Thursday, September 10, 2009


ABSURDLY GOOD: Last week we got an email from a friend who we greatly admire and respect who does many good things for the community- including undertaking a leadership role in a non profit endeavor that works on environmental projects.

Sometimes this person represents the group before the council and planning commission but also serves on a county board.

And, to our dismay, (s)he defended this dual role because (s)he believes that, despite the notorious charter section 20,02(d) that forbids such a combination of activity it would be an “absurd result” if the law were to be enforced because (s)he was “doing good things for the community”.

So it was with great amusement that we read that Mattie Yoshioka, CEO of the Kaua`i Economic Development Board (KEDB) said exactly the same thing when, as the local newspaper’s Michael Levine reported this week, she was told by the Board of Ethics (BOE) that, despite many ruling to the contrary recently- including two favoring similarly conflicted BOE members- she and she alone would be in violation if she continued to serve on the Charter Review Commission and continue to testify before the council for KEDB.

If there was ever someone who the law was made for it would be Yoshioka and KEDB.

For the uninformed, Yoshioka was arguably one of, if not the first “old girls” in the “old boys club”, serving in any number of positions under former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka and later Mayor Bryan Baptiste before parlaying her insider status into a job for KEDB.

KEDB for its part has been a relentless pro-development and sometimes shady operation started by the now disgraced and convicted Gary Baldwin who used “the board” to serve his and the business interests of his cronies such as former PMRF Commander Bob Mullins, enabling many to line their pockets with government dollars.

As reported by PNN in the 90’s on our Parxist Conspiracy TV newsmagazine, Baldwin and Mullins- who was Kusaka’s Administrative Assistant at the time- arranged to steal federal, hurricane-related, economic development money then-destined to revitalize Hanapepe and use it instead to build the West Kaua`i High Tech Center in Waimea which serves to provide office space to defense contractors doing business at the PMRF, the Navy base in Mana.

Mullins then quit the Kusaka administration, joined “the board” and got a job heading up defense contractor Textron’s Kaua`i operations and promptly moved into one of the offices the money paid for.

That was just one of many KEBD shenanigans designed to pad the bank accounts of various private interests, investors, developers and assorted greedy bastards using county money to do it.

And Baldwin also served on the Planning Commission in blatant violation of 200.02(d)

Although Baldwin fled the island after his shady past was reveled and was then convicted of defrauding a doctor on the mainland before he ever came to Kaua`i, his creation KEDB has continued to serve in a similar manner under a series of directors including now Yoshioka

We’re sure that Yoshioka- just like our friend- really believes that she does “good” for the island but we’re just as sure that each would think what the other does many times interferes with the good they are doing.

And that’s the point in this whole business of ignoring the charter provision. Even if a “good for the island” standard was adopted- which would certainly be unconstitutionally vague if enacted- who is the arbiter of “good” as blogger Charley Foster asked Tuesday in an excellent analysis of the law and the lack of enforcement.

And that’s why the law is there- it even handedly makes sure that no one can use their influence as a county official to further their own idea of good. because to do otherwise would lead to the “absurd result” we have today of a small handful of revolving-door, well- connected old boys and girls enriching themselves and their cronies by serving both the public and private sector.

It’s a positive development for the BOE to finally tell someone “no”. Now the question is whether they will revisit their recent decision regarding a few others- and even delve into the dozens of those whose disclosure forms reveal similar conflicts.

We’re not holding our breath for a BOE that serves as the Minotaur’s gatekeepers to suddenly stop doing what’s wrong as long as they can.

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