(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi County Board of Ethics pondered its role on Tuesday in Hilo, part of an ongoing exercise to revamp its rules of practice and procedure.
Vice Chairman Ken Goodenow favors replacing sections with language used by the Maui County, which he says is easier to understand. That led to a philosophical discussion as to whether or not the Board of Ethics should be more active in investigating complaints, as opposed to acting purely in an adjudicatory fashion, hearing the facts and making a decision.
The power to investigate “could be abused as well,” Goodenow said. “I don’t want to change my name to Ken Starr Goodenow,” he joked. “Really, we are in the role of the judge. We do not help the plaintiff prove anything.”
Board member Rick Robinson referred to a previous petitioner to the board of ethics that had to do with the mayorʻs special contracts. “She was up against the county defending itself, and the county has legal counsel,” Robinson said. “I felt like she was… like a deer in the headlights, so to speak.” Robinson said the ability to appoint an investigator could have helped in the situation.
The process of writing new rules of practice and procedure will continue at the next meeting. The Board of Ethics said it would like to complete the task before the end of the year.