(BIVN) – On Tuesday, the Hawai‘i County Board of Ethics reviewed a County Council bill that would require local government to be “accurate and factual.”
Bill 160, introduced by Puna councilwoman Eileen O’Hara, would change the Code of Ethics, in particular Section 2-83, Fair Treatment, by “adding a requirement that officers and employees of the County provide accurate and factual information to the public to the best of each officer’s or employee’s abilities and knowledge.”
When it was first introduced, Bill 160 proposed adding a definition for “truthful” to the code, and would have required that “officers and employees of the County be truthful when performing their duties and dealing with the public.” Councilmembers balked at the potential complications that could arise with the use of the word truthful, so the bill was changed in order to substitute the term ‘truthful’ with the words ‘accurate and factual’.
At the September 4 council meeting in Hilo, Bill 160 received a flood of public testimony. Supporters of councilwoman Jen Ruggles – and her inquiry into Hawaiian Kingdom related humanitarian matters – used the bill as a chance to speak out on the situation.
On Tuesday, the Board of Ethics debated the meanings and ramifications of terms like accurate and factual, going over the language of Bill 160 for half an hour. Board members ultimately decided to defer without making any comment on the bill. The board did approve a letter, however, asking the council to provide a definition of the word “accurate”.
The County Council will take another vote on Bill 160 during its September 19th meeting in Kona.