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Board of Ethics Meeting Minutes Available to Public

I’ve obviously got a lot of reading to catch up on.

I don’t know how long the minutes to all these meetings have been available, but there certainly is some interesting information to be found in them:

You can view them here.

I’ll just toss a few out here but if you want some good reading and have a bowl of popcorn ready… I do suggest checking out all of the minutes.

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:

5. NEW BUSINESS
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? ”
JOSEPH’ Yes-
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?”
JOSEPH: Yep.
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.
JOSEPH: Yes.
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-
CHAIR: –No-
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?
GENTRY: Yes.
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.
JOSEPH: Yes.
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
consultation.
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-
JOSEPH: –Sir?
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?
JOSEPH: Yes.
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
information.
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?
JOSEPH: Well-
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.
ASHIDA: Okay.
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?
ASHIDA: I do.
CHAIR: And were you present at the forum?
ASHIDA: No.
CHAIR: Okay. So your only knowledge of it came through the video that was posted.
ASHIDA: Yes.
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.
ASHIDA: Sure.
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”–
ASHIDA: Yeah.
LUM’ Okay. So you were just-all right.
ASHIDA: Yes.
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)?
GENTRY: No.
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.
CHAIR: 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?
JOSEPH: Yes.
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)

Like I Said Earlier: Contra-Flow 0… Shoulder Lane 1

I’m not sure what the big fuss is about with this latest announcement that Contra-Flows aren’t going to fly… at least right now.  It really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

Back in September, I blogged about the State quick-fix project to use the shoulder lane.   The State told us then that Contra-flowing was not going to be possible.

Of note something that will be happening soon. The Shoulder lane that is used in the mornings from 6-8 AM are going to be opened up for 24 hour usage

In today’s Hawaii Tribune, it talks about how Councilwoman Naeole is now thinking twice about the meeting:

…”We can’t seem to get the state people to come,” she (Naeole) said of Department of Transportation administrators. “No sense we have the meeting, and they not there…”

What I don’t understand, is that Emily has known about the quick-fix shoulder project for quite some time as she is a member of the KPAG group.

At the last meeting in front of the State people, she mentioned this resolution to have a contra-flow, however, the State people just kind of blew her off like nothing was going to be done with the resolution.

We have met at least 5 times now with “State Officials” regarding the H-130 traffic.

Why is the STATE not listening to are needs?  Our own council lady is making resolutions that won’t even be heard by State Reps.

That’s ok… at least I know I wasn’t hearing things wrong 5 months ago.  It is a bit of waste of money attempting to do things that you already know aren’t going to work in the long run.

“Morioka said the DOT plans to convert the morning shoulder lane into a permanent lane and widen the road to create a Pahoa-bound shoulder lane for use during evening rush hour.”

Is anyone listening to what I previously stated on my blog?… Once again back in September I said:

Of note something that will be happening soon. The Shoulder lane that is used in the mornings from 6-8 AM are going to be opened up for 24 hour usage

Folks… we just have to get used to the STATE over riding most of what we want at county level.

2009 Pork Report: $4 Million Plus Spent on Coqui Frog Control

Hat tip to Nancy Cook Lauer at All Hawaii News.

The 2009 Hawaii Pork Report has been released and you can view it here.

Something of note for Big Island residents:

“Alarm over the rapid spread of the coqui frog, especially on the Big Island, has inspired a multitude of projects such as the Stop Coqui Hawaii program, the Coqui Frog Working Group, the Volcano Area Coqui Network, and Silent Night Hawaii, just to name a few. Councils and community organizations have popped up all over the state and petitioned for funding to combat the coqui infestation. Without skipping a beat, the legislature released grants for several groups by passing coqui-related bills.  One measure allowed the DOA’s Hilo office alone to increase its staff by more than 300 percent with the sole purpose being to “develop a comprehensive coqui frog plan

Through 2007, more than $4 million in federal, state and county funds have been allocated toward the infestation. Yet despite statewide eradication efforts, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported that the state coqui population continues to grow…

…Hawaii County spent $31,000 to figure out that potassium bicarbonate, better known as baking soda, has “proven to be
ineffective on coqui frogs.”
pg. 10

Full Hawaii Pork Report

For 4+ million, they could have provided everyone with several pairs of ear plugs!

Dear Mayor Kenoi… Tuesdays Tsunami Drill and Twitter

Twitter provided an excellent form of communication for many people during recent power outages.

I hope the county will look at twitter in the future as a means of communication.

I just sent the following email off to the Mayor:

—————————

Just curious if ANYONE at the county has thought about using TWITTER as a communication device during times of emergency?

During the recent Oahu Power outage, twitter was a vital way for many people to communicate.

I look forward to seeing how the evacuation plays out, however, I suggest that the county look at other ways of communicating directly with the public in the general for releasing immediate information.

——————-

It is interesting looking back now at some of the dialog that was going on during the power outages.  There is several pages of tweets.

Hopefully more and more people will begin using twitter as a communication device.

I just made a tweet about my wife being at farmers market… and a few minutes later I got a tweet back from someone telling me how the weather was there right that second.

Technology can be a great tool if used correctly.  Many people are a bit apprehensive to jump on the band wagon.  That’s ok… your kids and grand kids will be on it soon enough.

What’s New Hawaii County

I got to give a hand to the new Kenoi Administration for working hard on updating the county on what has been going on of late. While the Counties website itself is still archaic the information being provided of late is solid.

If you haven’t checked out the  “What’s New” section of their website, you will find many things have been added and updated since Kenoi’s administration has taken over.

I mentioned previously that the County would soon be getting an updated website previously. It looks like they are tying lose ends and getting ready to upgrade soon enough.

It will be nice to see what the new layout looks like and how user friendly it might be.

Mahalo Mayor Kenoi for keeping things open and easily accessible.

(I’ve even been seeing updates on projects that were done long before Kenoi’s administration took over… yet it’s only getting taken care of now)

What Does This Look Like to You? Subliminal County Message?

I was just checking out the “site map” to the Counties website.  I had to laugh when I looked at the background image of it.

It sure looks like a pot leaf in a way.  Especially on the Counties site when there are a bunch of them together to create a background image.

Subliminal County Message?

Subliminal County Message?

County Getting New Website… RSS Please Mr. Bishop

A few days ago, I mentioned about how I wish things would change with the counties website and a few of my wishes for the site.

“I wish the county would start doing more with their website such as adding an RSS feed. I’d like to see links updated more often as well. I have fired off an email to the county regarding this matter and offered assistance if they were to establish a “County Blog” or something to that effect.”

I just noticed the following comment (#8) on the Poinography blog that was submitted this morning by Hunter Bishop.

…Anyway, since becoming county public relations specialist in December, I and others have been designing a new site that should address your concerns and be online sometime this month…

I sure hope that RSS feeds are included in this new design.

Hilo, Waimea and Kealakehe HI5 Centers Closed Due to Weather… Pahoa’s One Closed Due to ?

I just received the following Media Release:

The ARC of Hilo Waimea and Kealakehe HI5 Redemption Centers are closed today, Wednesday, December 31, 2008 due to heavy rains and a landslide on the highway from Hilo.  These locations will reopen on Friday January 2, 2009 at 8 am.  Atlas Recycling in Kona is open today until noon.  Please call the County Recycling Office at 961-8527 with any questions.  Mahalo.

Of course our own Pahoa HI5 Redemption center is always closed on weekdays.  I have no idea why, but it does suck to have to wait in a line on the weekends to redeem a couple bucks worth of cans just for the environment.  What do people do who work on the weekends?

The Pahoa redemption center really needs to be open more days of the week!

No Rain... No Landslides.... NO OPEN!

No Rain... No Landslides.... NO OPEN!

Hawaii County Storm Drainage Standards Over 38 Years Old and Based on Honolulu County Model

I was just looking at the counties website and something that stood out to me after these recent storms, is that the Storm Drainage Standards for Hawaii County are more then 38 years old!

How many times does Bayfront need to get flooded out before the “standards” get changed?

The document is dated October of 1970! I know we are on Hawaii time here folks, but come on now!

The thing that stands out the most is this:

…The Storm Drainage Standards of the City and County of Honolulu dated March 1969, has been used as the basis for these standards…

So not only are the standards outdated… they aren’t even based on the Island of Hawaii!

Mayor Kenoi Shows Face… Media Releases Being Updated Online

I’ve been checking the Counties website the last few days and I just noticed that Mayor Kenoi now has his picture on the Mayor’s Message. Or maybe it’s that I’m the last person in town to find out.

I wish the county would start doing more with their website such as adding an RSS feed. I’d like to see links updated more often as well. I have fired off an email to the county regarding this matter and offered assistance if they were to establish a “County Blog” or something to that effect.

If the State Legislature can have a House Blog, a House Minority Blog, and a Senate Majority Blog, then I don’t see why the County of Hawaii couldn’t have a “Blog” as well. I know the perfect ex-blogger that is now working in a county position that could possibly run it. :idea:

I just now noticed the link to “Media Releases” has been getting updated. I’m not sure if this is a new feature or not, but it is nice that it is now available. If/When they ever get an RSS feature to that site, then it will be less work to update my site when new releases are put out.

Now that Mayor Kenoi has surrounded himself with good people who understand how important it is to have a good working relationship with the media, I think they are also learning the value of Digital communication.

Now the county needs to learn more about Webcasting, Blogging, and having county workers use Twitter as an application that can really keep everyone who is interested in county events abreast of things in a timely manner.

I guess we can only ask for one thing at a time. I’d be happy just to be able to take pictures of Police Officers. :oops:

Executive Assistant Craig Kawaguchi to Attend Washington DC Mayoral Conference With Kenoi… Kenoi Seeking Tickets for Obama Inauguration

Today’s Hawaii Tribune Herald reported that Mayor Billy Kenoi would be attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington on Jan. 17-19.  I think it’s good that our Mayor represents the Big Island in a conference like this.

“…Hunter Bishop, the mayor’s public relations specialist, said Kenoi plans to attend the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington on Jan. 17-19.

Takaba, however, said it is uncertain whether Kenoi will be able to attend the inauguration of Obama, the first Hawaii-born person elected president, because he lacks tickets.

The estimated cost of Kenoi’s trip — including airfare, hotel and meals — is $2,650, Takaba said, and will be paid for with taxpayer dollars. Kenoi also plans to bring an executive assistant on the trip, so the total cost will be about $5,300, Takaba said…”

I found it curious that the newspaper did not report who the executive assistant was that might be going on the trip.  I had a sneaky suspicion that it might have been Mr. Bishop himself, since he was quoted in the paper.

I emailed Mr. Bishop and asked who the assistant was that would be going and what their responsibilities would be.

Mr. Bishops reply:

Craig (Kawaguchi) is an Executive Assistant to the Mayor assigned to projects included in the economic stimulus package. He will assist the Mayor in Washington , D.C. , in getting Hawaii County its fair share of the federal economic stimulus package through working with the U.S. Conference of Mayors.”

I think that it is money well spent by our county to have Mayor Kenoi as well as Mr. Kawaguchi attending this conference.

I listed the counties wish list on the left hand side in the “Say Community” section of my blog.

We are asking for a lot from Obama, so spending a little to get a lot is a good investment in my mind.

County Response to Supreme Court Ruling on Hokulia Bypass

Attorneys for the County of Hawaii are very pleased with Wednesday’s 85-page state Supreme Court ruling on condemnation actions regarding the Hokulia bypass in West Hawaii.

The Supreme Court ruling Wednesday held that the County’s successful second condemnation of property was legal and not barred by the doctrine called “abatement.”  Had the Supreme Court ruled otherwise, there would have been significant delays in the opening of the Hokuli’a bypass.

The case has been returned by the Supreme Court to the Circuit Court in Kona for Third Circuit Court Judge Ronald Ibarra to make additional findings on two other issues.  Judge Ibarra had previously ruled there was a legitimate public purpose in the County’s condemnation of this property.  One of the findings Judge Ibarra must now make is whether the County’s condemnation was a pretext to conferring a private benefit on Oceanside, the developer of the project, as alleged by the landowners.  After Judge Ibarra makes these findings, another judgment will be issued.  If this judgment is entered in favor of the County, the condemnation will stand and the project will continue to move forward as planned.

Attorneys for the County of Hawaii are currently reviewing Wednesday’s 85-page state Supreme Court ruling on condemnation actions regarding the Hokulia bypass in West Hawaii.

The Supreme Court ruling Wednesday said the case should be returned to Third Circuit Court Judge Ronald Ibarra to consider the landowners’ defense that the land sought by the County through condemnation was for a purpose other than the public interest.

“The decision of the Court does not appear to be fatal as to the bypass road but will require some additional factual findings of the Court before another judgment is filed,” said deputy Corporation Counsel Michael Udovic Wednesday afternoon. “Needless to say we are carefully reading the opinion to distill salient issues.”

Deputy Corporation Counsel Joseph Kamelamela, lead counsel for the County in this case, is off island and has been notified. He will return on Monday.

“There may be additional proceedings, at this time it is too early to tell,” Udovic said. “We will be reviewing the opinion carefully in the next few days.”

Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida said only one of the three decisions by the Supreme Court Wednesday was a final decision on whether the first condemnation action in the case abated the second, and that was issued in favor of the County. On the other two, the Supreme Court simply remanded the case back to Judge Ibarra, Ashida said.

“If Judge Ibarra supplements the record with appropriate findings and the Supreme Court believes they are adequate, (and) assuming Judge Ibarra enters findings and orders consistent with what he did earlier, all three issues may be resolved in favor of the County,” Ashida said. “In sum, it is too early to tell.”

Ashida said the major story is that the County prevailed on the abatement issue. “Had we not won the abatement issue, the project would have been halted.”

“So long as Judge Ibarra enters findings consistent with what he did previously, and the Coupes’ attorneys are not able to prove to Judge Ibarra’s satisfaction that the public purpose established by the County was a pretext to give Oceanside a private benefit, the Coupes will not prevail,” Ashida said.

*Updated* County Looking to Work With State on H-130 Project

*Updated for clarification

Aaron Stene emailed me some informative .pdf files regarding the State Transportation Improvement Plans (REVISONS) (STIP), and we briefly emailed each other a few thoughts on the project.  I appreciate him putting the link to the detailed break down on his blog here.

This morning I received an email from Public Relation Specialist to the Mayor, Hunter Bishop, asking me to call him regarding the STIP.

I spoke with him for a few as I looked over the .pdf files and Mr. Bishop discussed that the County is looking towards working efficiently with the State on projects that are happening that will impact the lives of County residents.

Mr. Bishop mentioned that the County is specifically interested in continuing working with the State on the Highway 130 Project as well as the overall safety and  design of the highway.  Bishop does recognize that the project is a State project, however, he reminded me that the side roads that link to H-130 are County roads.

Hunter Bishop and Mayor Kenoi, Photo By Damon Tucker

Public Relation Specialist Hunter Bishop and Hawaii Mayor Billy Kenoi at the recent PGV Anniversary, Photo By Damon Tucker

If the State and the County can work effectively together on this project, then the overall results will benefit us all.  I believe local officials know more about the needs of our community then the State Officials.

Mr. Bishop has attended past meetings, as well as other county officials. I hope there will continued to be someone from the County and Mayors offices attending future KPAG meetings currently scheduled at Keaau Elementary School.  We as a community, really need to make sure that the “County” does assist us in monitoring this project so that the long term benefits of this project do help us as a community.

I will be putting a link to the latest revision (#5) to the State Transportation Improvement Plan on the left of my blog for future reference.

Of note to Puna residents (page 3):

  • HS20. Keaau-Pahoa Road (Route 130) Improvements, Keaau to Pahoa Defer and reflect design estimate increase. Defer and inflate right of way. Schedule adjusted to reflect completion schedule for EA.
  • HS21. Keaau-Pahoa Road (Route 130) Improvements,Keaau to Pahoa, Phase 1 Defer construction. Design is delayed. See HS20.
  • HS24. Keaau-Pahoa Road (Route 130), Shoulder Lane Conversion, Keaau Bypass Road to Shower Drive Defer and inflate construction. Scope change to include PM shoulderlane. This added scope will delay design completion.

*Updated for clarification purposes

Mayors Assistant Still Writing For the Advertiser? Reflection on Big Island Murder Case

I just noticed this article in today’s Honolulu Advertiser written by Mayor Kenoi’s current East Hawaii Executive Assistant and former Advertiser reporter, Kevin Dayton.

I’m not sure if the Advertiser is just reprinting it or if this was recently written.  I guess he could have also written it a while back and it’s only taken until now for the Advertiser to finally publish it.

It says:

Councilman Charles Djou on “Dumping” His Staff… “For Liability Reasons… I Have No Comment…”

I emailed Honolulu Councilman Charles Djou yesterday and asked him why he “Dumped” his staff the other day.  Mr. Djou knows I have my blog and I have emailed him over the last couple years about different issues that have come up.  I was surprised at his most recent reply to me regarding this issue as he gave a very cryptic response:

Aloha Damon.  For liability reasons, I will not discuss any internal  personnel actions.  I have no comment on any personal decisions my staff or I make on employment matters.  If you are asking in your capacity as a prospective employer, I would be happy to discuss this matter with you confidentially in person.  I am sorry I can not be more forthcoming and I hope you understand.

Aloha,
Charles K. Djou

I’m not sure where he got the “prospective employer” from. ;)

County Planning Commission to Split in Two… Seeking Applicants for New “Divvied” Up Commissions

The Hawaii County Planning Commission will be split in two come April, but present members will retain their posts…

Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida said Thursday the nine members of the Planning Commission will be divvied between the two new seven-member commissions, both of which will begin operation in April…

Mayor Billy Kenoi will have to find five more volunteers to serve on the commissions, a process that is in its infancy stage, Char Shigemura, one of Kenoi’s executive assistants, said Thursday.

Shigemura said residents interested in serving on one of the new commissions are urged to submit applications

More Here

Applications can be downloaded HERE.

Hunter Bishop’s Official Job Title: “Public Relations Specialist”

I’m sure most of us were just as surprised as Hunter Bishop was when he was selected by Mayor-Elect Billy Kenoi to work on his “Team”.

On Bishop’s last blog, he mentioned his new job title would be:

“Public Information Officer”

In a recent media release, he signed his name:

Hunter Bishop – Public Relations Specialist

I asked Mr. Bishop what his official title was, and he confirmed that it is:

“PUBLIC RELATIONS SPECIALIST”

I’m not sure what the real difference is or if there even is a difference.  I just thought I’d put it out there that his new job title is different then what he originally posted on his “Swan Song”.

parade-0114

Had I Known…

Had I known that Hunter Bishop was not only going to stop blogging… BUT ALSO REMOVE HIS BLOG COMPLETELY… I would have copied and collected a few key blog posts that he had made for future references. :(

The blog in particular that I’m looking for was the Tax Break down by districts here in Hawaii.

If anyone knows how to find these statistics, please let me know.

Thanks in advance!

Big Island Video News Footage of District 5 Debate Caused Ethics Complaint?

Online blogs made a very big difference in the elections this year both nationally and locally.

The District 5 Debate that was posted online by Big Island Video News and online comments that were later made on Hunter Bishops Blog lead to an ethics complaint from Wayne “Big Dog” Joseph against Lincoln Ashida. I myself personally believe that Mr. Joseph may have lost District 5 Council race because of that debate alone. (I was the timekeeper at this debate so I did follow it closely)

Big Island Chronicle recently mentioned that Lincoln Ashida was cleared of the charge.

I just thought I would bring forth the short clip that caused this whole controversy.

You can view it here.