Honolulu Ethics Commission

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The Honolulu Ethics Commission oversees ethical issues related to city government. The purpose of the commission is to “improve and maintain public confidence in government officials and employees,” according to the commission’s website.

The commission advises city employees, officials and the public on a range of ethical issues, from conflicts of interest to the acceptance of gifts.

The commission also educates city officers and employees on how to ethically perform their duties, and administers and enforces financial disclosure requirements. Finally, it administers the city’s lobbying laws.

History

The Honolulu Ethics Commission was established under Chapter 3, Article 6 of the city’s revised statutes. Additionally, Article XIV of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii calls for ethics commissions to be established at both the state and local levels.

Responsibilities

The commission has several duties and responsibilities, as set forth in Chapter 3, Article 6 of the city’s revised statutes. The duties include:

  • Rendering advisory opinons at the request of an officer or city employee involving conflicts of interets or unethical conduct
  • The commission may investigate or hold hearings regarding an alleged violation
  • Recommend to the appointing authority or the council appropriate disciplinary action resulting from a violation
  • Impose civil fines
  • Submit to the council and mayor any reports and recommendations it deems advisable
  • The commission may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths and take testimony for matter under investigation
  • Educate city officers and employees on ethics laws

City charter laws regulating the commission include:

The rules and procedures for the ethics commission are detailed here.

Makeup

There are seven members on the city ethics commission.

COMMISSIONERS :

 

Jan K. Yamane, Executive Director and Legal Counsel
Laurie A. Wong-Nowinski, Associate Legal Counsel
Janice K. Yonamine, Investigator III
Lisa P. Parker, Legal Clerk III
Kristine I. Bigornia, Legal Clerk I
 Joseph Benedict C. Pagkalinawan, Po’okela Fellow
The commission welcomes comments, suggestions and concerns regarding ethics or its website.
Please contact us to say what you think.
If you would like to subscribe to the commmission’s newsletter, click here.

Yamane is the former city auditor and was appointed by the mayor.

Impact

The impact of the commission is rooted primarily in its advisory opinions, which guide city employees and officials on the interpretation of ethics laws. The commission’s ability to investigate conflicts and issue civil fines is a powerful tool.

The commission also maintains public financial disclosures for city officials. These are important for reasons of transparency, detailing the financial ties and income sources of city leaders. Lobbyists disclosures, too, are maintained by the commission and are equally important for open government.

Contact Information

Website

Kapālama Hale
925 Dillingham Blvd., Suite 190
Honolulu, Hawaii  96817
Phone: (808) 768-7787
Fax: (808) 768-7768
Email: ethics@honolulu.gov
Have feedback? Suggestions? Email

Resources

Honolulu Ethics Commission

November 2017

Thursday, November 2

Ian Lind: It Turns Out We Owe Chuck Totto A Big Thank-You

July 2017

Thursday, July 13

Can Revamped Honolulu Ethics Commission Rebuild Its Credibility?

June 2017

Monday, June 19

What Honolulu Lobbyists Don’t Tell You

September 2016

Tuesday, September 6

HPD Chief Kealoha Lawsuit Could Cost City $300K

August 2016

Monday, August 8

How Ethics Commission Upheaval Is Playing Out In The Mayor’s Race

Wednesday, August 3

Yamane Heads City Ethics Panel

Monday, August 1

Djou, Caldwell Lob Ethics Charges

July 2016

Thursday, July 28

Here’s The Deal Honolulu Made With Its Departing Ethics Director

Friday, July 1

Councilman Calls For Audit Amid Honolulu Ethics Commission Chaos

June 2016

Thursday, June 16

Djou Challenges Mayor To Call For Return of Honolulu Ethics Director

Wednesday, June 15

Honolulu Ethics Director Quits Over Direction Commission Is Headed

Monday, June 13

How Caldwell Has Undermined The Honolulu Ethics Commission

May 2016

Thursday, May 19

Totto Tells Ethics Commission To Scrap ‘Silly’ Time Sheet Rules

Friday, May 13

Carlisle Wants To Be Mayor Of Honolulu, Again

Thursday, May 12

Adler Named To Ethics Commission

April 2016

Tuesday, April 5

Why Was Ethics Director Suspended? Report Offers Few Details

March 2016

Monday, March 14

Honolulu Ethics Director On Leave After Internal Investigation

November 2015

Monday, November 30

Are Honolulu Planning Officials Too Cozy With This Developer?

October 2015

Monday, October 12

Kirk Caldwell’s Many ‘Tokens of Aloha’ Came From Influential Parties

September 2015

Friday, September 11

Honolulu Rail Consultant Under Ethics Probe for Boat Trip with Contractor

July 2015

Tuesday, July 14

Council Members’ Allowances: A Lot of Travel and a Little Charity

June 2015

Tuesday, June 30

Honolulu Ethics Commission Needs to Scrap Its New Anti-Media Policy

Wednesday, June 24

Honolulu Ethics Commission to Director Chuck Totto: Shut Up

Saturday, June 6

Nestor Garcia Resigns From KHON2 News

Monday, June 1

Antiquated Law Spares Lobbyists in Honolulu Ethics Scandal

April 2015

Monday, April 27

Peter Carlisle: Dropping a Dime on Ethics Scofflaws

December 2013

Saturday, December 7

Honolulu Rail Exec Had Been VP at Firm That Just Won New Rail Contract

Thursday, December 5

‘Tis the Season: See What Gifts Honolulu City Agencies Got This Year

Wednesday, December 4

Who Knows Better? Honolulu Ethics Commission Or Caldwell’s Attorneys?

November 2013

Tuesday, November 19

Caldwell Admin Defends Budget Tactics Before Ethics Commission

March 2013

Tuesday, March 19

City Ethics Enforcement: ‘Fight Against Corruption’ Could Get Cash Infusion

January 2013

Friday, January 4

Audit: Honolulu’s Post-Rod Tam Spending Policies Still Too Vague

October 2012

Tuesday, October 9

Hawaii Ethics Commission Still Missing a Member

July 2012

Wednesday, July 25

No Written Rules Means Confusion When Doling Out Honolulu Contracts

Saturday, July 21

City Purchasing Boss: Fire Department Wrong On Merger Contract ‘Tie’

Tuesday, July 3

Honolulu Council Member Slapped with Record $6,500 Ethics Fine

June 2012

Wednesday, June 27

Councilman Denies Abuse in Honolulu Parking Flap

May 2012

Wednesday, May 2

Honolulu On Track To Tighten Ethics Laws

March 2012

Sunday, March 11

Spouses Banned From Traveling on Taxpayers’ Dime in Other Cities, Too

February 2012

Saturday, February 11

Off The Beat: Why Are Honolulu Officials Accepting Junkets?

December 2011

Friday, December 30

2011 Year in Review — Government Transparency

2011 Year in Review — Ethics

Wednesday, December 7

Impeachment Push Could Lead To Berg Ethics Probe

October 2011

Thursday, October 13

Police-Business Deal Raises Ethical Questions

August 2011

Tuesday, August 9

Planning Commissioner Fined For Ethics Violations

June 2011

Tuesday, June 7

Do Elected Officials With a Conflict of Interest Have a Right to Vote Anyway?

Friday, June 3

No Conflict? Ground Rules in the Hawaii House