I interpret it correctly, they’re supposed to remain confidential until they’re presented to the Board in a meeting.
HEELY: Or the Board’s-
LUM: –But I still think it’s only when it’s received by us, so I don’t think that we have control over the person who files a petition and would make that-
CHAIR: Okay.
LUM’ Yeah, I really looked at that, because I was surprised-
CHAIR: –Well, regardless, you felt it necessary to share with Hunter Bishop the nature of your petition?
JOSEPH: It was Mr. Bishop that more or less instigated this whole issue-

CHAIR: -~Okay-
JOSEPH: –and along with many other people that thought I shouldjile-
CHAIR: –Okay-
JOSEPH: –I should jile, and if I erred, I did it innocently, but if the Board wants to bring me up on a petition-
JOSEPH: –I’d be happy to-I’d be happy to come back. I think the issue before us is not-
CHAIR: –Okay, to clarify-and this is what you went over in your opening statements. The main violation youfeel is present here is that Mr. Ashida brought in Gary Safarik ‘into this argument, that, quote, “Gary understood the issues” or understood what was the legal issue that was discussed in the debate, as opposed to Emily Naeole and yourself

JOSEPH: I don’t think that was his exact words, but-
CHAIR: –Yeah-
JOSEPH: –to that general idea, yes. You know, I can understand his wanting to defend Corp Counsel. It’s important that he does that, and I respect him for doing that. And if the letter simply ended with his criticism of me, I wouldn’t be here today.
CHAIR: Well that’s my main concern, Wayne, is that in a public forum, you essentially made accusations about an officer of the County and the rul{!s and practices that-
JOSEPH: –Well, Mr. Dill, did you watch this video?
CHAIR: Yeah, I did, and-
JOSEPH: –Did the Bo.ard watch the video?
JOSEPH: At whose insistence?
CHAIR: Okay, let me finish, okay. Now the thing is, is that these accusations of conflict of interest were made in a public forum, okay, about a public officer and covering rules and-essentially rules that are covered under the County Charter-that Corporation Counsel is mandated to represent County officers and employees in a legal realm. Now Mr. Ash ida, without/getting into the Gary Safarik business, defended himself on his County time, and defended his position and his employees and attorneys that work for him, against this public accusation. And that ‘s-I think you were just saying that you have no problem with that whatsoever, right. that he was defending himself and Corp Counsel?
JOSEPH: I’m still surprised that the Board would have gone before this hearing and viewed a tape that was edited and cut and not shown in its entirety. I’m really surprised that-
LUM’ –Actually, not all of us did.
JOSEPH: I’m really surprised that you would have taken that step to review ~omething that you did not know whether or not it was in its entire context, and I believe when you take an edited version of something-when you take an edited version of something, and you just watch the editorial version-
CHAIR: –Okay-
JOSEPH: –Infact-
CHAIR: –Do you know what the Board~
JOSEPH: –Infact-
CHAIR: –Do you know what the Board viewed-
JOSEPH: –I would like now to submit that those that did watch the video recuse themselves.
CHAIR: Okay-
JOSEPH: –because they have prejudiced themselves.
CHAIR: Do you even know what the Board viewed?
JOSEPH: Youjust saidyou viewed the video.
CHAIR: Yeah, and you just said it was an edited version.
JOSEPH: Because I know he did not put on the entire two hours.
CHAIR: Who’s “he”?
JOSEPH: The person that did the video.
CHAIR: Okay-
LUM’ –Okay, our job here today is to-
JOSEPH: –Miss Lum-
L UM· –act on these two-
JOSEPH: –Miss-
L UM· –these two issues that you’ve brought-
JOSEPH: –Miss-
CHAIR: –Please allow the Board member to speak, thank you–
LUM: –which I think is this letter that Mr. Ashida wrote-posted-wrote to Mr. Bishop, who then posted it. Now we’re not here to talk about the editorial that Mr. Bishop wrote, or Mr. Bishop’s opinions about how Mr. Bishop might have interpreted this letter. We have the letter. Now I think one way to look at this letter, which to me is what I’m concentrating on here, is that apparently there were comments made in a-I’m just looking at the letter-there were comments made in this forum that was videoed, and Mr. Ashida talked about his disappointment to hear these conjlict of interest. All right, thenfine, I mean, he’s defending his office, apparently, and that’s his job. So I have no
problem with him writing this letter on County time. So we get to the content of this letter, and I think in order to have an ethics violation really be strong, I really believe there has to be-if somebody is going to politicize something, there has to be some intent. But when I read this letter, and I read it at home, and I don’t take pieces out, I don’t editorialize the letter, I see that Mr. Ashida is referring to all three people-I don’t know if there are others, it doesn’t say whether there were others present or not-and I did not view the video that we’re talking about here, any kind of video-he says-he almost seems to be making a capsule of what Mr. Joseph said and that Ms. Naeole-” Wayne
said it all”-so Mr. Ashida is assuming that she’s concurring with whatever Mr. Joseph-
JOSEPH: –Mr. Ashida’s right here. We-
LUM· –Yes-
JOSEH: –don’t have to make assumptions-
LUM· –and then-
JOSEPH: –He can tell usfor himself-
LUM· –and then, the third one is, “Gary Safarik, having served as a Council member, understood “-past tense- “the legal issue discussed above.” And then he reiterates those-what our jobs are, volunteer boards and commissions. So I don’t see any intent
here to say you-that’s different what people would have hear.d had they been in the district at this. There’s nothing in here that tells me that Mr. Ashida is saying you should make up your mind one way or the other, because if the people agreed with whatever you were saying, whatever Ms. Naeole was saying, whatever Mr. Safarik was saying-
CHAIR: –Okay, before we move further on, Mr. Joseph, you asked that anybody who saw this video recuse themselves.
CHAIR: Okay, can I get a motion to move into Executive Session-we can discuss with counsel doing that?
GENTRY: Moved.
L UM’ Move to executive session.
CHAIR: Can I get a second?
L UM: Second.
CHAIR: All right. All infavor?
GENTRY, LUM, NICHOLSON, and MARTIN (simultaneously): Aye.
CHAIR: All right, thank you.
At 10:35 a.m., everyone left the room except for the Board members, Ms. Heely, and the Board’s secretary. The door was closed, and the Board went into Executive Session for attorney
Regular Session was re-entered at 10:45 a.m. The door was opened and the parties reentered the room.
CHAIR: Okay, we are back in Regular Session. Mr. Joseph-
CHAIR: You stated before we went to Executive Session that you would like any members of this Board to recuse themselves who had saw the video on Hunter Bishop’s blog, or the link to the video. Do you still hold that?
CHAIR: Okay. I’m asking Ms. Heely to read Rule 1.5 of our rules in its entirety for us to discuss after.
HEELY: Mahalo, Chair. Rule 1.5 of your Board’s rules is entitled “disqualification of Board members, bias or prejudice. Any person, officer, or employee may file an affidavit that one or more of the Board members has a personal bias or prejudice. Such affidavit may be filed on any matter before the Board affecting or involving such person, officer, or employee. The Board member against whom the affidavit is filed may answer the affidavit or may file a disqualifying “-disqual(fYing- “certificate with the Board. {[the Board member chooses to answer the qlfidavit. the remaining Board members shall
decide whether or not that Board member should be disqualified from proceeding therein. Every affidavit shall state the facts and reasons for the belief that bias or prejudice exists and shall be filed at least ten working days before the date on which the
matter will be considered by the Board, or good cause shall be shownfor the failure to do so. Board members may disqualify themselves by filing with the Board a certificate that they deem themselves unable for any reason to participate with absolute impartiality in the pending proceeding. ” .
CHAIR: Okay, there’s two ways we can do this. Obviously we can have you file an affidavit objecting to us, anybody on this Board who saw that video, saying that there is prejudice by seeing that video, and then we can respond and then have the Board deal
with it-deal with the response that way. Or you can orally state again why youfeel any of us who saw the video can’t rule on this impartially, and then we can respond that way. How would you like to do it?
JOSEPH: I’mfine with doing it orally.
CHAIR: Okay. So again,can you state why you-
JOSEPH: –Yes, I believe that you prejudiced yourself by looking at the video before hearing what I had to say concerning this issue. You went to a source that you knew had-may have had-relevancy in this case and viewed it beforehand. We know in court cases if a juror was to do such a thing in a court case, or even watch news concerning the case, they would have to recuse themselves. I don’t see how members of this Board could prejudice themselves before hearing a case that was before them. Now, I would have had no problems if Mr. Ashida asked the Board to view the videotape during this hearing. That way, I would have had an opportunity to explain what may have been cut out of the video tape, I would have had an opportunity to respond to why I said what I said when I did, but you took it upon yourselves to begin this investigation prior to-prior to this hearing.
CHAIR: Okay-
JOSEPH: –By doing so-
CHAIR: –It’s much like-
JOSEPH: –By doing so, you’ve prejudiced yourselves, and you must recuse yourselves.
DILL: Am I prejudiced also? Because Ifound out about this petition that youfiledfrom Hunter Bishop’s blog as well, on the day you filed it, even though that was a violation of Rule 4.13 of confidentiality. So am I therefore prejudiced on this-
JOSEPH: –If you-
CHAIR: –because I found out?
JOSEPH: –have a problem with me, Mr. Dill, file a petition.
CHAIR: Listen to me-
JOSEPH: –But I’m here with my petition-··
CHAIR: –I’m sayingL
JOSEPH: –and I’m saying-and I’m saying that as Chairman of this Board, you have prejudiced yourself and should recuse yourself.
CHAIR: Okay.·
GENTRY: Mr. Chair, may I make a comment?
CHAIR: Yes, please.
GENTRY: It seems to me that-I hear what you say about it being posted. The confidentiality, as I understand it, applies to all parties-the petitioner and the respondent. The reason for the confidentiality is to afford the respondent a chance to
review or respond to a petition made against that person. In a sense, Mr. Joseph, you biased everyone by public-by putting into a public forum your petition before it was even submitted to the-to the Board of Ethics, in which case you just biased  everyone who taps into that blog. So in regard to that, I think that viewing anything that is available in the public forum, we could have found all of that ourselves, which would have sideswiped everyone, especially the person that you’re claiming ethical violations against. Because it happened the day that-when did you send your–
JOSEPH: –Ms. Gentry-
GENTRY: –copy to Mr. Hunter?
JOSEPH: –Did you see my petition on the blog?
GENTRY. I asked you a question. When did you send Hunter Bishop a copy of your petition?
CHAIR: I think it’s 9/22, if I’m correct.
GENTRY. And technically, when did we receive the petition for review?
L UM’ Two weeks ago.
CHAIR: Well, it’s dated 9/22.
LUM’ No, but when we-when I personally received it?
GENTRY: Yes. As a Board member.
L UM: As a Board member-
GENTRY: –for consideration.
CHAIR: Receipt of the petition is dated September 22nd.
L UM: I don’t think that’s (inaudible).
CHAIR: And the date ~fthe letter is the 2lh.
L UM’ So is each one of us to respond to Mr. Joseph’s request that we recuse ourselves?
CHAIR: I guess anybody who saw the video, please let yourselves be known and respond. Arthur?
MARTIN: For your information, I don’t have email or any thing-
JOSEPH: –Good for you.
MARTIN: And I wouldn’t even know what was on it.
CHAIR: Ms. Gentry?
GENTRY: I did view what was online.
L UM’ I did not follow that link to view it.
CHAIR: Okay, what-while we’re going down, why don’t you state whether or not you feel it affected your impartiality in dealing with this.
GENTRY. No. It’s in the public forum. It doesn’t affect my ability to sit on this case.
CHAIR: I viewed it via the link that was provided to me, and I don’t think that it would affect me. I think what was provided in the video points directly to the comments that you
quoted in your letter and what was shared on Hunter Bishop’s blog. Marilyn?
NICHOLSON: I did view the link, and I don’tfeellike it’had any impact, because basically what was on the link was exactly what we have in the printed materials, so it didn’t bias me in one way or the other. It was just sort of redundant with the existing
CHAIR: Okay. Does any of the Board members have any problems with any of the other Board members ruling on this? No? Mr. Joseph?
JOSEPH: If I may make a comment. I did not view the video. I only know that the video exists. I only know that the video was edited. I do not know the contents of the video. I did not have a chance to view the video. I do not know what you saw. I do not know what you heard. I do not know the context in which it was said. I do not know whether or not what came before that may have been edited, what stimulated that portion of the discussion that may have been edited. I do not-I am not privileged to any of that information that the three Board members have.
CHAlK’ Would you still like to go through the route offiling an affidavit and postponing this till later, to allow us to respond?
HEELY: –Chair, I believe-excuse me, if I may interject. I believe he said he did not want to go that route-
CHAIR: Okay-
HEELY: –He was fine orally-
CHAIR: Okay-
HEELY: –and per your rules, you are able to state whether or not you can proceed with being impartial, and I believe you guys just have done that. Also, I want to just read 1. 7, Rules of Evidence, for the Board’s convenience. “The Board shall not be bound by the strict rules of evidence. Any evidence which is relevant and material to the complaint may be admitted. Effect shall be given to the rules of privilege recognized by law.” I
know Mr.-the petitioner stated the rules of court, etc., but the Rules of Evidence do not apply here. And in regards to your independent researching or preparing for your hearing, that’s not an issue before the Board. It’s not relevant, and I believe you guys stated your impartiality.
CHAIR: Okay. Why don’t we move on and focus on the two issues at hand here, the two rules pertaining to possible ethic violations. Mr. Ashida, could you come up and answer some questions for us, please. (Ms. Heely quietly spoke to the Chair.) I’m told I need to swear you guys in.
LUM: Who?
SCHOEN: No. (Inaudible.)
HEELY: Do you guys usually put it under oath-no? No, I apologize.
CHAIR: We’re very trusting.
L UM’ Right now, we’re informal.
HEELY: We’re informal. okay.
CHAIR: Mr. Ashida, you heard the chronological order, kind of what happened. Do you agree with the dates that were brought up?
CHAIR: And were you present at the forum?
CHAIR: Okay. So your only knowledge of it came through the video that was posted.
CHAIR: Can you tell us exactly what prompted you to respond the way you did to Hunter Bishop’s blog?
ASHIDA: After I viewed the video, that’s what prompted me.
CHAIR: Okay. Was there any specific reason you feZt it necessary to bring in the names of the –
ASHIDA: Well, I think that-first of all, if you look at what-I know there ‘s be~n some reference that I wrote a letter, you know, on our letterhead, and that’s not the case. Actually, I emailed Hunter Bishop. Hunter Bishop and I have known each other for some time. He was aformer reporter of the Hawai ‘i Tribune-Herald and I was-you know, I served as a prosecuting attorney in this County for thirteen and a half years. And actually I first met Hunter, I think back in the late 80 ‘s, when I prosecuted Mynah Bird, Melvin Mynah Bird Medeiros, on some charges, and that’s when lfirst met Hunter. He workedfor the Tribune-Herald at the time, and he wrote stories, and since then we’ve had I’d say a pretty decent professional relationship. So Ifollow his blog, as well as other blogs, because Ijust want to get a-Ijust need to know what’s being said out there about the County, not just my office but the County in general. So when I read his-this
article, and he provided–my recollection is he provided a link to the video, so I clicked on one of his links, and then I saw the video. And I didn’t send a letter to Hunter-I sent this email to Hunter, and it wasn’t my expectation at the time that he was going to print it verbatim, you know-it’s addressed to Hunter. The thing about being signed “Lincoln Ashida, Corporation Counsel, County of Hawai ‘i, ” that’s one of those auto-texts. I put in LSTA, press enter, and all of that automatically comes up, so that’s how that happened. And then after-I guess he got this, Hunter called me up and said hey Linc, did you intend for this to be public. And I told him yeah, you know-I stand by what I said. Then the next thing I know, he reprinted this verbatim, you know, as is. And I thought okay, that’s fine. I didn’t expect that, but that’s fine. I stand by what I said. So that’s how I guess-talk about how Gary Safarik’s name got interjected, it was really basically what I observed. If. my recollection serves, when I saw the video, after Mr. Joseph made his comments, they went down the line, and I think it was Kale Gumapac-my recollection is
Kale Gumapac said he had nothing to add. I believe that Ms. Stocksdale also said nothing to add, or something like that. But I remember Emily saying, “No, Wayne said it all, ” and it was like an affirmation. And then what Safarik did was, he basically said
what 1 recited in there, his explanation of why there’s no conflict of interest-it is correct. It is factually correct. So basically 1 said what 1 saw.
L UM: So, excuse me-Mr. Ashida, if you would just reiterate that.
LUM: What Mr. Safarik said, you’re sort of requoting here to Hunter Bishop as bei’ngyou were giving that, you were saying that to Hunter so he would understand what was-
ASHIDA:. –Right. 1 wasn’t requoting, 1 was paraphrasing.
LUM: Paraphrasing what we really are, and what boards really are, boards and commissions.
ASHIDA: Right, and actually that’s exactly what-yeah, it’s accurate.
L UM: And so that Mr. Safarik-I didn’t watch it-Mr. Safarik more or less was explaining what boards and commissions do?
ASHIDA: 1 recall he said something like, as a board and commission-as volunteer boards and commissioners, you are the decision-makers. As a matter of fact, if you look at the video, 1 think that Mr. Safarik was actually-I wouldn’t go as far as say critical of our office, but 1 think he used a phrase like it’s not the high-paid lawyers who make the decisions, it’s you make the decisions. You know, he didn’t dump on my office or myself,
but he kind of said-he empowered the board and commission members, said you make the decisions, you’re not run by the hot-
JOSEPH: 1 object to this-
CHAIR: –Hold on, let him fin ish-
JOSEPH: –only because the video, if you admit it as evidence, which obviously afew of you have seen, would say Mr. Ashida cannot speakfor Mr. Safarik. 1 don’t belieye he can speak to what’s on the video.
L UM: 1 ‘m just trying to clarify-I’m trying to clarify this part of the letter.
JOSEPH’ Well, 1 think all he can testify to is why he wrote the letter.
CHAIR: How about we let him testify, then. Please let him finish. Yes?
HEELY: If 1 may respond. As I said, the Hawai ‘i Rules of Evidence does not apply to this informal advisory hearing.
CHAIR: Okay. All right, Mr. Ashida, sorry. Go ahead.
LUM: So you’re more or less paraphrasing what you understood Gary Safarik was clarifoingfor that forum-“understood the legal issues discussed above”-
CHAIR: –This was in his letter to Hunter–
L UM’ –and it says “his comments”–
LUM’ Okay. So you were just-all right.
LUM: Okay, thank you.
CHAIR: Now, I understand your motive behind this was to defend-number one, was to defend the accusations against you and your office.
ASHIDA: That’s part of it.
CHAIR: Okay, what else?
ASHIDA: Well, you know, these are serious-well, first of all, I’m really sorry that I’m here, that I’ve had-it is embarrassingfor me, I’ll say that. And like I said in my letter, we are-J respect anybody who’s willing to run for public office, because it’s not easy, you know. Andfor that, Mr. Joseph, I’m sorry that you’re here as well, and I apologize if you feel that I intended any ill will towards you or anyone, because that was clearly not my intent. But the other thing is that serious allegations have been made, and as we speak right now they’re not resolved. We in Hawai’i are self-governing as attorneys. We as public servant government attorneys are held to a higher standard. Once the public loses trust in our ability, that we are above board, that we are ultimately highly above board in our ethical behavior and conduct, the whole system breaks down. Any time anyone makes any allegation of ethical wrongdoing~in this case, even possible criminal wrongdoing-and it involves attorneys of my staff, I am obliged to investigate it. I am obliged, because if I don’t investigate it and I don’t report it, I let it go, I can be
disciplined. I can be disbarred for that. That’s a big part of my motivation, Mr. Dill.
CHAIR: Okay, that being said, one of the concerns I have, whether or not-you stated that your intent was not to influence the election or to endorse one candidate or the , other, but a lot of what we deal with here, especially in the world of ethics, is based on perception-
ASHIDA: –That’s correct.
CHAIR: And many things that we dealt with when Wayne was our chair had to do with the public perception and the higher standards that board members and County officers and employees are held to. I thinkjust by doing this, you kind of went into that realm of giving the impression that you were endorsing or playing politics, like Hunter Bishop said-but I’mjust saying that the possible perception was there. And I think you know
that because of your apology. You stated that, and I just want to point that out.
ASHIDA: That is-
LUM· –I think the apology politicized it. I think when you look at this letter, read paragraph (inaudible), three people in this letter whose opinions are reiterated, Mr. Joseph’s, Ms. Naeole’s, and Mr. Safarik’s. The other two people aren’t mentioned. As it stands in this little eddy that’s going on here, it happens that you felt that in these three people, in these statements, that the one that was correct was Mr. Safarik’s. You felt in this letter that the other two were incorrect in their-whatever they were saying. If a person, a voter, chooses to think that you are the person they’re going to follow, then maybe that influenced them, but if they choose to feel that you’re not the person, it’s like-
CHAIR: Well, he stated it. He says, “the Corporation Counsel should not make any statement or provide any inference that may be construed that a particular candidate”-
LUM· –Construed, yeah. That’s true, yeah.
ASHIDA: That’s exactly why I submitted that unequivocal apology the next day, because when Hunter raised it as an issue, then-
LUM: –It’s Hunter that raised it as an issue.
ASHIDA: Right, but that’s exactly what John is talking about-excuse me, Chairman Dill is talking about-is that we should be aware of even the appearance of impropriety. So when Hunter says hey, what about this, then I thought I’d better make clear to
everybody so it’s-there’s no ambiguity out there.
LUM· But the situation here is-when I look at it, in my linear mind, Hunter Bishop is the person that politicized it. You wrote the letter, but it’s Bishop’s blog that raised the political-and you responded to that, I think Wayne is probably responding to that by sending Bishop the petition, if that’s who did it.
CHAIR: Well, I think he’s done this in the past, where he’s been the catalyst for certain-
LUM· –Well I don’t read his blog, I don ‘t-
CHAIR: –But regardless of how it got to our agenda here, we do have to rule on whether or not these are violations of the Code of Ethics, and I’d like to try and move to that.
LUM: Does anybody else have anything to say? Just you and I?
CHAIR:· Marilyn?
NICHOLSON: I would say that when I read the email that originally started this whole – thing, I personally did not read it as being pro or con or in any way politicized. And in a
way I agree with Ann, and then when there was a response, I started to look at it in a different way. But I certainly didn’t read it in any way that said that you were-Mr. Ashida-that that you were supporting or criticizing. I think you were just trying to
clarify the issues. So I didn’t see it that way at all. And I still don’t see it as a political issue one way or the other. I think-
L UM: –(indecipherable) part of the political issue .
. NICHOLSON: Yes, I think it probably is, and I don’t read blogs, either. So I think that probably that’s how it got to be a political issue, is because not only what Mr. Bishop responded, but then all of the-we were provided with other comments from other people. You know, to me, it just says here are the facts, make up your own mind. It didn’t endorse or criticize-it didn’t criticize any candidates. Therefore, I didn’t see it as a political issue at all.
GENTRY: I would concur with Ms. Nicholson, but I would also add that the action that Mr. Joseph took in immediately sending his petition to Hunter in the public forum also created another storm of controversy, and it definitely in my purview violates the rules of confidentiality, because it was done long before this Board ever received any notion that there was any pilikia.
CHAIR: Okay, how about, Board members, if we could address-
JOSEPH: –If I may respond to-
CHAIR: –Hold on a second, section 2-83(b)(3), using County time, equipment, facilities, for private business or campaign purposes. We discussed the campaign purposes, and Ms. Nicholson shared her opinion on that. Do any of you feel that by Mr. Ashida using a County computer, he was in violation of Rule-Section 2-83(b)(3)?
NICHOLSON: I would like to make a motion that we find there is no violation of Section 2-83 (b)(3).
LUM’ I second.
CHAIR: Okay, discussion? Okay, all infavor?
NICHOLSON, LUM, GENTRY, MARTIN (simultaneously): Aye.
LUM: Moving on.
CHAIR: Now we discuss the Hawai’i County Code of Ethics Section 2-83, which states you may not use your County position to secure or grant unwarranted privileges or
treatment for yourself or others. Anybody feel that Mr. Ashida was in violation?
L UM: Mr. Joseph wants to speak.
CHAIR: Mr. Joseph, did you have a comment? .
JOSEPH: Yes, just a brief comment. I did not submit the petition to Hunter Bishop. Hunter Bishop called me and asked me if I submitted a petition, and I said yes, and he asked me about the petition. Now for clarification-I know it’s been referred that you’re making it sound like I wrote up a petition and then went over and handed it to him and said this is my petition. What I did say, I filed a petition.
CHAIR: Okay. So these quotes that he has on Exhibit 8-
JOSEPH: I don’t have that document before me.
CHAIR: Basically it says Joseph emailed me a copy of the letter he filed this afternoon along with his formal complaint to the Board of Ethics, in which he wrote-and basically it’s quoting the petition, essentially.
JOSEPH: This is the letter I sent to Mr. Bishop. (He handed the Chair a document.)
CHAIR: Here, you can take a look at this. Okay, so he’s basically quoting that letter that was attached to the petition.
LUM’ Okay.
CHAIR: Here, you can have it.
JOSEPH: That was the letter I submitted to Mr. Bishop-
GENTRY. –And the date reads September 22nd.
LUM’ Yeah, it does say September 22nd.
GENTRY: The date reads September 22nd, so it appears that it was sent-it definitely happened before we got it.
CHAIR: Okay. All right, thank you, Mr. Joseph, for clarifying that. Now on the table we’re discussing Hawai ‘i County Code Section 2-83, which states that you may not use . your County position to secure or grant unwarranted privileges or treatment for yourself or others. Anybody on the Board here like to discuss this, whether or not Mr. Ashida was in violation?
NICHOLSON: I would like to hear a statement from Mr. Joseph just clarifying what the unwarranted privileges are, because I don’t really understand what this charge is here for. So could you clarifY why you brought up this for us, and what the unwarranted privileges or treatments are that you are referring to? .
JOSEPH: It went to Mr. Safarik. It’s referring to his favoritism of Mr. Safarik in his letter.
CHAIR: In his comments about Mr. Safarik in his letter to Hunter Bishop?
NICHOLSON: If I may, I would reiterate Ijust didn’t see that what Mr. Ashida had said in his email in fact was in any way favoring one candidate over another. I think it was just clarifYing some facts.
L UM: I agree.
GENTRY: Then I would move that the Boardfind no violation ofSection-HCC Section 2-83.
NICHOLSON: I’ll second it.
CHAIR: Discussion? Arthur, you got anything? Want to make sure you’re still a part.
MARTIN: I’m right here. I’ve got to say this, though. This is only my second meeting, being on this Board. I got all this at the first meeting. That means it all happened before· I even knew what was going on. So I’m just having difficulty assimilating.
CHAIR: Any other discussion before we vote? All infavor of the motion?
GENTRY, NICHOLSON, LUM, MARTIN (simultaneously): Aye.
CHAIR: Aye. Okay.
ASHIDA: Thank you.
CHAIR: All right, thank you very much.
L UM: Thank you, Mr. Ashida and Mr. Joseph.
Everyone but the Board members and staff left the room. It was 11: 15 a.m.
CHAIR: Moving on with the agenda.
HEELY: Sorry, before we move on, just to clarifY if the Board per the rules wants to issue a written informal advisory opinion to both petitioner and respondent-
CHAIR: –We do.
HEELY: I’ll be drafting one for your review prior to your next meeting.
CHAIR: Yes, that’s how we-thank you. Thank you very much.
HEELY: Thank you.

Full text of the meeting here.

(Apologies in advance.  I just cut and pasted it from an Acrobat file and the text came out funny.  I did my best to patch it together correctly.  Please see official text for exact copy)

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