The Sunshine Blog: 'Objectionable' Nepotism, And School's In For Lobbyists But Out For Football - Honolulu Civil Beat

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The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair and Richard Wiens.

Short takes, outtakes, our takes and other stuff you should know about public information, government accountability and ethical leadership in Hawaii.

Promise, promises: Back in January, Gov. Josh Green said he would sign any government reform bill that got to his desk.

“If they send it to me, I’m signing it, period,” Green said.

For the most part, the governor made good on his commitment. Thirty of the 31 so-called sunshine bills are now law, including two that were signed just late last month: House Bill 710 making it a class B felony to intentionally obstruct the administration of justice, and Senate Bill 228 establishing the offense of government fraud as a class B felony and a false claim against the state or a county as a class C felony.

But Green is quietly allowing House Bill 717 to become law without his signature, one of five bills this session. A press release from the administration Wednesday evening had little to say about his concerns, other than this: “While Governor Green may not fully support this legislation, these bills will become law without his signature because on balance, they are more beneficial than objectionable, and reflect strong stakeholder support for these measures.”

Others are quite delighted that HB 717 is now law, however. The Hawaii State Ethics Commission is calling it “a bright-line prohibition of nepotism.”

The new law applies to most state employees, except those working for the legislative or judicial branches. It forbids the hiring or supervising of a relative or household member or the awarding of contracts to businesses owned by relatives or household members.

Kee Campbell, the Ethics Commission’s enforcement director, said in a press release Tuesday, “It is a powerful message that positions of power should be earned through merit rather than inherited.”

Sounds pretty darn beneficial, no?

To check the status of all the sunshine bills, good and bad, use our handy tracker.

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Lobbyist, lobbyists: Speaking of ethics, the Ethics Commission is reminding all lobbyists that they are required to complete a lobbyist training course and repeat the training at least once every two years.

Act 20, which became law earlier this year — yes, Green signed that one — also requires lobbyists to certify that they completed the training and to keep a copy of the certificate for six years.

The commission is working on a new lobbyist online training module and will be updating the online lobbyist registration forms later this year in response to the new law. That should save a lot of paperwork, as there are hundreds and hundreds of lobbyists working in Hawaii, most of them with multiple clients. It illustrates how central the role of lobbyists is in state and county affairs — and how ethics training is essential.

To randomly name just a few already registered with the state for 2023-2024: Kuhio Lewis (Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement), John Sabas (Carlsmith Ball), Meredith Ching (Alexander & Baldwin), Melissa Pavlicek (Hawaiian Airlines), Linda Rosehill (Hawaii Medical Association), Lea Hong (The Trust for Public Land) and Kika Bukoski (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 1260).

Go ‘Bows! Such is Hawaii’s love for football that the University of Hawaii Manoa campus will close on Sept. 1 so that the Rainbow Warriors can play Stanford.

The nationally televised game was supposed to have been held at Aloha Stadium, but the Rust Bucket is still closed in anticipation of the facility’s resurrection … some day. That means UH’s home field is the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex, which expects to have 15,000 seats by game day.

Pritchett Ching Field Oct 2021
This cartoon from John Pritchett originally appeared in 2021. Hopefully there will be more fans come Sept. 1.

But having the game in Manoa — and on a Friday at 5 p.m., not on a Saturday! — means area traffic is going to be absolutely nuts. Campus parking is also expected to be maxed out.

So, faculty have been asked to move in-person classes to online or to reschedule, and all employees who are able are asked to telework. Hamilton Library will remain open, though, but University Health Services will see its last patient at 11 a.m.

The game is a one-time event. Let’s hope so.

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About the Author

The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair and Richard Wiens.

Latest Comments (0)

A false claim against the state or a county is a class C felony. What is that about exactly? Who determines if a person's claim is false or not? Possibly a freedom of speech issue that could be struck down.

KeolaRichard · 2 months ago

Anyone who's an avid college football fan knows that the games shown on the national TV networks are subject to change after the first few weeks of the season. And this means that game dates & times for all schools could be modified. The Mountain West Conference broadcast partners (CBS & FOX) both have cable outlets that televise games on Fridays, and I'm not sure if the contracts in place would allow individual schools to decline scheduled changes dictated by the TV folks.

KalihiValleyHermit · 2 months ago

While these "fixes" solve some issues, we still need term limits of 8 years.

Richard_Bidleman · 2 months ago

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