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Former Councilman Rod Tam fined for misuse of city funds

By B.J. Reyes

LAST UPDATED: 02:28 p.m. HST, Nov 14, 2012

 Rod Tam left the courtroom with his supporters  Tuesday after he appeared at a court hearing.

The city Ethics Commission fined former City Councilman Rod Tam $813.53 today for misusing city funds to buy city employees appreciation lunches and for a Chinese dinner for foreign delegates.

The cases date back to 2009 and 2010, but hearings had been delayed while Tam faced criminal prosecution and sentencing for previous misuse of city funds.

In a news release, the Ethics Commission said Tam was unable to present any credible evidence that the expenses were related to his Council work or any legitimate city business.

The Commission said Tam used city funds in the amount $585.93 for bentos, chips, sandwiches and Chinese takeout to buy "appreciation lunches" for city employees, after first saying the meals were for workers setting up holiday decorations at Honolulu Hale.

Reimbursement he received for $227.60 was for dinner at Empress Restaurant for foreign delegates to "formulate international diplomatic relations," the Commission said.

"But, he was also unable to present any credible evidence of subsequent actions on his part or by the Chinese delegation which would have corroborated his assertion that the dinner was in fact for the purpose of establishing a sister City relationship," the Commission said.

Tam was sentenced Nov. 1, 2011, to two days in jail and 300 hours of community service after pleading guilty in June of that year to 26 misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor counts of theft and falsifying documents.

The charges were related to overcharging the city $8 to $267 for meals at Honolulu restaurants from 2007 to 2009.

Tam pleaded no contest to eight misdemeanor counts of violating campaign spending laws by falsely claiming he had a meal with a volunteer at a restaurant, failing to report two campaign contributions, misusing campaign funds and failing to maintain receipts to verify expenses.

In March 2010, the Ethics Commission had fined Tam $2,000 and ordered him to pay $11,700 in restitution for using city funds to buy "hundreds" of meals totaling more than $22,000 unrelated to his city work.

Tam, who had served 32 years in elected office, has been out of office since 2010, when he unsuccessfully ran for mayor. He was unable to seek re-election to the City Council because of term limits.

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livinginhawaii wrote:
What about his wasteful trips to China?
on November 14,2012 | 01:50PM
busterb wrote:
Tell me all the time wasted by the system in coming to this conclusion didn't cost taxpayers more then Rod" Take Out" Tam?!!
on November 14,2012 | 01:53PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
There is a memorial service scheduled for Rod's expense account to be held tomorrow morning at Zippys. Virtually anybody can attend and get free eats.
on November 14,2012 | 01:53PM
agile wrote:
Thank you, Maneki - your post made my day!!
on November 14,2012 | 02:30PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Rod Tam was a great man and an excellent public servant. It's really incomprehensible that people who didn't know him will malign him without cause. I had many meetings with Rod and really enjoyed the Zip Meals. But......HEY ROD how come you never invited me for Chinese Food you cheepskate.
on November 14,2012 | 02:16PM
allie wrote:
In Hawaii you can always count on the petty crooks being fined and the big-time crooks getting off free...or going undisclosed.
on November 14,2012 | 03:17PM
honopic wrote:
allie, you wouldn't know rod tam from a tam o'shanter. now that u have been outed as a fraud, 3-year-freshman, and possibly not even female, your posts have gone beyond irritating to unacceptable. be prepared, because i'm on your case. every move u make, every word u spake, i'll be watching u. obtw - i'm retired. i've got all the time in the world.
on November 14,2012 | 05:02PM
copperwire9 wrote:
Go away, please, until you actually have a clue about something you pontificate about.
on November 14,2012 | 06:18PM
HD36 wrote:
Peanuts when you have legislators who hire family members to make coffee and empty trash and pay them a salary for working part time that a full time employee at McDonalds makes. On top of that, they don't even speak English.
on November 14,2012 | 02:40PM
lowtone123 wrote:
Same story, different day.
on November 14,2012 | 03:07PM
nitpikker wrote:
howcum he kept getting re-elected??
on November 14,2012 | 04:18PM
Kokoy wrote:
Ethics Committee should find better things to do. There is absolutely nothing immoral with Tam's actions. The Los Angeles City Council gets a budget of over 100,000 a year just for these kind of activities.
on November 14,2012 | 05:37PM
copperwire9 wrote:
Move to LA.
on November 14,2012 | 06:19PM
HAJAA1 wrote:
Yeah and California is in really great shape financially lol. Cretins today.
on November 14,2012 | 07:10PM
ejkorvette wrote:
Hey, we have a good candidate to run for Mayor or even Govenor. Way to go Uncle Tam. YIPPPPPEEEEEE, LUCKY WE LIVE HAWAII. THE LAND OF INCOMPETENT Psuedo Public Officials.
on November 14,2012 | 07:24PM
Kapuna wrote:
The whole thing is bogus, in fact, the Mayors of all four counties in Hawaii spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for their sister city summit. It is well recognized that the promotion of tourism and commerce thru elected officials entertaining foreign dignities is a well established practice. In fact, the state and federal government finance entire department for that specific purpose, such as the State department or dept of commerce.
on November 14,2012 | 11:35PM
Kapuna wrote:
Rod Tam was an independent-minded political maverick who buck the system and exposed the machine. The AG was part of the machine to exact its revenge on Rod Tam and to get rid of their opponent using the color of law for political expediency.
on November 14,2012 | 11:38PM
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