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City special events coordinator resigns after ethics report

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 01:32 p.m. HST, Dec 30, 2011

The Honolulu Ethics Commission said in a press release today that the city's special events coordinator has resigned in the wake of accusations that she has blatantly abused her position and egregiously misused city resources.

Patty Teruya, the commission said, was allowed to resign rather than face a contested case hearing.

Teruya is former chairwoman of the Waianae Neighborhood Board as well as the Nanakuli/Maili Neighborhood Board, and was also a candidate in last year's special election to fill the City Council seat vacated by Todd Apo. She has been an outspoken community leader over the years.

The ethics commission said her resignation came at its meeting on Dec. 19.

"The Commission deemed Ms. Teruya's alleged violations so 'numerous and egregious' as to make her 'unfit for continued employment with the city' if proved," the press release said.

The commission also said in its release:

Based on an investigation it found probable cause that Teruya:

>> "Misused her city computer privileges by accessing 2,135 non-work related websites over a two-month period;

>> "Sent and received 174 non-work related emails within the span of four months to support her campaign for Council, as well as the campaigns of city and state politicians; to conduct job searches for her boyfriend; to sell her boat; and for personal shopping;

>> "Exploited her authority as Special Events Coordinator over non-profit organizations and vendors to make them submit letters of recommendation to bolster and advance her city career; and

>> "Endorsed her close friend for service contracts for at least eight city- sponsored events to the exclusion of other contractors.

"These violations are some of the most blatant I've seen in the city, and happened after the Commission staff, her department head and 2 other city agencies told her not to misuse public resources for her own benefit" said Chuck Totto, the Executive Director and Legal Counsel for the Commission. 

City Ethics Commission advisory opinion on Patty Teruya

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Kapakahi wrote:

I can't comment on the allegations against Teruya, as I have not looked into them, nor do I know her. But the city has had a "culture" of abuse by public employees for a long time. Look at how many Hannemann employees were posting comments on blogs and in the comment sections of this paper during recent campaign seasons. Look again at the allegations against Councilman Tom Berg, who CLEARLY believed his office staff were interchangeable with his campaign operation in a way I have never seen ANY elected official take advantage.

Because the information has been exposed by Eric Ryan, a person many find distasteful, mean-spirited, and untrustworthy, all the allegations need to be closely scrutinized rather than accepted uncritically. But Ryan has documented systematic arrogance and abuse by Berg. He not only used city employees and funds for campaign purposes, he fired city employees for not doing his political bidding during their off-hours. The videos of his obnoxious, perhaps drunken behavior at the APEC event or his non-drunk behavior at the NHB or during council meetings, are not the only problem with Berg. If Teruya is guilty of what is alleged, it is right that she should resign and, perhaps, be billed to reclaim public monies she misused. But this is also true of Tom Berg. It seems like BOTH these folks may have been using taxpayer money to subsidize their campaigns against each other! Let's root out the sense of entitlement some city officials seem to have where they cannot separate what is proper city business from their campaign activity.

Why are taxpayers buying T-Shirts for "Team Berg"? Same smell!

on December 30,2011 | 11:40AM
f8ldzz wrote:
Wow "Ms. Teruya"...way to go trying to misdirect the blame to others while not addressing the allegations explicitly stated in the article. I find the allegations of abuse of computer resources pretty black and white and not because of some one person's crusade to smear a reputation; all City & County of Honolulu personnel can have their computer accounts (if they have one) monitored for abuse and misuse - these rules are all explicitly stated when City & County of Honolulu employees accept it's proper use policy when first logging in to their accounts. This whole reply smells like it came from a politician...very good at playing the smoke&mirrors games with the misdirection.
on December 30,2011 | 12:11PM
Big C wrote:
Favoritism – Nepotism: Two of the most common terms “learn” in government. This should be check out on both City and State levels. In the mean time, someone should check out those in charge on construction contracts. It surely seems oddly common, that there are many change orders, thus cost overruns for construction contracts.
on December 30,2011 | 12:32PM
Big C wrote:
Honolulu Star Advertiser should check out how many, if not all contractors, get on the "Short-List" for firms that are able to bid on jobs.
on December 30,2011 | 12:33PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Hehehe...a lot of city employees would consider this article a "how-to manual". This sort of thing would never happen if we had, like, a former prosecutor as Mayor.
on December 30,2011 | 01:37PM
livinginhawaii wrote:
If you are too ignorant to be able to read and understand the campaign ethics rules then you should not be employed by the city nor be elected by the voters. My 12 year old read them and can understand what is and what is not allowed. This poor lady is either corrupt or she must have some kind of learning disability...
on December 30,2011 | 02:28PM
whs1966 wrote:
Unfortunately, Ms. Teruya studied the wrong City Ethics manual, the one written by Rod Tam.
on December 30,2011 | 05:24PM
omd111 wrote:
Sounds like she wasn't working very much at all on City business. Spent more time for her own interest, but then again she's like every other politician. Very little work for the people and more work for themselves even though they get a paycheck from us.
on December 30,2011 | 08:02PM
mulen wrote:
Perhaps the questions that should be asked: When did this person first get hired? (During the Harris administration) When did this person resign? (During Carlisle's adminstration) Short point is, why, despite complaints about her conduct, did she last through the Hanneman administration, and continue into Carlisle's? She was an appointee, did any of the above mayors hiring teams fully vet her qualfications, and subsequent job performance?
on December 30,2011 | 08:21PM
control wrote:
one has to wonder how many of those who post on the SA forums are doing so from their home computers or on their employer's dime.
on December 30,2011 | 09:37PM
mongoosa wrote:
Can somebody answer why there even is an ethics commission? If you do away with them and their high paying positions, when all they seem to do is rant and rave about what they cannot do, let's all save some much needed tax dollars and do away with the seemingly useless department. I believe the head is also an appointee, so his hands are being held by the mayor also. Tsk,Tsk. Quid pro quo?
on January 2,2012 | 08:33PM
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