David Shapiro: Vague law, lax officials save Keith Kaneshiro from impeachment
It’s time for the city clerk and state court to stop hiding behind technicalities and provide meaningful guidance on what it would take to impeach city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro.
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It’s time for the city clerk and state court to stop hiding behind technicalities and provide meaningful guidance on what it would take to impeach city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, who has been on paid leave since March after being named the target of a federal corruption probe.
Businessman Tracy Yoshimura has filed a new petition in Circuit Court seeking Kaneshiro’s removal, after Circuit Judge Jeffrey Crabtree dismissed an earlier petition over city Clerk Glen Takahashi’s objection to online electronic signatures.
Of the 557 voter signatures on the new petition — 500 are needed — some are on paper and others are still electronic, but on a more secure platform called DocuSign widely used in business.
Neither the court nor Takahashi has provided instruction on the proper path forward under a vague and never-used City Charter provision that says the prosecutor can be impeached for “malfeasance, misfeasance or non-feasance,” but specifies little about the process other than to give the Circuit Court jurisdiction.
The status quo is untenable.
Whatever comes of the possible prosecution of Kaneshiro, the recent federal convictions of his former deputy, Katherine Kealoha, for conspiracy and bank fraud sounded alarms about his judgment in defending Kealoha and covering for her.
Dwight Nadamoto, the acting prosecutor hand-picked by Kaneshiro, told the City Council he won’t review bad practices in the office revealed in Kealoha’s case, and he continued to repeat defenses offered by Kaneshiro and Kealoha that were proved false by federal prosecutors.
With Kaneshiro collecting a $176,688 salary to stay home and his office ignoring obvious need for reform, there’s compelling reason for authorities to make it easier — not harder — for citizens to use the recourse provided by the Charter to fix a bad situation affecting public safety without having to wait until next year’s election.
Takahashi is being unreasonably arbitrary about electronic signatures, which aren’t disallowed by law, are used routinely in important matters from voter registration to financial transactions, and should be no more difficult to verify than paper signatures.
The court took a procedural cop-out by dismissing on a technicality without untangling the law and specifying what must be done for an impeachment petition to be accepted and adjudicated.
Taxpayers are on the hook not only for the cost of a city clerk and court working to frustrate our access to remedy, but also for $75,000 the City Council gave Kaneshiro to hire a top-dollar private attorney to defend him against impeachment.
The legal dithering has big consequences.
If Kaneshiro were removed by Dec. 31, voters would choose his replacement. After that, Mayor Kirk Caldwell would appoint a successor for the remainder of Kaneshiro’s term — hardly appropriate since Caldwell is indirectly implicated in the federal investigation by the target letter given his corporation counsel, Donna Leong.