Wednesday, December 30, 2009


CHOPPED LIVER?: In the two newspaper city of Honolulu bloggers like Ian Lind and the King of the Rats Larry Geller often refer to a two newspaper mornings when what the news is depends on what paper you read.

Lately, with the addition of editors/reporters Mike Levine and Nathan Eagle, when those two paper moments involve the local Kaua`i newspaper, the local version usually shows a lot more enterprise that the O`ahu take.

But the reporting skills of the dynamic duo far outshine their human resources proficiency as evidenced by their recent hiring of “the worst journalist in the world” or at least the island- Paul Curtis to cover the police and courts beat.

Put it all together and you have drop-in, malihini, part-time, Honolulu Advertiser correspondent Diana Leone answering the $64,000 question that Curtis ignores in dueling reports on the fact that the state will not fight an Advertiser records request to release at least the settlement amount- if not the settlement particulars- the state must pay in the Ka Loko Dam tragedy settlement.

The question left burning after reading Curtis’s report is “what about Kaua`i County?” which was, if anything, not just negligent like the state but apparently complicit in covering up some of the grading and grubbing violations of the fiendish Jimmy Pflueger.

While Curtis- under a patently false headline of State settlement in Ka Loko suit unsealed (it hasn’t been unsealed yet but will be soon)- fails to even mention anything about the county settlement- which is equally subject to state open records laws- Leone reports that in addition to the record request for the state settlement,

The (Advertiser) also demanded that Kaua`i County, the only other public entity involved in the settlement, reveal its promised payment amount, but the county has not yet done so. Kaua`i County Attorney Al Castillo didn't respond to a request for comment yesterday.

Once the state information is obtained, The Advertiser will revisit asking Kaua`i County to make its payment amount public, said Advertiser attorney Jeff Portnoy.

The state and county shares should never have been sealed, Portnoy said.

But what neither discussed is why the records requests apparently failed to include anything asking for any information on findings or admissions of culpability on the part of either the state or county.

Anyone following the case will remember that, although the state was supposed- and failed- to inspect the dam, much of the law that was flouted by Pflueger was that of the county’s grubbing and grading ordinance, one that had been recently strengthened after Pflueger’s previous crimes in Pila`a and Ka Loko.

People have also have heard the allegations that the county, in the persons of Mayor Maryann Kusaka and her Department of Public Works personnel- Wally Kudo, Cesar Portugal and then-DPW chief and current Planning Director Ian Costa- actively protected Pflueger when Kusaka directed the three to back off on any investigation and enforcement.

And whether Kusaka indeed directed them as a member of the DPW has sworn, their negligence and reluctance to investigate is a matter of record in testimony before the county council prior to the dam break.

It would be interesting to see what if anything was stipulated in this settlement but for some reason the myopic corporate press is apparently only interested in reporting the bottom line, not getting down to the matter of responsibility.

That might take a little work in explaining the whole story, something a he-said-she-said, one-day–story, mainstream press has no interest in doing.

Don’t count on there being anyone who will reveal the criminal culpability or prosecute those involved at either the state or county level. The dollar amount will have to intimate culpability and the truth will be left to speculation.

No one tried to say a thing
When they carried him out in jest
Except of course, the little neighbor boy
Who carried him to rest
And he just walked along alone
With his guilt so well concealed
And muttered underneath his breath
"Nothing is revealed"

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