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Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Ethics: DLNR Manager Steals Equipment, Funnels Money to Contractor
By News Release @ 4:33 PM :: 3706 Views :: Kauai County, DHHL, Ethics, Hawaii State Government

COMMISSION RESOLVES THREE KAUAI CASES – DLNR/DOBOR

News Release from Hawaii State Ethics Commission, December 18, 2018

The Commission has resolved cases involving three employees of the Kauai branch of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (“DLNR”), Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (“DOBOR”).  Kauai-DOBOR District Manager Joseph Borden has resigned and will pay a $15,000 administrative penalty; two other employees have paid fines of $1,500 and $2,000 each.

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Resolution of Charge

Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation - Kauai, District Manager’s Alleged Violations of Gifts Law, Gifts Reporting Law, and Fair Treatment Law

From Hawaii State Ethics Commission, 2018-04 (COMPL-C-17-00001-02), December 14, 2018 (excerpts)

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission (“Commission”) has resolved a Charge against Joseph V. Borden, District Manager, Department of Land and Natural Resources (“DLNR), Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation – Kauai (“DOBOR- Kauai”), for alleged violations of the State Ethics Code, Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) chapter 84….

Falsification of government documents in jobs awarded to private contractor

c) Respondent Borden does not dispute the following:

i. Between 2013 and 2017, Respondent Borden authorized nearly $1 million in state funds to be paid to a private contractor, Aaron Hoff, doing business as South Shore Lawn Services and Hoff Enterprises, Inc. Mr. Hoff was paid for approximately 107 jobs, the majority (more than 70) of which were under $5,000 and were not required to be awarded via the HIePRO procurement system.

(EDITOR’s NOTE: Aaron Hoff also pops up in the recent eviction of a gym from DHHL land in Anahola.)

ii. For more than 50 of these jobs, there is no evidence in the procurement files that he sought any other bids for the work.

iii. For forty-two of the jobs awarded to Mr. Hoff, Respondent Borden submitted a procurement form – Form SPO-10 – with his requests to his supervisors for approval of the expenditure to Mr. Hoff; for jobs under $15,000, this form asks the state official seeking to procure goods or services to list each of the bids received for a job. Thus, each of these forty-two SPO-10 forms generally listed one or more other vendors – along with a company name, a contact name, a phone number, and a bid for the job – aside from Mr. Hoff.

iv. Every one of those forty-two SPO-10 forms contains false information regarding the existence of other potential bidders and the amount of the bids.

v. Each of the aforementioned forty-two jobs contains “filler” bids: information suggesting that there had been another bidder competing with Mr. Hoff, when in fact no such bid ever existed.

vi. For example, on or about May 11, 2017, Respondent Borden sought to award a job to Hoff for $11,979.00 to remove a large tree and a submerged aluminum mast at the Niumalu River mouth. Respondent Borden indicated that two other companies provided higher bids. Because the job was over $5,000 (but under $15,000), Respondent Borden submitted form SPO-10A – another procurement form to be signed by a bidder on a state job – purportedly signed by representatives of the two other companies. Commission staff received written statements from representatives of those companies indicating that they did not submit these bids. On September 28, 2018, when questioned – under oath – about these SPO-10A forms by Commission staff, Respondent Borden stated that he had personally obtained the signatures of the companies’ representatives on these SPO-10A forms and that these were legitimate bids.

vii. As another example, on or about January 7, 2013, Respondent Borden authorized the payment of $36,458.45 to Mr. Hoff’s company to remove a sunken vessel. Respondent Borden indicated that he had received two higher bids (for $42,000 and $55,000). Commission staff contacted each of these “unsuccessful” bidders; both indicated they did not submit bids for this job.

viii. Upon being contacted by Commission staff, several of these “unsuccessful” bidders expressed anger and frustration that their companies’ names were being used by Respondent Borden in this way. One company was listed as an “unsuccessful” bidder on roughly two dozen occasions, even though it had never submitted any of these bids.

ix. Commission staff was unable to verify that work was performed on each of the above-referenced 107 jobs, but the procurement documents raise questions as to whether work was actually performed on every job.

x. For example, on or about June 2, 2016, Respondent Borden authorized the payment of $2,958.34 to Mr. Hoff’s company to dispose of a Fish Aggregating Device (“FAD”) buoy that had purportedly washed towards shore and posed a hazard; the procurement documents included a photo of a FAD buoy (Exhibit A). Then, on or about February 23, 2017, Respondent Borden authorized the payment of $2,145.84 to Mr. Hoff’s company to dispose of a FAD buoy, and the procurement documents contained a copy of the same photo (Exhibit B). The photo did not originate in 2016, however – it came from a 2010 newspaper article from The Garden Island, a Kauai newspaper (Exhibit C).

xi. Even if work had been performed on each of these jobs, there is evidence that the amounts paid to Mr. Hoff were inflated over market rates for the same goods and services. For example:

1. Respondent Borden authorized the purchase of gravel from Mr. Hoff – including delivery – on multiple occasions for roughly $400 a ton (e.g., $1,609.38 for four tons on December 14, 2015). Another vendor on Kauai provided Commission staff with a quote of $18-$35 a ton for gravel, not including delivery. Even factoring in rough cost of delivery, the total cost for four tons of gravel should have been well under $500.

2. Respondent Borden issued a Request for Quotes through HIePRO on January 3, 2017, for two portable toilets (one ADA accessible) at the Waiakea small boat launch in Kapaa, Kauai, for a twelve-month period with cleaning three times a week. Mr. Hoff was awarded the contract for $46,500 – up from the $36,650 he had been paid for this service for the prior year. Commission staff contacted DLNR in 2017 and advised that the agency implement stronger review procedures for procurement activities. In December 2017, Respondent Borden issued another Request for Quotes for the same service; a different vendor bid on – and was awarded – the one- year contract for $14,940, or less than one-third of the amount paid to Mr. Hoff’s company.

xii. Respondent Borden authorized an additional 3% “credit card fee” be paid to Mr. Hoff for many of the jobs – that is, an additional 3% fee on top of the original amount quoted for the job.

d) Respondent Borden testified, under oath, that Mr. Hoff was his friend and – as explained more fully below – that Mr. Hoff provided Respondent Borden with free personal use of Mr. Hoff’s riding lawnmower. Mr. Hoff also provided Respondent Borden with free personal use of an excavator and free CrossFit classes for Respondent Borden’s adult son.

e) Respondent Borden contends that although he was required to obtain multiple bids to comply with state procurement rules, he inserted “filler” bids because he was under pressure to have jobs completed quickly and he believed Mr. Hoff would get the work done expeditiously.

Falsification of equipment disposal records

f) On at least four occasions, Respondent Borden instructed a subordinate employee to certify – falsely – that she (the subordinate) witnessed or participated in the disposal of state equipment although the subordinate had not done so (and Respondent Borden knew that the subordinate had not done so). Specifically, Respondent Borden directed the subordinate to falsely certify on equipment disposal records that, between 2012 and 2014, she disposed of a Bobcat Skid-Steer, a Honda generator, two riding lawnmowers, and a chainsaw.

g) On another occasion, Respondent Borden instructed another subordinate employee to certify – again, falsely – that he (the subordinate) witnessed or participated in the disposal of a Scag Tiger Cat riding lawnmower, and a large (20 or 25 gallon) tank for spraying pesticides or other liquids, without having done so (and Respondent Borden knew that the subordinate had not done so).

h) Respondent Borden does not dispute that Commission staff received evidence that one or more of these pieces of supposedly discarded equipment were instead retained by a DOBOR-Kauai employee, or a family member of a DOBOR-Kauai employee. Respondent Borden maintains that he did not authorize anyone to keep any of these pieces of equipment.

Improper acceptance of gifts from contractor and permittees - Free use of riding lawnmower and other gifts from Aaron Hoff

i) From January 2017 to August 2017, Respondent Borden accepted gifts from Aaron Hoff, the DOBOR-Kauai contractor discussed above. Specifically, Respondent Borden was provided with free personal use of Mr. Hoff’s riding lawnmower roughly twice a month from January through May 2017, and roughly once a month since that time. Respondent Borden typically borrowed the lawnmower for a weekend, but at times kept the lawnmower for a week or more.

j) Renting a similar riding lawnmower from a private vendor would cost approximately $150 a day or $600 a week.

k) Respondent Borden did not report the gifts he accepted – the free use of the riding lawnmower – by filing a Gifts Disclosure Statement with the Commission by the statutory deadline of June 30, 2017 (to cover the reporting period of June 1, 2016 to June 1, 2017).

l) The lawnmower was at Respondent Borden’s personal residence on May 23, 2017, August 4, 2017, and August 13, 2017. This lawnmower appears to be identical to the riding lawnmower purportedly disposed of by the Respondent in May 2017; the Respondent maintains that they are different lawnmowers and that he did not appropriate the DOBOR-Kauai lawnmower for his personal use, and the Commission makes no findings on this matter.

m) Respondent also accepted the free personal use of an excavator from Mr. Hoff. Mr. Hoff also provided Respondent Borden’s adult son with free training at Mr. Hoff’s CrossFit gym.

Free use of large sprayer from another DOBOR-Kauai contractor

n) Respondent Borden leases pasture land in Anahola from the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (“DHHL”). The pasture land adjacent to Respondent Borden’s pasture is leased by Clay Kelekoma or Patrick Kelekoma, the father and brother, respectively, of Respondent Borden’s subordinate employee. DOBOR-Kauai has contracted with Patrick Kelekoma to perform work for the State in the recent past.

o) Respondent Borden accepted a gift from Patrick Kelekoma, a DOBOR- Kauai contractor, by borrowing Mr. Kelekoma’s large (20 or 25 gallon) sprayer without charge for Respondent Borden’s own personal use on or around May 23, 2017, August 4, 2017, and August 13, 2017.

p) The sprayer was at Respondent Borden’s personal residence on May 23, 2017, August 4, 2017, and August 13, 2017. This sprayer appears to be identical to the sprayer purportedly disposed of by Respondent Borden in May 2017; the Respondent maintains that they are different sprayers and that he did not appropriate the DOBOR-Kauai sprayer for his personal use, and the Commission makes no findings on this matter.

Gifts of wine, food, and movie tickets from permittees

q) On multiple occasions – and even after attending an Ethics Commission training in 2016 – Respondent Borden accepted bottles of wine and champagne, pies, cookies, and other food from permittees subject to his regulatory control.

r) The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (“HVCB”), a private non-profit organization, has applied for, and/or has assisted others in applying for, permits that require official action from Respondent Borden. For example, in 2014, HVCB requested a permit for a reality television show. On October 1, 2014, HVCB representative Sue Kanoho e-mailed Respondent Borden regarding the permit request, and Respondent Borden responded via e-mail the next day to say that he had approved the permit request. Respondent Borden also took official action on permits for the filming of the movie, “Jurassic World.”

s) On or about June 1, 2015, HVCB representative Kanoho offered Respondent Borden and Respondent Borden’s wife two movie tickets to the premier showing of “Jurassic World” in 3D, along with admission to a pre-screening reception. Respondent Borden accepted the gift of two movie tickets and attended the movie with his wife.

First-class air travel and other flight upgrades

v) …Respondent Borden used state funds to purchase first-class, round-trip travel for himself for state travel on August 25, 2015, January 12, 2016, and February 12, 2016.

w) Respondent Borden also purchased flight upgrades for himself using state funds. He first purchased economy class tickets, then – despite being a paid, ticketed passenger – purchased upgrades to higher classes of travel using state funds, claiming that no seats were available in economy class when he tried to check in. This occurred on May 6, 2014, July 23, 2015, and September 2, 2016.

x) Respondent Borden also attempted to purchase first-class tickets for himself for an August 16, 2016 meeting in Honolulu. He reserved the tickets and submitted a request to his supervisors for approval in Honolulu; the request to purchase the first-class tickets was approved, but after the first-class reservation had expired. The day before the meeting, Respondent Borden re-booked tickets in Economy Class.

Use of state equipment for personal purposes; authorizing DOBOR-Kauai employees to use state tools and equipment for personal use

y) Respondent Borden used state equipment and premises for personal projects, including grinding parts for his personal vehicle at the DOBOR- Kauai maintenance shed.

z) Respondent Borden also authorized the personal use of state tools and equipment by his subordinate employees, and further authorized subordinates to take state tools and equipment home for their personal use. Among other items, Respondent Borden allowed subordinates to use a DOBOR-Kauai welder, string trimmer, chainsaw, and vacuum cleaner for their personal use.

aa) Respondent Borden was aware that personal use of state equipment was prohibited. In March 2017, he investigated the personal use of tools and equipment by another DLNR office. On or around March 16, 2017, he drafted a memorandum to DOBOR Administrator Ed Underwood, stating that “common sense should have come into play” and that “personal use of state owned property is prohibited.” However, Respondent Borden continued to allow his subordinate employees to use state equipment for personal use until at least July of 2017, when another DOBOR-Kauai employee filed a grievance through the employee’s union representative.

bb) Respondent Borden acknowledges that the Commission staff also received evidence that Respondent Borden authorized subordinate employees to take and keep DOBOR-Kauai property for their personal use. Specifically, Commission staff received evidence that, on multiple occasions, Respondent Borden authorized the purchase of brand-new tires for State vehicles and trailers, after which Respondent Borden would allow subordinate employees to take and keep the old (but still usable) tires for their personal use. Respondent Borden denies these allegations.

Use of state resources for private business purposes and to secure personal benefits

cc) In 2013 and 2014, Respondent Borden served as president of the Anahola Farmers and Ranchers Association (“AFARA”), a private non-profit organization.

dd) From 2013-2015, Respondent Borden used his state e-mail address and state time to conduct business on behalf of AFARA. He sent or received more than 500 e-mail messages, intentionally and knowingly providing his state e-mail address to others so that they could contact him for AFARA business.

ee) Respondent Borden used his state e-mail address – and his standard signature block at the end of his e-mail, listing his state title and work mailing address and phone number – to send dozens of e-mails on behalf of AFARA. Many, if not all, of these e-mails were sent on state time from Respondent Borden’s state computer in his state office. He sent e-mails to other state officials, including to the Chair and the Deputy to the Chair of DHHL and to the Office of the Governor. On behalf of AFARA, he used his state e-mail to recommend another AFARA member for a position as the Kauai Hawaiian Homes Commissioner. And on multiple occasions, he used his state e-mail to request donations for AFARA fundraising events.

ff) At one point, Respondent Borden wrote in an e-mail that he was getting some “flack” for using his government e-mail address to conduct business on behalf of AFARA, yet he continued to do so for many months thereafter.

gg) On two additional occasions, Respondent Borden used his state e-mail to contact another state official to try to acquire permission to use additional ranch land for himself.

Substantial Financial Transactions with, and Receipt of Personal Services from, Subordinate Employee

hh) Around May of 2017, Respondent Borden instructed his subordinate, (hereinafter referred to as “DOBOR-Kauai Employee #1”), to repair the carburetor in Respondent Borden’s personal string trimmer. DOBOR- Kauai Employee #1 performed this work on state time, using state equipment.

ii) Respondent Borden hired his subordinate, DOBOR-Kauai Employee #1, for personal auto repair and other work on more than five occasions. Respondent Borden compensated DOBOR-Kauai Employee #1 by purchasing auto parts for that employee, including purchasing a set of Pro Comp tires valued at approximately $1,000….

read … Full Report on Joseph V. Borden, District Manager

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Resolution of Charge

From Hawaii State Ethics Commission, 2018-04 (COMPL-C-17-00001-02), December 14, 2018 (excerpts)

…c) On or about October 14, 2016, Respondent Andrade and several other DOBOR-Kauai employees were tasked with disposing of a 55-gallon barrel of diesel fuel that had washed up on a Kauai beach. The fuel should have been disposed of as hazardous waste at the Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor. Instead, Respondent Andrade assisted another DOBORKauai employee (hereinafter referred to as “DOBOR-Kauai Employee #1”) in transporting the diesel fuel to private pasture land leased or otherwise controlled by a family member of DOBOR-Kauai Employee #1 in Anahola on state work time, using a state truck, so that it could be used for personal purposes. The fuel was later poured on fence posts (as a preservative) at the Anahola pasture land, rather than being disposed of as hazardous waste. Respondent Andrade believes that his supervisor, DOBOR-Kauai District Manager Joseph Borden, approved of the disposal of the diesel fuel in this manner.

d) In or around April 2017, at the request of District Manager Borden, Respondent Andrade assisted DOBOR-Kauai Employee #1 in identifying and gathering state materials, including several light fixtures and/or light poles, to give to a private individual at no charge. Respondent Andrade provided these materials to District Manager Borden, and Respondent Andrade believes that District Manager Borden then provided these materials to the private individual.

e) For multiple weeks in early 2017, Respondent Andrade used state tools and equipment at the DOBOR-Kauai maintenance facility to attempt to fabricate a headstone cover (also known as a “Dutch”) for his mother’s gravestone. This project involved the use of DOBOR-Kauai’s Tweco brand welder and other pieces of DOBOR-Kauai equipment. District Manager Borden authorized Respondent Andrade to use state tools and equipment to attempt to fabricate the headstone cover.

f) For years, including multiple occasions between 2013 and 2018, Respondent Andrade took DOBOR-Kauai equipment away from state premises for his personal use, including a string trimmer, a chainsaw, a vacuum cleaner, and a bush cutter. District Manager Borden authorized Respondent Andrade to borrow state tools and equipment, both at the DOBOR-Kauai facility and away from the DOBOR-Kauai facility….

read … Full Report on Manuel Andrade, Building Maintenance Worker II

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Resolution of Charge

From Hawaii State Ethics Commission, 2018-04 (COMPL-C-17-00001-02), December 14, 2018 (excerpts)

c) In her private capacity, and as a hobby, Respondent Rosare breeds and sometimes sells dogs to cover her breeding expenses. On multiple occasions in 2015, 2016, and 2017, Respondent Rosare used state resources, including state time, to facilitate her dog breeding hobby: she used her state e-mail account and her state computer to coordinate the purchase, sale, and transport of a dog; in 2017, she brought a small sick dog to the DOBOR-Kauai office and treated the dog with medication during the work day.

d) In her private capacity, Respondent Rosare rents a room to another DOBOR-Kauai employee. In 2017, Respondent Rosare used state resources, including her state e-mail account and her state computer, to facilitate her room rental.

e) On multiple occasions in 2013 and 2014, Respondent Rosare used state resources – including her state e-mail account, her state computer, and state time – to research, design, and purchase t-shirts for her supervisor. DOBOR-Kauai District Manager Joseph Borden asked or authorized Respondent Rosare to perform this work; Respondent Rosare was aware that this work was not for state business.

read … Full Report on Kathy Rosare, Harbor Agent II

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