Tuesday, July 21, 2009


BREAKING UP THE PACK: Tomorrow’s showdown at the C-O-K Corral- aka the County of Kaua`i Council Chambers- has, much to our surprise, drawn beaucoup attention in the newspaper and among even those most politically distracted citizens on the island.

As many have heard in the reams of e-mails flying about, Wednesday’s agenda includes two diametrically opposed items on the subjects of open governance and transparency that dissident councilmembers Tim Bynum and Lani Kawahara forced into public scrutiny in June.

Not only is the promised “discussion” of the archaic council rules up for debate but, in response, the forces of darkness have led Councilpersons Jay Furfaro and his sidekick “nice guy” Dickie Chang to try to block any changes.

They’ve introduced a resolution asking the council to “appoint a special advisory committee” made up of three well known allies of Chair Kaipo “the Minotaur” Asing- charter members of the old boys network former Council Chair and long time member Ron Kouchi, former state circuit court Judge George “Spike” Matsunaga and long time board and commission member and all around status quo defender Phil Tachbian... and if they aren’t sycophantic enough of the status quo the alternate is the head of the Chamber of Commence, old boy in waiting Randall Francisco.

Their task?- to “recommend amendments to the rules”.

And these guys “ain’t the old boys”, as Chang was quoted as saying? Either Chang is obscenely disingenuous or lives in his own Wala`au world of naivety.

It is the ultimate absurdity. They want to appoint an opaque body, not subject to open meeting laws to hold a discussion and report on how to bring open government and transparency to the council. It’s a conversation that should be happening in open session, before the council, with public testimony, not behind closed doors with the sole input of three or four people who could never in anyone’s wildest imagination be confused with open governance and sunshine advocates.

Oh, did we mention there’s another measure?- a cryptic little ditty that no one who hasn’t been bulldogging this issue would notice or comprehend.

A few weeks back discussion at the council table centered around one of Bynum and Kawahara’s demands- that all materials that are addressed to councilmembers or are distributed to other councilmembers get to them in a timely manner and not be subject to the whims of County Clerk Peter Nakamura. At the time, County Attorney Al Castillo halted the discussion to say that any conversation criticizing Nakamura was a “personnel” discussion and must be held behind closed doors.

So this week there is an executive session scheduled to “consider the evaluation of officers and/or employees where consideration of matters affecting privacy will be involved and associated matters”. Note the absence of what the heck this is really specifically about- something required by the sunshine law

So, in a nutshell, what do we have?

First it was pure stonewalling in refusing to hear the specific rule changes that Bynum tried to introduced in June. Then when that partially failed and Kawahara found a strategy to get a “discussion” of the subjects on the agenda, they delayed as long as they could until tomorrow finally came around.

But in the interim they bogusly got the administration to announce that very limited council materials would be posted on the web site, lying about the supposed “year-long” efforts, including absurd excuses like the death of Bryan Baptiste and last year’s elections.

And now the latest scam- delaying any action for at least three months so three skilled obfuscators and defenders of the realm can go behind closed doors and decide how to, most likely not change the rules in any way except perhaps cosmetically.

Oh, and they’ve put discussion of the staff’s complicity behind closed doors. presumably including reforms as to the staff’s role in the effecting reform. Any discussion of the job Asing’s chief henchman Nakamura is doing goes into the black hole of executive session where it can be disposed of without a public whimper.

Who thinks this stuff up?

We’ve never seen a more politically complex “inside baseball” matter take hold of the community the way this one has. It apparently has touched an already exposed nerve of long-time frustration with the council.

If the chambers aren’t packed at 9 a.m. tomorrow we’ll actually be surprised and we rarely think people will really show up.

The surprising thing is that it’s not just the usual suspects who are fed up with Asing and the others if the outpouring from the community that usually votes back in the incumbents and likes the status quo just fine, thank you, is any indication.

As a matter of fact, even though the real underpinnings of the actual “conspiracy” are more than enough to raise ire, some people have gone wild with their own theories.

We heard this week- and we must say up front that we have absolutely no knowledge that this is true- that according to the scuttlebutt on the south side, “all of them”- Asing, the other four councilmembers, Ron Kouchi, Castillo, Planning Director Ian Costa, and all the rest of the Minotaurs’ minions- have regularly been seen coming and going at Ron Kouchi’s house, presumably meeting to plot strategy.

Obviously this is an imaginatory figment- it would be way too risky for them to illegally meet like that and frankly most of them haven’t got the political skills or intelligence to set that up much less come up with anything effective... as evidenced by the patently silliness of the two blocking measures on this week’s agenda indicate.

But we tell the story because it does show how people are finally finding out what’s been going on and are no longer unwilling to believe the crap that’s being shoveled their way

In fact, they have filled in their own conspiratorial blanks.

So send out the border guards, the kingdom is crumbling. If this time of no bread makes you yearn for the circus you could do worse than to be there at 9 a.m. tomorrow. They say there could be fireworks AND a dog and pony show.

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