(BIVN) – After an Ethics Board deferment and another round of Hawaiian Kingdom testimony, Bill 160 was postponed to the call of the Hawai‘i County Council chair during a meeting in Kona on Wednesday.
Puna councilwoman Eileen O’Hara offered no explanation for her motion to postpone. The bill would have changed 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.”
The Hawai‘i County Board of Ethics discussed the proposal last week, but 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”.
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.” That language was changed in the second draft of the bill.
Bill 160 also became entangled with the Hawaiian Kingdom, and councilwoman Jen Ruggles’ decision to “refrain from enacting any further legislation” until county lawyers are able to assure her that she “is not incurring criminal liability under international humanitarian law and U.S. law.”
Ruggles’ council seat was again empty on Wednesday, as Kale Gumapac and Robert Yamada – both wearing yellow “Deoccupy Hawaii” shirts – testified from Hilo by videoconference. They again used Bill 160 to tell the council to “cease and desist” enacting legislation until the elected officials have been educated on the matter.
“Its really interesting that [Bill] 160 provides accurate and factual information to the public to the best of each officers’ and employees’ abilities and knowledge,” Gumapac said. “It is important that Hawai‘i County Council members take this into consideration, as I support what Jen Ruggles has done.”
Ruggles, meanwhile, will be holding a community meeting on Monday, September 24, in order to explain to her constituents the reasons for her absence from council. The following media release was shared by Ruggles’ office this week:
Council member Jen Ruggles announced that she will hold a public community meeting to speak with constituents about her recent decision to refrain from voting on legislation until the County Council’s attorney assures her, in writing, that she is not committing war crimes. It will be held Monday, September 24th at 6pm at the Keaʻau Community Center.
The meeting stems from an announcement that Ruggles made on August 21st stating that she had come to understand that she may be in violation of her oath of office to uphold the U.S. Constitution and may be incurring criminal liability under both U.S. federal law and international law. Through her attorney, Stephen Laudig, she formally requested the County Office of Corporation Counsel provide her a proper legal opinion.
Ruggles says she wants her reasoning to be transparent and will have copies of the letters she had received that prompted her to make this decision, explain what brought her to take the action, and will answer questions they might have. Ruggles says she would also like to educate her constituents on their rights as protected persons under U.S. and international law, and share what work she has started to continue to represent and advocate on behalf of her district.
Ruggles says she hopes that constituents will take advantage of this opportunity and attend. There will be time reserved to ask questions and comment on this complex and profoundly implicating topic.
Ruggles says that both her attorney, and Dr. David Keanu Sai, will be present. Dr. Sai, a District 5 constituent, is a scholar and expert in international law as well as United States constitutional law. Heʻs been admitted as an expert in international law and the continued existence of the Hawaiian Kingdom in seven criminal and civil court cases in the State of Hawai‘i. Dr. Sai also served as the lead agent for the Hawaiian Kingdom in international arbitration proceedings before the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague, Netherlands. At the center of these international proceedings was the unlawful imposition of American laws and the Hague and Geneva Conventions. Dr. Sai is very familiar with international laws that apply to Hawai‘i.