Mayor Peter Carlisle

BY JIM DOOLEY – Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle has asked the City Council to validate two free trips

Peter Carlisle

his wife took to Asia last year.

One of the trips, to public events in China and Taiwan, was the subject of a City Ethics Commission opinion last month which found no public purpose to the inclusion of Judy Carlisle in the official travelling party.

The second trip, to Nagaoka, Japan, was taken by the Mayor and his wife Aug. 1-4, 2011.

Before each trip, Carlisle sought and received Council approval to accept gifts of free travel and expenses for his wife.

He asked the Ethics Commission before the China trip if acceptance of the gifts on behalf of his wife was permissible, but didn’t receive the commission’s opinion until nearly a year after the travel occurred.

That opinion said that Judy Carlisle “was not a city officer or employee and her presence with the Mayor during the China trip was not necessary to accomplish a city purpose. “

The Commission recommended that “Mayor Carlisle reimburse the city for the cost of his wife’s China travel — $3,300.

In a letter this week, Carlisle asked the Council “to make a specific determination … that my wife’s travel was for a City public purpose.”

He asked the Council to make the same finding for the Japan trip.

“It is my belief that in accepting the offer of the gift of travel in both of these instances, the Council knew that the intent of the gift included my wife accompanying me on these trips, and that the Council found this an acceptable application of the gifts to the City,” Carlisle’s letter said.

The China trip included a five-member delegation from Honolulu: the Carlisles, City Council member Stanley Chang and two Office of Economic Development employees.

Only the Mayor and his wife went on the Japan trip. Nagaoka City paid $4,622.40 for the couple’s air and ground expenses, including meals.

In seeking advance approval of the trip last year from the Council, Carlisle said it would “provide an unparalleled opportunity to discuss ways to further cooperate in economic development, assist companies looking for business opportunities with Honolulu, and expand tourism to Honolulu.”

Another purpose of the trip, Carlisle said last year, was “to explore the possibility of a sister city relationship between our two cities.”

That relationship will be finalized next week when Nagaoka City officials will sign sister city paperwork during a visit here for the annual Honolulu Festival.

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com