Posted on Oct 5, 2010 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 10-03
October 5, 2010
Ethics Commission Opinions

Requester asked OIP whether the City Ethics Commission should disclose two Advisory Opinions issued by the Commission in a manner that discloses the identity of the respective employees whose misconduct is discussed.

First, the Commission asked whether it should disclose Advisory Opinion A in full, identifying a mid-level supervisor (Employee A), where (1) the Commission’s recommendation of suspension or discharge is not followed by the appointing authority; or (2) the employee has been suspended or discharged, but the administrative grievance period provided in HRS § 92F-14(b)(4) has not run.

OIP found that Opinion A did not present particular circumstances or facts that would bolster the public’s interest in disclosure so as to outweigh Employee A’s significant privacy interest in the misconduct information. Accordingly, the Commission should, under the UIPA’s privacy exception, redact information that may reasonably identify Employee A before disclosing Opinion A.

Second, the Commission asked whether Advisory Opinion B, involving a lower level employee (Employee B), should be withheld in its entirety from public disclosure because the subject matter of the opinion would allow Employee B to be identified.

OIP found that Opinion B did not present extraordinary facts that heightened the public’s interest in disclosure, and therefore Employee B’s identity should be withheld under the UIPA’s privacy exception. Because it was not possible to redact Opinion B to prevent disclosure of Employee B’s identity, the Commission could withhold Opinion B from public disclosure in its entirety to prevent disclosure of Employee B’s identity.

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