CHECK THEIR PERIGEES: Kaua`i has a distinct lack of government watchdogs.
While there are hundreds of- if not a thousand- community activists and advocates the number who follow the minutia of the machinations of our mayor and county council can be counted on our fingers with maybe a toe or two on an occasional basis.
Many rely on us to pull the curtain back and reveal the great and powerful wizard’s smoke and mirrors so when they err it can misinform a community.
But, as erring is human, all it takes is a “my bad” and a correction to send Dorothy back to Kansas safe and sound. No shame... unless the mistake remains uncorrected.
On Wednesday as part of our week long series of articles on this year’s proposed Kaua`i charter amendments, we detailed how a proposal that deceptively claims to institute stronger conflict of interest laws and require recusals- something the charter already does- actually waters them down and severely restricts the circumstances under which they would apply.
But two usually astute scrutinizers of Kaua`i government are apparently determined to remain pre-enlightenment scarecrows and are compounding their lack of critical information processing by refusing to re-read the amendment and let people know of their errors.
This week both Walter Lewis’ in his column this Saturday in the local newspaper and Juan Wilson of Island Breath in his recommendations made Oct. 12 appear to have been duped into endorsing the Charter Amendment that loosens conflicts of interest
The worst, if only for it’s visibility, is Walter Lewis’ “yes” recommendation. Though his analysis of the other four proposed amendments set for a vote on November 4 is spot on it’s obvious he gave this one short shrift
After reviewing the rest, almost as an afterthought Lewis wrote
“The two proposals offered by the County Council to require disclosure of conflicts and to establish an office for an auditor to review county operations, although inadequately described by the ballot questions, seem to offer reasonable reforms.”
Seem to offer “reasonable reforms”? The charter already requires “disclosure of conflicts”.
Lewis’ wording and conclusion make it apparent that he- an astute attorney who has led the fight for property tax caps and to enforce the county’s open meetings provisions in the infamous “3.07(e)”- never read the actual changes being proposed. Rather he took the word of the county clerk, even though, as he noted in his article, the clerk had misled people in the same manner in trying to repeal 3.07(e).
And Wilson too, although less prominently at his informative web site, asked for a “yes” vote after similarly analyzing the other proposals.
Apparently, with the same lack of critical reading of the actual changes in the conflict of interest proposal as Lewis exhibits, his “yes” recommendation indicates a quick insufficient perusal of the matter of, as he calls it, “no financial interests”
He wrote simply
Island Breath recommendation--
Vote YESThis looks like a simple conflict of interest issue.
Looks like? Looks like Wilson’s is exactly the kind of quick reading the council hoped for. We’re sure the lack of analysis is appreciated
This weekend we fully notified both Lewis and, more than once, Wilson and his co-Editor Jonathan Jay as to our reading from last Wed. and both have refused to respond and really read the deceptive way the proposal is presented to the public.
We need more people who keep an eye on the county, not less. But anyone who has watched the county council meetings this summer and fall knew about this “little turd”, as we called it and should have been on the lookout for it.
But even more important, government watchdogs must remain vigilant against the dirty tricks Kaua`i is famous for,. especially this council.
And perhaps most important of all, if you don’t know or didn’t do your homework at least don’t share your lack of acumen with others.
And if you do and you find out you made a mistake, when someone tells you about it correct it before people start voting, not after.
No telling how many saw these two recommendations and will trust the sources enough to vote for them. No telling how many would even see a retraction and correction.
But every day that goes by without rectification is a voting day for absentees. If the council gets away with this, we’ll know who’s in part responsible.
DOGGEDLY DETERMINED We’ve been on the phone all day trying to get a copy of county council candidate Dickie Chang’s affidavit that was required by law (as we reported Friday) in order to use anything but his legal name on the ballot which lists the name of his business, Wala`au, in parentheses after his name.
But not only have we not gotten a copy, we could not even get verification from elections chief and Deputy County Clerk Ernie Pasion that indeed an affidavit was filed.
Pasion, who has in the past found affidavits of election filing over the phone for us, refused to deny or confirm the existence of an affidavit.
He referred us to County Clerk Peter Nakamura who, though were told he was “in the building” has not returned multiple persistent phone calls as of press time.