The Honolulu Charter Commission met on Friday, and it was nice to see more people testifying than during the last several meetings. The commission’s main topics included ethics, salary commission, fire and police.
There are several good ideas contained in the proposals under consideration for ethics reform. One of the best improvements we can make is to have more independence with respect to investigation of waste, abuse and fraud.
The main reason I proposed creating an Office of the Inspector General, proposal #107, is because of the conflict between the city administration, the Honolulu City Council and the Ethics Commission.
For example, the ethics commission was asked to investigate ORI Anuenue Hale and loans from the city that were forgiven by Honolulu City Council Chair Ernie Martin. The mayor, along with the chair, was investigated by the Ethics Commission, and corporation counsel did its own investigation. They would not share that information with the Ethics Commission, however, and since then have made it difficult for the commission to do its work.
An inspector general would be a good complement to our city auditor, prosecutor’s office and the ethics commission. The Charter Commission formed a permitted interaction group consisting of members Broderick, Oshiro and Mulligan to review the proposals related to ethics. It’s not clear, however, how the public can participate in this process, except that emails may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another important topic is the police department and its commission. Civil Beat did a good job of covering that portion of the meeting in their article Police Reform Gaining Steam At Honolulu Charter Commission. The only thing I would add is a reminder that the police chief is suing the ethics commission, which I believe is wrong.
As for the salary commission, the Charter Commission voted to support the ideas in 43, which would require that salary commission recommendations go into effect within 60 days if they have a three-fourths majority vote. This proposal was sent to the style committee for further work. Proposal 39, which deals specifically with salaries for Ethics Commission staff, was put under the ethics group’s purview. Proposal 41 was withdrawn by the introducer, member Oshiro.
The commission decided to take no action on any fire-related proposals.
The next meeting of the charter commission is set for Monday, January 25, and will include the following topics: Legislative branch, elections, terms of office, finance and corporation counsel. Other meetings scheduled are listed here: Meeting topics to be covered.
Note the commission will discuss HART and the rail project at its March 4 meeting.