Tuesday, January 20, 2009

MORE DOG; LESS PONY

MORE DOG; LESS PONY: Since there don’t seem to be any significant political events in Washington or Honolulu today and tomorrow we thought we’d provide one final diatribe regarding last Wednesday’s council meeting.

One item we neglected to mention in the lead up to the meeting where a three month buildup of delayed items were dispatched was draft Bill 2300 which would “transfer” $833,696 of taxpayer money to support the supposedly self-supporting Wailua Golf Course and another $600,291 to the pay for sewers which are also supposed to pay for themselves through fees..

For the uninitiated there are several “enterprise” funds in the county that are supposed to support ventures via user fees rather than through the property tax money which is collected and deposited in the “General Fund”.

And for years the golf course, despite the fact that the council has put it into a category where it’s supposed to support itself through greens fees, has quietly gobbled up a goodly chunk of cash from the general fund usually in an “after the fact” appropriation to make up the difference.

The council of course hasn’t just raised just the fees but simply acquiesces to the “golf lobby” by stealing tax money to “replenish the Golf fund”

The golf lobby as one would expect is comprised of a lot of business executives and appointed county officials who just happen to be generous with the campaign bucks come election time.

So, in an attempt to link everything to our “tough economic times”, Council Vice Chair Jay Furfaro told Glenn Mickens- who dared to put a finger in the swirling eddy and interrupt the auto-pilot flushing of this year’s money-down-the-drain- that this year the excuse was that the number of rounds of golf was down so we were nearly two-thirds of a million dollars short this time.

Of course Furfaro offered no numbers, reports or statistics but in his inimitable paternalistic fashion told Glenn and fellow council members not to worry their pretty little heads because he had already asked around and that was the answer and that was that and sit down and shut up.

The problem is he didn’t say why the sewer fund was that short.

Is the sewer fund also a victim of the economic slowdown? Is there not enough ,er- ah, “solid waste” gong into the system now? Or, to put it more bluntly, are we experiencing a crap shortage? Perhaps people are eating less. Or maybe those soaring porcelain prices are driving up the cost of faculties?

Why, just like the golf fund, it couldn’t possibly be because of council mismanagement in not setting fees that would be self sustaining, as the law they themselves passed mandates.

Nah, they wouldn’t do that. Although what they are full of in the council chambers these days may explain the shortage of it flowing through the sewage meters.

On to a couple of predictable outcomes of a couple of matters we wrote about last week.

Guess what happened when the Food Bank’s Executive Director and Ethics Board member Judy Lenthall came to the council to thank them for last year’s appropriation to expand participation in the food stamp program and lobby for more

As we feared would happen a week ago Monday not only didn’t she proclaim her lobbyist status but paid no attention to the law that forbade her from representing the Food Bank before the council while she sits on the Ethics Board, which routinely washes clean the dirty deeds of the council..

Former council candidate Bruce Peas, who has sought to enforce a state law and council rule requiring lobbyists to state they are lobbying when they come to testify, got up to question the matter and attempted to actually read aloud Section 20.02 of the county charter – a provision voters refused to change in the fall which forbids the type of conflict of interest in which Lenthall was engaging.

And to no one’s surprise Council Chair Kaipo Asing- who has been cleared of ethics violations by the Ethics Board in the past- cut Pleas off saying that “only the Food Bank is on the agenda” which caused Pleas to crawl back to his seat instead of insisting on his right to testify about how the action on agenda item was illegal.

But that brief little show was nothing compared to the smoke and mirrors on the bill to appropriate money for recruiting more police officers..

After Glenn Mickens read his testimony which we published last week regarding money for Kaua`i Police Department (KPD) recruiting and the continuing if not worsening low morale on the force, Asing was adamant that Glenn’s figures were wrong.

Asing offered no numbers of his own of course because Mickens was the only one in the room that had checked- and double checked the day after the meeting- his figures on recruitment and the ties to “morale”... both of which have only worsened since Chief KC Lum was railroaded out of office.

Then Furfaro put on his tap shoes and did his usual shtick of claiming he checked with everybody and there was nothing to worry Glenn’s pretty little head about and it seemed that the old soft shoe has been successful until new Councilmember “TV’s Dickie Chang” took the “stage” as he is wont to do.

But anyone expecting the usually smooth talking Chang to rattle off his prattle and easily banter with Mickens would have been be shocked to hear and see a quite obviously nervous and flustered Chang stammer and trip over his words in trying to get to the heart of the issue of “morale” among Kauai’s finest..

He did get out though that he knows that “morale is at an all time high” as evidenced by the “Cop on Top” event he covered on his TV program and some bike race where the guys on the force were letting new chief Perry win until he only lost “due to a flat tire”.

“Morale at the police force has gotten leaps and bounds” he non-sequitorily ended, possibly referring to the “leap” of the “cop” to the “top” of Safeway to raise money for charity and the “bound” Perry experienced when the rubber met the road and his tire tired.

Forget your afternoon “stories”. Forget your reality shows. We suggest that for a good- and free- evening of comedy, tragedy and all around entertainment you tune to the government access channel 53 at 7 p.m.

If this keeps up you won’t be disappointed.

3 comments:

Nonyer Biz said...

To bad "Coach" (just like the one on Cheers) doesn't apply the same level of scrutiny to all the expense associated with the dozens of ballfields around the island that sit idle 95% of the time. Always perfectly manicured as if the game is tomorrow instead of 5 months away.

Glenn has a mote or two in his own eye.

Andy Parx said...

Actually Glenn has extensively focused on waste and maintenance issues with parks and ball fields, opposing some that were in bad places such as the Lydgate ones, uncovering wasteful maintenance procedures at others and making sure the ones that serve thousands of kids are safe.

Nonyer Biz said...

Glenn would throw a rod if anyone tried to divert funds away from his precious baseball fields.

He only opposed the Lydgate fields because they were for soccer and were close to the Kaha Lani Condos. He offered much boo hooing over their loss of privacy for some reason.

He specifically wrote asking that monies for the bike paths be used for super dooper locker rooms so we could hold softball/baseball tournaments. So sorry Andy, some pork must taste better to Coach.