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Saturday, December 16, 2000

Judge faults
Big Island police
hiring method

By Rod Thompson
Big Island correspondent

KEALAKEKUA, Hawaii -- The Hawaii County Police Commission violated the state Sunshine Law in October by failing to make public a job description for police chief applicants before voting on it, Kona Circuit Court Judge Ronald Ibarra has ruled.

Ibarra ruled that the error was not "willful," since it was based on advice from a county attorney, and therefore the commission will not have to redo the action.

Ibarra ordered Hawaii County to pay court costs to commission critic Jack Brunton, who filed and argued the case without an attorney.

Although the judge ruled against Brunton on other points, such as his claim that the job description shouldn't have been prepared in an unannounced subcommittee meeting, Brunton called Ibarra's ruling a victory.

"Agencies in this county are now on notice that the times are changing," he said. People are going to expect a higher standard of behavior from officials, he said.

The commission's efforts to find a new police chief continue Monday with interviews of five applicants. Mayor Harry Kim has said he will express some "concerns" to the commission then.

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