by Andrew Walden
The 28 page Honolulu Ethics commission report of wrongdoing by Honolulu County Councilman Rod Tam, former State Senator and potential Democrat candidate for Lt Governor and/or Mayor focuses on Tam’s embezzlement of County funds to pay for non-existent meals, to over charge for meals, and to pay for meals which are not allowable under county ethics rules.
Some of these make or great headlines—like the $88.18 February 14, 2009 Kabuki Valentine taxpayers gave to Rod’s wife. Or $240 “Crime in Chinatown” bill--for a March 29, 2009 Tam family dinner party—which itself may have been illegal.
But there is another violation included in the report—Tam’s failure to disclose his involvement in ten different for-profit businesses and non-profits. Asked about his failure to include the ten on financial disclosure statements from 2001 through 2008, Tam told ethics investigators, “I forgot.”
One of the ten omissions was Ko`olau Loa Partners, LLC--a North Shore property development hui. Headed by Maryland investor James Hawkins, Ko`olau Loa seeks $500 million in investment and projects $623 million in profits. The development is planned for the Kahuku area of Oahu's North Shore. (See map of proposed development: HERE)
Shortly after being asked about Ko`olau by investigators, Tam added it to his formal disclosures. From the report:
The DCCA lists Ko`olau as “active” and incorporated on April 30, 2007. That is the date cited in the Ethics Report as Tam’s date of investment, making Rod Tam one of the founding “investors”. Tam and Hawkins are the only officers listed. DCCA received annual filings from the company in April 2008 and again in April 2009. The hui’s website, www.koolauloapartners.com explains the hui “is currently looking for investment for the Ko'olau Loa Revitalization Project….” Did Tam get a free or discounted ownership stake in exchange for his influence over zoning decisions?
The Ko`olau website also contains these fascinating little pieces of information:
WHAT WILL INVESTORS EARN AND HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO START RECEIVING ROI
5. Under Hawaii State Law, any person or entity investing in a project that promotes renewable energy may be eligible to receive special dispensation from State income tax.
6. Under Hawaii State Law, any person or entity investing in a project that develops television and film industry within Hawaii may be eligible for up to a 15% to a 20% tax credit on the investment.
According to its website, Ko`olau Loa projects profits totaling $623M on a projected $500M investment, a profit of 124%. Part of the project involves purchasing Kahuku Hospital from the HHSC and renovating it. HHSC management this session is promoting a legislative proposal to make it possible to break up HHSC and privatize the individual parts.
Other companies Tam failed to list included film production and entertainment companies. Such companies are key beneficiaries of ACT 221 tax credits. Did he use his position as a County Councilmember to assist these companies in winning permits for their film production activities?
Tam met—on the taxpayers’ dime--with several delegations from China and Taiwan—while secretly operating companies such as “East-West International Liaison, LLC” and “Asia Pacific Technologies, Inc.” Were these business meetings designed to further an ACT 215/221 enterprise? Were these potential investors in Ko`olau Loa?
(UPDATE: Ko`olau Loa's James A Hawkins is listed as 'agent' of two other Tam businesses: Pearl Harbor Entertainment, Inc and Hawaii Pacific Studios, Inc. Both are now listed as 'involuntarily dissolved' by DCCA.)
Ko`olau Loa tells its investors they will earn “television and film industry” tax credits. Was Tam's Asian business tied to Ko`olau? According to DCCA, Asian Pacific was dissolved in 2004, but East-West was formed on October, 2007—shortly after Ko`olau Loa was formed.
Ironically, Tam was arrogant enough to charge the County for meals during which he may have been discussing the use of his position on the County Council to advance his private undisclosed interrelated business interests and those of his undisclosed interrelated partners.
The abuse of meal expense accounts may be the smallest part of the wrongdoing that has been exposed.
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RELATED: Djou: Tam should resign and be prosecuted
(Full Text) 28 page Ethics findings on Tam
Overview of project:
Excerpts from Ethics Report:
(Kabuki Valentine and Crime in Chinatown: Here’s the funny part which the media is focusing on. . . )
But there is something much larger afoot . . .
We’ll find out who those redacted name might be in just a moment …
HERE THEY ARE – IN A FOOTNOTE, OF COURSE:
And the zoning for Ko`olau Loa Partners?