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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 8, 2010

Measure to change scope of Code of Ethics advances

Advertiser Staff

The Kaua'i County Charter Review Commission last week advanced a proposal that if approved by voters, would simultaneously broaden and weaken the scope of the Code of Ethics, specifically its rules governing contracts, the Garden Island newspaper reported.

Following a confusing discussion featuring four new commissioners and numerous seemingly conflicting motions, a pair of proposed changes to Section 20.03 of the County Charter were approved Feb. 22 and will be sent to the Office of the County Attorney for legal review, the county Office of Boards and Commissions confirmed.

A provision currently preventing the county from "enter(ing) into a contract with any person or firm which is represented or assisted personally in the matter by a person who has been an employee of the agency for six months and who participated while in county employment with the subject matter of the contract" would be extended to a full year if the amendment is approved.

The Kaua'i Board of Ethics voted in December that it had no objection to that change, which would make Kaua'i's rule governing contracts with former county workers similar to rules in the other Hawai'i counties.

A different provision that currently stops the county from "enter(ing) into any contract with an officer or employee or with a firm in which an officer or employee has a substantial interest involving services or property of a value in excess of $500 unless the contract is made after competitive bidding" was loosened tenfold to allow contracts valued under $5,000 to be awarded, without a bid process, to current county employees.

The Board of Ethics declined to weigh in on the idea of increasing the dollar amount.