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Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Wednesday nominated a Wall Street veteran and one of Hawaii’s top hotel executives to serve on the Honolulu Police Commission, which has been operating without a full membership since May.
The Honolulu City Council will still have to confirm the selection of Karen Chang, a former executive at Charles Schwab and American Express, and Jerry Gibson, the area vice president of Hilton Hotels and Resorts, before they can join the volunteer seven-member panel.
Commission Chairman Max Sword told reporters Wednesday that the confirmation process is expected to take several weeks, meaning that Chang and Gibson will not be taking part in the commission’s biggest task ahead: to select Honolulu’s next police chief.
The commission, which has been lacking two members since the resignations of Luella Costales last month and Marc Tilker in May, is set to interview the seven finalists next week.
“They won’t be sworn in until December, probably at the last meeting of the (Honolulu City) Council,” Sword said, adding that Caldwell’s selection “will have no effect on the chief selection.”
If confirmed, Chang will serve out Costales’ term that goes through June 30, 2021, while Gibson will take Tilker’s seat for a term that ends June 30.
“I’m deeply grateful to Karen Chang and Jerry Gibson for agreeing to serve our community on the Honolulu Police Commission as volunteers,” Caldwell said in a statement. “With their records of leadership and involvement in our community, I know they will help bring diverse viewpoints to the panel.”
Sword said he remains optimistic that the commission will be able to select the next chief by the end of the month.
But Sword won’t have a voice in the decision. He recused himself from the selection process after the Honolulu Ethics Commission ruled last week that he had a conflict of interest: Thomas Aiu, one of the seven finalists, is a first cousin of his wife, Mona Wood-Sword.
Sword, who has served on the commission since 2009, told Civil Beat that he’ll also be retiring at the end of the month from his job as the vice president of industry affairs at Outrigger Enterprise Group, a major hotelier in Hawaii and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
The selection process for the next chief, meanwhile, will be left up to the four remaining commissioners — Eddie Flores, Steven Levinson, Loretta Sheehan and Cha Thompson.
The final selection will have to be unanimous, as any decision by the commission requires a majority vote of four.
The commission’s Wednesday meeting, which Eddie Flores didn’t attend, illustrated the difficulties the commission has been having. Lacking a quorum, the discussion on the selection process had to be postponed until just hours before the commissioners will interview the first candidate on Monday.
“With four (commissioners), it’s going to be a challenge,” Sword said. “I’ve said jokingly that I’ll lock them up in a room and just feed them pizza until they come out of the room with a selection.
“But, yes, I’m confident that they will work it out amongst themselves and get it done,” Sword said.