Saturday, June 14, 2008

BARK CLEARLY

BARK CLEARLY: Another day another pile of “huh?” on Kaua`i.

The first one regards the report in today’s paper from new reporter Michael Levine, who’s been doing an unparalleled job so far of covering the police and court beat with vigorous, clear and concise coverage.

In his article today we get news that despite the deliberate lack of funding for it in the County’s new Kaua`i Police Department (KPD) budget, Chief Darryl Perry is going ahead with creating an Internal Affairs Division (IAD) anyway, in possible violation of the budget ordinance..

The article itself is careful to call it a “pseudo” IAD despite the misleading headline, “Police chief to add internal affairs unit, information officer”, apparently written by someone who didn’t bother to read the article.

The headline is factually wrong in two respects- first in saying the Chief is the one adding a Public Information Officer (PIO) when the Council approved and funded the position thereby creating it and second in saying that the Chief is adding an actual IA division instead of a “sort of” one.

The distressing news is that the already understaffed department’s Criminal Investigations Bureau (CIB) will apparently be giving up officers to create the pseudo-IA, despite bitter complaints from the Council during the budget process this year that department heads are misappropriating salary monies and shifting around positions without Council approval for purposes not specifically identified by the Council in the ordinance

But the illegality might be one of those problems that takes care of itself since now the CIB will have even less time to investigate “The Case of the Shifting Salaries”.

Certainly we’ve needed an IA division at KPD for many years and the Council can certainly be criticized for reportedly giving the Chief a bad “choice” in saying he could have either more clerks or an IA division but not both.

The extra clerks will presumably be used to get officers back on the street and away from doing paperwork that can be done by non Public Safety Officers. This has been a long standing problem discussed at length by the Police Commission and this and past chiefs.

But so much for the Council’s past promises to give funding priority to reasonable requests for necessary items requested by KPD to not just make better use of personnel but to put a clamp on rogue officers without pitting the chief against his personnel, which is what the IA is supposed to do.

We’re also a little “huh” about the way the PIO position was described. The article claims

(T)he new position will be opening dialogue with community leaders to coordinate joint efforts, Perry said.

Whether that was meant to say that average community members will be excluded and only “leaders” will be included in these dialogues is an important distinction for many especially given the current perceived lack of public input on policing policies.

If it was an unintended word slip-up one would think the Chief would choose his words a little more carefully what with the ill-considered way many say he has responded to community complaints recently.

But in any case getting the filter of the administration out of the mix- where it shouldn’t be by law- and allowing the Department to speak for itself is certainly a step in the right direction.

Another “huh?” is contained in a report in Walter Lewis’ column today saying that the new administration-proposed property tax reform bill was put together by what the Mayor Bryan Baptiste has called a “Real Property Tax Commission”.

We’re beginning to think the administration doesn’t just “not get it”- the idea of open governance or the concept of following the law- but is blatantly thumbing their nose at it.

In addition to the fact that, as Walter says, according to the Charter only the Council can create boards and commissions, when a commission meets their confabs must be open to the public, take public testimony on every agenda item and announce and “post” their agenda with the lieutenant governor’s office six days in advance according to State law

Somehow this commission formed, met and delivered their work product in complete secrecy.

It would take pages to list all the times Baptiste’s babooze brigade of crony consultants have done this kind of thing- meeting secretly to come up with “done-deals”- so we don’t expect anyone to notice unless the Council decides to enforce the law and send the proposed bill back as dead on arrival. But unless it’s politically advantageous for them to nix it, don’t count on it.

Last but not least is this weird little “huh?” piece from the yesterday’s paper announcing how Councilpersons Mel Rapozo and Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho have really brought home the bacon in the form of prescription-drug discount program for Kaua`i.

With a headline of “Discount prescription program now on Kaua‘i” the article ballyhoos how:

Kaua‘i County yesterday launched a prescription drug discount card program to help relieve the financial strain on residents due to soaring medical costs, officials said.The free program, sponsored by the National Association of Counties, offers an average savings of 20 percent off the retail price of commonly prescribed drugs

“This is the best program ever offered for free to our residents,” said Kaua‘i County Councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, who has served on the NACo Board of Directors since 2006.

Wow. Free. And the “best” program to boot.. Tell us more Mel...

Local government may be unable to combat high prices at the pump, but this program should provide some monetary aid for residents, Councilman Mel Rapozo said at the Historic County Building.It costs county taxpayers nothing to make the cards available at neighborhood centers, the Parks and Recreation Department, the Office of Elderly Affairs, the Mayor’s Office and the Historic County Building, officials said.“Why wouldn’t we do this?” said Rapozo, who thanked Mayor Bryan Baptiste’s administration for its help in making the program possible on Kaua‘i.

But credit where credit is do. What did Shaylene do to bring this godsend to our shores?
“I personally took the initiative to start this program on Kaua‘i after seeing the tremendous benefits to other counties and after having the contract reviewed by our county attorney,” (Iseri Carvalho) said. “Since the program began, participating counties have made the program available to millions of Americans of any age, income level or health condition, and has saved consumers more than $83 million through 7.5 million prescriptions in savings averaging 22 percent.”
“It’s so vital ... the networking capabilities ... that put Michigan in the same room as Hawai`i,” he said. “We share so many of the same problems.”Oooo...vital.. Tell us more Shay- you must really care and showed us by taking the initiative. You’re our hero. Maybe we can buy a new car now with all that money we’ll be saving.

But wait there’s more.

NACo President Eric Coleman, who calls the program the association’s most innovative to date, attended the council’s meeting.“The NACo prescription discount card offers significant savings for the uninsured and underinsured residents of our county and even those fortunate to have prescription coverage can use the card to save money on drugs that are not covered by their health plan,” Iseri-Carvalho says in a news release. “Residents do not have to be Medicare beneficiaries to be eligible.”
We’re ready- tell us how dos this program works- how much will we be saving.

Well if you read to the bottom you’ll see.

The program works by simply presenting the card to a participating pharmacy and the consumer will receive the lowest price available from the pharmacy for a prescription, Iseri-Carvalho said.

Wow- you mean this time they’ll charge us their “lowest” price? We sure tied of being charged their highest price. “Let’s see” says the pharmacist, “that difference would be... let me total that up for ya here....

...ZERO, because the highest and lowest prices are both the same- they’re called THE PRICE.”

“We were going to charge you the price we’re charging Mrs. Kanaka but we decided that for you, special today, because you look like an honest lady and we like your face AND you have the ‘Mel and Shaylene Card’ we’ll charge you the price we’re charging everyone“

What, are there pharmacies charging different prices for different people?. Special 10% surcharge for malahinis?. 20% off for one-legged Filipinos? Are there signs at Kaua`i drug stores saying “we cheat kids, old people, sailors and drunks but not ‘Mel and Shaylene Cardholders’?”

Raising the perennial question do three “huh?” make a ?Whaaaaa?”?.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Except when the price isn't the price. Bigger buyers like HMSA can negotiate a lower price than the walk up rate.

Never lost for an opinion without getting all the facts.

Andy Parx said...

I don't think so. I'm looking into it won't can't find the precise terms at least until Monday... we'll see.

Joan said...

Main thing, the Chief is starting an IAD, whether it's "pseudo" or otherwise. And that's a good thang.

Anonymous said...

You are too much, Andy. Try checking the price of Prozac or some other anti-depressant. You definitely need some. Are you ever happy?

Katy Rose said...

Because in our wonderful world only the shiny, happy people should be allowed to speak out to remind us how wonderful everything is!

Andy Parx said...

Absolutely Joan. I can’t believe the Council wouldn’t fund it after all their lip service to support the department’s needs. The clerk positions have been on the funding agenda for a couple of years. I remember KC trying to explain to the commission how he was taking actual sworn officers off the street to do paperwork and duties that could be done by civilians. And if an IA isn’t the most important thing for “improving morale” I don’t know what is.