Revise County Charter to Eliminate Conflicts of Interest in Office of Corporation Counsel
The Hawaii County Charter (the County’s Constitution) defines the role and responsibilities of the Office of Corporation Counsel (the office of the attorneys who represent the County in civil and other matters). In order to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest concerning the role and responsibilities of the Corporation Counsel, I am suggesting Chapter 5 "Corporation Counsel" be amended as shown below. Additions are in CAPS and deletions are set off using double brackets [[ ]]. To understand my reasons for proposing these changes, refer to my blog of July 18, 2009 : “The Difficult Role of the Corporation Counsel”.
Hawaii County Charter: Chapter 5: Corporation Counsel
Section 6-5.1. Organization.
There shall be a department of the corporation counsel consisting of the corporation
counsel, ASSOCIATE [[assistant]] corporation counsel and the necessary staff.
Section 6-5.2. Appointment and Removal.
The corporation counsel AND THE ASSOCIATE CORPORATION COUNSEL shall be appointed by the mayor, confirmed by the council and may be removed by the mayor with the approval of the council. The corporation counsel shall be an attorney licensed to practice and in good standing before the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii.
Section 6-5.3. Powers, Duties and Functions.
The corporation counsel shall be the chief legal advisor and legal representative of all county agencies, [[the council]] and all officers and employees in matters related to their official powers and duties. The corporation counsel shall represent the county in all civil legal proceedings and shall perform all other services incident to the office as may be required by law. The corporation counsel shall, however, be prohibited from representing any elected officer in impeachment proceedings.
Section 6-5.4. [[Assistant]] ASSOCIATE Corporation Counsel.
[[The assistant corporation counsel shall be appointed by the corporation counsel and maybe removed by the corporation counsel. The associate corporation counsel shall have primary responsibility for matters relating to the county council and shall not be subordinate to corporation counsel concerning proposed legislation or other matters specific to the county council.]] THE ASSOCIATE CORPORATION COUNSEL SHALL HAVE PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY FOR MATTERS RELATING TO THE COUNTY COUNCIL AND SHALL NOT BE SUBORDINATE TO CORPORATION COUNSEL CONCERNING PROPOSED LEGISLATION OR OTHER MATTERS SPECIFIC TO THE COUNTY COUNCIL. The [[assistant]] ASSOCIATE corporation counsel shall be an attorney licensed to practice and in good standing before the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii.
Section 6-5.5. Special Counsel.
The council may, by two-thirds vote of its entire membership, authorize the employment
of special counsel for any special matter presenting a real necessity for such employment. Any such authorization shall specify the compensation, if any, to be paid for said services. IN THE CASE OF A CONFLICT OF INTEREST BETWEEN MEMBERS OF THE COUNTY COUNCIL EITHER THE CORPORATION COUNSEL OR THE ASSOCIATE CORPORATION COUNSEL MAY APPROVE AND APPOINT SEPARATE COUSEL FOR THAT MEMBER OR MEMBERS TO ADVISE WITH REGARD TO THE ISSUE OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST.
Section 6-5.6. Term of Office.
Notwithstanding Section 13-8, the term of office of the corporation counsel, [[assistant]] ASSOCIATE corporation counsel and deputies shall be co-terminous with that of the mayor; provided that where a successor has not been appointed and confirmed, the corporation counsel shall continue in office pending such appointment and confirmation, but in no event shall the corporation counsel continue in office beyond three months, whether acting or otherwise. THE TERM OF OFFICE FOR ANY CORPORATION COUNSEL OR ASSOCIATE CORPORATION COUNSEL IS LIMITED TO A MAXIMUM OF EIGHT YEARS AND THREE MONTHS.
^A melodious thrush and some other residents from Waimea