In yesterday’s entry, I made a passing reference to the legal work done by Ethics Commission chair Lex Smith for the city.
He has also been paid to represent the city in certain legal cases involving leasehold conversion.
Later in the day, I took a closer look and realized Smith and his law firm (Kobayashi, Sugita & Goda) have extensive contracts with the city valued at well over $1.5 million and counting.
Here are some the cases they were involved in on behalf of the city since 2004:
Civil No. 98-2164 (VSM), UPW v. Balfour, et al.; Civil No. 98-2174 (VLC), UPW v. Harris, et al.; and Civil No. 98-2176 (SSM), UPW v. BWS, et al. Authorized fees up to $300,000. March 2004.
Bodell Construction Company V. GMP Hawaii, Inc., et al. ($225 per hour rate for partners, $140 for associates, and $80 for paralegals). Authorized fees up to $250,000 as of June 2005.
Various Lawsuits Relating to Residential Condominium Leasehold Conversion. Authorized up to $200,000. December 2006.
Wastewater Related Construction Projects that were awarded to Robison Construction. Inc. (“RCI”). Authorized up to $880,000 as of August 2007.
Civil No. 05-1-2249-12 EEH, Communications-Pacific.Inc.v.City and County of Honolulu,etal. $135,000 authorized as of Jan 2010.
“WITH REGARD TO TRANSIT-RELATED PROCUREMENT.” Not to exceed $50,000. October 2009. (“at the rate of $295.00 per hour for review, evaluation, consultation, drafting of letters, preparation, research, and representation”)
All the amounts shown are moving targets. Additional funds are added by the counsel via resolution as the cases move forward.
To be considered for city contracts, lawyers submit a “Statement of Qualifications and Expression of Interest” to the Corporation Counsel. Beyond that, actual selections appear to be at the discretion of the administration with approval by the council.
Does the sum of these contracts, along with Smith’s ties to the campaigns of the mayor and managing director, raise questions of conflicts for him as chair of the Honolulu Ethics Commission?
I’ll leave that question for another day.