Wednesday, May 28, 2008


FROTH AND FOAM: Miss Malaprop was at it again making a speculum of herself in using the Council TV cameras to aid her run for Kaua`i Prosecutor during last week’s Council committee meetings.

In a typical spittle-splattering performance, replete with the mandatory repetition of the term “ludicrous”, Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho proved again to be the exception that proves the rule when people say that you can’t get a job much less be successful if you speak Hawaiian-pidgin instead of standard English.

She quite rightly used her righteous indignation to skewer both the man she seeks to replace and new-old Director of Finance Wally Rezentes Jr. for misappropriation of funds.

The matter was covered sans the vivid imagery last week by pinch-hitter Blake Jones in an article in the local paper but as a malahini he probably couldn’t really understand what all the hubbub was about.

Rezentes- who formed a one-two lazy-punch with his dad the Administrative Assistant sleeping under the Council Chambers’ air conditioner through the Kusaka administration- okayed allowing the County to pay for fines allegedly incurred by an unnamed deputy prosecutor who apparently either forgot or blew off a court appearance leaving jurors, witnesses and other special guest stars thumb-twiddling in court.

The judge fined the office, not the attorney but since there is no budget line item for fines Rezentes approved Prosecutor Craig De Costa’s use of money originally appropriated for court costs, witness travel and other specified miscellany including “other commodities”.

Both Iseri and Councilman Mel Rapozo were livid and expressed disbelief at the action. But then this is their first foray into “little Wally-World”.

But Rezentes is a champion- or was at Kusaka’s behest- of “program-based” budgeting which allows department heads to get lump slush fund with general instructions from the Council at budget time... until she used them to lease a luxury red Chrysler from her campaign manager at an exorbitant price for personal use.

This led the Council at the time to rue the day they gave her administration the proverbial blank check and they went back to “line item” budgeting where every nickel spent has to fit into a specifically defined and delineated grouping.

And if an expense comes up that is not covered or if they want to shift funds from one line item to another and spend it differently than appropriated, they are supposed to simply send a “communication for Council approval” for the switch.

It’s something you see on almost every council meeting agenda and most are routinely approved without debate or discussion. Sometimes they must draw up a “money bill” to amend the budget if a needed item exceeds their departmental budget or an unexpected big ticket item breaks down and needs replacing. Those ordinances are also routinely approved without debate.

But this was not the case- no one asked the Council and the money was paid, treating the line item as a slush fund... and this was the third time, according to Iseri and Councilman Mel Rapozo, that it had happened to pay a court sanction.

But Wally’s Department of Finance was always known for it’s fanciful explanations of Kusaka’s staff’s manipulations. “Close enough is good enough” was and again is their motto now that everything old is new again. And, according to Rezentes, since the term “court costs” was “rolled up” into “other commodities” it was used for the fines despite the facts that court costs are routine expenses and court fines follow misconduct by the office or one of it’s attorneys.

Iseri’s ferocity is legendary- and not only in a good way- as she has badgered and belittled people testifying before the council- citizens and county personnel alike- when they disagreed with her positions, especially during the council’s witch hunts against Police Commission Chair Mike Ching and Police Chief KC Lum.

One of the most bizarre moments came when Rezentes was explaining why he did what he did and started a sentence by saying “And I asked the County attorney if...” when Iseri cut him off screaming “are you about to violate attorney-client privilege?” with an incredulous look on her face.

As also detailed last week in the paper the Council has taken to hiding public policy decision making by calling every function of the CA part of “attorney client privilege”, a privilege which doesn’t even exist in Hawai`i Sunshine Law governing county councils’ activities. But even if the Council wants to hide their own actions behind such an alleged privilege, to say that another “client” of the CA- and one from the administration, with which the Council is forbidden from interfering- can’t exercise his right as a client to waive that privilege is, well, ludicrous.

In her unabashed play for the cameras Iseri brought her campaign into the living rooms of all those who watch the County funded cablecasts of council meetings and was one of those “only on Kaua`i” moments when the abuse of resources and power for personal political gain is commonly greeted with shrugs of “well everyone does it” especially from the corrupt Ethics Board..

And of course no councilmember suggested sending this “misappropriation of funds” case- a potentially serious charge- to the Ethics Board possibly because they were afraid of people literally busting a gut laughing if the suggestion were to be articulated.

One wonders what Shaylene will do if asked to prosecute someone for a severe ethics violation. Judging by her past performances in punishing those she personally despises and looking the other way at abuses of her political allies and friends one has to keep asking “and you want to be my Prosecutor?”


Anonymous said...

FYI: Blake Jones is a woman. I know - that surprised me too when I met her the March 19 anti-war action.


Anonymous said...

Shalene is dangerous. This rant against the defeated and burned out looking DeCosta was completely ridiculous. She just sent a message to all of her future employees that if they get in trouble with the Court, she will toss them under the bus. She is not going to be able to keep employees. I wish I could see the first time she and judge Watanabe get into it.
Did anyone notice if her bud, Mel got the contract for working with the prosecutor. Think his income goes up once Shalene is in office?
And what's up with the way she treats Tim Bynum, like he's sub-human. She's like Leona Helmsley.

Andy Parx said...

For some reason I thought I had seen the name and picture under something to do with business news on the main page of their web site but I must be mistaken But in watching the meeting this week I should have put two and two together when Peter Nakamura got up to self-servingly “testify” that no one was in the “audience” to testify on the budget bills except for “a reporter”... and there was a woman sitting behind him in the gallery.

Sorry Blake.

And you’re quite right anonymous- she had a reputation of being impossible to work WITH as a prosecutor according to two attorneys who worked with her in the prosecutor’s office. It’s really hard to get and keep good people there too.