Tuesday, June 23, 2009


IT TAKES TWICE TWO BABY- AND BABY ONLY MAKES THREE: No one can accuse Councilperson Jay Furfaro of missing enough moist fingers to tell which way the political winds are blowing. So of course the fact that he beat a path to the door of the never-never land of the local newspaper to say “I'm a dissident too” should come as no surprise, especially to our readers who heard about his apparent 180 last week.

But inaccuracies like the mayor having a role in the selection of the county clerk aside (the council alone makes the choice), the article attempts to makes sure everyone in town now adds his name to the list of “good guys”, making for three votes where four is the magic number.

People may remember- and the article fails to note- that actually Furfaro ran for chair this year and garnered the votes of the original council dissidents Tim Bynum and Lani Kawahara, who have had the courage of their convictions as opposed to Furfaro who jumped on the bandwagon after wide-spread outrage in the community and a lack of support for Chair Kaipo Asing surfaced, even among many of Asing’s lock step supporters.

That may answer at least the first of the questions Joan Conrow asked today, wondering why:

Given Kaipo’s history, why did the Council vote to again make Kaipo chair? Why doesn’t the Council act now to remove him from that position? And why didn’t the Council move to change some of its rules when Kaipo was briefly dethroned and warming the seat at the mayor’s office? Surely they would have found an ally in former Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura.

The first two being a matter of “doing the math”- and the math being a function of the political climbing of freshman Derrek Kawakami, the deer-in-the-headlights wits of the glad-handing Dickie Chang and the founding nature of Darryl Kaneshiro’s membership in the old boys club (he was Mayor Eduardo Malapit’s administrative assistant)- Kaipo will remain in power until either Derrek gets the message from voters or Dickie buys a pair (no, eyes).

But the third question begs a little recent history lesson.

In the article Furfaro touts how he tried to deal with the “secret county attorney opinions” quagmire created by Asing and former County Attorney Lani Nakazawa and continued by her successor Matthew Pyun.

In typical credit grabbing Furfaro style the article neglects to mention that it was Bynum who kept harping on the Star Chamber nature of the “we have an opinion that explains our actions but we can’t share it with you” machinations.

It was actually Bynum who challenged the policy over and over in open council session and was prepared to overturn it immediately.

While it was Furfaro who put it on the agenda while he was temporary chair in Asing’s absence last summer after Asing moved to the mayor’s slot when Bryan Baptiste died, it was also he who said they needed to wait to act until they had a “county-wide policy”- applying to boards and commissions too- for releasing the opinion, which of course the county attorney had to come up with- and still hasn’t to this day.

That was after he had adamantly agreed with Asing that there first must be a council policy enacted to release them, even though they had been routinely released for years before Asing’s reign as chair.

But that could have been done quickly as Bynum said he had prepared just such a policy, hence the requirement for a county-wide policy to further delay the seemingly not so inevitable.

That leads to the related statement in last sentence of Joan’s ponderings- “Surely they would have found an ally in former Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura.”

Well Joan, surely you jest.

If there was one person who not just allowed but promulgated the secrecy of the Asing regime it was our dear JoAnn.

She used her status and abilities as an attorney to talk out of both sides of her mouth on this, claiming to support open governance but doing everything she could to perpetuate both the “secret county attorney opinions” and use of the executive session to hide embarrassing political decisions regarding public policy under the guise of “discussions with their attorney” matters of “potential, future litigation” arising from discussions of pending legislation- a warping of the sunshine law that was used just last week to discuss either implementing, or more likely fighting, the new citizen’s general plan enforcement charter amendment.

This all came to a head last summer during the bill to allow existing illegal transient vacation rentals in non visitor destination areas after threats to sue the county from Board of Realtors’ attorney Jonathan Chun “forced” her, as planning committee chair, to pass out a bill grandfathering anyone who had been violating state law for years, based on a convoluted county attorney opinion that had been released before the change was made to keep them secret.

(Actually the release of that opinion at the time was instrumental in the thinking of Yukimura that these opinions should not be released because the release of that opinion was cited by Chun as giving people reason to believe that their illegal activities were indeed legal.)

The Star Chamber-ish nature of the problem was that no one could question the legal basis for the grandfathering because it was all based on an unreleased newer county attorney’s opinion that was also another excuse to talk about public policy behind closed doors.

Although the article contains a lot of convoluted thinking and feigned ignorance by Furfaro- which we may go into at a later date- one particularly typifies Furfaro’s seeming need to be associated with the reformers while still helping construct roadblocks.

Trying to archive the past two years’ meeting minutes, as Bynum and Kawahara requested through a still unanswered UIPA request, would be tough to do logistically until then, Furfaro said. He noted additional concerns over what minutes should even be posted online, particularly executive session minutes.

First of all no one is asking to post executive session (ES) minutes although there is a move to get the council to release ES minutes that are required by law to be made public when the purpose of the ES would no longer be defeated by releasing them. The clerk’s office must segregate them now so the disingenuity of that is apparent.

The fact is that Bynum and Kawahara have already posted the minutes going back to February and are planning to complete the project whether their UIPA request is granted or not... and the ones that were posted were done in a short session of scanning and posting by Bynum.

The purpose of the UIPA request to avoid the scanning since the minutes exist in electronic form meaning that all it would take to post them is a few key board strokes, no scanning needed.

It’s typical of Furfaro’s style, probably learned at the feet of Yukimura, where lip service to open governance is negated by actions to set up roadblocks to accountability and transparency.

Can’t anyone here play this game?

As they (ok, we) say, the Minotaur can’t guard the labyrinth all alone and with dissidents like Furfaro, who needs sycophants?.

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