Clerk, council chair on ethics board agenda, Oct. 10

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File video by RJ Hampton and David Corrigan | Voice of Stephanie Salazar

HILO, Hawaii: It will be a busy day at the County Ethics Board this Wednesday, as some headline-making old business is back on the agenda, along with a new complaint submitted by a local journalist against the embattled County Clerk.

First, the board once again brings up the matter of County Council Chair Dominic Yagong’s alleged unethical involvement with the county elections process.

Last month, Yagong and Board of Ethics Chairman John Dill had a heated exchange over the complaint, which was forwarded to the ethics commission by the State Office of Elections.

This video was shot by RJ Hampton and shared with Big Island Video News. Hampton also testified during the hearing.

The clerk will herself face the ethics board on Wednesday, answering to a complaint brought forward by Tiffany Edwards Hunt of the Big Island Chronicle.

Hunt is alleging that Kawauchi “has been very selective in dissemination of public information and showed preferential treatment to certain reporters and stonewalling others…”

This back and forth between Hunt and Kawauchi at a press conference before the primary election illustrates the tension between the two at the time.

The relationship between the clerk and some local members of the media came to a head on primary election day, the same day that confusion and late openings at the polls prompted the Governor to declare an emergency extension of voting hours on the Big Island.

That day, the clerk’s news updates were sent to some media organizations, but not to others – that includes Big Island Video News. Hunt and videographer Dave Corrigan spent the early morning hours on the outside of the county building looking in, and Hunt stayed at the building for the better part of the day, unable to get Kawauchi to address concerns.

Another agenda item returning to ethics board: a petition alleging violations of the county code when county employees are allowed to attend union meetings on county time, where political campaigning takes place.

Kona resident Cheryl King brought the complaint forward after a West Hawaii Today article revealed the practice had been occurring this election season.

The matter became a bit confused in September when commission member Arne Henricks asked King who the respondent was?

The meeting is scheduled for 10 am on Wednesday at the County Council Chambers in Hilo.

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