Friday, August 7, 2009


ACHTUNG AHMADINASING: Democracy took it’s lumps at Wednesday’s council meeting as the first real votes on specific resolutions were squelched by the now well-defined majority which used every trick in the book to avoid taking actions to resolve simplest of issues brought forward by reform Councilmembers Tim Bynum and Lani Kawahara.

The total lack of rationality and recognition of reality was striking. The meeting served as a coming out party for good-old-boy-in-waiting Prince Derek Kawakami who, with established defender of the realm Darryl Kaneshiro, flanked-in-phalanx the besieged Chair Kaipo Asing with a feigned rhetorical “problem?... what problem” blindness topped with a flourish of “that’s my story and I’m sticking to it”.

Everyone knew there’d be trouble as soon as the resolution to form an ad hoc committee to study and propose changes to the council rules was read and Kaneshiro quickly moved to receive- meaning kill- the resolution before Bynum or Kawahara could move to approve it.

After Bynum tried to briefly detail the problems he and Kawahara have had with the rules- especially rule 10(c) pertaining to placing items on the agenda- it quickly degenerated into a series of misdirections and silly personal attacks from Kawakami, Kaneshiro and Asing himself.

Although it was the ad hoc committee resolution that was on the table Kawakami started the distractions by saying that there was no need for a clarification of 10(c) because another rule- 15(c)- allowed placement if items on the agenda by a council 2/3 vote.

Of course that had failed to be enough to do the trick when Bynum tried to get an item on the agenda on June 3.

That started the whole thing. Not only that but of course the real issue is that councilmembers should have the right to introduce any item with or without support from four other members.

Yet that was to become a rallying cry when the actual resolution to clarify rule 10(c) came up later on the agenda.

The first silliness came from the reliably clueless Councilmember Dickie Change who attacked Bynum by saying that at the June 3 meeting, when County Attorney (CA) Al Castillo stifled discussion of the non-agendaed item as a sunshine law violation, councilmember Jay Furfaro had moved to defer the matter but no one seconded it

“I was shocked no one seconded it” Chang said using hindsight to tell Bynum he had the opportunity to put it on a future agenda right there even though the motive for the request for deferral was unknown at that moment- and because a motion for deferral ends discussion.

Chang seemingly either forget or wasn’t aware that as a councilmember he could have seconded it himself.

The mouth, if not brain-engaged Chang then indicated that he was now going to oppose the resolution that he co-introduced with Furfaro saying it wasn’t really “the 360” it appeared to be, forgetting to stop ay 180 and indicating that the audience wasn’t the only one getting dizzy with all the spinning.

Then it was time for Asing to issue the first of his lip-service repetitions of a statement he made on July 22nd saying that “the chair does not have absolute power” despite the fact that he had exercised such by routinely stopping Bynum and other members from placing matters on the agenda- something Bynum has documented at his web site with the actual memos sent to Asing.

“Pay attention to what I say, not what I do” Asing had admitted refusing to place matters on the agenda while denying it in the same breath at the 22nd – as PNN reported last week- and again later during Wednesday’s meeting.

Asing glared at Bynum and called Bynum’s well documented problems with agenda placement “manufactured problems” stating with palms raised “I don’t understand- where did it come from?”.

Next Kawahara made a statement that would be butchered, misquoted and used to attack her by Kaneshiro and Kawakami later in the meeting, saying to Asing that changes in the rules “that were actually brought up to you in the six months I’ve been here” but were not given a place on the agenda.

During the discussion of the rule change itself Kaneshiro would be adamant in heatedly accusing Kawahara over and over of lying by saying she personally had sent memos asking to introduce measures even though she said no such thing.

But the issue of the ad hoc committee was what was actually on the table and there were real problems with the idea- problems that became clear when one of the proposed members, former council chair Ron Kouchi, spoke.

After saying he might have a “perceived conflict of interest” since his employer has a bill coming up on the council’s agenda, he pointed out that the committee would need council staff time and therefore have to direct staff- something he said non-members would have all sorts of difficulty doing.

He said in the past such committees and “task forces’ always had one or two councilmembers to direct staff.

That led to some discussion by Kaneshiro and others regarding the possibility of putting a resolution on a future agenda to form a committee with up to the two councilmembers- the number sunshine law allows to communicate on council matters- to study the rules although there was no real commitment to do so.

The resolution was then "received" by a 4-3 vote with Furfaro- if not Chang- supporting his own resolution along with Bynum and Kawahara.

But the show was just beginning and after lunch the fireworks were lit when the actual rule change resolution- one to clarify that rule 10(c) couldn’t be used by the chair to keep items off the agenda indefinitely - came to the floor.

The change seemed simple and straightforward enough but again Kaneshiro quickly moved to receive and kill the resolution and it was quickly seconded by Kawakami as the script apparently called for.

Kawakami again brought up rule 15(c) repeatedly calling it an “alternative mechanism” for placing things on the agenda even though the measure would then require a 2/3 vote to go foreword.

Bynum tried to calmly explain- as if anyone could forget- all the hassle he had when he tried to get something on the agenda that way and Kawahara reiterated that a 2/3 vote certainly was a “different level” of support that needed to be met and wasn’t “equal” to the simple rule 10(c) which guarantees councilmembers the basic right of a representative in a democracy- to introduce measures for the agenda.

Then it was Kawakami’s time to shine and show his stuff to any good old boys who might have doubted his ability to get down and dirty by defending Asing and the status quo- a very important skill in their eyes and a trial by fire that many sycophants have had to endure to be accepted into the club.

He and Kaneshiro then lit into Kawahara over and over with the ‘you said you had submitted things for the agenda” which of course she didn’t say- and was of course a distraction from the self evident story that has been told over and over about Bynum’s well documented two and a half year quest for democracy... one that everyone had witnessed since June 3 when the two month plus circus of attempting to get the rule change on the agenda began.

Bynum then tried to refocus back on the issue at hand reading the rules and trying to again briefly recap the hassles he’s had even trying to get something on the agenda, even through the 2/3 vote method.

He then called for Castillo to come up so he could ask him if it’s even possible to use the 15)c) “alternative mechanism” since it was Castillo who had said everything he tried to do on June 3 violated the sunshine law because it wasn’t on the agenda- a catch-22 PNN has described in detail over the past couple of months .

Bynum asked simply “can a councilmember make a motion to put something on a future agenda”.

But Castillo hemmed and hawed and eventually refused to answer him, even reverting back to the bad old days of former CA’s who requested everything be put in writing, saying he needed a “specific set of facts” to “make a ruling”.

Then it was time for Asing to repeat his “the chair does not have absolute power” line adding “I don’t believe one person should have that power”.

And of course Kaneshiro, Kawakami and Chang agreed with that and praised Asing for saying- if not doing- it. They also agreed that there was no problem since the chair had said it so it must be true.

And why change the rule if there was no problem they reasoned, acting as if the last two months had never happened and they hadn’t read the documents or heard the testimony.

That was when Asing had his own meltdown trying to say that he had never blocked anything from the agenda at the same time as admitting it had happened quite a few times.

Some of the back and forth exchanges were priceless. At one point Bynum asked Asing “didn’t you tell me you wouldn’t put (a resolution) on the agenda”.

Asing screamed “no!” before giving an excuse as to why he didn’t put it on the agenda.

Another time Asing denied blocking Bynum’s Po`ipu Beach Erosion Study bill which, at the July 22nd meeting, Asing had admitted he had blocked.

And when Bynum finally asked Asing if he had blocked the very resolution that was on the table- the one Bynum and Kawahara had fought for two months to get placed on the agenda- Asing, after having debated for ten minutes, finally said “I’m not going to get into a debate”.

In previous meetings former councilpersons JoAnn Yukimura and Mel Rapozo had testified that they also had the experience of having bills refused agenda placement but when Bynum tried to say that, Asing yelled “that’s an accusation”- something that made no sense (of course it was) and something he’s done before when cornered.

First Asing countered the Yukimura denial by talking about a bill that she wanted to introduce that, he said, had not been “cleared by the county attorney” and admitting that he blocked the bill- vowing he’d do it again if it hadn’t been run by the CA.

But Bynum said that he had forgotten about that bill but what he was really talking about was that Yukimura had tried to introduce a resolution opposing the Superferry coming to Kaua`i without an EIS and Asing refused to put it on the agenda because it was “too controversial”.

That caused the clueless Chang to agree with Asing’s decision saying “I can see the reason why the chair would not put that on the agenda” mentioning the controversy in the community at the time and citing the convention hall debacle with the governor being shouted down.

All this of course should have been enough to indicate that the rules needed clarification but led by Kawakami the three “D’s”- Derek, Dickie and Darryl- each said they personally had never had any problem placing matters on the agenda so there didn’t seem to be any problem with the rules.

Finally, in the ultimate “are you going to believe me or your lyin’ eyes” statement, Kawakami said told the council that “nothing (in the rules) gives the chair that kind of power (to refuse agenda placement)... the rules in place, properly applied, work just fine”, completely ignoring that the rules had very apparently not been “properly applied” and the resolution sought to clarify them so they would be.

Finally to no one’s surprise despite the fact that, as Bynum said, “there has been a problem- that’s as clear as a bell”, the resolution was “received” by a 4-3 vote with Furfaro joining Bynum and Kawahara in voting against the move to kill the rule change and Kaipo and the three D’s standing together in the same majority that put Asing in the council chair last December.

In case we haven’t done a good enough job in conveying the “through the looking glass” tone of the whole meeting, we’ve taken the opportunity sum it up with a re-write of the psychedelic Carrollian favorite, “White Rabbit” by the Jefferson Airplane.


One bill makes him shudder and
Another makes you bawl
And the one the chair initials
Don’t do anything at all.
Ask Peter when he’s 10 feet tall.

And if you go chasing minutes
And you see them in the hall
Tell ‘em a reso-toting Minotaur
Has told you, “you’ve got gall”
Call Dickie when he was just small,

When men who rule on ethics
Get up and tell you they don’t know
And you’ve just missed weeks of email
And your mind can’t grasp it all
Ask Kaipo- I think he’ll know

When logic and proportion
Are received and, now they’re dead
And Darryl’s shredding Roberts
And Derek’s knocking head’s

Remember what the old boys said
Stay in bed
We’re all in bed

1 comment:

Doug said...

The story is pathetic, but your song is GENIUS!