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
Totto Tells Ethics Commission To Scrap ‘Silly’ Time Sheet Rules Cory Lum/Civil Beat

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

The Honolulu Ethics Commission forced its executive director and staff to start filling out time sheets to show what they do every six minutes.
Carlisle Wants To Be Mayor Of Honolulu, Again Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Carlisle Wants To Be Mayor Of Honolulu, Again

UPDATED: The former chief executive of the city and county is running on a platform that makes rail and leadership his top priorities.
Adler Named To Ethics Commission Chad Blair/Civil Beat

Adler Named To Ethics Commission

Businessman Peter Adler is appointed by Honolulu's mayor and is subject to confirmation.
Why Was Ethics Director Suspended? Report Offers Few Details PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Why Was Ethics Director Suspended? Report Offers Few Details

On the day Chuck Totto returns to work in Honolulu, the city releases heavily redacted documents related to his discipline.
Honolulu Ethics Director On Leave After Internal Investigation Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Honolulu Ethics Director On Leave After Internal Investigation

Chuck Totto has clashed repeatedly with Mayor Kirk Caldwell's administration and his appointees on the commission.
Are Honolulu Planning Officials Too Cozy With This Developer? Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Are Honolulu Planning Officials Too Cozy With This Developer?

Emails show city officials held private meetings with Haseko Development to strategize a controversial zone change and even helped prepare testimony to the Planning Commission.
Kirk Caldwell’s Many ‘Tokens of Aloha’ Came From Influential Parties John Hook/Civil Beat

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

Honolulu's mayor gets many small gifts from individuals with interest in city business. Municipal ethics rules don't seem to prohibit the largesse.
Honolulu Rail Consultant Under Ethics Probe for Boat Trip with Contractor Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Honolulu Rail Consultant Under Ethics Probe for Boat Trip with Contractor

An anonymous complaint raises questions about just how close rail contractors are to one another and whether they can provide effective oversight of one another.
Council Members’ Allowances: A Lot of Travel and a Little Charity Cory Lum/Civil Beat

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

UPDATED Each Honolulu City Council member gets $20,000 a year to cover costs related to official city business.
Honolulu Ethics Commission Needs to Scrap Its New Anti-Media Policy Cory Lum/Civil Beat

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

The actions of the Ethics Commission ought to be above the appearance of political interference. Its new policy leaves exactly the opposite impression.
Honolulu Ethics Commission to Director Chuck Totto: Shut Up PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Honolulu Ethics Commission to Director Chuck Totto: Shut Up

The commission on Wednesday adopted a new media policy that greatly limits what Executive Director Chuck Totto can share about his agency's operations with the public.
Nestor Garcia Resigns From KHON2 News Screenshot

Nestor Garcia Resigns From KHON2 News

The elected official-turned-news reporter has been under fire for ethical violations while on the Honolulu City Council.