LIHUE » The Kauai County Board of Ethics has decided that an appointed county official can represent the company he works for before the County Council.
The board voted 6-1 to allow Wayne Katayama, chairman of the county Planning Commission, to answer questions about a bill under consideration by the Kauai County Council, The Garden Island reported.
The Kauai County Charter says no county officer or employee may appear on behalf of private interests before a county commission or agency. However, Councilman Gary Hooser last month formally requested that Katayama answer questions about the potential effects of Bill 2491 on the company he works for, Kauai Coffee.
The bill proposes buffer zones around large agricultural operations, disclosure of pesticide use and disclosure of genetically modified crops.
Katayama is president and general manager of Kauai Coffee. He requested a ruling by the Ethics Board.
"Under the current ruling, I would have resigned my status as a member of the Planning Commission to appear (before the Kauai County Council) on behalf of Kauai Coffee," Katayama said.
He told the board Tuesday he intended to represent Kauai Coffee at the Council meeting.
"The nature of the Bill 2491 puts certain prohibitions on the way we currently do business," Katayama said.
After a closed-door session with a county attorney, the board rejected a motion to allow Katayama to appear before the Council as a private citizen without answering questions related to effects of the proposed bill on Kauai Coffee.
The measure affects the company, Katayama said, and for him to delegate responsibility to someone else at Kauai Coffee would not be proper.
"My role as president, general manager of Kauai Coffee is to address policy issues that affect the ongoing operations of the business," he said.
The final vote allows Katayama to appear as a representative of Kauai Coffee at the request of the Council.