Saturday, January 31, 2009

KPD Blue- Chapter 26: What Boddah You?

KPD Blue

By Anthony Sommer

(Note: Today’s post marks the last regular chapter in our serialization of KPD Blue.

Over the next three weeks we will post three addenda from the book-
1) Regarding Sources,
2) About the Author and
3) An extensive Index

We’d like to thank author Anthony Sommer for allowing us to serialize his tome and for writing the book in the first place.

We ask those who have read the book here to also
buy a copy through and support the author’s efforts to open the eyes of the people of Kaua`i with the “real” story regarding events- as opposed to the “spin” put on them by the local press and county officials at the time

We serialized KPD Blue in hopes that the disinfectant of sunshine would cause some changes in the way the political powers that be conduct the people’s business.

Although some have decided to instead blame the messenger we would do it again any time- and we’re sure Sommer feels the same way.

We’d like to thank the many people who lived the nightmares described in the book and hope that in the long run their battles- whether winning or losing- were not fought in vain.

The book has been a bombshell in the community and an eye-opener for all who read it. Its factual content is, overall, irrefutably accurate. Its characterizations and opinions have spurred island-wide dialogue regarding racism and other biases in both the Kaua`i Police Department and county government- especially in employment.

We also hope the book serves as a vindication of Chief’s KC Lum and George Freitas.

We will continue to follow the story of the current
FBI investigation into matters raised by Sommer as more facts become available.

Andy Parx,
Parx News Net)

Chapter 26: What Boddah You?

“What boddah you?” is a Hawaii Pidgin expression meaning, literally, “What is bothering you?” or “What is your problem?” or “What are you upset about?”

“It’s the United States, but it’s not America,” a former newspaper editor on Kauai is fond of saying.

Another veteran Kauai journalist puts it this way: “Kauai is like the Wild, Wild West. The Constitution and the laws only apply here when it’s convenient. Otherwise, they make it up as they go along.”

Kauai lies 100 miles to the northwest of and 100 years behind the rest of the 50th state. Kauai is the most remote and the least developed (in every way) of the main Hawaiian Islands.

Look up the word “insular” in the dictionary and there is Kauai: 1) Suggestive of the isolated life of an island. 2) Circumscribed and detached in outlook and experience; narrow or provincial (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language).

Tourists like to pretend they “discover” Kauai: Rural and quaint and, of course, stunningly beautiful. They take home pretty pictures.

Visiting Kauai is like dining at a fine restaurant. The ambience is superb. The food tastes delicious.

But, unless the yelling is especially loud that evening, tourists never would guess at the mayhem going on back in the kitchen.

Bigotry and racism, of course, exist throughout the United States and the world. What makes Kauai particularly unique is that racism, sexism and bigotry are ignored, indeed applauded, both officially and as a cultural norm.

Discrimination on Kauai is exactly the opposite of the racism found on the mainland. On Kauai, brown-skinned people are the majority and (for now, but not for much longer) whites are the minority.

Racism in any form is just as ugly.

Discrimination never is discussed on Kauai. It never is written about. No one wants to admit it exists.

In the recorded history of Kauai, no county employee ever has been disciplined for making racist comments or showing favoritism to locals with brown skin while discriminating against haoles with white skin.

To the contrary, discrimination and bigotry are rewarded in Kauai County government. Racism is what keeps Kauai’s politicians in office.

Consider this:

The overall labor force on Kauai is 40 percent white but only 8 percent of the employees in Kauai County government are Caucasian.

A visitor can walk around the Kauai County Building all day without seeing a white face.

Much more important: It is equally true that 60 percent of Kauai voters are local (meaning native Hawaiians and descendants of sugar workers, almost all with brown skin), not white.

And local—not white—approval is what Kauai’s politicians seek because, after all, the majority rules. So the government jobs all go to locals, and they and their families and friends and neighbors all remember that on Election Day.

What politics really is all about, always and everywhere, is power. The key to winning an election—and thus power— on Kauai is pandering to local voters and their dislike and distrust of outsiders.

That is the context in which the KPD exists. The police—a club that on Kauai is almost exclusively local and almost exclusively male—are both a creation and a reflection of both the government and the island’s society.

The KPD is run by and for locals. A haole police chief attempting to diversify the department is almost certain to run afoul of the local majority, and thus be opposed by politicians.

The inevitable result is a racist police department with a stamp of approval from Kauai County.

Government sponsored and approved racial discrimination is particularly hideous when it exists in the police department.

The KPD is the only county agency with the power to use deadly force, the power to incarcerate, and, especially, the power to intimidate.

The police also have the power to “look the other way” when a friend or relative is breaking the law. And, on Kauai, they often do.

Kauai County government operates outside the normal checks and balances designed into American democracy.

There is no friction and no separation of powers between the executive and legislative and judicial branches of government. Everything is agreed on in illegal secret meetings. And the court on Kauai approves.

Even the press, the Fourth Estate, doesn’t question. It serves as a lap dog rather than a watch dog. If there is a helicopter crash or a shark bite or a bursting dam, Honolulu reporters and photographers descend on Kauai in great herds. No expenses are spared to cover tragedy and

But coverage of social issues is considered “boring.” It doesn’t sell newspapers (at least in the minds of publishers, none of whom ever have worked a day in a newsroom).

And that is where the Hawaii press abdicates its most important role in a democratic society.

Kauai is the extreme example of a part of Hawaii stuck in the plantation past. It deserves inquiry.

Racial and ethnic conflict between locals and haoles is the single most dominant theme of life on Kauai, which is the furthest away, both geographically and socially, from the mainland United States.

In Asian-Pacific Islander culture, which dominates Kauai, the blade of grass that sticks up is cut off; the nail that sticks out is pounded in. Public acknowledgement of good deeds is just as bad as accusing a person of an evil act.

Asians and Pacific Islanders are much more likely to embrace leaders who are despots (as long as they remain reasonably benign).

If the island’s political leaders (and its courts) can choose which laws to obey and which laws to ignore, there really is no cultural conflict in the minds of Kauai locals. It’s perfectly acceptable. It’s what’s expected of the royalty (or alii, as the ruling class is called in Hawaii): They are free to make their own rules, at least up to a point..

It’s democracy that’s the stranger on Kauai. It’s the haoles, the outsiders and activists and protestors who deviate from the Kauai norm.

“The haoles never stay very long,” former Kauai Mayor Maryanne Kusaka is fond of pointing out, as though it is a criticism of white people. She openly advises employers on Kauai not to hire haoles and choose locals instead.

In fact, she should be asking why so many haoles— especially those with school-age children—leave Kauai. Maybe the answer lies in the way Kauai’s locals treat the haoles.

“Kill Haole Day” has been outlawed in the public schools, officially at least, but the brown kids beat up the white kids on a regular basis and the KPD officers assigned to the schools conveniently look the other way. So the white parents pack up their children and move to the mainland where the schools are both better and safer.

Maybe the Kauai government should set the example for tolerance and sensitivity and inclusion—but it doesn’t.

Bad government, bad schools and no opportunities (beyond making hotel beds and cutting resort lawns) result in what is called throughout Hawaii “The Brain Drain”:

The best and the brightest of Kauai’s children flee the island for better opportunities in Honolulu or the mainland as soon as they can.

Those left behind suffer from a massive inferiority complex. Kauai locals feel disempowered when they deal with the ever-increasing number of whites buying property and developing subdivisions and condos for even more whites. There is an anger born of past injustices (mostly real and mostly by whites).

Locals on Kauai are terrified of change and the very traditional island rapidly is morphing into something they don’t want: Becoming another Maui, over-commercialized and controlled by outside interests.

But that’s the way the haole developers and their local token hirelings are pointing them. The local officials gladly cozy up to the developers in hopes of payoffs, much like the Hawaiian royalty sold their kingdom to outsiders two centuries ago.

Local culture becomes dysfunctional is when it is layered on democracy. It’s just not a good fit, largely because the democracy never operates with all of the checks and balances it’s supposed to have.

Locals show great deference to authority and never openly challenge it. It is not in their cultural heritage and in a place as isolated as Kauai, their assimilation into the American mainstream has been painfully slow.

Kauai is one of very few places in the United States where the citizens—with good reason—fear their government:

Retaliation is essential for the government to keep the peasants in line.

The vast majority of Kauai’s locals want to go through life unnoticed. Certainly they would never speak up to defy authority.

It’s called “humility” but, in reality, it’s an attempt at hiding, as anonymously as possible, within the herd, the flock or the pack.

The island is remote and ignored, especially by the Honolulu news media and state and federal prosecutors, which should be paying more attention because Kauai is unique in all the wrong ways and thus worthy of at least some minimal attention.

The overall culture in Kauai County government and at the KPD is racist and sexist and corrupt. And the local politicians keep it that way.

And the local voters keep returning the same politicians to office.

Friday, January 30, 2009


2009: THE YEAR OF CANNABIS REFORM: Though most would have no idea amidst the mainstream media coverage of various and sundry “silly season” bills introduced at the legislature this year, a package of bills of the utmost seriousness for many is on the agenda..

It’s marijuana reform year (stop giggling) for both medical users and those who have suffered under the insanely draconian- and costly- recreational use laws in Hawai`i.

We fully expect the law enforcement and prosecutorial community to continue their fear-based and fact-lacking crusade to try to stop the sanity.

If the example of what happened on the Big Island when the voters dared to instruct their police department to make enforcement of marijuana prohibition laws the “lowest priority” is any indication, the constabulary has obviously been watching Reefer Madness too many times.

And since they’ll be there we have to be there too.

Eight great bills have passed first reading so far and three are essential to reform the uniquely cruel medical marijuana laws in this state.

The first and most important is one that would put regulation where it belongs- in the Department of Heath instead of the Department of Public Safety where it’s been since the legislature passed the measure a few years back

HB 967 (click here now and throughout the session for status) is assigned to the Public Safety, Heath, Judiciary and Finance committees. It:

Amends the term "medical marijuana" to "medical cannabis"; transfers the administration of the program from the department of public safety to the department of health; authorizes a registration fee of $50; establishes the medical cannabis advisory board; provides for the department of health to license producers to dispense medical cannabis.

The absurd practice of administering the program in a department where the leaders oppose the program has led to things like the ”accidental” release of the list of all the names of participants to a Big Island media outlet and the provision of the list to local police departments rather than having local law enforcement ask whether or not a specific patient is permitted to use cannabis.

Another farce that would end- this one if Bill HB1194 (Status) is passed- is the one that forces patients who need their medicine to illegally purchase it if they can’t grow their own- something difficult for the debilitated and chronic pain patients and something impossible for people who are diagnosed with cancer and start chemotherapy the next day- one of the most common types of users of medical cannabis..

It has also been referred to the Public Safety, Heath, Judiciary and Finance committees and

Requires department of health to grow, manage, operate, and dispense medical marijuana collectives to qualifying patients. Requires department of public safety to provide security for marijuana growing facilities and for transportation of marijuana. Limits each qualifying patient to 1 caregiver. Allows no more than 4 ounces of marijuana to each patient for every 30 calendar days.

The third medical bill HB226 (Status) referred to the Public Safety and Judiciary committees would increase the amounts patents can possess and stops the illegal sharing of medical information that current practice allows along with protecting the location of growing sites from prying eyes. It

Allows a qualifying patient to possess 12 marijuana plants and 7 ounces of marijuana at one time. Prohibits identification of the site where marijuana is grown on a registry card. Prohibits a certifying physician from naming a patient's particular debilitating condition. Allows a caregiver to grow marijuana for no more than 5 patients.

But if the prohibitionists ridiculous attempts to deny sick people medicine is cruel and inhuman their rabid irrational persecution of recreational users is not just over the top but is one of most costly boondoggles in American history.

While real felons roam free due to an acknowledged lack of resources and drunks beat their families and drive off to the next drive-in liquor store, we spend precious dollars on prosecuting otherwise law-abiding pot smokers’ use of an innocuous herb

There are five bills that would rein in the law enforcement zealots.

The first three contain three different ways to decriminalize marijuana use

HB190 (Status) in the Judiciary Committee

Reclassifies possession of less than one ounce of marijuana from a petty misdemeanor to a violation.

HB227 (Status) is also in the Judiciary Committee and

Decriminalizes possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana and makes the possession a civil violation subject to a fine of not more than $100. Jud

HB1192 (Status), in the Public Safety Human Services. Judiciary and Finance committees,

Makes the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana a civil offense and imposes fines. Requires persons under eighteen years of age against whom a civil judgment is entered to complete a drug awareness program.

The final two make it clear that we are a society where the people make the laws and determine the punishment and the police and prosecutors enforce them- a concept of civilian control over our paramilitary law enforcement agencies that some of them seem to forget.

The first would mirror that Hawai`i Island “lowest priority” provision and make it a statewide mandate

HB1193 (Status) is in the Judiciary and Finance committees and

Provides that the enforcement of laws related to the personal use of marijuana by adults shall be the lowest law enforcement priority for state and local law enforcement agencies.

The last one would bring some sanity to the idiotic “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” policy for both marijuana and low-level felony drug “offenders”

HB308 (Status) in the Judiciary, Public Safety and Finance committees

Directs the attorney general to coordinate a review of the impact of diverting marijuana and low-level felony drug offenders out of the criminal justice system into treatment.

Most of the bills were introduced by House Public Safety Committee Chair Faye Hanohano and Maui Rep. Joe Bertram, and many have support from Speaker Calvin Say, Majority Leader Blake Oshiro and Judiciary Chair Jon Riki Karamatsu – Say even introduced a couple “by request”.

But if these bills are to have any chance we need to let the chairs of the committees know NOW that we are eager for them to schedule hearings on them and let the committee members know of our support.

This could be the year, especially if we remind the legislature of the many millions wasted to interdict, arrest, prosecute and jail both sick people and those who might enjoy an evening of a less radical, more peaceful form of relaxational imbibment than the often-violent alcoholics do.

Check out the full list of committees and their members and write them an email today.

Note: We’re gonna try to set up “Actions at the Legislature” box on the left to track the bills we write about this year so look for it as soon as we can figure out how to do it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


THEY CAN’T DREAM WELL BECAUSE OF THEIR HORNS: You gotta wonder sometimes what’s going on in the heads of some of the top Kaua`i activists.

A lot of them worked their butts off to gather petition signatures to put a measure on the ballot and campaigned hard to pass a Charter amendment last fall

But since then the silence about enforcing it has been deafening. Other than our two columns last year on the implications and last week on the council’s attempts to bury the matter in executive session no one has heard a peep from anyone either verbally or in print about the law that essentially bans the planning commission from processing and issuing visitor accommodation permits and puts that onus on the county council... at least for now.

Fast forward to today, almost three months after passage and many of the self same activists just tried to slow down or stop a new resort in traffic-plagued overdeveloped Kapa`a, not by citing the new amendment but by continuing a legal battle- one they apparently lost- to require an environmental assessment on the project at a planning commission meeting Tuesday.

The silence was finally broken, not by the dozens who filed past the commission to testify, but when local newspaper reporter Michael Levine dared breach the subject in his Wednesday report on the meeting.

Levine’s a pretty sharp cookie and it must have occurred to him to question it too because after describing all the complicated legal wrangling over the case he wrote:

While Tuesday’s vote appears to be the commission’s final act on the two developments, it could also be one of the last major development applications for tourist accommodations to be heard by the body for some time.

On Nov. 4, voters approved a charter amendment essentially transferring the power to approve permits for tourist accommodations to the County Council upon a two-thirds affirmative vote of the council and allowing the council, if it enacts a rate-of-growth limit that is consistent with the General Plan, to delegate the approval authority to the Planning Commission. How, and when, the council assumes control remains up in the air.

“There’s an urgency for us to get clarity in the legal interpretations,” said Councilman Jay Furfaro, chair of the council’s Planning Committee, adding there is a “series of interpretations” the council must make, such as whether the growth rate is tied to a unit count or, as in the General Plan, to a daily census number of visitors.

“We’re in uncharted territory,” said Councilman Tim Bynum, who said he understands the intent of the new legislation, but is unclear on “the interpretations of what the law means and how we implement that appropriately. I don’t have a good answer. I don’t know at this point. I’m not an attorney and I’m not a planner.”

It appears the oft-times dunderhead Bynum and the disingenuously arrogant Furfaro are apparently unable to read for themselves because no matter what process the council chooses to deal with permits themselves the amendment is clear in that it is the council, not the planning commission, that must process and approve permits.

Though we were stymied after an hour of trying to find a copy of the apparently-purged wording of the amendment at the county’s web site, fortunately Island Breath’s Juan Wilson had archived a copy because, even during the election campaign season last year he had been unable to locate an on-line version.

Though the amendment leaves the details up to the council to “adopt such ordinances, laws, rules and regulations as are necessary to carry out the terms and intent of this amendment to the Charter” one thing is clear- the power of permitting no longer rests with the planning commission and has been transferred to the council which may reassign the power to the commission after meeting some requirements that, though clear, throw a money-wrench into the governmental cogs..

The very first sentence of the new charter section- which along with the others passed in 2008 (and even those approved in 2006 for that matter) are still not part of the version of the charter posted at the county web site- begins by saying: :

The power to process and to issue any zoning, use, subdivision, or variance permit for more than one transient accommodation unit shall be vested in and exercisable exclusively by the council.

What kind of “legal interpretation” does Furfaro need to read and understand that? What trouble does Bynum have understanding “what the law means”.

It’s their job to write laws. One would think they could read it.

Never has the “what are you stupid or do you think we are” conundrum been more clearly elucidated

But we expect this kind of behavior from Kaua`i councilpersons. What is flabbergasting is that people who have invested time and money fighting all sorts of actions by the commission since November have not even mentioned the fact that the commissioners have no business processing these things in the first place by putting them on their agenda.

Chalk it up once again to Minotaurs like Furfaro and Bynum who join Chair Kaipo Asing, Planning Director Ian Costa, Mayor Bernard Carvalho and the others in county government who join the chorus singing “we’ll do what’s wrong as long as we can”

And as to the activists who seem to have the attention span of a gnat even when it was through their stupendous efforts that the law was enacted, we have to ask once again as manager Casey Stengel asked of the ’62 Mets, “can’t anyone here play this game/”

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL DOGHOUSE: When we first saw Anne Punohu's efforts to stop discrimination against those receiving federal HUD Section 8 housing subsidies we worried that it would just end up being just another valiant attempt by a dedicated community activist destined for oblivion.

But it did spur us to finalize a story we’d essentially been working on for almost 15 years on some of the trials and tribulations for both Section 8 clients and participating landlords

And because of Anne’s efforts and coverage not just here but in local and Honolulu newspapers, not only have we heard from a landlord who changed their mind about the program recipients and is going to seek out a deserving family for their rental, Kaua`i and Ni`ihau state Senator Gary Hooser has introduced a bill to “relating to discrimination” that would “prohibit discrimination based on lawful source of income in real estate transactions, including advertising available rental units.”

“I want to express my deep gratitude to Senator Gary Hooser’s office and staff, and in particular the Senator himself for helping us with this worthy cause”. said Punohu. “We hope that all concerned will send testimony in on this issue, and help to get SB456 passed.

According to Punohu the National Economic and social Rights Initiative will be sending testimony in support of the bill through its Campaign to Restore National Housing Rights
Senate bill 456 has been referred to both the Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection and Committee on Judiciary and Government Operations.

The “landlord” we heard from was one who called right after our piece grumbling about “the type of people” who receive the housing subsidies for the elderly, disabled and working poor.

But when she called us again it was to tell us that after talking to others and calling the county housing agency that administers the program, she decided that it just might be a great way to help a deserving family and at the same time insure that the rent is paid on time- even early- every month.

The bill would go about banning discrimination in housing by amending HRS 515-2 to add “source of income” to the existing list of classes of persons protected against discrimination in housing. It currently protects against prejudice due to “gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, color, religion, marital status, familial status, ancestry, disability, age, or human immunodeficiency virus infection”.

The preamble to the bill says:

The legislature finds that low-income individuals have an extremely difficult time finding affordable rentals in Hawaii. This situation is made more frustrating when housing vacancy advertisements discourage people from applying by advertising "no section 8 accepted". At this time, in the State of Hawaii, the law does not prohibit discrimination based on lawful source of income. However, thirteen other states, including California and Oregon, have prohibited this type of income discrimination. Renters who participate in government assistance programs, such as Housing Choice Vouchers, also known as, section 8, should have an equal opportunity to find housing. The purpose of this Act is to prohibit discrimination based on lawful source of income in real estate transactions, including advertising available rental units.

It also goes on to say that

Nothing in section 515-3 shall be deemed to prohibit a person from determining the ability of a potential buyer or renter to pay a purchase price or rent by:

(1) Verifying, in a commercially reasonable manner, the source and amount of income of the potential buyer or renter; or

(2) Evaluating, in a commercially reasonable manner, the stability, security, and credit worthiness of the potential buyer or renter or any source of income of the potential buyer or renter.

The prohibition against discrimination based on source of income shall not prevent a person from refusing to consider income derived from any criminal activity.

Currently the bill is being heard in the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee and testimony should be addressed to Chair: Senator Baker, at, and Vice Chair, Senator Ige. at

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


MAYOR ORDERS DEP’T HEADS CUT BUDGET BY 10% ACROSS THE BOARD: PNN has confirmed rumors that Mayor Bernard Carvalho has instructed all department heads to cut their budgets by 10% across the board in the budget currently being complied by the administration.

Although a 5% figure had been tossed around in reports PNN received from various county employees, administration spokesperson Mary Daubert confirmed the 10% reduction yesterday saying that “(t)he Mayor asked each department head to reduce his or her budget by 10%, not 5%. He did not specify how the department head was to reach that 10% reduction.”

The 5% figure was also mentioned by members of the Police Commission at their public meeting last Friday.

Carvalho’s administration has been tightlipped about specifics in putting together the 2009-10 budget so far except for saying that “we are anticipating a ten to fifteen percent decline in revenues from both local and state sources, and have advised department heads to reduce their budgets accordingly” in his testimony to the state legislature on January 13.

Although that testimony spoke of specifics such as a hiring freeze, a pay freeze for himself and department heads, the discontinuation of the mayor’s car allowance and savings in “energy use” this is the first indication of an “across the board” budget cut as opposed to “surgical trimming” of specific programs as the state and the other counties have sought in their budgets.

Despite the claimed “hiring freeze” the administration recently hired at least three new employees as “park rangers” as widely publicized, essentially in order to enforce new regulations allowing dogs on the east side bike path.

During the campaign, in a debate sponsored by the local newspaper, Carvalho angrily boasted that he would “not cut any programs” after his opponent JoAnn Yukimura said the new mayor would have to make cuts somewhere and stated that Carvalho did not understand the budgeting process.

According to the county charter the mayor’s new budget is due on the council’s table on or before March 15 for slicing and dicing during a series of council budget hearings with all department heads coming before the council to justify their budgets.

Although the charter calls for a balanced budget and requires the council publish “a summary of the estimated revenues, including any new sources of revenues, and expenditures” upon receipt of the mayor’s budget, it does not define how the total of income is to be tabulated.

Councilperson Jay Furfaro, formerly Chair of the council’s Finance Committee has called for a local version of the state’s council of revenue to give the council a figure they can work from.

The current practice of the council has been to take the tabulation of all of the assessments of all properties on the island and set a “real property tax rate” sufficient to “balance” the budget.

The county’s only source of taxation revenue is from property taxes according to the state constitution.

The setting of the tax rate has been controversial over the past 10 years of increasing assessments since the council has been able to raise the amount of actually revenues received through tax collections while technically being able to claim to have maintained or even “lowered the real property tax” often leaving out the word “rate” at the end.

According to the charter the mayor also is required to submit suggested modifications to the budget by May 8 which is followed by a public hearing on the budget before the council.

There is no public hearing mandated before the council’s deliberations begin although one has been requested many times over the years by members of the public and some councilmembers.

During the process the council is allowed to “reduce any item or items in the mayor's proposed budget by a majority vote and may increase any item or items therein or add new items thereto by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the entire membership”.

The charter also says that “(a)mendments to the adopted annual budget ordinance may be submitted by the mayor... but no amendment shall increase the aggregate of authorized expenditures to any amount greater than the estimate of revenues for the fiscal year.”

The council must then pass a budget on or before June 7 or the mayor’s original budget submitted in March takes effect automatically.

Section 19 of the charter on “Financial Procedures” does not require the mayor’s signature on the budget for it to become law.

The current charter provision for the budget process was added in 1992 following bitter budget battles during a time when the charter was basically silent about what would happen if the mayor vetoed the budget and the council didn’t override the veto by the beginning of the next fiscal year.

Despite a public outcry for the televising of the budget hearings over the past few years it is expected that the council will not honor that request again this year and is expected to conduct their deliberations as secretly as possible under the open meetings provisions in the state sunshine law.

Monday, January 26, 2009


DOGGED PERSISTENCE: The bill we’ve been following to appropriate $85,000 to help the Kaua`i Police Department (KPD) with recruiting is up for final passage on Wednesday but not before both a bang and a whimper at last week’s Public Safety Committee meeting.

On Jan. 15 we posted the prepared public hearing testimony of council watchdog Glenn Mickens questioning the need to throw money at the problem without first finding out why we are so dismally behind other islands in keeping our force fully staffed.

Mickens also maintained that the “morale problem”- upon which much of the shortage was blamed for years- hasn’t gotten any better since the ouster of Chief KC Lum and the installation of Chief Darryl Perry.

And on Jan. 20 we reported on the reaction of Council Chair Kaipo Asing at the Jan 14 hearing, generally excoriating Mickens for his attempt to link the shortage to morale and just about calling him a liar regarding the numbers from other islands' departments.

The bang at last Wed.’s (Jan 21) committee meeting was the sound of Mickens' explosive report after he called each department on each island and got the accurate figures.

And the whimper was the way a silent Asing simply skulked out of the council chambers after Mickens’ presentation without any recognition of Mickens' work or an apology for his diatribe the previous week during the “public hearing”- where by law council members are supposed to refrain from comment on public testimony.

Mickens' testimony – reproduced in full below- said that

HCPD (Hawaii County) has a total of 432 police officer positions and 9 of those are unfilled at this time. Meaning that they are about 2% from being completely full.

HPD (Oahu) has a total of 2134 officers and only 10 of those are unfilled or 1/2 of 1%.

Maui PD has 367 officers with 36 vacancies meaning about 10% are unfilled.

And our department according to our organizational chart on our Web site has 141 total officers with 23 vacancies or 16.3%.

And our numbers are actually it’s even worse now than when they were posted

At it’s Jan 23 meeting the Kaua`i Police Commission heard a report from the chief that the latest figure is that we are 28 not 23 officers short and we currently do not even have a recruiting class in progress.

And there was discussion among commissioners about how we can expect a slew of retirements in the near future with many “reaching 20 (years service)” very soon.

The chief reported that a class starting on Feb 2 has 13 recruits, but there are about 40 names on a list of those who passed the test and another 80 on a waiting list to take the test.

It’s not clear if the council had these numbers, but in response to at least one aspect of Mickens testimony, a Councilperson Jay Furfaro-introduced amendment to the bill was passed.

While the original bill required that the department use $65,000 of the money to hire a “consultant”, the amendment would allow them to hire someone (Mickens suggested using a retired officer) to simply run the required “background checks” on applicants since that is apparently why, though there are 120 people who have applied, only 13 are in the current class.

It should be noted that no one from KPD ever appeared before the council to answer questions regarding the bill or on recruiting in general. Nor was there even a request by any council member to have anyone from the department present.

That may be the first time we’ve ever seen a departmental appropriation bill sail though the council without the presence of department personnel at some point to answer questions and shepherd the bill through.

Much of the discussion, especially from Councilperson Dickie Chang, centered around finding out what the other islands’ departments were doing that was working so well and applying it to recruiting on Kaua`i. But it is unknown if that message will reach KPD brass because they simply weren’t there to hear it.

Bill 2296 is expected to pass unanimously on second reading this Wed at the full council meeting which begins at 9 a.m.

Glenn Mickens' Testimony on KPD recruiting :

In my testimony at the Public Hearing on 1/14 I made some statementsbasically trying to back up my theory that this council shouldn't be approving $85 thousand for a consultant and for advertising to get more police on our force.

I made the statement that "I understood" that our other Islands had their police positions filled and since SHOPO sets salaries for the entire state, pay is not, in my opinion, the biggest problem with recruiting. As Jay said, it is part of the entire problem but probably not the largest.

My friend, Council Chair Asing, basically stated that the numbers I was giving for other island's employment status were wrong.

So I called the police departments on Oahu, the Big Island and Maui. What I found out was very interesting.

HCPD (Hawaii County) has a total of 432 police officer positions and 9 of those are unfilled at this time. Meaning that they are about 2% from being completely full.

HPD (Oahu) has a total of 2134 officers and only 10 of those are unfilled or 1/2 of 1%.

Maui PD has 367 officers with 36 vacancies meaning about 10% are unfilled.

And our department according to our organizational chart on our Web site has 141 total officers with 23 vacancies or 16.3%.

So, it appears that besides our unfilled positions of 16.3%, the other Islands are much closer to being 100% full and this was my point. Instead of Kaipo questioning my figures I am sure he could have called the other police departments to confirm or deny the accuracy of my numbers.

Council member Chang made a very good observation at the last meeting when he said that if the other Islands have their positions filled, our department should take a page from their book and find out what they do to fill vacant positions. In fact I complimented the other departments when I spoke to them for their method of hiring and retaining their officers.

So, it would appear prudent to me to do as someone has suggested to help solve some of our problems. Find a retired officer or someone with police experience, put them on an 89 day hire, pay them from the unfilled budget (saving about $79 thousand of the $85 thousand being asked for) and thus not task a working officer with the recruiting responsibility and putting that persons work load on another officer which could only increase problems in the force.

Also, the council passed and adopted Resolution # 2005-65 Draft 1 on December 1, 2005. This resolution established a council investigating committee to investigate the Kauai Police Department.

Since all aspects of the police department were to be looked into under Charter Section 3.17----which must have included hiring and retention practices---the reasons for not being able to fill most vacancies must have been identified. So why are we wanting to spend $85 thousand to duplicate what was done or should have been done?

Again, I am opposed to Bill 2296 and do not believe that the proposed $85 thousand will solve the problem that it was meant to address.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

KPD Blue- Chapter 25 : After the Purge is Over

KPD Blue

By Anthony Sommer

Chapter 25 : After the Purge is Over

When Lum resigned, Lt. Clayton Arinaga became acting chief.

Arinaga had been publicly critical of both Lum and Venneman.

He was one of the leaders of the old guard.

Arinaga is a graduate of Kapaa High School, a diploma neither Lum nor George Freitas ever could nail on their
office wall.

Arinaga chose Lt. Gordon Isoda, another old guard stalwart, as his acting deputy.

The department had been cast back into the Dark Ages where terms like “diversity” and “Constitutional rights” couldn’t be found in the KPD vocabulary. And that’s just where Baptiste and the County Council seem to want the KPD.

As usual, the whole show was scripted in advance and the outcome assured.

Arinaga said he didn’t want the permanent appointment, so the County Council coughed up even more money to patch up the police department: $50,000 for a head-hunter firm to come up with candidates.

Nothing gets done in Kauai County government unless it goes to an expensive outside consultant or lawyer. And, since the consultant or lawyer never is from Kauai, there is a message there somewhere about the lack of competency in Kauai County.

In July, 2007, the recruiting company, after searching the entire planet (perhaps even the entire solar system), sent Kauai County its list of recommendations.

The three finalists included former HPD Major and Kauai native Darryl Perry.

(Picture caption)
Darryl Perry, a Kauai native and retired Honolulu Police Department major, was the choice of the Mayor Bryan Baptiste, the County Council and the middle management of KPD to replace Chief George Freitas, who was forced out by Baptiste. The Police Commission chose K.C. Lum instead. So, Mayor Bryan Baptiste used his Ethics Commission to get rid of the Police Commission chairman who supported Lum and then declared Lum’s contract was invalid. Once the chief ’s office was vacant, Perry got the job.

The important thing to know about consultants hired by politicians is they have to agree to arrive at the conclusions the politicians want before they begin their study. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be hired.

This is the same Darryl Perry who was a finalist when Lum was selected chief. The same Darryl Perry who is a close friend of Leon Gonsalves. The same Darryl Perry who was born on Kauai and was graduated from Kauai High School. The same Darryl Perry who had briefly served on KPD but spent most of his police career in Honolulu.

A month later, Perry was appointed chief by a police commission stacked with Bryan Baptiste appointees.

The decade-long circle had closed. The KPD again had a local chief. And no one is interested in discussing racism and sexism in the department.

In fact, Mayor Baptiste again rewarded racist comments.

After the County Council refused to honor Bryan Baptiste’s bogus request that they fire Gonsalves from the Kauai Police Commission, Gonsalves served out the remainder of his term.

Then Police Commissioner Gonsalves was re-appointed, by Baptiste, to a second term. Wasn’t this the same guy Baptiste had asked the Council to remove during his initial term? No one on the Council asked.

And there was no mention of Hop Sing or Little Joe when the Council approved Gonsalves’s second term.

Friday, January 23, 2009


TALKIN' CABBAGES AND KINGS: An email with exclamation points in the subject line arrived this week from a reader on the mainland distraught at our apparent lack of interest in and comment on the new prez.

Our reticence comes from the fact that it’s awfully depressing to think that the pendulum has swung so widely that this is probably the best president we’ll ever get in the corporate democracy of the USA Inc.

Worse has been keeping out lunch down with the mindless gushing of the media- the first thing we heard upon turning on CNN on Monday morning was “...during this historic week when the past literally intersects with the future”


It’s not like national policies haven’t gotten better in some areas already. But how could that not happen? There have been presidents that left in disgrace, under a cloud or despised beyond rationality. But never has one been a laughing stock.

There’s something about political humor that requires an almost caricature-like super villain to play off of before it’s really funny. And when you’ve got a willing foil like we had just being earnest every once in a while will make you wildly popular replacement.

And when Porgie and Dickhead left as the mother of all butts of jokes it was not a hard act to follow especially since people are laughing as an alternative to crying.

So in walks Barry who is “gooood” as in “oooo- he’s gooood”.

Some people have that thing going that, when they talk you’re lucky if you still have all your fingers when they’re done. Some sell timeshares, some sell cars and some become politicians and sell ideas.

We all sense it when we hear it if a speaker’s ”got it” Kennedy had it. King had it. Even Clinton had it.

The problem is that it well may be that in order to have “it” you have to be “full of it”.

And just because we like the description of “it” doesn’t mean we have to swallow it whole. Because once it’s ingested it becomes a part of us investing us in the original palatability.

The political gourmet need not be the cynic just the skeptic and realist. We need only to remember that the lambs that follow in lockstep are the last to know. so the first to the slaughter.

For all the pretty bows on the package we will still have a leader who will leave us at perpetual war, without insurance company free health care, still perpetuating an exploitive economic model and still be slouching toward theocracy in a country built on corporate personhood and expansionist genocide.

We’d be well served to check out those blankets before we wrap ourselves in them.

To those who prefer to play Peter Pan and think lovely thoughts this kind of disbelieving must seem like that ubiquitous “negativity”- code for “don’t shatter my delusion, it’s all that’s keeping me from stuffing up the cracks and turning on the gas.”

But “real” is neither positive nor negative – it just is what is is. If it seems charged one or the other it’s only one’s perspective. In actuality it’s all just existent or fanciful.

It takes no time at all growing up on the streets of New York City to figure out that it’s a sucker’s game to trust anyone and everyone until they prove untrustworthy rather than keeping count of your teeth until it seems ok to take a smoke-break on the vigilance.

And the same is true for those in Missouri. But no matter where or what there’s still a lot of people who will let the smooth talker steal their face right off their head.

It couldn’t help but be better now It up to us to be real enough to reject the castles in the sky we create in our perceptions.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


THEY LIKE THE DARK AS DARK AS CAN BE: Former mayoral candidate and open government advocate Rolf Bieber has been nominated to the Kaua`i Board of Ethics by Mayor Bernard Carvalho, PNN has learned.

Although in typical secretive fashion there has been no official announcement by the administration, Bieber’s name and those of eight other nominees for various boards and commissions appear on an agenda for a “special” council meeting to “interview” them, set for next Tuesday January 27.

Bieber, who has in the past testified before the council in support of enforcement by the Ethics Board of conflict of interest provisions and in opposition to executive sessions to discuss public policy, said that he is “honored to be able to serve” and thanked Carvalho for the nomination.

Bieber endorsed Carvalho’s mayoral bid in the closing days of the campaign last fall.

“Ethics in county government is an issue near and dear to me” said Bieber in a telephone interview this morning. “I ran on open and good governance and hope to take that platform to the Ethics Board.“

But while, if confirmed Bieber’s nomination might put a fresh face on the Ethics Board some of the others nominated as straight from a list of the same old faces- cronies of Carvalho’s and past Mayors Bryan Baptiste and Marianne Kusaka.

One of the most bizarre nominations is that of former County Attorney under Kusaka, Hartwell Blake, to the Planning Commission to fill the “environmental” slot.

The county charter calls for planning commission members to come from three sectors- two from business, two from labor and two from the environmental community- in addition to one “at large” slot.

It is a real head-scratchier is what Blake’s environmental credentials might be but the charter is silent on the criteria and past administrations and councils have failed to develop any criteria leaving the provision all but a joke.

Other cronies and campaign stalwarts include former civil defense coordinator under Kusaka, Cayetano “Sonny” Gerardo who served as Carvalho’s attack dog on former Mayor and again mayoral candidate Joann Yukimura during last year’s campaign.

In the closing days of the campaign Gerardo wrote a series of letters and emails in conducting a smear campaign rehashing unsubstantiated and often fabricated rumors regarding Yukimura’s actions following Hurricane ‘Iniki, alleging that she “took care of her north shore friends and ignored the west side” claiming she “bungled” the clean up.

Yukimura won national awards for her handling of the aftermath of the storm, especially her handling of the debris.

Gerardo is up for confirmation to the Board of Review, which hears property tax appeals, along with another familiar name- former prosecutor Craig DeCosta who declined to run for another term last year.

The full list of nominees and their terms includes:

•Paul Weil – First Term to expire 12/31/2011
•Rolf Bieber – Partial Term to expire 12/31/2009
•Cayetano “Sonny” Gerardo – First Term to expire 12/31/2011
•Craig DeCosta – First Term to expire 12/31/2011
•Cathy Adams – First Term to expire 12/31/2011
•Gary Pacheco – First Term to expire 12/31/2011
•Charles Iona – First Term to expire 12/31/2010
•Hartwell Blake – (Environmental Designee) First Term to expire 12/31/2011
•Carol Suzawa – First Term to expire 12/31/2011

But if anyone wants to hear what questions the council asks the nominees don’t look for them to be televised.

The council has for years done all it could to keep secret these confirmation hearings- euphemistically called interviews- including refusing to fund their taping and, instead of scheduling them during regular council meetings, has used “special council meetings” to perpetuate the secrecy of the interviews after losing a battle with the Office of Information Practices (OIP) to keep them in executive session.

Back before January of 2002 the council refused to open the interviews to the public citing a provision in the county charter- part of the infamous Section 3.07(e) which was removed from the charter by voters this past fall after surreptitious wording gave the false impression that it would require the council to abide by the state sunshine law.

But after four years of testimony as to the illegal nature of the interviews and requests of OIP for enforcement of the state sunshine law by PNN, in January of 2002 a request was made by then-returning councilperson Yukimura asking the OIP if indeed they were allowed to go into executive session for the “interviews”.

The matter blew up that month when the year’s list of nominees were scheduled for interviews in executive session.

That stormy morning, despite a series of frantic phone calls from OIP forbidding the council from holding the interviews behind closed doors the council did so anyway causing an angry rebuke via fax and a subsequent written opinion from the toothless-tiger OIP.

That left the humid hallways of the historic county building full of dozens of soaking wet nominees standing around (for lack of seats) in foul weather gear, while the council sat in their air-conditioned chambers and invited them in one by one.

Since then the hearings have been technically open to the public but have been kept out of the purview of the general public as much as possible by a prohibition of televising the meetings.

Although councilmembers have cited the cost of taping and captioning meetings as a reason for keeping interviews off the air there appears to be no such concern over the endless hours of televised and captioned “awards” and “certificates”.

These little self promotional grandstanding events for councilmembers are not even part of the official agenda yet are routinely scheduled at the beginning or even during the middle of council meetings. They serve as free campaigning when members of the community are fawned over by the council before posing for the mandatory grip and grin photo to fill the local paper’s news hole.

Despite promises from candidates during the intervening years to make sure the confirmation sessions are televised the budget never seems to have enough money for them. And of course since what gets taped and doesn’t get taped is up to the famously secretive and paternalistic Council Chair Kaipo Asing, these interviews will most likely be hidden for the foreseeable future.

The public may come and testify or attempt to ask their own questions of the nominees at the 8:30 a.m. meeting and will most likely be able to testify on camera when the council confirms the nominations which, although the agenda isn’t out yet, will probably occur at the full council meeting scheduled for the next day, Wednesday January 28.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


RUNNING AFTER THE HONEYWAGON: We did skip over one particularly nauseating bit of unsurprising non-news from the January 14 council meeting where, to no one’s astonishment, former councilpersons Mel Rapozo and Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho’s valiant fight to clean up the county patronage–based hiring system (in the wake of the linked FBI investigation) died a quick and silent death.

As we reported in both September and again in December Personnel Services Division Malcolm “Mel” Fernandez has refused to appear before the council to answer questions regarding employment practices and the matter was “deferred” leaving one last council action on the matter now that Mel and Shay are gone from the council.

And so without comment the matter was “received for the record” by the current council last Wednesday.

But Rapozo, who lost his bid for Mayor last year, promised to follow up and guess what? He did.

Perhaps his investigative talents were lost on politics-from-the-inside because today Rapozo reports some blockbuster info at his Kaua`i Politics web site after attending yesterday’s Kaua`i Civil Service Commission Meeting.

Though many suspected as much Rapozo got them to admit two things.

The first is that despite state laws to the contrary they apparently do not administer civil service exams to many applicants for civil service positions.

The second is that they maintain a “list” of 2-300 applicants and let the department heads just pick and choose who they- or the mayor, who appoints them- want without regard to comparative skills, talents or “merit”

Mel cites the two pertinent state laws, The first requires exams.

§76-18 Examinations. There shall be examinations for testing the fitness and ability of applicants for positions in civil service. The director shall adopt rules to administer the examination programs.

The second describes the “merit system” which requires that employment be “based on the.. fitness and ability” of the applicants.

In it’s entirety it reads

§76-1 Purposes; merit principle. It is the purpose of this chapter to require each jurisdiction to establish and maintain a separately administered civil service system based on the merit principle. The merit principle is the selection of persons based on their fitness and ability for public employment and the retention of employees based on their demonstrated appropriate conduct and productive performance. It is also the purpose of this chapter to build a career service in government, free from coercive political influences, to render impartial service to the public at all times, according to the dictates of ethics and morality and in compliance with all laws.

Is it any wonder that the hallmark of Kaua`i county is the general incompetence of many its employees? And is it any wonder that we’ve been besieged with emails and phone calls from disgruntled applicants who were amazed that they were never even offered a test or were actually given false requirements by Fernandez’s department.

Just this morning we heard again from a person after he was originally told his 20 years experience on Kaua`i in the field in which he was applying did not qualify him to even apply because he lacked a four year college degree- any four year degree in any field, related or not.

He had wondered why he was rejected without even being offered a civil service exam as just about everyone in the country must take to work for the government, a tradition going back to ancient China in order to create a “what you know, not who you know” system

He finally asked to see the rules in writing and found out that the degree was indeed not required and that his experience might be enough but only after he went down to the personnel office and demanded to know why he was given the bum’s rush.

This is Rapozo’s second recent foray into the news reporting business after his short yet full report last week on the ag land vacation rentals bill not only scooped the local paper and the Associated Press but gave a much more thorough exposition of the controversies involved rather than just regurgitating the position of the proponents of the bill as the local paper and AP did.

So welcome to the world of investigative journalism Mel Keep up the good work.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


MORE DOG; LESS PONY: Since there don’t seem to be any significant political events in Washington or Honolulu today and tomorrow we thought we’d provide one final diatribe regarding last Wednesday’s council meeting.

One item we neglected to mention in the lead up to the meeting where a three month buildup of delayed items were dispatched was draft Bill 2300 which would “transfer” $833,696 of taxpayer money to support the supposedly self-supporting Wailua Golf Course and another $600,291 to the pay for sewers which are also supposed to pay for themselves through fees..

For the uninitiated there are several “enterprise” funds in the county that are supposed to support ventures via user fees rather than through the property tax money which is collected and deposited in the “General Fund”.

And for years the golf course, despite the fact that the council has put it into a category where it’s supposed to support itself through greens fees, has quietly gobbled up a goodly chunk of cash from the general fund usually in an “after the fact” appropriation to make up the difference.

The council of course hasn’t just raised just the fees but simply acquiesces to the “golf lobby” by stealing tax money to “replenish the Golf fund”

The golf lobby as one would expect is comprised of a lot of business executives and appointed county officials who just happen to be generous with the campaign bucks come election time.

So, in an attempt to link everything to our “tough economic times”, Council Vice Chair Jay Furfaro told Glenn Mickens- who dared to put a finger in the swirling eddy and interrupt the auto-pilot flushing of this year’s money-down-the-drain- that this year the excuse was that the number of rounds of golf was down so we were nearly two-thirds of a million dollars short this time.

Of course Furfaro offered no numbers, reports or statistics but in his inimitable paternalistic fashion told Glenn and fellow council members not to worry their pretty little heads because he had already asked around and that was the answer and that was that and sit down and shut up.

The problem is he didn’t say why the sewer fund was that short.

Is the sewer fund also a victim of the economic slowdown? Is there not enough ,er- ah, “solid waste” gong into the system now? Or, to put it more bluntly, are we experiencing a crap shortage? Perhaps people are eating less. Or maybe those soaring porcelain prices are driving up the cost of faculties?

Why, just like the golf fund, it couldn’t possibly be because of council mismanagement in not setting fees that would be self sustaining, as the law they themselves passed mandates.

Nah, they wouldn’t do that. Although what they are full of in the council chambers these days may explain the shortage of it flowing through the sewage meters.

On to a couple of predictable outcomes of a couple of matters we wrote about last week.

Guess what happened when the Food Bank’s Executive Director and Ethics Board member Judy Lenthall came to the council to thank them for last year’s appropriation to expand participation in the food stamp program and lobby for more

As we feared would happen a week ago Monday not only didn’t she proclaim her lobbyist status but paid no attention to the law that forbade her from representing the Food Bank before the council while she sits on the Ethics Board, which routinely washes clean the dirty deeds of the council..

Former council candidate Bruce Peas, who has sought to enforce a state law and council rule requiring lobbyists to state they are lobbying when they come to testify, got up to question the matter and attempted to actually read aloud Section 20.02 of the county charter – a provision voters refused to change in the fall which forbids the type of conflict of interest in which Lenthall was engaging.

And to no one’s surprise Council Chair Kaipo Asing- who has been cleared of ethics violations by the Ethics Board in the past- cut Pleas off saying that “only the Food Bank is on the agenda” which caused Pleas to crawl back to his seat instead of insisting on his right to testify about how the action on agenda item was illegal.

But that brief little show was nothing compared to the smoke and mirrors on the bill to appropriate money for recruiting more police officers..

After Glenn Mickens read his testimony which we published last week regarding money for Kaua`i Police Department (KPD) recruiting and the continuing if not worsening low morale on the force, Asing was adamant that Glenn’s figures were wrong.

Asing offered no numbers of his own of course because Mickens was the only one in the room that had checked- and double checked the day after the meeting- his figures on recruitment and the ties to “morale”... both of which have only worsened since Chief KC Lum was railroaded out of office.

Then Furfaro put on his tap shoes and did his usual shtick of claiming he checked with everybody and there was nothing to worry Glenn’s pretty little head about and it seemed that the old soft shoe has been successful until new Councilmember “TV’s Dickie Chang” took the “stage” as he is wont to do.

But anyone expecting the usually smooth talking Chang to rattle off his prattle and easily banter with Mickens would have been be shocked to hear and see a quite obviously nervous and flustered Chang stammer and trip over his words in trying to get to the heart of the issue of “morale” among Kauai’s finest..

He did get out though that he knows that “morale is at an all time high” as evidenced by the “Cop on Top” event he covered on his TV program and some bike race where the guys on the force were letting new chief Perry win until he only lost “due to a flat tire”.

“Morale at the police force has gotten leaps and bounds” he non-sequitorily ended, possibly referring to the “leap” of the “cop” to the “top” of Safeway to raise money for charity and the “bound” Perry experienced when the rubber met the road and his tire tired.

Forget your afternoon “stories”. Forget your reality shows. We suggest that for a good- and free- evening of comedy, tragedy and all around entertainment you tune to the government access channel 53 at 7 p.m.

If this keeps up you won’t be disappointed.

Monday, January 19, 2009


COUNCIL: TRUST US; PUBLIC: WHY WOULD WE?: In a stinging rebuke to the pleas of the community the Kaua`i County Council unanimously abandoned the campaign promises of most and closed its doors to discuss public policy and future legislation regarding the newly adopted charter amendments in executive session.(ES)

At their Wednesday meeting last week each member asked to public to “trust us” to discuss only what they called “potential lawsuits” resulting from as yet un-discussed and un-drafted legislation to implement what has come to be known as the “Citizen’s General Plan Charter Amendment” passed last fall.

As PNN noted a week ago Friday, the state Sunshine Law strictly prohibits the discussion of public policy in meetings closed to the public and none of the councilpersons offered any explanation as to why this wouldn’t apply to all discussions of pending or contemplated legislation.

All of those who testified were almost livid at the council. Bruce Peas, whose unsuccessful run for council last year was centered around open and good governance, noted how the three new council members had joined him on an open government platform.

“This was done before and left a bad taste in people’s mouth” he said of closed meetings to hide politically sensitive, public policy matters under the guise of a “potential” for lawsuits.

Rich Hoeppner who helped organize the petition effort to put the measure on the ballot- a measure that ties tourism development to the county’s general plan by forcing the council to either give the plan “teeth” or issue zoning permits by themselves- was most blunt in his opposition to the ES.

“If there’s no actual litigation there’s no justification. Future litigation is not grounds for going into executive session now” he told councilmembers adding that “a vote against an ES would be a vote to gain the respect of the public”..

Another former council candidate Scott Mijares said he agreed with Hoeppner and Pleas asking that in crafting an ordinance the discussion be conducted “in an open forum and see what the public wants”.

Council watchdog and open governance stalwart Glenn Mickens attacked the fact that there was no specific reason for the public policy discussion to exclude the public and wondered aloud why the council was always “trying to circumvent the will of the public”.

“The public deserves to hear the rationale for an executive session” he said.

Another candidate who ran on an open government platform, Ken Taylor said he was “really saddened” and called the move to hide public policy “the first time it is on the agenda.... totally disrespectful of the community”

He called for an “open dialogue on the issue” and asked ”if issues come up that call for (an ES) then so be it. But have the dialogue in public.”

Then the council tried to grill the deputy county attorney of the week, Darren Suzuki, as to the legality of going into ES but Suzuki refused to okay it or for that matter reject it saying “it’s up to you” and pointing out how it was a political decision

No matter what and which way the council asked Suzuki about whether it was legal to go into ES, Suzuki repeated the mantra of “the agenda posting is correct. If you want more information, put it in writing” and then his office will respond with an opinion.

Councilmembers, then started to bring up some the problems of implementing the charter amendment, beginning with Jay Furfaro who spoke of many of the implementation problems PNN documented last year.

But that’s where council discussion began and ended when Chair Kaipo Asing shut the discussion down in an attempt to keep it behind closed doors.

In a second round of public testimony Taylor called the discussion Asing shut down “the exact kind of dialogue that should go on in public”.

Mijares called the discussion “extremely frustrating” saying “everything you do has legal ramifications” accusing the council of “sending the wrong massage (because) the public is not involved “

That was followed by a round of hand-wringing from each council members with each saying the pubic must “trust us” but offering no justification for that trust.

But at the end when it was her turn it appeared Councilperson Lani Kawahara might oppose the executive session when she asked Asing if he could “separate the vote” from two other proposed ES’ on the agenda, both regarding current lawsuits against the county.

When Asing asked her “which one don’t you want?” Kawahara asked for a recess.

And after the recess she had apparently been pressured into voting with the group saying ”all the councilmembers talked to me” and that she “will vote yes (and) ask the public to trust us”.

And with that the council voted for the ES and when they came back to public session they did not discuss it further.

Reached for comment over the weekend Kawahara indicated that she regretted her vote even though it would not have stopped the council from clearing the room and meeting in secret.

She told PNN that "I will be much more reluctant the next time I’m asked to approve of executive sessions of this nature. I’m still learning, and I will make mistakes" .

Kawahara said that she is still subject to a “big learning curve” as a new council member and remains committed to open governance and transparency.

She also said she plans to meet informally with the staff of OIP in O`ahu on Tuesday for a comprehensive briefing on the sunshine law and executive sessions.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

KPD Blue- Chapter 24: The Return of K.C. Lum

KPD Blue

By Anthony Sommer

Chapter 24: The Return of K.C. Lum

Just when everyone thought K.C. Lum’s retirement as chief of the Kauai Police Department would end the most absurd chapter in the sorry history of Kauai County government, it got worse.

As he retired from the KPD, Lum announced he was a candidate for the County Council.

Figuring out exactly what happened next (why it happened is too obvious) from a wide variety of accounts, this appears to be the story:

On May 30, 2006, the Honolulu law firm representing Kauai County faxed a letter to Lum’s Honolulu attorney, Clayton Ikei, informing Ikei that the county had decided to cancel Lum’s contract as chief of police.

The letter also said Lum could serve as a lieutenant on the KPD if he wanted to remain on the force.

It directed Lum to contact Gary Heu, Baptiste’s administrative assistant, within a week to let him know Lum’s decision about the lieutenant position.

The law firm also sent copies to their client, Kauai County, including the mayor and the County Council. Ikei scanned the faxed letter and attached it in an email to his client, Lum.

Lum sent an email to Heu declining the offer and attached the letter from the county’s attorney. Or at least the version he received from Ikei.

Heu emailed Lum saying the letter Lum had attached in his email to him was not identical to the one the mayor’s office received from the county’s private attorney.

Missing were the two paragraphs about the offer of a lieutenant’s position.

Ikei, Lum’s attorney, admitted the mistake was his. In scanning the faxed letter from the county’s lawyer there was some overlap of the pages and the two paragraphs were covered up.

Lum immediately sent out corrected versions with the missing paragraphs restored. He sent the corrected version within two hours of sending the original version.

In the meantime, Lum announced he would be a candidate for the County Council.

The Council incumbents’ reaction reflected its natural tendency to retaliate harshly against its critics: Rule #1 includes “Punish Your Enemies.”

At the Kauai County Council’s June 15, 2006 meeting, Chairman Kaipo Asing went into one of his PowerPoint rants (which replaced his old blackboard chalk talk diatribes) accusing “someone” of tampering with a government document and publishing it on the internet to mislead the public.

The letter had been posted on an activist’s website—the version without the paragraphs that offered Lum a job if he would accept a demotion. It was widely read throughout Kauai. And it made the mayor and Council look bad.

What happened next probably was a result of the stupidity of the activist who posted the wrong version of the letter on the Internet as it was of the Council’s venomous attitude toward Lum.

It provided Council members an opportunity to lash out at Lum, who had the audacity to oppose them in an election.

And, at the same time, they could thump on an incredibly clumsy activist.

Asing completely ignored the fact that Lum had sent a correction to everyone as soon as he was aware of the mistake, and his attorney took the blame.

And he ignored the fact that the original letter from the county’s attorney had been in their hands from the start. So everyone knew what the entire letter said.

Nonetheless, the Council went into its anguish routine.

An editorial in The Garden Island newspaper gives a colorful account of the June 15 Council meeting:

“At that meeting Kaipo Asing, Jay Furfaro, Jimmy Tokioka and Mel Rapozo lamented the conspiracy of false information being foisted on the community by the posting of the document minus the paragraph, stating there was an open lieutenant position that Lum could apply for. Asing and his merry band were quite distraught at the blemish boiling to the surface on their untarnished reputations.

‘The council does everything right, and then people do something that is not right and we get blamed for it,’ Asing said.

“Tokioka hung his head low and sorrowfully said it was a shame that people would believe what they were reading.

“The media and the community are to blame for the council’s tarnished reputation, lamented Asing. He was utterly disgusted that uninformed residents were actually speaking their minds when the only true authority on everything is the council. It was at that same meeting Asing, upset at a member of the public for asking the question about whether there are any charges against Lum, replied, ‘We’re not here to answer questions, we’re here to take testimony.’”

But then it got nasty, also Standard Operating Procedure for Kauai’s County Council, which habitually retaliates with all the subtlety of a train wreck.

On Sept. 14, only a week before Kauai’s primary election, agents of the Hawaii Attorney General’s Criminal Division served a warrant on Lum, searched his house and two vehicles, and seized his computer and three hard drives.

Lum was informed he was being investigated on a charge of altering a government document. The charge supposedly had been filed by the Kauai County Council—in other words, the people Lum was running against in the election—and the affidavit providing probable cause for the issuance of the search warrant is believed to have been signed by Asing.

The search warrant specified the search was to be conducted on or before Sept. 23, which was Election Day.

Of course, “the media was alerted” by the incumbent Council members whom Lum was challenging.

And, of course, Lum lost the election.

On June 29, 2007, nine months after it was seized, the Attorney General’s Office returned the computer to Lum. Along with it came a letter informing him there would be no prosecution on the altering records complaint and that the case was closed.

There was no apology. The Republican governor had taken care of her Republican mayor on Kauai.

Friday, January 16, 2009


AND HAST THOU SLAIN THE JABBERWOCK?: When the local paper’s former editor Adam Harju left for Cambodia many in the community clinked Champaign glasses and happily warned him against letting the egress barrier strike him in the posterior upon his way out.

And why not? Like most others he came here “on the circuit”- a loose web of small newspapers around the country where journalists float from job to job for short periods until they wear out their welcome or have a chance to “move up” to either a larger newspaper or an editorial or management position.

Many chortled at Harju’s oft-stated concern for the community and his vow to stick around (as long as the surf was good). It was nothing we hadn’t heard from the others and won’t hear again.

And although Harju was originally gung ho for the idea of regular local columnists he was soon set straight by Publisher Mark Lewis as to what was and wasn’t acceptable to the advertisers and local power elite.

Though many- us included- sought a regular column only two scribes made the grade. The first, Juan Wilson, was soon hastily dispatched when he submitted an article critical of the local constabulary’s militaristic buildup.

And that left one- retired Princeville attorney Walter Lewis whose prose graces the lowest circulation day’s opinion page every other week.

Lewis’ columns are generally repetitive, plodding , bland and, though many have criticized the county council and other boards and commissions for their penchant for secrecy, pretty innocuous.

But although his subject matter has been limited, his factual claims have generally been on target... until now.

The problem with Walter is- as anyone who has tried to work with him on any issue soon finds out- he is never wrong, never makes a mistake and won’t listen to anyone. If any idea isn’t Walter’s it not only goes in one ear and out the other but is dismissed through the kind of smug and disingenuous obtuseness only Walter can muster.

And so it was no surprise this week that, when we found a major error in the main premise of his column on property tax appeals this past Saturday, even when faced with the irrefutable error in fact, his final word on the matter was essentially “that’s my story and I’m sticking with it”.

Lewis’s offending paragraph read as follows:

The property tax law contains a serious flaw affecting whether taxpayers must accept an unjust assessment of their property. Under the tax code a taxpayer may not appeal an assessment made unless the assessment amount is more than 20 percent higher than the prior annual assessment. In our present climate even continuing the 2008 year opening value may be a serious overassessment but a taxpayer would have no right to appeal it. Elementary justice requires that this be changed.

Problem is that this just plain wrong. Nowhere in the law does it even mention anything about “prior annual assessments” or anything like it.

Having followed the public hearing at which both Lewis and North Shore Realtor Mike Dyer testified we though we heard Walter say the same thing in testimony only to be contradicted by Dyer and by what we had understood to be the process for many years.

In fact the “20%”- which is a figure subject to a reduction to 10% in a bill on the agenda at next Wednesday’s council Finance Committee meeting- refers to the difference between what the county assessor claims is the value of your house or property and what the Board of Review finds to be the actual “market value”.

The language in Section 5A-12.3(a) is as follows:

"No owner shall be deemed aggrieved by an assessment, nor shall an assessment be lowered ... unless there is shown: (1) Assessment of the property exceeds by more than twenty per cent (20%) the assessment of market value used by the Director as the real property tax base".

So we spent the last week emailing both Lewis and Dyer to straighten it out and give Lewis a chance to simply recognize his error and correct it. We all make mistakes and it’s something one would think any responsible journalist with a regular column in the newspaper would welcome the chance to do.

Ah but not Lewis who stated to the council he had never actually filed an appeal while Dyer, who owns a lot of property on the island, said he usually files one or more almost every year.

In an email to PNN Dyer explained the way it actually works, the same way he did when he testified before the council in favor of not just lowering the difference to 10% but advocating for an arbitrator type system to replace the current method used- a determination by the Board of Review (the only county board that pays its members) using some set of secretive almost magical soothsaying machinations to find out whether the assessor’s valuation is off by more than 20% and what the correct value should be.

In an email Dyer explained:

The "Taxpayer's Notice of Real Property Tax Appeal" form requires that the taxpayer state what his assessed value should be. The value stated must be 20% lower than the assessed value provided to the taxpayer "on or before March 15th preceding the tax year" by the assessor's office. The form only includes one check box option for " ... grounds of objection to the assessment per Section 5A-12.3 ...": " The assessed value of the property exceeds by more than twenty percent (20%) the ratio of assessment to market value." If you submit an appeal claiming a market value that is not at least 20% lower than the assessor's valuation you won't be scheduled for an appeal hearing.

The language in Section 5A-12.3(a) is as follows: "No owner shall be deemed aggrieved by an assessment, nor shall an assessment be lowered ..., unless there is shown: (1) Assessment of the property exceeds by more than twenty per cent (20%) the assessment of market value used by the Director as the real property tax base, ...". I have no idea what the last phrase means. However, my experience has been that you must contend that the assessor is too high by at least 20% or you don't even get to play.

In actual appeals it has been my experience that the Board of Review can be fickle. I have seen them grant adjustments of less than 20% and I have seen them uphold the assessor's valuation because the taxpayer didn't convince them in an amount which quite reached the 20% threshold ... losing even though you win.

Dyer’s email was addressed to Lewis too and we thought that surly with the ordinance being cited- a law that Lewis presumably has seen since he was observed reading from the entire current ordinance as he testified- that Lewis would act to correct himself.

But suddenly Lewis became obtuse and unresponsive until we persisted in finding out whether he wanted to make his own statement rather than having us correct it for him.

If the misstatement was left to stand there’s no telling how many homeowners might be wrongly dissuaded from thinking that could even file an appeal.

That’s when he told us it was only our “opinion” as to what the ordinance said and that he would not be correcting anything.

This is typical Lewis, the father of the infamous “Ohana” Prop.13-type tax measure approved by voters and struck down by the Hawai`i Supreme Court, exemplifying his modus operandi.

At the time, when the idea was in it’s infancy, the notion of capping the annual growth of the actual tax paid by the home-owner/occupant at 2% a year and rolling the “base” back to the time before assessments started to sky-rocket, seemed a decent one to many.

Horror tales abounded especially those whose taxes went from a few hundred to many thousands a year, including retired people on fixed incomes and others whose valuations increased exponentially due to sales of neighboring properties to rich off-island speculators during the housing bubble.

But as in uffish thought they stood, many said “hey wait a minute”. The measure was designed to accommodate those who had no intention of selling their homes and just wanted to live in their now million dollar houses for which they paid maybe $50,000 or less... or even inherited.

So one provision was suggested to Lewis, eventually even by Ohana co-founders Ray Chuan and Glenn Mickens as well as then Council Chair Ron Kouchi.

To get more support for his “charter amendment” and perhaps get the council on board or even put it in an ordinance, they simply asked that when and if the house was sold, the taxes saved over the years should be paid back to the county.

But Walter wouldn’t listen and so when the council sued- and the courts struck it down saying only the council could determine taxes- homeowners were left with no real cap except one that the council passed without the rollback to the pre-bubble prices- after the horse was out of the barn.

And because of that, many lost their homes or are still paying inflated taxes today.

Iconoclastic is often a nice way of saying pig-headed and never did that apply more than in the odd case of this oddly pompous man, Walter Lewis.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


JUST GIVE US THE MONEY AND NO ONE GETS HURT: One bill we didn’t discuss this week is a money bill, #2296, that was up for public hearing at Wednesday’s council meeting through which the Kaua`i Police Department (KPD) is asking for $85,000 for recruiting new officers.

KPD hasn’t had it’s full complement of sworn officer for decades and is currently reportedly about 24 officer short.

The much discussed “morale” problem at KPD apparently persists as evidenced by the chronic shortage. Despite a new chief and some cosmetic changes the number of openings for sworn public safety officers has more than doubled from the 10 or 11 at the time Chief KC Lum was forced out and Chief Darryl Perry took over, according to numbers reported to the police commission and council..

Why the $85,000- $65,000 for consultant services and $20,000 for advertising- wasn’t in KPD’s 2008-9 budget is anyone’s guess. But if current recruitment tools are any indication of the value of past appropriations and chances for future success, the $85,000 may as well be flushed down the toilet.

Coincidentally, the day before the public hearing a PNN and “got windmills?” reader sent us a link to a ad that reads as follows:


Job Summary
Honolulu, HI 96819

Even the title of the page calls for "Kaua`i Police Officer job in Honolulu 96819"

Imagine the surprise of the mainland, police-veteran applicant when he or she applies, gets the job, buys a house and moves to Honolulu and shows up for duty only to find his job is on a different island. While we might think to ourselves “who doesn’t know that Kaua`i is one island and Honolulu is on another” the answer is “most people on the mainland”.

The listing, which does not contain the phrase “island of Kaua`i”- although it does list the address correctly as being in Lihu`e- lists the salary and some of the benefits

It says

If you:- Are at least 21 years old - Possess a High School diploma or G.E.D. - Have a current driver's license - Are eligible to carry/possess a firearm
And are ready: To be a role model and provide a safer Kauai for all
Benefits Include:- Starting salary: $3,000 a month, or $21.92 an hour
- Salary after 1 year: $4,188 a month, or $24.16 an hour
- Standards-of-conduct pay: additional $1.00 an hour (effective July 1, 2008)
- Additional pay for night hours and special assignments
- 6% yearly salary increase
- Excellent health plan, including prescription drug and dental coverage
- Paid vacation and sick leave
- Comprehensive retirement plan: Vested after 10 years of service
- No retirement penalties at 55 years of age,or 25 years of service regardless of age
- Opportunity for specialized training and advancement

But apparently knows something KPD itself doesn’t know because the listing at the KPD web site’s recruitment page says:

The starting base pay for Police Services Officers is:
$3,585 a month ($20.68 an hour)
After 1-yr of probation, officers are paid:
$3,727 a month ($22.79 an hour) after probation
Police Officers also receive:
6% a year pay raise and approximately 4% step movements every 3rd year.
Differential Pay (paid in addition to the base salary):
Standards of conduct: $.80 an hour ($125 month)
Night differential: $.55 an hour ($88 month)
Other differentials vary: 5%-25% of base hourly rate

Apparently KPD is too short staffed to keep their web site up to date with the higher pay numbers but not to busy to draw up a money bill and send at least one KPD brass to no less than four council meetings to shepherd the bill though.

But the issues relating to recruitment at KPD go way beyond the lack of funds or even mere ineptitude at the job of finding and hiring new officers.

They go to keeping the ones that they have now, in light of the morale problem and the “slow progress” toward cleaning up the few rogue elements on the force as alleged in various Kaua`i based web sites and blogs and described as similarly deliberate by the chief himself. They go to issues raised in Anthony Sommer’s book KPD Blue many of which remain unresolved and even unaddressed by Chief Perry.

The bill will again be on the agenda next Wed., Jan. 21 at the council’s Pubic Safety Committee meeting

Glenn Mickens’ testimony yesterday puts it in stark terms and better than we could and we’ll leave you with what he said.

Testimony of Glenn Mickens on Bill 2296, 1/14/09

The purpose of this bill appears to be the recruitment of more police officers. Since I understand that we are bout 24 officers short on our force, I certainly have no problem with doing whatever is necessary to get added police.

However, before throwing $85 thousand at the problem I would hope that the use of these funds will be scrutinized and justified.

Under our former Chief, K.C. Lum, we were about 10 or 11 officers under full hire. Since he was wrongly forced to retire this number has doubled to about 24. So it appears that the problem with having enough officers is more than one of recruitment.

There appears to be a morale problem with our force that is causing good officers to quit, retire or find better employment elsewhere. From what I read and heard, we are hiring new recruits BUT, as the numbers indicate, we are losing more than we are hiring and the deficit grows.

Certainly filling vacant police positions on Kauai has problems other than morale. Cost of living, finding an affordable place to rent, buying a home, or deciding if a salary of about $40 thousand is enough to survive on.

However, I understand that the Big Island and Maui have their police positions filled and since SHOPO sets salaries for the entire state, pay is not the biggest problem.

Personally, I believe that any person who becomes a police officer and puts their life on the line each time they pull a vehicle over or respond to a domestic violence call should earn a lot more than 40 or 50 thousand dollars for what they do. This is probably a hiring restriction too.

So, the suggestions I have to help solve this hiring problem are:

1) Forget spending big bucks ($85 thousand) on consultants and advertising. Unless we lower our cost of living on Kauai and/or SHOPO increases the pay scale, all the advertising in the world will not help.

2) The morale problem is an internal one and only the Chief and his subordinates can solve it.

3) One possible hiring aid may be to offer a per month rental incentive to prospective hires AND, to make it equitable. to all other officers on the force.With this huge economic downturn it may be hard to go after a rental incentive. The same goes for SHOPO and realistically our cost of living is only going to go north.

So, it appears that the only real solution to this problem is solve the morale issue and that is for the new Chief to address.


Note: Starting today and for the next two weeks we will be without our copy editor. Please excuse any errors in grammar continuity. punctuation etc.