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.
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.
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.
There are seven members on the city ethics commission.
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.
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.
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.
925 Dillingham Blvd., Suite 190
Honolulu, Hawaii 96817
Phone: (808) 768-7787
Fax: (808) 768-7768