Wednesday, August 10, 2011
City Ethics Commission can teach State Ethics Commission a lesson
by Larry Geller
The commission criticized Jamila [a member of the Honolulu Planning Commission] for failing to disclose the connection [to Waimanalo Construction Coalition] on his personal information form when he was reappointed to the commission by then-Mayor Mufi Hannemann last year and in his financial disclosure documents for 2009 and 2010.
[Civil Beat, Planning Commissioner Fined For Ethics Violations, 8/9/2011]
This is only one of the issues involving Jamila described in the Civil Beat story. What did the city Ethics Commission do?
A member of the Honolulu Planning Commission has been rebuked for repeated violations of the city's ethics code and fined $650.
Contrast this with the inaction of Hawaii’s state Ethics Commission on the false disclosure reports filed by Sen. Clayton Hee dating back several consecutive years (2008-2010).
When the Senate President declined to take action based on Senate Rule 72, Disappeared News asked the state Ethics Commission to investigate. This involved not only filing a complaint, but getting it notarized. They don’t make it easy (the notarization seems to be required by law).
The complaint was signed, sealed and hand-delivered on July 9, 2011, just over a month ago.
I am not holding my breath for a reply. The last Ethics Commission opinion was written in 2006. As I noted in State ethics commission may need overhaul (5/22/2011):
The Ethics Commission has not issued an opinion since 2006 (the one before that was in 2004). In fact, that last opinion was on an issue raised by Disappeared News, on the subject of “embedded lobbyists.” that is, corporate executives working as “interns” right inside legislative offices. The “intern” at issue was the Executive Administrator of HMSA Foundation, working elbow to elbow with Rep. Bob Herkes, right there in the representative’s office--but the Legislature was also infested with others, from HECO, for example.
Whether an opinion is needed or not, the bottom line is that a powerful state senator has not yet been held accountable by the commission charged with doing that.
It’s good to see that the City is more serious about ethics. Our state, however, appears deficient and could use an injection of Vitamin E for Ethics.