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Thursday, October 8, 2015
City: Dismiss Lawsuit over Unethical Council Rail Votes
By News Release @ 4:11 PM :: 3734 Views :: Ethics, Rail

Honolulu’s Corporation Counsel Urges Court in Kawananakoa Lawsuit to Dismiss the Case and to Allow the Ethics Commission to Complete its Investigations

News Release from City and County of Honolulu, October 8, 2015

The Department of the Corporation Counsel of the City and County of Honolulu filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint in the Kawananakoa v. City lawsuit today, asking the Circuit Court to dismiss the case and to allow the City’s Ethics Commission to complete its investigations. Corporation Counsel Donna Leong, who is out-of-state at a conference, provided this written statement:

“The City Charter declares, as a matter of policy, that the City’s elected and appointed officers shall demonstrate by their example the highest standards of ethical conduct, so that the public is able to have trust and confidence in the integrity of government.  The public interest must be their primary concern and the officers must faithfully discharge their duties regardless of personal considerations.

The Charter provides a comprehensive regulatory scheme that clearly establishes that it is the city’s Ethics Commission that should administer the city’s standards of conduct.  The Commission has the authority to conduct investigations and to hold hearings on allegations of violations of the city’s standards of conduct; to render advisory opinions to guide the city’s officers and employees with regard to those standards; and to recommend appropriate disciplinary action to the appointing authority or, in the case of a councilmember, to the Council, if the Commission determines that there has been a violation of the standards of conduct established by the Charter or by city ordinance.

In her Complaint, Plaintiff has asked the court to enforce certain of the city’s standards of conduct, despite the Charter’s comprehensive scheme establishing the primary role of the Ethics Commission.

The Department of the Corporation Counsel, on behalf of the city and as legal advisors to the City Council, has filed a motion today asking the court to allow the Ethics Commission to continue its ongoing investigations and hearings regarding all of the cases described in the Complaint, to render its decisions, and to issue civil fines and make recommendations for disciplinary action if appropriate.  The cases pending before the Commission all turn on the facts specific to each of those cases and to date, the facts have not been established.

The Hawai’i Supreme Court has recognized the clear benefits to the public from the existence of the city’s standards of conduct; however, the court has said that enforcement of those standards nevertheless does not lie with the courts but with the Ethics Commission.”


Sept 9, 2015: Full Text: Lawsuit Seeks Nullification of Six Councilmembers’ Rail Votes 


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