What to do with Ruggles? Puna councilwoman to continue not voting

  • Jen Ruggles

HILO — County officials were still at a stalemate Tuesday, one week after Puna Councilwoman Jen Ruggles shocked fellow council members by announcing she will refrain from voting or sponsoring legislation because she feared she would be violating international law and committing war crimes against the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Council Chairwoman Valerie Poindexter on Tuesday met with Ruggles, following earlier meetings with Human Resources Director Bill Brilhante and Corporation Counsel Joe Kamelamela.


Ruggles maintains she’s still representing her district, even if she’s not voting.

Poindexter said no action was taken after her meeting with Ruggles and it’s unknown if the councilwoman will participate in meetings scheduled for next week.

“The bottom line is, I don’t have the authority,” Poindexter said. “She’s an elected official. I don’t have the authority to release her. … Her constituents have that authority.”

Kamelamela wrote Ruggles a four-sentence letter last week, assuring her she won’t violate laws by participating in council business.

“In response to your inquiry, we opine that you will not incur any criminal liability under state, federal and international law. See Article VI, Constitution of the United States of America (international law cannot violate federal law),” Kamelamela said in the Aug. 22 letter to Ruggles.

But that’s not enough for Ruggles, who wants more legal advice from Kamelamela before she makes a decision about her next step.

“She felt the response she received from Mr. Kamelamela was inadequate and is asking him for a proper legal opinion that meets the legal definition of assurance that she can continue to legislate. She says she is continuing to work in her community and assist in some of the recovery efforts,” Poindexter said.

Ruggles, reached for a comment, did not provide one by press time Tuesday.

In particular, Ruggles questioned whether she could participate in making laws, where the laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom must be administered and not the laws of the United States; whether she could collect taxes from protected persons where international law prohibited pillaging; whether she could be complicit in the foreclosures of properties of protected persons for delinquent property taxes where international law prohibits the confiscation of private property and whether she could be complicit in criminal prosecutions where protected persons are prohibited from being unlawfully confined and cannot be denied a fair and regular trial by a tribunal with competent jurisdiction.

Council rules require every council member to vote, unless the member has a stated conflict of interest and is excused by the chairman. Silence when votes are taken is considered a yes vote, under council rules.

There are several options to remove council members. Constituents can call for a recall election with a petition signed by 25 percent of the total valid votes in the past election. A council member can be impeached for malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance or maladministration and a case presented in circuit court, based on a petition signed by 2 percent of the registered voters in the council district in the last general election.

Most of the 294 comments on Ruggles’ Aug. 21 announcement on her Facebook page are supportive, praising Ruggles for taking a stance on Hawaiian sovereignty.

“We Love You and your ‘stand up for what is right ’ in the face of all who pretend that they have the power,” said Carl Condit Green. “I know it is you who carries the Mana, the real Truth as Aloha, with transparency, clarity, and amazing open mindedness..Wow wow and Mahalo.”

A few questioned whether she was going to step down or give up her $70,000 annual salary if she felt she could no longer represent her constituents on the council.

“Well if you are not going to do the job you were elected to, that’s your choice but you shouldn’t be accepting a paycheck either,” said Frannie Pueo. “Step down let the new elected person for district 5 take over. Our district needs representation.”

Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung brought the issue up again Aug. 22, the day after Ruggles made her surprise announcement, asking if the county can withhold her paycheck until she comes back to represent her district by voting on the council.

“We have a fiduciary duty to the taxpayers of this county,” Chung said.


As Ruggles had dropped out of her re-election race, any vacancy in office would last only until Dec. 3, when new council members are sworn in. Under the county charter, the remaining council members must appoint a successor within 60 days or the council chairman must appoint one. The appointment is for the remainder of the council term.

The council can also remove a member if three impartial, licensed physicians selected by a majority vote of the council determine the council member is mentally or physically infirm or disabled and will be unable to discharge his or her duties for the remainder of the term, under the charter.

  1. Buds4All August 29, 2018 4:00 am

    Ahhhh commit her to an institution? You mean there are no emergency measures for this type of conduct? The first thing she should have her mental capicity examined as well as a full physical (including hard drugs).

  2. Pest Outwest August 29, 2018 4:20 am

    “We Love You and your ‘stand up for what is right ’ in the face of all who pretend that they have the power”

    Well, good then, keep voting her back into office and have no power.

  3. Ken Conklin August 29, 2018 4:58 am

    Ms. Ruggles apparently is not “mentally infirm” and therefore cannot be removed from office under that statute. Many elected officials make crazy choices even though they are not insane or infirm under legal definitions. She was duly elected and her term does not expire until December 3. In the meantime, her constituents are stuck with her. Maybe they will be more careful when voting in the next election! Ruggles took an oath as a candidate, and again after being elected, to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” If she has had a sudden revelation from God (i.e., Keanu Sai) that Hawaii is not part of the USA, then she should resign. Thanks for entertaining us with your great publicity stunt!

    I note with pride the news report about Sgt first class Transfiguracion, and the photo of motorcycle enthusiasts holding U.S. flags along the airport road to honor him. Maybe they could pay a visit to Ms. Ruggles.

  4. Big Mac August 29, 2018 5:49 am

    She should be required to take a mental evaluation. There is something very wrong with her judgement and common sense.

    1. Takiwa October 14, 2018 11:31 am

      She fits right in with most of our politicians nationwide.

  5. guest August 29, 2018 6:16 am

    “People get the government they deserve” holds true here. Either recall her or suffer the consequences. It is interesting the rules state silence is a “yes” vote, that does not seem logical but then again this is Hawaii. 70k per year golden egg to boot!

    1. ypupule August 29, 2018 7:53 am

      Hopefully by not doing anything, she can somehow vote herself out… or at the very least, out of any future paychecks.

  6. Big ideas August 29, 2018 7:03 am


  7. diverdave August 29, 2018 7:21 am

    Nothing but grandstanding to try and help her father with his Federal drug case. Thank goodness she withdrew from re-election.
    Kind of like when Liliuokalani abdicated the thrown and swore allegiance to the new Republic of Hawaii. But, of course, David Sai always leaves that part out of his little story she apparently has bought into.

    1. Nope August 29, 2018 8:48 pm

      …real history tells us – the Queen was forced!

      Ami go home! Stay away from the land!

      1. diverdave August 30, 2018 2:29 am

        Never once in all Liliuokalani’s writings, interviews, or even speaking to friends did she ever make that claim herself. But, you want to believe what you want to blindly believe.

  8. ypupule August 29, 2018 7:51 am

    Agree with Pueo and Chung — she definitely shouldn’t continue getting getting paid. That she didn’t voluntarily waive any compensation going forward reflects a further lack of character, in addition to shirking her responsibility to actively represent the people who voted for her.

  9. Frederic (Ric) Wirick August 29, 2018 9:46 am

    For me this is an educational process, I am taking the time to learn and understand what Jenn has brought to the table. And I believe she has the right to abstain from voting and still remain our elected representative for District 5. For those that encourage County business as usual, let me remind you: the County Council approved a budget in January that included a 34% pay raise for themselves, salary increases for County Admin that totaled $1.3 million (our tax dollars). Then there was the deficit spending during the lava flow that totaled over 5 million (our tax dollars), where did it go and how was it spent. Then their consideration to purchase property covered by lava, 2.7 million (our tax dollars).Then they voted to raise the GET, raising our taxes again. And recently requested $680 million from the State in the wake of the lava flow — yet it appears that some if not most of those State funds (our tax dollars) would be spent elsewhere. There is a time to question reality, and I think the time is NOW. Jenn, mahalo for representing District 5, Upper Puna, and bringing this important issue to light.

    1. diverdave August 29, 2018 11:12 am

      I like most of what you have just written, Frederic, but what does that have to do with Hawaii not being part of the United States?

    2. KonaLife August 29, 2018 11:56 am

      What you said is all true about the County’s finances, and certainly quite disconcerting to tax payers and residents. I applaud you for putting that information out there.

      It is, however, not connected to the Council person’s apparent inability to understand that there is no legally pertinent law other than Federal and State statues that apply to her work.

      I can understand the wish of people that there is a “Hawaiian Kingdom” (as a legal entity) but there isn’t. It’s a fascinating story how everything came to be–the State of Hawaii–but for good or bad, the issue has been settled for decades.

      The Corporation Council’s 4-sentence opinion (cited in this story) is sufficient and comprehensive. If the Council person doesn’t accept this as true, she should resign immediately and stop receiving a paycheck from an entity she believes is illegal. To continue on is just grandstanding and attention-seeking. She has her answer, so based on that, does she want to be “in” or “out”?

    3. Nope August 29, 2018 8:46 pm


  10. Roger Christie August 29, 2018 10:01 am

    Aloha. A detailed opinion from the Hawaii County Corporation Counsel promises to settle this. May it show up soon and help to heal the long standing divisions here.

    1. diverdave August 29, 2018 11:26 am

      Roger, The State of Hawaii already settled this in “State of Hawaii vs David K. Sai”.
      You know Roger, I personally don’t give a hoot about pot one way or the other. But, when I saw your “in your face” storefront right on the bay-front where every tourist would see it, and attracting many shady elements to the area, as well as affecting other businesses around you, I knew your days were numbered. Perhaps if you were doing it in a different area of town they might have looked the other way. But, not there. That was just plain silly.

    2. KonaLife August 29, 2018 3:20 pm

      If you believe in case law, this matter is settled. The divisions are promulgated by those who do not believe in law and spread the mistruths that there is something “out there” that negates the last 120 years of established law. If there is a Hawaiian Kingdom, don’t you think it would have some legal powers by now? It doesn’t, because it doesn’t exist as a legal entity. As a valuable and significant part of our history and culture, absolutely. As an legal entity that has laws that apply to current residents of Hawai’i? No. So these “divisions” of which you speak are based on false ideas, and it’s unfortunate that we have gadflys that spread such myths (often for ulterior motives).

  11. metalman808 August 29, 2018 10:05 am

    Smoke two joints before you smoke two joints. Then smoke two more.

  12. diverdave August 29, 2018 11:31 am

    For better insight into this matter please read my article in the Opinion section “your voice” section entitled “Island residents voted for US alignment” in today’s paper.

    1. Nope August 29, 2018 8:47 pm

      Island residents = a few white thugs?

      1. diverdave August 30, 2018 2:35 am

        No Nope, Polynesian-Hawaiians had 2/3rds of the voting power in the Republic of Hawaii. I think you have a “white” problem.

  13. Michael August 29, 2018 2:48 pm

    Puna tends to elect the odd ducks for sure … I suppose it is representation in its truest form

    1. diverdave August 29, 2018 6:54 pm

      Yes, “stupid is as stupid does”.

  14. Nope August 29, 2018 8:41 pm

    Just love her! Free Hawaii from the terrorist fascist occupation of USA, or should I say JewSA?

    1. diverdave August 30, 2018 2:37 am

      Racist, and biggot all in one. Eh, Nope? Or, should I call you doxx.

  15. Kaipo Wall August 29, 2018 10:19 pm

    Ms. Ruggles clearly demonstrates that pinhead-itis , aka Bernie Sanderistaism , is alive and well on Moku nui . Proof positive that over use of pakalolo eventually takes a severe mental toll . I bet she is a regular camper at the UFO landing zone too . auwe auwe

  16. Susan Rosier August 30, 2018 4:49 am

    It is interesting to note that all conversations and media articles center around the existence of the Hawaiian Kingdom yet make no mention of the letter from Dr. Alfred deZayas from the UN Human Rights Commission. Why is this letter not mentioned? It is, after all the reason for the Council woman’s questions to the Corporate Counsel.

    Dr. deZayas references a particular case involving continued “plundering” of private lands owned by heirs and decendants of the Hawaiian Kingdom (Crown Lands).

    Seeing as the County of Hawai’i Council is considering land for the displaced residents of lower Puna, and the recent receipt of the UN letter, Ms. Ruggles has not only the right but also a duty to seek legal counsel on this matter.

    Unlike many who have commented here, my district representative IS Jennifer Ruggles. I applaud this effort to clear the air before the “land swaps” begin. The old excuse that “We’ve always” done it this way is no longer acceptable. What has here too for been hidden in the dark has now been brought to the light. The good ol boy system no longer works under the watchful eyes of social media.

    1. KonaLife August 30, 2018 7:56 am

      A letter or memorandum from a UN lawyer has absolutely no bearing on this. It’s just a document and has no legal power. In the same document, by the way, he does acknowledge that Hawaii is part of the U.S.A. He identifies historical and present day issues, but it is just a discussion and has no legal weight.

      The UN has zero legal authority to legislate or create laws in the U.S. Article VI of the Constitution gives federal law, and under that (if there are no conflicts) state law supremacy in the land.

      There is no legal role for UN memorandums in the sovereign laws of the U.S., State of Hawaii or County of Hawaii statutes. It’s not even at the level of a UN resolution, which would require 50% of the UN Member States to vote in favor of to pass. Even if it did, the UN passes thousands of resolutions a year, and as history has shown, they do not carry the weight of law and they are ignored all the time.

      If the Council person believes a UN memorandum has more legal standing than Federal, State or County law, she is living in an alternative universe.

  17. Alexander Posey October 15, 2018 7:31 am

    All these arguments about her pay. Do you realize how much money that the State of Hawai’i steals from the protected peoples of the Hawaiian Kingdom every year? Millions dare I say Trillions. All the achers of land the military occupies. THERE IS NO TREATY OF ANNEXATION! WAR CRIMES! Jenn is the ONLY one doing her job! She is upholding the constitutional oaths she vowed to protect because the US enacting US law in another country is UNCONSTITUTIONAL! You NAT SWALLOWERS! LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE! A NATIONS LAWFUL GOVERNMENT WAS STOLEN! A COUNTRY WAS ILLEGALLY INVADED! AND THE US IS BENEFITING FROM MAKING THE LARGEST MILITARY INSTILLATION IN THE WORLD IN A NEUTRAL COUNTRY!

  18. Louie A Bouvier October 27, 2018 11:51 am

    I think the President made the United States point of view about the situation very clear.

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