Wednesday, January 21, 2009


RUNNING AFTER THE HONEYWAGON: We did skip over one particularly nauseating bit of unsurprising non-news from the January 14 council meeting where, to no one’s astonishment, former councilpersons Mel Rapozo and Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho’s valiant fight to clean up the county patronage–based hiring system (in the wake of the linked FBI investigation) died a quick and silent death.

As we reported in both September and again in December Personnel Services Division Malcolm “Mel” Fernandez has refused to appear before the council to answer questions regarding employment practices and the matter was “deferred” leaving one last council action on the matter now that Mel and Shay are gone from the council.

And so without comment the matter was “received for the record” by the current council last Wednesday.

But Rapozo, who lost his bid for Mayor last year, promised to follow up and guess what? He did.

Perhaps his investigative talents were lost on politics-from-the-inside because today Rapozo reports some blockbuster info at his Kaua`i Politics web site after attending yesterday’s Kaua`i Civil Service Commission Meeting.

Though many suspected as much Rapozo got them to admit two things.

The first is that despite state laws to the contrary they apparently do not administer civil service exams to many applicants for civil service positions.

The second is that they maintain a “list” of 2-300 applicants and let the department heads just pick and choose who they- or the mayor, who appoints them- want without regard to comparative skills, talents or “merit”

Mel cites the two pertinent state laws, The first requires exams.

§76-18 Examinations. There shall be examinations for testing the fitness and ability of applicants for positions in civil service. The director shall adopt rules to administer the examination programs.

The second describes the “merit system” which requires that employment be “based on the.. fitness and ability” of the applicants.

In it’s entirety it reads

§76-1 Purposes; merit principle. It is the purpose of this chapter to require each jurisdiction to establish and maintain a separately administered civil service system based on the merit principle. The merit principle is the selection of persons based on their fitness and ability for public employment and the retention of employees based on their demonstrated appropriate conduct and productive performance. It is also the purpose of this chapter to build a career service in government, free from coercive political influences, to render impartial service to the public at all times, according to the dictates of ethics and morality and in compliance with all laws.

Is it any wonder that the hallmark of Kaua`i county is the general incompetence of many its employees? And is it any wonder that we’ve been besieged with emails and phone calls from disgruntled applicants who were amazed that they were never even offered a test or were actually given false requirements by Fernandez’s department.

Just this morning we heard again from a person after he was originally told his 20 years experience on Kaua`i in the field in which he was applying did not qualify him to even apply because he lacked a four year college degree- any four year degree in any field, related or not.

He had wondered why he was rejected without even being offered a civil service exam as just about everyone in the country must take to work for the government, a tradition going back to ancient China in order to create a “what you know, not who you know” system

He finally asked to see the rules in writing and found out that the degree was indeed not required and that his experience might be enough but only after he went down to the personnel office and demanded to know why he was given the bum’s rush.

This is Rapozo’s second recent foray into the news reporting business after his short yet full report last week on the ag land vacation rentals bill not only scooped the local paper and the Associated Press but gave a much more thorough exposition of the controversies involved rather than just regurgitating the position of the proponents of the bill as the local paper and AP did.

So welcome to the world of investigative journalism Mel Keep up the good work.

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