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StarBulletin.com

Police commissioner quits over donation


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POSTED: Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hawaii High School Athletic Association Executive Director Keith Amemiya resigned yesterday as vice chairman of the Honolulu Police Commission because of a possible conflict of interest.

Amemiya's acceptance of a $25,000 donation from the police union to HHSAA's Save Our Sports fundraising campaign has caused the city Ethics Commission to investigate a complaint of a possible conflict.

“;It crossed my mind that someone might question the SHOPO (State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers) donation, but because it's going directly to the public schools, I didn't feel it would be a problem,”; Amemiya said. “;It's unfortunate that I have to step down, but it's the right thing to do under the circumstances.

“;Now if SHOPO made a donation directly to the HHSAA for its own benefit, that's an entirely different situation, and we would probably decline the donation,”; he said.

Amemiya said HHSAA collects the money from the SOS drive solely for the benefit of the public schools' athletic program, but neither the HHSAA nor any of its employees are receiving any money from it.

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He said SOS donations have been placed in a separate bank account and will be distributed to all public high school athletic programs at year's end.

Ethics Commission Director Chuck Totto said last week the investigation would focus on a conflict-of-interest provision that city officers may not have a business activity or financial interest that might impair carrying out city duties, but it “;doesn't necessarily mean that there's anything wrong.”;

The Honolulu Advertiser ran a story Sept. 17 that featured the donation to HHSAA's Save Our Sports campaign in which SHOPO President Tenari Maafala personally handed over the check to Amemiya at SHOPO headquarters.

The Star-Bulletin received an anonymous letter dated Sept. 17 that said SHOPO's donation raises a red flag since the Police Commission considers and investigates charges brought by the public regarding the conduct of police officers.

“;It is hard to ignore the possibility that the decisions of the vice-chair of the Police Commission would not be influenced by a $25,000 donation to the organization that he heads,”; it reads. “;When the Police Commission failed to continue Chief (Boisse) Correa's contract in spite of their exemplary evaluation of his performance, we have to wonder why?”;

Maafala was a vocal critic of the former chief.

“;We did it from our hearts for the kids. ... It has nothing to do with a political agenda,”; Maafala said. “;It has nothing to do with Keith Amemiya's position on the HHSAA.”;

Amemiya said he is resigning to eliminate any unnecessary distractions to the Police Commission and the fundraising drive.