April 2010 Home   Newsletters

July 2010

State Council to be held August 14, 2010
Focus for Council - LWV-HI Goals and Objectives (Sue Irvine)
Legalized Gambling: A State or County Issue? (Sue Dursin)
League of Women Voters of Hawaii Goals and Objectives
Hawaii State Ethics Commission Courts Unwelcome Attention (Jean Aoki)
Phoenix Rail System Cuts Back on Service (Honolulu News) (Pearl Johnson)
Local Leader & League Member Recognized by Foundation
Applauding LWV-US for Another Successful Convention
National LWV Elects New President
Agriculture Group Will Focus on Regulations
LWV-Hawaii Proposed Budget 2010-2011
LWV of Honolulu Ed Fund Seeks Nominees (Robin Loomis)
Mahalo Honolulu Contributors
We're Cleaning Out

Hawaii State Ethics Commission Courts Unwelcome Attention

When we learned that the Ethics Commission had asked for the resignation/retirement of its executive director (ED) Daniel Mollway, we prepared testimony in support of Mollway's long and devoted service to the Commission, and his success in elevating its reputation and credibility.

I knew him best as the lobbyist for the Commission, testifying on legislation to strengthen ethics laws, explaining the effects of certain laws as only he could with his institutional memory of past incidents, and broadening the public's understanding of the role of good ethics laws in making our government work for the people.

League member JoAnn Maruoka, Jo Byrne, president of Common Cause, its executive director, Nikki Love and I attended the meetings of the Commission. The wholesale use of executive sessions left us outside the meeting room, almost clueless as to what was happening. What little we could learn made us concerned about the information-gathering process and what it could mean for the credibility of this highly regarded institution.

Staff Complaints
We learned about complaints from some staff; a commissioner interviewed them before the Commission requested Mr. Mollway’s resignation. When Mr. Mollway refused, the Commission appointed Chair Maria Sullivan and Commissioner David Randell as an investigating committee.

According to a public report they released, (the full report was not made public), the committee interviewed all of the staff, a former commission chair, and Mr. Mollway. They claim they read all of the testimonies and letters (which were almost all in support of Mr. Mollway).

Jo, Nikki, JoAnn and I framed some questions for the commission. In a letter to the commissioners, Jo and I listed our questions, ending with some pointed words: “The fact that the investigative committee was appointed after the ED was advised to leave his position, (and then was put on paid leave), suggests that the commission has already agreed to replace Mr. Mollway.

Motivation Unclear
Was the investigative committee really appointed to gather objective and pertinent information, or was it appointed to justify the earlier actions? The selection of people interviewed would be most instructive and as requested before, we ask for their positions and length of their employment. We are not clear what motivated this whole process. Questions about the fairness and objectivity of the process remain. We welcome further clarification. “

Answers Needed
In reply, Chair Sullivan claimed that “OIP opinion 06-01 indicates that under the law, the public may testify and comment on the (public) report. It does not allow for the public to question board members under the guise of testimony and a Board is not required to answer a testifier's questions....” This may be true, but many of the questions do not infringe on the privacy rights of Mr. Mollway, and straight-forward answers could dispel any wrong ideas we may have. The questions all had to do with the process used.

As noted in one of the newspaper articles on this matter, the Commission has the right to terminate the executive director without cause. But to paraphrase Larry Geller in his incisive blog, Disappeared News, best practice in the business world is for management to counsel the employee, specify the standards that are to be met, and give the employee a chance to meet those standards before taking any other action.

(Ed. Note: this process is also required for employees of Hawaii State Departments)

Jean Aoki

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