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Thursday, May 26, 2016
Ethics: Hawaii DoT Capital Improvements Director in Bed with Parsons Brinckerhoff–Literally
By News Release @ 2:56 PM :: 8030 Views :: Energy, Ethics, Rail

Jadine Urasaki, Former Deputy Director Conflicts of Interests

Editor’s Note: Jadine Urasaki left the State Department of Transportation Dec 1, 2014 and now heads the Department of Education, Office of School Facilities and Support Services, Facilities Development Branch, Construction Management Section  (Link: See page 14

From Hawaii State Ethics Commission, May 19, 2016

On September 16, 2015, the Hawaii State Ethics Commission (“Commission”) issued Charge No. 2015-Cg-10 (“Charge”) against Jadine Urasaki (“Respondent Urasaki”) for alleged violations of the conflicts of interests section of the State Ethics Code, specifically, Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) section 84-14(a). At the time of the actions that formed the basis of the Charge, Respondent Urasaki was the Deputy Director for Capital Improvement Projects for the Hawaii Department of Transportation (“DOT”). She served in this position from January 1, 2011 to December 1, 2014.

Respondent Urasaki agreed to resolve the Charge against her by paying an administrative penalty of $13,000 to the State of Hawaii and the publication of this Resolution of Charge. The Commission believed that, based on the allegations detailed below, the terms of the resolution were fair and in the public interest.

I. Factual Allegations

Respondent Urasaki cooperated with the Commission throughout its investigation of this matter, providing, among other things, information about DOT’s processes and procedures that were relevant to the Commission’s inquiry. The alleged facts set forth below were gleaned from information provided by Respondent Urasaki and through the Commission’s investigation.

A. Alleged Facts Regarding Respondent Urasaki’s Interest in Parsons Brinckerhoff and Actions Affecting Parsons Brinckerhoff

Respondent Urasaki oversaw and was responsible for the administration of all DOT capital improvement projects. Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc. (“Parsons”) served as DOT’s consultant on several capital improvement projects and other DOT projects (collectively, “DOT Parsons Projects”).

During Respondent Urasaki’s tenure as the DOT Deputy Director for Capital Improvement Projects (“DOT Deputy Director”), Randall Urasaki, her spouse, was employed by Parsons as a Vice President. Randall Urasaki was Parsons’ principal consultant and a point of contact for the DOT Parsons Projects.

During the time she served as DOT Deputy Director, Respondent Urasaki appeared to have taken action directly affecting Parsons on numerous occasions and in a variety of ways. The Charge alleged that she took official action pertaining to twelve DOT Parsons Projects. On several of the projects, Respondent Urasaki appeared to have made a number of decisions directly related to Parsons. In some cases, it appeared that the same project involved many decisions. More specifically, Respondent Urasaki appeared to have taken the following actions that directly affected Parsons: 

Reviewed and discussed the status of a project (1) with the DOT employee who served as the project manager (“DOT project manager”), including issues relating to Parsons’ performance, and provided direction and instruction regarding the management of a project to ensure that it progressed in accordance with the contract documents; 

Provided direction and instruction to Parsons personnel, including Randall Urasaki, directly and through a DOT project manager; and participated in meetings regarding a project with Parsons personnel, including Randall Urasaki; 

Reviewed Parsons’ recommendations, requests, and other communications relating to a project, including correspondence from Randall Urasaki, and recommended certain action by the DOT Director; 

Planned, strategized, and conducted public meetings with Parsons to provide information to persons impacted by a project;  Directed and edited DOT’s response to a bid protest relating to a contract awarded to Parsons; 

Reviewed and recommended approval of a request to the DOT Director to approve the selection of Parsons as DOT’s consultant, including review of qualification and evaluation scoring sheets prepared by DOT staff; 

Reviewed and recommended the DOT Director’s approval of a request to the Governor to release funds for a project on which Parsons was the consultant;

Reviewed and recommended the DOT Director’s approval of Parsons’ request to add subconsultants to a project, including confirmation that the negotiated rates were correct and consistent with Parsons’ contract with DOT; 

Reviewed and recommended certain action regarding a Parsons change order and/or request for the same, including Parsons’ fee proposal for a change order and DOT’s notice to Parsons of accepting Parsons’ fee proposal; 

Reviewed and recommended the DOT Director’s approval regarding a letter to Parsons confirming the modification of a “project assignment order;” 

Reviewed Parsons’ requests for changes to the scope of services, payment rates, fees, costs, time of performance, and/or other changes; recommended the DOT Director’s approval regarding a contract amendment, supplemental contract, or contract extension relating to the same (“Contact Amendment”); and reviewed and recommended the DOT Director’s approval of a notice to Parsons to proceed with certain work described in a Contract Amendment; 

Reviewed and recommended the DOT Director’s approval of notice to Parsons that it had satisfactorily completed work specified for a project; and 

Reviewed and recommended the DOT Director’s approval of a letter to the Federal Highway Administration, requesting approval of fees or additional fees that DOT had negotiated with Parsons.

In summary, much of the actions Respondent Urasaki appeared to have taken directly affecting Parsons involved reviewing documents pertaining to projects on which Parsons was DOT’s consultant and recommending action by the DOT Director. It appeared that the DOT Director relied on Respondent Urasaki to review documents that required his action before routing the documents to him. In other words, if Respondent Urasaki routed a document to the DOT Director, he assumed that she had “done her work” and was recommending his approval and/or execution of the document.

B. Alleged Facts Regarding Respondent Urasaki’s Interest in Hawaiian Electric Industries and Actions Affecting Hawaiian Electric Company/Hawaiian Electric Industries

During Respondent Urasaki’s tenure as the DOT Deputy Director, she and Randall Urasaki owned shares of stock in Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. (“HEI”). In 2011, Respondent Urasaki reported on her financial disclosure statement (2) that Randall Urasaki, individually, owned HEI stock valued between $50,000 and $100,000. Respondent Urasaki’s financial disclosure statement filed in 2012 reflected that she and Randall Urasaki, jointly, owned HEI stock valued between $100,000 and $150,000. In both 2013 and 2014, Respondent Urasaki reported that she and Randall Urasaki, jointly, owned HEI stock valued between $50,000 and $100,000.

Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. (“HECO”) is a wholly owned subsidiary of HEI. Respondent Urasaki, as DOT Deputy Director, appeared to have been significantly involved in matters pertaining to HECO. In or around 2013, Respondent Urasaki notified HECO by letter that HECO had trespassed through state property without a permit, disturbing archaeological sites in violation of state law, and directed HECO to cease work in the area until HECO obtained a permit and took other necessary steps to obtain formal approval from DOT. In or around 2014, Respondent Urasaki also appeared to have drafted a letter for the DOT Director’s signature notifying HECO of a second violation of state law for trespassing through state property and disturbing archaeological sites.

In addition, in or around 2012, Respondent Urasaki and other DOT employees met with HECO to discuss a number of matters relating to both DOT and HECO, including efforts to execute a “Master Utility Agreement” between DOT and HECO and to plan future DOT-HECO “Utility Coordination Meetings.”

Respondent Urasaki subsequently planned and participated in meetings with HECO to discuss execution of a “Master Use and Occupancy Agreement” (“MUOA”) between DOT and HECO, as well as other projects. It is the Commission’s understanding that the MUOA established terms and conditions under which HECO and other utility companies might occupy state land to provide utility service to their customers. Further, in or around 2012 and 2013, Respondent Urasaki appeared to have participated in meetings and discussions with HECO regarding the drafting of the MUOA and, in or around 2013, participated in drafting the MUOA.

read … Full Report

(1) The term “a project” as used herein refers to one or more of the twelve DOT Parsons Projects.

(2) Respondent Urasaki, annually, was required to file a financial disclosure statement with the Commission, reporting, among other things, shares of stock that she and her spouse owned. HRS section 84-17(c)(2). Respondent Urasaki’s financial disclosure statement is a public record. HRS section 84-17(d).

  *   *   *   *   *

SA: Former DOT deputy fined for ethics violations

Feb 2, 2015: Free Golf: Ethics Comm Names Rail Contractors, UH Vice Chancellor, DoT Deputy Director, and Brian Minaai (Again)  “JADINE URASAKI Department of Transportation Deputy Director for Capital Improvement Projects Prior: Department of Education Facilities Development Branch, Public Works Manager Administrative Penalty: $1,500 (Now back at work as DOE Facilities Development Branch Public Works manager.)”

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