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Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Lyon Bribes: Caldwell Appoints Crook to Zoning Board After Receiving $16.5K
By Andrew Walden @ 9:26 PM :: 10552 Views :: Honolulu County, Ethics, Development, Land Use

by Andrew Walden

Corrupt contractor and federal felon Frank James Lyon waited to the very last minute to relinquish his position on Caldwell’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).  That’s the word from Caldwell Administration spokesman Andrew Pereira who tells Hawai’i Free Press, “Mr. Lyon informed the rest of the Zoning Board of Appeals that he would be resigning in an email dated January 18.”

That’s two days after charges were filed and four days before Lyon formally pled guilty to bribing officials to obtain Hawaii State and Federated States of Micronesia contracts.  It is also ten months after Lyon’s company, Lyon Associates, dissolved itself and then quickly revoked its dissolution, according to DCCA BREG

After receiving $11,000 in campaign contributions from the Lyon and another $5,500 in contributions from his father, Lyon Associates co-owner Frank E Lyon Jr, Caldwell appointed the criminal Lyon to the juicy position July 30, 2014 for a term ending June 30, 2019.  Frank James Lyon gave Caldwell an additional $1,500 after obtaining his ZBA appointment.

According to the City Department of Planning and Permitting website, “The Zoning Board of Appeals hears and determines appeals from actions of the Director of the Department of Planning and Permitting (Director) in the administration and enforcement of zoning, shoreline, subdivision ordinances and regulations.” 

That could total billions of dollars of land valuations made or lost by ZBA decisions. 

Even if no cash bribe was paid directly, Lyon’s position on ZBA could provide an incentive for developers to hire Lyon Associates as a sub-contactor to put the ZBA vote on retainer.  Honolulu Ethics rules require Board members with a conflict of interest to recuse themselves. 

According to the Honolulu Annual Report for FY2016: “The ZBA is authorized by Section 6-1517 of the Revised Charter of the City and County of Honolulu 1973 (2000 Edition). The ZBA is governed by the provisions of Section 13-103 of the Revised Charter. The ZBA hears and determines appeals to actions by the Director relating to the zoning and subdivision ordinances, and any rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto. The powers and duties of the ZBA are to hold contested case hearings in conformity with the applicable provisions of Sections 91-9, 91-10, and 91-11, HRS. It shall sustain an appeal only if the ZBA finds that the Director’s action was based on an erroneous finding of a material fact, or that the Director had acted in an arbitrary or capricious manner, or had manifestly abused discretion.”

Did Lyon’s Board ever reverse a DPP decision?  The City’s annual “Department and Agency Reports,” once provided annual statistics on the results of ZBA appeals.  The stats inexplicably stop appearing in reports after the end of FY2015 – the year Lyon joined ZBA.

Honolulu zoning decisions do not seem to be a focus of the federal investigation.  Frank James Lyon Conditions of Release, Jan 23, 2019, reads:  “The defendant is required to submit to USPTS an accurate and complete list of all business he is currently affiliated/involved with that involve federal contacts.”

AP reports: “Lyon faces up to five years in prison. He’s scheduled for sentencing on May 13.”

The elder Frank E Lyon Jr died in December, 2017 at age 89.

Recipients of Lyon Associates state/local campaign contributions include:  

  • $21,500 -- Neil Abercrombie
  • $1,000 – Alan Arakawa
  • $4,000 -- Robert Bunda
  • $18,000 – Kirk Caldwell
  • $30,000 -- Mufi Hannemann
  • $250 -- Colleen Hanabusa

The father and son Lyon federal campaign contributions went to:

  • $900 -- Stanley Chang
  • $250 – Doug Chin
  • $1,300 -- Tulsi Gabbard
  • $7,500 – Mufi Hannemann
  • $8,550 -- Mazie Hirono
  • $2,000 – Dan Inouye
  • $6,500 – Brian Schatz
  • $1,100 – Shaughnessy Naughton (PA 8 Dem Primary candidate)
  • $1,000 -- Hawaii Republican Party (2008-09)
  • $4,600 – Obama for America and Obama Victory Fund


PDF: Lyon Charges Jan 16, 2019

PDF: Lyon Guilty Plea Jan 22, 2019


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