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Hawaii County salary commission member resigns

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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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