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Hawaii County officials to pick up Ethics Board proposal at later date

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KAILUA-KONA >> Hawaii County officials have voted to postpone a bill aimed at increasing the number of members on the Board of Ethics.

The County Council voted Monday to push back Bill 101 until late January to see if a compromise measure would be more suitable, West Hawaii Today reported.

The Finance Committee, composed of the entire council, voted 2-6 against the bill earlier this month.

The bill in its original form calls for a charter amendment on the ballot asking voters to decide on expanding the Board of Ethics from five to nine members, with one member from each council district. Each County Council member would submit their two board member candidates to the mayor, who would then pick one from each district and send the nomination to the council for confirmation.

The committee had argued against the idea, saying the current system where the mayor appoints and the council confirms is similar to all other boards and commissions.

“I urge you all to reconsider,” said Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille, the bill sponsor. “Our current system of dealing with the Ethics Board and dealing with ethics violations is broken and we need to fix it. . We don’t keep house. We leave it to the state and the feds to do something.”

Council members Monday still voiced their concerns with the bill, but they said increasing the size of the board, which currently has just three members, could help field a quorum. All three members need to attend every meeting in order to reach a board majority.

Ethics Board Chairwoman Ku Kahakalau said the board’s membership does not need to be expanded, but that it could serve them well to fill the two vacancies.

“It was never intended for a board like that to have three members,” Kahakalau said. “It’s not good for us and it’s not good for the people who come in front of us.”

The board handles ethics complaints from residents about public officials. It also advises officials on ethics issues and reviews annual gift disclosures and financial disclosures of officials and county employees.

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  • Increasing the size of the Board of Ethics and having a member from each Council district might be a good ideas, but letting each Council member nominate 2 candidates is a terrible idea, particularly with regard to the author of this bill.

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