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Articles of Interest

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - April 14, 2021 - Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s pick for Police Commission withdraws nomination

Mayor Blangiardi’s pick for the police commission withdrew his nomination. Benjamin Mahi was a former HPD officer and his partner is a current one. There were concerns about his ability to conduct oversight of HPD if on the Police Commission.

“There are some people in the advocacy community who are concerned, given his close contacts with HPD,” Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, said prior to Mahi’s withdrawal. “They are concerned about his ability to remain impartial.”

Honolulu Civil Beat - April 13, 2021 - A Building Inspector Took Money From A Homeowner. Her Punishment: 2 Years Paid Time Off

Before five employees in the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting were indicted by the feds two weeks ago, accused of accepting bribes, one of their colleagues admitted to cashing a check from a property owner whose plans she was reviewing. But she didn’t face any discipline or get charged with a crime. At least not yet. Instead, she got two years of paid time off.

Sandy Ma, executive director of the government accountability organization Common Cause Hawaii, said the city’s response appears to encourage bad behavior. “They need to put the public first. It’s like, come on, people,” she said. “Two years. Holy cow. And they didn’t even root out the problem.”

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - April 09, 2021 - Honolulu Police Commission to evaluate police chief after tumultuous year

Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard’s third performance review by the Honolulu Police Commission is scheduled for today. But this year the commission, which has been more supportive than critical of Ballard, will be confronted with a slew of inquiries and attacks against HPD and the chief — many revolving around the department’s spending of CARES Act money and, recently, Ballard’s level of transparency with the public.

In late March she held rare interviews with local news outlets, although the format was criticized as being “transparency-lite,” as described by Common Cause Hawaii. Reporters were given just 10 minutes to talk with Ballard, the interviews were structured to be one-on-one with the chief, and reporters were asked to submit their questions to HPD hours beforehand.

“Reporters may not follow up on each other’s questions. A reporter may not ascertain the necessary information in 10 minutes and would need information gleaned from other reporter’s questions, which is denied under this format,” Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, said in an email statement.

Hawaii News Now - April 02, 2021 - Watchdogs question HPD chief’s personal purchases from vendors awarded CARES Act funds

Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard bought personal equipment from companies that her agency awarded CARES Act contracts to, Hawaii News Now has learned. Watchdog groups are calling the purchases a conflict of interest. In a series of emails, a spokesperson for HPD did acknowledge that Ballard bought two scooters from businesses that supplied a large order of ATVs and UTVs the police department purchased last summer.

Sandy Ma, of Common Cause Hawaii, said that could still be considered a conflict of interest. “It does raise some concerns about the appearance of impropriety,” Ma said.

Honolulu Civil Beat - March 23, 2021 - The Hawaii Capitol Is Closed To The Public, But Some Lobbyists Still Have Entree

While most members of the public can’t visit the State Capitol during the 2021 legislative session, the ability of some lobbyists to gain access raises questions of fairness.

“If people can meet with lawmakers at the Capitol, it defeats the purpose of having a closed Capitol,” said Sandy Ma, executive director of the good-government group Common Cause Hawaii. “We understand it should be safe for people working there. But people are going in and it’s not just for needed work to be done.”

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - March 17, 2021 - Lawmakers look to claw back felons’ pensions

Former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha is set to begin a seven-year prison sentence next month for felony convictions relating to his use of police officers to help frame his wife’s uncle. But that won’t stop his $9,700 monthly pension payments that come with having served 33 years on the police force.

The payments have fueled debate in recent years about Hawaii’s practice of continuing to pay out retirement benefits to public employees who commit serious crimes related to their jobs. Hawaii lawmakers are looking to curb the benefits this year through legislation that would allow a court to order half of an employee’s pension to be forfeited if they are convicted of a job-related felony.

Senate Bill 912 has sailed through the full Senate, and on Tuesday it passed the House Labor and Tourism Committee. The bill still faces additional hearings in the House of Representatives, but a similar measure introduced by House Speaker Scott Saiki passed the House in 2019, an indication that the proposed legislation, which has been introduced numerous times over the years, could succeed this year.

“Public employees are also public servants. They cannot defraud the public and destroy our confidence in government and still reap the benefits of their criminal misconduct,” wrote Common Cause Hawaii Executive Director Sandy Ma in testimony on the measure.

Honolulu Civil Beat - March 07, 2021 - Lawmakers End Efforts To Revamp Oversight Of Watchdog Agencies

Hawaii State House leaders have decided against pursuing most measures aimed at controlling the state auditor although investigation into that office continues. The House’s attempts to reorganize government watchdog agencies and gut the state auditor’s budget appear to have stalled for this legislative session.

Sandy Ma, executive director of the open-government group Common Cause Hawaii, said she’s glad to see the measure stall. “I think public pressure really halted this from going forward,” Ma said of HB 1341.

Honolulu Civil Beat Commentary- February 15, 2021 - Chad Blair: Are House Lawmakers Out To Get Josh Green?

A bill from the speaker and majority leader would forbid lieutenant governors from holding side jobs. Now, new legislation is moving through the state House that would ban Hawaii lieutenant governors from holding second jobs. Some folks are already calling House Bill 1075 the Josh Green bill, because the sitting LG is a medical doctor who works a 48-hour shift twice a month in the emergency room of tiny Kohala Hospital in Kapaau.

Sandy Ma of Common Cause Hawaii supports it, writing in testimony, “Any significant gift or monetary compensation from interests outside of their state position is entirely inappropriate and could cloud their judgment or lead them to consider their personal interests above those of their electorate.”

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - February 14, 2021 - Hawaii lawmakers scrap bill exempting counties from Sunshine Law

State lawmakers shelved a bill that would allow the county councils on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii island to debate in secret before casting votes on proposed legislation. But another measure is still alive this session that government watchdog groups warn could curb the state’s open meetings law.

This other bill pending, House Bill 481, would strip away safeguards and open government groups warn it could be used to circumvent transparency requirements built into the Sunshine Law.

Hawaii Tribune Herald - February 12, 2021 - Proposed ‘Sunshine Law’ exemption has hasty demise

A bill that would have all-but-exempted county councils from the state’s open meetings law, also known as the “Sunshine Law,” is essentially dead for this legislative session. State Sen. Clarence Nishihara, an Oahu Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Public Safety, Governmental and Military Affairs, deferred the bill during a Thursday hearing, meaning it won’t move out the committee

Thirty pages of written testimony were submitted to the committee, all in opposition to the bill. Organizations opposed included the state Office of Information Practices, Common Cause Hawaii, the League of Women Voters, the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest, the Society of Professional Journalists Hawaii Chapter, and the Big Island Press Club.

Honolulu Star Advertiser - Feb 09, 2021 - Hawaii legislators could boost minimum wage to $12 next year

A bill to raise Hawaii’s minimum wage to $12 in July 2022 passed unanimously out of its first committee Monday, with more than 180 individuals and groups testifying in favor, most saying it should be much higher.

“Twelve dollars an hour is a start but still is not even close to a living wage,” Patrick Switzer testified to the Senate Committee on Labor, Culture and the Arts. “As a registered nurse working in Honolulu, I can tell you this increase would be a lifeline to the working poor, who are faced with impossible decisions each day, such as deciding between purchasing food for their kids and paying utility bills.”

Groups weighing in on behalf of the measure included Living Wage Hawaii, Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law &Economic Justice, Common Cause Hawaii, League of Women Voters of Hawaii, Americans for Democratic Action and labor unions such as the ILWU, Hawaii Government Employees Association and Hawaii State Teachers Association.

Honolulu Civil Beat - Hawaii Senate Advances Asset Forfeiture Reform Measure

Senate Bill 294 would only allow agencies to sell property authorities believe may have been involved in a crime if the owner of that property is convicted of a felony offense. The state auditor found in a 2018 report that, in a sample of civil asset forfeiture cases, property was seized without a corresponding criminal charge in 26% of those cases.

SB 294 would also direct revenue generated from the sale of seized property from a fund controlled by law enforcement to the state general fund. Lawmakers have said that would remove the financial incentive agencies like police departments might have for seizing property.

Groups including Young Progressives Demanding Action, Common Cause Hawaii, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, the state Office of the Public Defender and about a dozen individuals all testified in support of the measure.

Honolulu Civil Beat - Bill Would Give Lawmakers Control Over Auditor’s Paycheck

A bill that would empower the Legislature to set the salary of the State Auditor has been co-introduced by House Speaker Scott Saiki and Democratic Majority Leader Della Au Belatti in what may be another sign that State Auditor Les Kondo has fallen from favor.

House Speaker Scott Saiki announced plans to establish a panel to assess the auditor’s office. The panel will include former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and former state Office of Finance Director Wes Machida. It will be led by former Honolulu City Auditor Edwin Young. Speaker Saiki also has proposed cutting the budget for the state auditor by more than 50%.

Common Cause Executive Director Sandy Ma described the salary and budget cutting measures as “troubling.” “As an organization that is focused on good government, transparency and accountability, we would like to see the auditors have some measure of leeway in their job functions,” Ma said. “To have these measures introduced just seems kind of suspicious at this point in time.”

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - Richard Borreca Editorial On Politics: Shutting off welcoming state Capitol from the public would send discouraging message

Say goodbye to Hawaii’s signature state Capitol, if it loses its long and graceful sightlines as they are closed by a tumble of concrete barriers and chain link fences. COVID-19 and the rioting supporters of former President Donald Trump both are sealing off the structure and destroying its significance as an open public meeting area. The Beretania Street barriers are likely to become a permanent fixture.

Sandy Ma, Common Cause Hawaii executive director, worries that while security is important, it is one of several important issues to be considered. “Given the dire economic situation that our elected officials are facing in Hawaii, erecting security at the state Capitol, where we have had peaceful, nonviolent marches, demonstrations, protests, etc. (that I can think of), must seriously be balanced with the other needs faced by Hawaii’s people,” Ma said in an interview. Ma said that she wants all in the Capitol to be safe, “but we are concerned that people may be discouraged from participating given any potential physical barriers that may give the impression that the state Capitol, which is the People’s House, is no longer welcoming or inviting the public.”

Hawaii News Now - Host of safety protocols in place to prevent COVID outbreak during legislative session

The legislative session kicked off this week, but state business will be conducted much differently during the pandemic in an effort to keep the building safe.
Currently, an invitation is needed to enter the Capitol building. Inside, everyone must pass through a temperature check station in the basement. Once given the all clear, lawmakers, staff and guests need to pick up a day pass that’s worn at all times. Conference rooms have been rearranged to give members more space during committee hearings. What you can’t see are all of the technological improvements meant to bolster remote access to proceedings. The general public won’t be allowed to testify on legislation in person. Instead they’ll have their say virtually.

Advocates for open government believe the new system will allow more people to participate.

“We think remote testimony will benefit the public. We are an island state. It costs money and time to travel to Oahu to the State Capitol to testify,” said Sandy Ma, Common Cause executive director.

Hawaii Public Radio - The Conversation: The Challenges of Public Access in a Pandemic

Physical restrictions due to the pandemic have created complications for public access. As state lawmakers open up the new legislative session, technology has helped in many ways. For instance, those from the neighbor islands no longer have the added expense of traveling to Oahu in order to participate in public testimony. Sandy Ma, head of Common Cause Hawaii, goes over the pros and cons of remote public access.

Honolulu Civil Beat - Commentary: Some Want Permanent Security Barriers At Capitol, But At What Cost?

This piece by Denby Fawcett discusses the fencing and blockades that now mar the open spaces of one of the most beautiful buildings in Hawaii and reduce public access to the workings of government. In the article, Sandy Ma, Common Cause Hawaii's Executive Director, weighs in, saying that adopting permanent barriers and other enhanced security measures at the State Capitol building would keep the public from, or hinder their access to public officials. So any continued security measures must not deter public access to the building.

Honolulu Civil Beat - Changes To Hawaii’s Sunshine Law Could Improve Access To Public Meetings

The new proposal from the state Office of Information Practices gives boards more options, including ways to meet remotely. The Office of Information Practices plans to introduce a bill next session that would allow boards and commissions to continue to meet using video conferencing software like Zoom or BlueJeans even after the pandemic has passed.

Common Cause Hawaii raised issues with some of those provisions, specifically one line that allows meetings to continue even if one of the meeting sites loses connection.

“If I’m waiting to testify, present information, and that location has technical issues, it seems problematic that the meeting is allowed to continue,” said Sandy Ma, the open-government group’s executive director. She hopes such meetings will increase participation in government, especially if boards allow for remote testimony.

The Omaha Daily Record - Hawaii Court Hears Case Over ‘Gut and Replace’ Legislation

Attorneys argued before the Hawaii Supreme Court last Wednesday over how much lawmakers should allow the public to weigh in on legislation as laws are being drafted and voted on.

The justices listened to lawyers over a video link that was streamed live on YouTube. They were considering a lawsuit challenging the Legislature’s practice of stripping bills of their original content and substituting something entirely different.

The League of Women Voters of Honolulu and Common Cause Hawaii sued the state in 2018 over the tactic, which is often called “gut and replace” in Hawaii. Similar maneuvers in other states are called “gut and stuff” or “gut and amend.”

Honolulu Civil Beat - Supreme Court Hears Challenge To Lawmakers’ Gut-And-Replace Tactics

Open-government groups are challenging the Legislature’s practice of making drastic, sometimes last-minute changes to bills.

The Hawaii Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments from Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, who contend that the Legislature’s practice of gutting bills and then replacing the contents with other legislation is not open to the public.

The Ige administration and Legislature also made their case, arguing that the justices should stay out of how lawmakers conduct their business.

Hawaii Tribune-Herald - Hawaii Supreme Court hears arguments about lawmakers’ use of controversial gut-and-replace tactic

The state Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday about the Legislature’s practice of stripping a bill of its original content and substituting entirely different content, a process known as gut-and-replace.

The League of Women Voters of Honolulu and Common Cause Hawaii sued the state in 2018 over the tactic, specifically for measure titled “A Bill for an Act Relating to Public Safety.”

AP News - Hawaii top court hears arguments over ‘gut and replace’ laws

HONOLULU (AP) — Attorneys argued before the Hawaii Supreme Court on Wednesday over how much lawmakers should allow the public to weigh in on legislation as laws are being drafted and voted on.

The justices listened to lawyers over a video link that was streamed live on YouTube. They were considering a lawsuit challenging the Legislature’s practice of stripping bills of their original content and substituting something entirely different.

The League of Women Voters of Honolulu and Common Cause Hawaii sued the state in 2018 over the tactic, which is often called “gut and replace” in Hawaii.

Honolulu Civil Beat - How Kym Pine Is Using the ‘Power Of Incumbency’ In Mayor’s Race

In the months leading up to Honolulu’s mayoral election, the only candidate who currently holds elected office has drastically upped her public relations game. City Councilwoman Kym Pine has sent out a flurry of press releases from her official city address in the last six months.

Pine’s official communications portray her in a flattering light, but don’t mention her mayoral campaign or appeal for donations. Therefore, it’s probably fair game - "the power of incumbency,” according to Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii.

Honolulu Civil Beat - Aloha Stadium Deal Panned By Watchdog Groups

Common Cause Hawaii and the League of Women Voters of Hawaii decry this gut and replace bill. House Bill 1586, introduced in the 2019 Hawaii Legislature, called for shifting around various energy and environmental agencies within state government. But by the time it was passed and later became law, it morphed into a $350 million deal for Aloha Stadium.

Because of that, HB 1586 has received the sixth annual Rusty Scalpel award from Common Cause Hawaii and the League of Women Voters of Hawaii. The award is meant to focus attention on what’s known as gut and replace — “an abusive practice of government, in which legislators take a bill on one topic, gut the language, and replace it with something completely different to avoid the Constitutionally required legislative review,” according to a recent press release.

Common Cause Hawaii and The League of Women Voters of Honolulu legally challenged gut and replace in 2018.

Hawaii Public Radio News - Hawaii Legislature Prepares To Conclude. Transparency Advocates Cry Foul

Friday is the final scheduled day for the Hawaii Legislature’s 2020 session. The coronavirus pandemic forced lawmakers to close public access to the state Capitol, end in-person testimony on legislation, and broadcast all legislative hearings for remote viewing.

Sandy Ma with the good governance watchdog Common Cause Hawaii says the remote viewing system has been problematic, having observed audio quality too distorted to understand, camera angles making it impossible to identify speakers, and scheduling errors resulting in votes and hearings taking place without being broadcast. However, her biggest issue is with the restrictions on public participation. Normally, residents can appear in person to voice their concerns about proposed laws and even answer questions from lawmakers. Ma says that makes for better government and better policy. In the era of COVID, only written testimony was accepted, which she believes is an inadequate substitute.

Bill would make Rep. Takayama eligible to run for Sen. Harimoto’s seat

Twelve days after the death of state Sen. Breene Harimoto, the House Judiciary Committee proposed a change in state election law that would make committee member Rep. Gregg Taka yama eligible to run to serve out the last two years of Harimoto’s term.

Lawmakers say Takayama (D, Pearl City-Waimalu- Pacific Palisades) has privately expressed interest in moving up to the Senate, but under current law is prohibited from seeking Harimoto’s Senate seat because he already filed to run for reelection to the House seat he now holds.

Common Cause Hawaii considers this scheme to be insider dealing.

Honolulu Civil Beat - The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Is Gutting Its Newsroom

In a devastating blow to Hawaii’s largest daily newspaper, leadership at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser told employees it intends to lay off about half of its union news staff by the end of the month.

Thirty-one workers across all departments are flagged for removal: 15 of the newspaper’s 34 reporters, two photographers, three page designers, seven clerks, three graphic artists and a web designer.

Honolulu Civil Beat - The Pay Keeps Flowing For Accused Honolulu Officials On Leave

More than a year after three high-ranking Honolulu officials went on paid administrative leave amid their involvement in a federal investigation, the city won’t say how much longer it expects to continue paying them. The city says it has no policy limiting the length of time an employee can be on paid leave, according to Alexander Zannes, the mayor’s communications director. Investigations shouldn’t be indefinite, said Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, a nonprofit that advocates for government accountability. The city should consider putting some time limits on paid administrative leave, she said — perhaps six months with extensions when necessary. The city could also allow people under investigation to work in other areas of government, Ma said, especially since the COVID-19 epidemic requires all hands on deck.

KHON2 News - Governor says Navigator and mainland consultants will be funded

Gov. David Ige says he will still fund the recovery navigator and mainland consultants to do most of its work, this after lawmakers cut the $10 million line item from CARES Act spending last week. “Certainly we will look at hiring all of the consultants that we need to ensure that we can move the state of Hawaii forward, that would include the Boston Consulting Group,” Ige said. “We do have adequate resources through various programs.”

“That is a lot of money, and it is also quite disturbing that $5 million was supposed to be used for an outside Boston Consulting Group,” said Sandy Ma of watchdog group Common Cause Hawaii. “I mean it’s not even in Hawaii.”

Honolulu Civil Beat - Legislative Leadership Must Rise To The Occasion

It’s past time for the 2020 legislative session to likewise get back to doing “the people’s work.” Critical items that need to be addressed include screening and testing at airports, and food sustainability. Ensuring health care for the recently unemployed, standing up health screening/testing at airports, supporting local agriculture and food-self sufficiency, implementing remote testimony capability, passing automatic voter registration, and preserving the hard-fought Earned Income Tax Credit and increases in Hawaii’s minimum wage are just a few of the critical items that must be addressed.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - Off the News: Police Commission must open up

Today, the commission was to hold its second meeting out of public view and involvement. This, despite Gov. David Ige’s proclamation stating that boards take “reasonable measures to allow public participation consistent with social distancing practices, such as providing electronic notice of meetings, allowing submission of written testimony on agendized items, (and) live streaming meetings.”

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Editorial Board supports Common Cause Hawaii's position that these commission meetings must be open to the public. Please click on the link to read more of about Common Cause Hawaii's position on these meetings.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser Island Voices Column - Expand options for distance learning

David Miyashiro, founding Executive Director of HawaiiKidsCAN and a Common Cause Hawaii Board Member, advocates that the State DOE must establish real-time two-way communication with the public and families for clarification and transparency.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser OpEd Column - Protect democracy by restoring open government in Hawaii

OpEd by Common Cause Hawaii's Sandy Ma and others commends our elected leaders for recognizing the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic and taking action to protect the health, safety and well-being of Hawaii’s people, but they find it disappointing that Gov. David Ige suspended our state’s open-meetings and open-records laws in his March 16 Supplemental Emergency Declaration.

Based on Common Cause Hawaii advocacy, Maui Lawyer's Draft Open Letter to Maui Mayor on Open Government Requirements During Emergency

The letter expresses concern about the State Governor's recent suspension of the operation of certain open government laws and their potential affect on Maui Council meetings and operations.

Honolulu Civil Beat - More Groups Call On Ige To Bring Transparency Back Into Government

The Hawaii governor suspended state laws that allow citizens access to public meetings and records while officials struggle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Common Cause Hawaii spearheaded the effort by a diverse coalition of more than 40 organizations and individuals calling on Hawaii Gov. David Ige, the four county mayors and state legislators to be more transparent as they struggle to contain the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Hawaii Public Radio - Some Hawaii Agencies Get Creative To Keep Public Involved, Others Abandon Participation

Civic participation is a challenge during the time of coronavirus. Some agencies are finding ways to still include the public, despite Gov. David Ige's emergency order suspending the requirement among other state laws.

The good governance watch dog group Common Cause Hawaii, has come out strongly against the suspension of the Sunshine Law. On Tuesday, the group’s Executive Director Sandy Ma sent a letter to Gov. Ige, the state Legislature, all four county mayors, and the county councils urging them to restore the government transparency rules.

Honolulu Civil Beat - Suspension Of Hawaii’s Open Government Laws More Extreme Than Other States

Gov. David Ige has alarmed government watchdogs with his proclamations that shut the public out of public meetings and eliminates the release of public records.

“Democracy, accountability and transparency still matter during these crucial times,” said Sandy Ma, the executive director of Common Cause Hawaii. “So much is happening so quickly, and it needs to because we are in a crisis situation, but we also need to document what is happening for the future good so that we can look back and see what we did right and what we did wrong.”

Honolulu Star-Advertiser Editorial: Government must be open to scrutiny

The governor’s decision to suspend the state’s Sunshine Law, the requirement that government agencies conduct business in open meetings and with advance notice, as well as the law that makes government records open and available, could have consequences that the beleaguered public, distracted by other woes, has not imagined and must work to avoid.

It does appear that some agencies are making an effort to that end. Sandy Ma, executive director of the good-government nonprofit Common Cause Hawaii, noted that the state Ethics Commission has provided a call-in option for anyone wishing to “attend” the meeting, set for Friday, by teleconference. Another example: the state Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 has been livestreaming its hearings on how the state is dealing with the pandemic. That’s encouraging.

However, the governor’s order says only such access provisions may be made “at the sole discretion of the department or agency.” That should not be the case.

Common Cause Hawaii Email to the Hawaii Senate Committee on COVID-19

While Common Cause Hawaii commends the Hawaii State Senate’s formation of the Senate's special committee on COVID-19, we are unclear as to why the meetings are not open, transparent, and televised to the public on 'Ōlelo.

Honolulu Civil Beat: Don’t Keep The Public From Participating In Public Policy During A Crisis

Senate Bill 2038 would exempt boards from Hawaii’s Sunshine Law on meetings when emergencies like COVID-19 are in effect.

Honolulu Civil Beat: Honolulu Agrees To Post Financial Disclosures Online

The Honolulu City Clerk’s office said it would post financial disclosure records on its website after the city ethics commission received blowback for removing that information from its site.

Government accountability advocates had criticized the removal of this information. Sandy Ma of Common Cause Hawaii had called it “extraordinarily troubling.”

Honolulu Civil Beat: Honolulu Ethics Commission Scrubs Financial Disclosures From Website

Public records in which Honolulu officials disclose their business interests, real estate holdings and family ties are no longer posted on the Honolulu Ethics Commission’s website, and disclosures from past years have been deleted.

"It is extraordinarily troubling that the commission would make it harder for the public to access the records," said Sandy Ma, executive director of the government accountability nonprofit Common Cause Hawaii.

KHON2: Kauai Councilman Arthur Brun indicted for federal drug offenses

More legal trouble for Kauai Councilman Arthur Brun, who’s now been indicted for federal drug offenses. He was one of twelve people arrested in a sting operation. Brun faces more charges than any of the other defendants, including the most serious offenses like conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

“Mr. Brun should have to abide by the same laws too and we want to make sure that the people are represented and Mr. Brun is not distracted by the pending charges,” said Sandy Ma, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii.

Honolulu Civil Beat: Caldwell Took In $155,000+ From Territorial Bank in 2019

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell did well for himself last year.

In addition to his $186,432 city salary, he pulled in at least $155,638 from Territorial Savings Bank – a result of his earnings as a bank director and exercising stock options, according to his recently filed financial disclosure form. “We would like his full attention to be devoted to being mayor,” said Sandy Ma, executive director of the government accountability nonprofit Common Cause Hawaii.

Honolulu Civic Beat: Free Lunch From A Contractor Is Annual Tradition at Honolulu Hale

The Ethics Commission is considering a zero-tolerance policy on “tokens of aloha.” Honolulu ethics guidelines say city departments shouldn’t accept any gifts from those doing business with their agencies. That includes contractors.

Photos from the Impeachment Support Rally on Oahu on 17 December 2019

Some photos are shown here from this spirited event, co-sponsored by Common Cause Hawaii. Go here to our Facebook Page for more.

AP News: Gabbard faces heat back home for present vote on impeachment

Longshot presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard is facing some heat in her heavily Democratic home state of Hawaii for voting “present” on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Common Cause Hawaii Executive Director, Sandy Ma, said Gabbard’s votes aren’t representative of the people in her district and added Gabbard “shamed herself.”

Honolulu Civil Beat: Why Corrupt Public Employees In Hawaii Keep Their Pensions

For those convicted of abusing public office, the pension payments don’t stop at the guilty verdict.

Honolulu Civil Beat: Lawmakers’ Financial Disclosures Don’t Always Paint A Complete Picture

Lawmakers financial disclosures do not provide much detail or precise depictions of legislators’ financial interests.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: David Shapiro: $350M Aloha Stadium plan has flies on it already

Common Cause and the League of Women Voters last week awarded the 2019 Legislature its “Rusty Scalpel” award for using the deceitful gut-and-replace tactic to provide $350 million for a new stadium

The Maui News: County paid for council members, staff to stay at Wailea hotel for HSAC

Six Maui County Council members and six executive assistants stayed at the Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott Maui during a conference in June and were reimbursed in public funds to the tune of just over $11,000, according to documents obtained from the county Finance Department.

Critics Question Former Council Chair’s Ties To North Shore Project

Some residents ask whether campaign contributions and a job factored into Ernie Martin’s support for a controversial Pupukea project.

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