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Hawaii County salary commission member resigns

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 03:27 a.m. HST, Aug 28, 2013

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii >> A Hawaii County salary commission member is resigning to protest a requirement that members of boards and commissions file financial disclosures.

Gloria Wong told West Hawaii Today (http://bit.ly/15f679B) that she’d never before been required to disclose information about her income, stock ownership or other financials.

Wong has previously served on the Cost of Government Commission, the Appeals Board and several boards on Oahu.

Changing the requirement, which she said was created in 1978, could lead to more members of the public volunteering to serve, she said.

“You see a lot of vacancies on these boards,” Wong said. “Why do people not sit on these boards and commissions? Maybe that’s one of the questions that should be asked.”

Hawaii County currently has 35 active boards and commissions, creating a challenge for sufficient members. Several boards often cancel meetings for lack of a quorum, and Mayor Billy Kenoi finds himself recycling members from board to board to fill holes.

Kenoi points out that his administration has seated more than 220 people during his term.

“We’re very proud of the quality of people on these boards,” Kenoi said.

The challenge in filling boards lies more in the amount of time and work the boards consume than in people not wanting to fill out the form, Kenoi said. It’s fair to ask for financial disclosures to ensure openness and transparency, he said.

Ethics laws vary by county.

Honolulu doesn’t require members of boards and commissions to file financial disclosures.

Maui County requires members of boards and commissions having “significant discretionary or fiscal powers” to file. Like Hawaii County, Maui keeps those reports confidential.

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Ulalei wrote:
um, you disclose your financials so the public knows you're not being bribed. so you take cash bribes instead.
on August 27,2013 | 12:30PM
DanMollway wrote:
Ulalei, I know of one case where a financial disclosure form led to the establishment of a "bribe" in court, and the person accepting the money spent a good amount of time in prison. The "bribe", or money, was found by law enforcement authorities, but was not reported as "income" on a filer's financial disclosure form--rather suspicious. Along with further investigation, the financial disclosure form played a significant role in determining that the "bribe" was in fact a "bribe". Other illegal activity has been discovered with the use of financial disclosure statements. One takes one's chances in intentionally reporting inaccurate information on a disclosure form, especially if criminal activity is involved.
on August 27,2013 | 03:18PM
Ulalei wrote:
right, that's why I said what I said.
on August 27,2013 | 08:25PM
DanMollway wrote:
Ulalei, A bribe is not much good if it comes with a lengthy prison sentence. The point is that the financial disclosure statements help in discovering bribes as well--you make it sound as if one can take bribes with impunity. Once the issue of a potential bribe is raised, the financial disclosures can stand as evidence, usually wind up involving the IRS and Feds, create possible issues of mail or wire fraud, and land one in prison. One takes one's chances.
on August 28,2013 | 02:55PM
DanMollway wrote:
The requirement for members of boards and commissions of our four counties, and those of state government, to file financial disclosure statements is set forth in Article XIV of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii (Article XIV was revised in 1978). Article XIV mandates that any board or commission member "having significant discretionary or fiscal powers as provided by law" to at least file a confidential financial disclosure. Article XIV also provides for a minimum of what must be on a financial disclosure form. The ethics commissions of the four counties and that of the state government are required by Article XIV to enforce Article XIV, and should be doing so. The requirements of Article XIV, as part of the State Constitution, trump state and county statutes, etc., passed by legislative bodies. If one believes that the requirements of Article XIV go too far, then it seems that the proper remedy is to take steps to amend the constitutional provision or challenge it in court. If memory serves me correctly, a court challenge was made a couple of decades ago by a Maui county board member or employee, and Article XIV was upheld. It is the chief responsibility of the four county ethics commissions and the state ethics commission to ensure that Article XIV is being complied with. If this is not happening, then watchdog groups such as Common Cause, the media, and interested others should take action to ensure that the basic laws of our State are being complied with. Financial disclosure forms are meant to further good government. While confidential forms are not available to the public, the various ethics commissions can use them to spot conflicts or other problems. Further, these forms can be and have been subpoenaed by by other law enforcement entities where relevant, and thus assist in the enforcement of the criminal laws of our State.
on August 27,2013 | 02:56PM
peanutgallery wrote:
You sit on the board because of those FAT envelopes.
on August 28,2013 | 04:24AM
Mike174 wrote:
Public office=disclosure. quit. There are plenty who would take that position.
on August 28,2013 | 06:45AM
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