by Andrew Walden
Busted, named, and shamed by the Honolulu Ethics Commission, Honolulu Planning Commissioner Andrew Jamila has turned State’s Evidence and fingered others involved in a conspiracy to keep Waimanalo Gulch open.
Readers of the August 12 Star-Advertiser will never know it, but an Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion (#2011-3) says Jamila pointed to ex-mayor Mufi Hannemann and Honolulu County Council Chair Ernie Martin as instructing him not to report a conflict of interest related to Waimanalo Gulch.
Martin has suggested that he might run for Honolulu Mayor. Hannemann is said to be considering a run for US Congress. The Ethics Commission findings were posted online August 9 and Jamila was fined $650.
Jamila is president of the Waimanalo Construction Coalition (WCC) which received $120,000 from the so-called Leeward Coast Community Benefits Program (LCCBP). Created by Hannemann and administered by Martin, the “Benefits” were designed to make up for the negative impact of Waimanalo Gulch felt by Leeward Coast communities. Other sources have described it as a “ward heeler’s slush fund” designed to buy support for Hannemann.
According to the report (pg. 8):
Mr Jamila demonstrated good faith by consulting the Department of Community Services and the Mayor if there was a conflict of interest. Mr Jamila asked former Deputy Director of the Department of Community Services Ernie Martin, as well as former Mayor Mufi Hannemann whether he had a conflict of interest that prevented him from serving on the Planning Commission when WCC received LCCBP grant money. He stated that they both told him he did not have any conflict of interest so long as he was not personally receiving money from the LCCBP grant. Mr Jamila also contacted Winston Wong, deputy Corporation Counsel who advises the Planning Commission. Me Wong informed Mr Jamila to declare the conflict and to contact the Ethics Commission for advice. Mr Jamila did disclose his conflict at that time on January 3, 2008. In response to receipt of disclosure, Ethics Commission staff clearly advised Mr Jamila that he did have a conflict of interest and that he had to recuse himself from participating in all matters related to the Landfill. Unfortunately Mr Jamila failed to do so.
Hannemann has worked to keep Waimanalo Gulch open while restricting possible expansion by Nanakuli construction waste landfill PVT. In contrast, Jeff Stone and his wholly-owned Congresswoman, Colleen Hanabusa, have worked to close Waimanalo Gulch—which overlooks Hanabusa’s home in Stone’s Ko Olina development. The Ethics Commissions sudden interest in …uh… ethics comes as the County is once again facing a fight over whether or not to keep Waimanalo Gulch open. By choosing to identify Jamila in the report—an unusual step—and further identifying Martin and Hannemann, the Ethics Commission neutralizes Jamila’s pro-Waimanalo Gulch vote will and creates the possibility that he could even be forced off the Planning Commission by the Carlisle Administration.
The Ethics report explains how the “Benefits” work:
“Planning Commission decisions affecting the Landfill may reasonably appear to impact the financial interest of WCC. For example, proliferation of the Landfill appears to be in WCC’s best interest as it would tend to perpetuate the negative impacts on the Leeward Coast community and in turn justify the continuation of LCCBP and grant money awards.”
This is a core reason Community Benefit programs should never consist of cash grants to non-profits. In his 2008 disclosure, Jamila wrote:
The City has offered this benefit package to WCC to assist in offset (sic) the impact of Waimanalo Landfill for the community. The Waimanalo Construction Coalition (WCC), a nonprofit organization have (sic) been awarded the amount of $60,000 from the 2007 community Landfill Benefit Grant Package. I’m the President for WCC….
The following matter is before this agency, board or commission and is related to the above interest: the City has request (sic) the 2 year extension for the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill current operating permit.
The report continues:
From May through August 2009, Mr Jamila participated in fourteen matters related to the Department of Environmental Services’ Special Use Permit Application … to expand the Landfill by 92.5 acres…. In 2009 and 2010, Mr Jamila failed to disclose his presidency of WCC as a fiduciary position.
Of course Jamila had an explanation for his actions. The report (pg5) explains:
Mr Jamila stated that he wasn’t sure what the word “fiduciary” means….
Hannemann’s involvement in the cover-up deepened when Jamila was reappointed:
On May 25, 2010, Mayor Hannemann reappointed Mr Jamila to the Planning Commission subject to confirmation by the City Council. Mayor Hannemann provided the City Council with Mr Jamila’s Appointee Personal Information Form … that Mr Jamila completed for City Council’s review. Nowhere on this form did Mr Jamila indicate a conflict of interest between WCC and his duties on the Planning Commission regarding the Landfill, despite the Ethics Commission staff advice that a conflict of interest existed. On June 9, 2010, the City Council confirmed Mr Jamila’s appointment….
And yet Hannemann’s whole point in funding the “Benefits” package was to create the very conflict of interest which he pretended did not exist when he reappointed Jamila.