Wednesday, March 17, 2010


JAWS OF DEFEAT: About a week or so back we got a thus-far-unpublished letter to the editor from Horace Stoessel, the father of the 20.02(D) controversy- the man who first had the temerity to ask the Kaua`i Board of Ethics (BOE) to enforce the charter.

In it he surprisingly said he would compromise and support the “carve out” exemption for charitable organizations when county officials appear on behalf of private interests before county boards, commissions and agencies in order to get the rest of the provision enforced.

So today’s news that the Ethics Board has (had a) change of heart and voted to uphold the law after all the silliness of the past couple of years came as something of a shock.

Even Mark Hubbard who fought the hardest to make a mockery of the law voted for it although, according to reporter Mike Levine he still has remnant schizophrenic, double-talking tendencies in refusing to admit the past rulings clearing Hubbard and others were a mistake.

And of course, as the people’s champion former BOE member Rolf Bieber told Levine the proof will be in the pudding since, as we’ve seen, just because a clear statue exists it doesn’t mean people with conflicts will do what Hubbard suggested in saying exactly what we’ve written dozens of times:

(W)ith this interpretive rule, it’s now different than we’ve voted in the past, and I would have been in error in going before the County Council. I should not do that again, or I should quit my position on the Board of Ethics. I have a choice.”

It’s certainly a black eye for the gang of administration stooges at County Attorney Alfred “E. what me worry” Castillo’s office who didn’t even bother to do enough research to turn up the state ethics commission letter that convinced the BOE that they didn’t have any cover to continue to carve out exemptions or create “absurd result” excuses for their illegal activities.

Throughout the whole debacle people have asked basically “what the heck is the difference?.. it’s not as if this will magically clean up the corrupt, old boy network of the board and commission system”.

No it won’t. They will still try to make sure that if you wear the kings uniform you carry the kings sword. We’ve spoken to four people currently serving as a mayoral appointees who confirm that board and commission chief John Isobe made sure that they “support the mayor” before getting an appointment.

But it will shake out the most conflicted- those with an obvious reason to play the “one hand washes the other”, revolving-door game.

It also gives heart to those who still believe that a small, dedicated, persistent group- in this case Bieber, Stoessel, Rob Abrew and Glenn Mickens who did what most or can’t do... show up- can effect change even if it is incremental. Their success couldn’t have come about without Levine’s detailed news coverage and others like Charley Foster and Joan Conrow whose blog posts helped keep the issue before the public.

If they’re anything like us, these people do battle with the entrenched cronies not for the rare victory like this but for the fight itself because they have trouble living with themselves if they don’t.

As the Happy Camper might say, “hats off”, “kudos” and “three cheers” for them the real service-oriented citizens of Kaua`i.


SAY IT AIN’T SO: Speaking of Levine it looks like the inevitable is about to come to pass. According to John Temple, the editor of “Peer News”, the nascent online Hawai`i news venture (thanks to Ian Lind for the heads up):

I’m happy to report that we’ve now hired the editorial team that will launch our new news service for Honolulu and Hawaii...

(T)he reporter hosts at Peer News will include:

Mike Levine, currently a reporter and assistant news editor at The Garden Island newspaper on Kauai. Mike has worked as a journalist on Kauai for a couple of years, after picking lettuce and acting as a tour guide there. He also worked for Fodor’s to update the Kauai section of the 2010 Hawaii Guidebook and Kauai Guidebook 3rd Edition. Mike worked as a news desk editor and writer at before moving to Kauai. He’s a graduate of Lehigh University and the rare reporter to have majored in journalism and minored in material science and engineering.

We’re not sure if this means Mike will be leaving the local newspaper and apparently he will still be covering Kaua`i even if he does. But a statewide news services is unlikely to cover the detail of local Kaua`i news that his reporting has provided.


We’ve off for the weekend tracking how soon we’re eliminated from the basketball pool. We’ll be back with a tear-stained entry Monday.


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