Ashida’s Conflict of Interest

Ashida’s request was to discuss hiring special counsel for the county regarding claims filed against the county by attorney Ted Hong, on behalf of four former Elections Office employees. Ashida said he and his entire staff had a conflict of interest in the case and could not represent the county. The exact nature of the conflict was unclear Wednesday.

Hawaii Tribune-Herald, 22 March 2012

Don’t be surprised if Ted Hong bails on his threat to sue the county.

In January, Hong, the attorney representing three Hawaii County Elections workers fired by County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi, announced plans to file a defamation lawsuit seeking $500,000 compensation for each client if the grievance process did not go their way.

These days Hong would settle for a low-end two figure payout to escape his shibai.

The terminated employees are elections program administrator Patricia Nakamoto; warehouse manager Glen Shikuma; Shyla Ayau; and Elton Nakagawa. All but Nakagawa are represented by Hong.

The workers were fired after alcohol and privately-owned sign-making equipment were discovered in the county elections warehouse.

Hawaii County employees are not allowed to possess alcohol or conduct private businesses on county property.

Significantly, Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida declined to represent the county in the grievance process — citing an unexplained “conflict of interest” in his department. This left Chairman Dominic Yagong and the County Council scrambling to hire private attorneys using county purchase orders.

Thickening the soup, Hawaii County Finance Director Nancy Crawford then refused to honor those purchase orders, saying that, according to the County Charter, the County Council must render a two-thirds majority vote to appoint a special counsel.

Then last week (in a closed door session) the Hawaii County Council rejected Lincoln Ashida’s request that a Special Counsel be appointed to defend the County against grievance claims represented by Hong. From the Hawaii Tribune-Herald:

South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford said no precedent existed for the council to hire special counsel for the county prior to litigation being initiated. “Mr. Ashida continues to belabor an issue that is nonexistent,” Ford said. “The county does not have any liability.”

So, we have Ted Hong threatening to sue the county, while Corporation Counsel Ashida ducks out the back door.

What has been unstated in the media until now is that Lincoln Ashida’s campaign spending report shows that he accepted a $200 campaign contribution  from Ted Hong after Ashida announced his candidacy for County Prosecutor.

Could this offer a clue to the “conflict of interest” cited by Ashida in the election workers case? More on that in a moment.

The Hawaii County Charter requires a two-thirds vote for special counsel when special matters present a real necessity for special counsel, such as actual litigation.

We have no litigation. But we do have a grievance procedure in which chief Corp. Counsel Ashida has refused to participate — all because of a “conflict of interest.”

Now let’s consider the context of the offenses committed by the fired workers.

Fired elections division employee Glen Shikuma was the owner of the printing equipment. According to Ted Hong, Shikuma’s printing business was widely known among county officials, because he routinely provided ‘free’ printing services to county employees.

It also appears that Shikuma — in his role as a diligent purveyor of free printing services to the county — kept a logbook of his printing operations.

The name “Ashida” is said to appear in Glen Shikuma’s logbook.

Is this the “conflict of interest” which prevented Lincoln Ashida from performing his lawful duties as Hawaii County’s Corporation Counsel?

The undisclosed conflict of interest dooms Ashida. Hawaii County cannot allow Ashida to represent our County unless our County Council independently (by way of its own attorney) thereby waives and releases Ashida’s conflict of interest. Or fires Ashida based on the Ashida name in Shikuma’s logbook.

Lincoln Ashida /the joker

Read Curtis Narimatsu's blog here.

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  • Brian_Ansorge

    Ted Hong is an Ambulance Chaser, pure and simple.

    Here’s the sort of thing that a typical Ambulance Chaser would do:

    He is on the highway driving home from a day at the office and he notices a car, a hundred feet ahead driving in the same direction, signaling for and attempting to pass the next car in front—with on-coming traffic approaching.

    The driver obviously did not see the on-coming car, or miscalculated the speed of the on-coming car. Unfortunately, it happens.

    Perhaps he was distracted by the three children of his he had in his car at the time—because his wife was sick and he had to pick them up from school instead.

    In any case, he over-reacts, attempting in vain to move out of harms way.

    But, nonetheless, tragedy occurs when the man loses control of his vehicle and, not having used his safety restraints, is thrown from his car as it rolls.

    Hie dies almost instantly.

    An attorney like Ted Hong would be thinking, “hmmm, gross error, no, *negligence* on the driver’s part. I bet I can get these kids and their mom some money!”

    So, what does the Ambulance Chaser do?

    He says to the kids (still inside the crumpled car) while handing them his business card through the broken out window, “here, kids, give this to your mom, she needs some good legal counsel to help her in this terrible time of need!”

    But, no, this is a real attorney who (I’m assuming) went to a real law school.

    And, nobody has died.

    But the County of Hawaii taxpayers (most of which do *not* have a “gravy” government job and work their asses off for half as much pay) were getting screwed.

    They were paying for County of Hawaii Elections Office manager to run his *personal* sign-printing business (probably making up election signs for “Good Ol’ Boy Slick Willy Kenoi”) out of the Taxpayer-funded Elections Office warehouse—where he would throw parties for himself and
    some of his crony employees.

    Well, maybe he didn’t throw parties, per se, but he and his employees*admitted* to storing and using alcohol on the premises [like, maybe, “yeah, we have one drink, bra, now and then, but, shootz, so what? No big deal, hey?”].

    And contraband (illegally stored private sign-printing equipment belonging to the Elections Office manager, and alcoholic beverages) were found on the premises.

    The disgraced Elections Office employees involved in this clear act of malfeasance—and their so–called supervisor—were rightfully shown the door.

    See ya! Wouldn’t wanna be ya!

    Chumps. You don’t deserve a government job. Not in most people’s opinion. Certainly not mine. Good look finding one in the private sector.

    And the Director? Allegedly clueless about text-book “malfeasance” going on under her nose on her watch?

    She really was clueless, after all, huh? Not exactly becoming of a [coughing] “Director,” huh?

    And, then along comes Ted Hong. He tells the disgraced, rightfully terminated Elections Office employees and their manager, “Pssst, I think I can get us some money! It looks like maybe we can convince the jury that ‘they’ didn’t precisely follow ‘procedure,’ [or something] …”

    Yada yada [you know how you can tell when a lawyer is lying, don’t you?].

    Ted, either you are really just a very funny guy in real life and are simply trying to play an (ill-conceived) prank on the County Council (that just so happens to be big waste of time and Taxpayer’s money), or you are truly a clueless Ambulance Chaser looking for some publicity and a reason to make honest, hard-working taxpayers (both in the private and public sector) resent you and your whole profession.

    Disrespect? You have earned it, Mr. Hong—just like the disgraced Elections Office employees and their supervisor whom you call your “clients.”

    Rightfully terminated? You better believe they were! The whole island knows it, too.

    So, see you in court, Teddy Boy.

    Oh, and to save yourself a subpoena, loser:

    Brian Ansorge
    P. O. Box 11062
    Hilo, Hawaii 96721

    IP Address: 192.168.1.142
    Road Runner/Oceanic Time-Warner

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  • rsjm

    Our County Charter requires the County Council’s two-thirds vote for special counsel when special matters present a real necessity for special counsel, such as actual litigation. We have no litigation. But we do have a grievance procedure in which chief Corp. Counsel Ashida refuses to participate. Thus our administrative procurement protocol, not litigation representation. Let’s say hypothetically that Ashida is a material witness in administrative grievance proceedings and/or litigation. Why on earth would the Council want to get nailed/crucified with Ashida’s whitewashed/impotent choice of our Council’s & our County’s attorney per Ashida’s ruthless/despotic control over screening for special counsel? Our County’s missions are Almighty People/County Residents, not to acquit/decontaminate Almighty Ashida.
    *
    Let’s look at Corp. Counsel Ashida’s repeated incidents without exception of how he abandoned, failed, & sabotaged the current majority of the County Council, including but not limited to declare without basis last year’s Council budget process as illegal even though Ashida never voiced such objection amid the budget’s extended multiple amendment timeline/chronology. How about Ashida’s Council reorganization abomination which costed the taxpayers nearly $100K in unnecessary litigation? And Ashida’s yakamashii (Japanese for noisebox-brainless talking head) trash talk vs. HMP before Ashida shelled out some $60K in taxpayer money in a losing settlement, Ashida always avoiding as with Kamaaina Pumping the usual suspects who are supposed to be in confinement today? You can go farther back — Ashida’s Maile David debacle and Jimmy Arakaki’s extended term disaster. Ashida’s toxic template is Almighty Ashida, not Power to the People/Salt of the Earth.   Nonetheless, “law enforcement” Ashida, like Rick (not “love me tonight” Damerville) prosecutor wanna-be on a local BIC blog, irrevocably is so full of himself that Ashida erroneously feels himself invincible and above reproach. Phooey. Exhibit A: Fired elections division employee Glen Shikuma.  Ashida’s lawyer ethics board cover is shibai.  This board has no clue that Ashida is the actual perp.
    *
    Why not ask Ashida whether Ashida had contact with Shikuma prior to Shikuma being investigated?  Why not ask Ashida if his name Ashida was found in Shikuma’s log as one of Shikuma’s sign or emblem-receiving or other customers? Has Ashida refunded the $200 campaign donation from Ted Hong received before Ashida falsely blamed Council Chair Yagong and County Clerk Kawauchi for acting outside the scope of their authority?   Ashida’s friend Hong shouts fire in a crowded theater (Hong’s baseless cases involving Shikuma/etc.) and Ashida runs like the wind with $200 to spare.  Could Shikuma’s log be the actual “conflict of interest” which Ashida firmly avoids talking about? Or is it that Ashida just flat-out does not want to take a strong stand protecting the taxpayers against Shikuma illegally running Shikuma’s personal operation out of our County industrial warehouse on Makaala St. and drinking and having alcohol at our County job site on Makaala St. — while Ashida runs for Chief Prosecutor because “conceal and deceive” Ashida is counting on all our government union endorsements?
    *
    Maybe white as snow Ashida needs to get a job with the unions and resign his position with Corporation Counsel if he cannot earn the 100k a year he gets paid representing his clients, the County and Council?!
    *
    Shikuma’s ridiculous preposterous grievance is among the kinds of cases the County must defend against and Ashida is only interested in advancing his own agenda in Ashida’s race for prosecutor. Yagong is extremely competent. Ashida is dishonest and diabolical in pinning blame against Yagong. Yagong did not overreact by approving the firing of Shikuma and confederates. The opposite is the case — Yagong would be derelict in Yagong’s duty as County chief clerk overseer by not stopping Shikuma’s illegal activities. Not only is Ashida guilty of maladministration by avoiding Shikuma’s illegal behavior, Ashida is purposely and deliberately dishonest in hiding and concealing and covering up Ashida’s conflict of interest and in schemingly and deceptively deflecting blame to whistleblowers Council Chair Yagong and County Clerk Kawauchi. Yagong did not grandstand by calling in the media. Legal transparency requires complete disclosure of Yagong’s authority and lead for Yagong’s decision to approve removing Shikuma’s harm inflicted upon us taxpayers. Ashida continues to inflict harm upon us because of Ashida’s toxic corrosion of trust which we place in Ashida. Our County Council needed its own procurement protocol legal advisors after purposely dishonest Ashida said Ashida was withdrawing from the Shikuma grievance process, so that our Council members had no lawyer to read over the documents and give a legal opinion. Yagong is the fact-finder, not the loud oaf that deliberately dishonest Ashida paints Yagong to be.
    *
    As Buddah Belly succinctly intones:  I don’t think Mr. Yagong is incompetent, and he has not harmed us residents by cleaning house.  Mr. Ashida is failing to do his job, which is protecting us from employees using company time and property to run their own business and party. I think Mr. Ashida perhaps over-reacted because he may have a conflict of interest with Mr. Shikuma, and tries to shift blame to the whistleblowers.  For Mr. Ashida to ignore the illegal behavior at the Makaala St. warehouse is suspicious, not something we pay our top corporation counsel to do, much less someone who wants to be our next chief prosecutor. What is Mr. Ashida trying to hide?  I think the money for Mr. Yagong’s and Ms. Kawauchi’s attorneys which Mr. Ashida is trying to force on taxpayers should come from Mr. Ashida’s wages.
    *
    *
    from Taxedtodeath  —
    *
    Shikuma got caught, Ashida is acting like he was in on it, and Yagong did the right thing. You can not run a private business out of a county facility, and have drunken parties there or you will be fired. That is the message Yagong is sending and Ashida doesn’t like it. Is he supporting county employees using our buildings, utilities and running there businesses on our dime? Sure looks like it. Go get them Dominic, thank you.This kind of stuff has gone on here far too long — it’s part of the ole’ boys’ culture, and it’s about time someone stepped up and said enough. This is leadership, something that we have not had in a long time. Lincoln is as bad as they get, he does not look out for the public, he is the worst example of what is wrong in our county administration. Playing politics to protect his friends even when they are caught red- handed, running a business out of our warehouse, stealing our utilities to do it, hosting drinking parties, and even keeping alcohol in our county facilities. What is the conflict  Ashida has? Why does he have to keep it a secret? What  was in the ledger that was found? Is that the conflict of interest? Who was doing business with Shikuma in our warehouse?Lets see Ted Hong’s case, I doubt he has one.*This is going on in other departments also, I would like to see Dominic elected and let him get rid of the rest of the dead weight. He has my vote, good job.There is no case against the county, the fired employees did wrong, they got caught, and they got fired. Rightly so. Too bad Dominic doesn’t have the power to clean up stuff like Kaimana pumping and bulldozer gate yet. Go get them Dominic, you clean house, we support you, and kick Lincoln to the curb while you’re at it. The fact that he is still employed reflects badly on the current administration.***I agree with you, Taxedtodeath.Kenoi and Ashida always stick up for the three incompetent Japanese council members from Hilo (the guys who pocket the $600 a month in gas stipend of  taxpayers’ money while never using it to visit their constituents and never ever going to Kona for council hearings).   Remember Ikeda degrading the Puna Caucasians at a council hearing??!!  And Kenoi who has sold out to the unions, off-island developers, and his own special interests (just as the innocent/correct Big Island Auto Club has just learned??!!)??!!
    Kenoi’s & Ashida’s standard backer is a public sector union official, or county worker, or a shil for the old boys of Hilo (Japanese Roland Higashi/Jimmy Arakaki/etc.). Nice try, but MOST residents of the island see through it and will show you what’s up in the election.
    Let’s look at Ashida’s involvement in this Elections Division scandal:1)  Hong talks about filing a case while holding a joke of a press conference to bring attention to himself.2) Hong donates $200 to Ashida’s prosecutor’s campaign.3) investigators find Ashida name in Shikuma’s Elections Division Warehouse ledger.4) then all of a sudden after the donation to Ashida’s campaign and Ashida name being found in  Shikuma’s Elections Warehouse ledger  —  Ashida CLAIMS that Yagong and Kawauchi acted outside the scope of their authority and tries to state his corp counsel office (again paid for by us taxpayers) cannot represent Yagong, Kawauchi, and us County taxpayers.5) Ashida won’t state what the conflict of interest is, but this non sequitur/nonsense is what Ashida’s lawyer ethics board is advising him (so this hack Ashida says).   6) Ashida threatens a council member that he will sue this council member personally ( it’s recorded on tape, Lincoln, you of your own volition with no provocation/prompting — articulating in your cowardly state of fear and self-destructive self-generated crisis — the actual verbal threat)  —  if  Ashida is not on the Council agenda to be heard in a backroom Executive Session.   

    7) Kenoi’s dutiful finance robot Nancy Crawford wrongly backs up Kenoi’s boy Ashida by rejecting our Council Chair’s purchase orders wrought upon our Council in the first place because Ashida abandoned our Council, in contravention of Ashida’s duty/responsibility to our County and our Council members. 8)  the fired County workers get turned down for unemployment benefits by our County.
    9)  Ashida’s friend Ted Hong represents fired Elections Division employees on “paid” retainer, not on contingency (contingency is “easy big money”), because Hong fears going belly up on these fired employees’ preposterous/ridiculous “grievances!!” (G!! What happened to these monstrous multimillion dollar lawsuits which Hong threatened to file??!!)10) And now Ted Hong probably bails out to settle for a nominal/token amount of money, to escape losing money on these trumped-up brainless noisebox cases.11) And now Ashida can represent the county!!   Yeah, to bail out Hong!!   To continue to cheat and fleece us residents to bail out Hong!!   Hong is not Ashida’s boss!!   We taxpayers are Ashida’s boss!!    Ashida can represent the county but Ashida really shifts blame to whistleblowers Yagong and County Clerk Kawauchi for Ashida’s deliberate and conniving cover-up of Ashida’s link via Ashida name with Shikuma.   Why blame whistleblowers Yagong and Kawauchi for uncovering name Ashida??!!   These whistleblowers earn their keep, unlike Fake Master Ashida.
    Solution: Do not fear Hong for shouting fire in a crowded theater which triggers cowardly spineless yet diabolically malevolent Ashida to run like the wind with Hong’s $200 political donation to spare, and do not fear Hong for bringing to the glare of the spotlight via Hong’s rubbernecking  — these absurd twisted “grievances” of correctly terminated employees which also include Hong falsely defaming Yagong/Kawauchi.
    Solution:  Ashida does not deserve to practice law or work for the public again. He has abused and destroyed these values because of his egomaniacal self-glorifying agenda which only fuels even more his crisis of fear of truth and fact-finding.    Ashida’s shameful and cowardly shifting of blame from perpetrator Ashida to whistleblowers Yagong and Kawauchi unmistakably evidences Ashida’s sick perverted overpride/narcissism, greed-lust for fame/power, jealousy-envy vs. whistleblower Yagong (Yagong upends Ashida/arrogant illuminati-overlords in Yagong’s service to us constituents/humanity), Ashida’s explosive abusive temper tantrums triggered by Ashida’s spoiled brat “entitled” “special gift from above” nature and by Ashida’s perverted and obsessive control mechanisms to enslave everyone under Ashida’s sleeved cuffs.       
    BTW, Saint Ashida who is our holy mole-lee role model and positive life exemplar, tell your dad “hi” to Gloria, okay? I’m certain you wonder what are true trust and faithfulness to kazoku/family, community, and nation. Which are why you skewed way off the right track vs. whistleblowers Yagong/Kawauchi. “Good luck,” something you never bestowed upon your imagined self-concocted nemeses.

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  • Taxedtodeath

     Ashida, the joker……How appropriate….Thanks Curtis………

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  • BuddahBelly

    Thanks for the enlightenment of our wonderful corp counsel hard at not working!  Cant’ the county order him to do his job and defend the council members?

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