Honolulu councilmember under fire - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Honolulu councilmember under fire

Councilmember Rod Tam Councilmember Rod Tam
Council Chair Todd Apo Council Chair Todd Apo
Councilmember Charles Djou Councilmember Charles Djou

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - He wasn't ready to talk Friday morning, but later in the afternoon, Honolulu councilman Rod Tam had plenty to say about his ethics violation for faulty meal receipts and he places the blame on the city ethics commissioner.

Tam also believes it's a political attack, costing him his committee chairmanship and not to mention a re-payment of just over $11,000 and a fine of $2,000.

Among the new details on Friday, we know a criminal probe is not likely and state lawmakers are being reminded to be careful with their reimbursement forms.

Tam says it's all a misunderstanding. He feels he's being unfairly targeted as part of a political scheme.

But he does accept responsibility for what he calls are "miscalculations." It's a nearly $14,000 mistake that Tam feels never should've happened.

"The calculations sometimes were taken in terms of I couldn't exactly recall what it was, but I learned a lesson, basically I will keep the actual cash register receipts rather than the stubs on the receipts," Tam said.

He admits to making errors but says the executive director of the ethics commission also doesn't understand how a councilman like him does business.

"I regret having some calculation errors, it's kind of embarrassing, I've developed a better system," Tam said.

Council chair Todd Apo says changes need to be made on the guidelines for the council members discretionary funds. That will be the focus of a meeting later this month.

"This has opened everyone's eyes as to what can and cannot happen, but we need to take steps to go forward to make sure we're reassuring the public that they're tax dollars are not going to be wasted or used improperly," Apo said.

Apo says they have to tighten up the language in regards as to what funds can be used for and have more checks and balances.

They're also asking city auditors to help them improve this process. But other council members say there's no excuse for this kind of behavior.

"I think the rules are very clear here, you don't abuse taxpayer resources, you don't use taxpayer resources for your own personal benefit, Rod Tam knew these rules, they were clear, plain, simple, he broken the public's trust and i think he should resign," Fellow city councilman Charles Djou said.

People who live in Tam's district have mixed feelings about this issue.

"If the things I'm reading are true, then I think whether he should stay in office ought to be considered," Nuuanu resident Blake Bushnell said.

Tam says he won't resign and he'll continue his bid for mayor.

"I feel he just made a mistake, pretty stupid, saying he forgot, that's hard to believe." A Honolulu resident said.

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