Friday, October 22, 2010


AND ALL FOR UNDER A BUCK: We’ve come up with a formula that perfectly describes the treatment of information consumers on Kaua`i.

Yesterday’s Papers + Everything Old Is New Again = Our Local Newspaper.

This kind of “when we get around to it... and if we’re forced to” journalism results in things like the way someone decided to tip off the Star(ad)vetiser to the story today of the $38 million sale of the Aston Kauai Beach to JMI Realty of Texas rather than tell the Kaua`i paper because they knew the S-A would not just publish the story in a timely manner but actually get the story right.

So we were not surprised by the “day late and a dollar short” story that appeared in Wednesday’s local paper that must have been a head-scratcher for anyone who had not read our report almost a month and a half ago that Mayor Carvalho’s Administrative Assistant Gary Heu was warning people that alleged “Westside serial killer” Waldorf “Wally” Wilson was spotted on Kaua`i riding a bike in Puhi.

But of course the newspaper danced around the whole story by leaving out the fact that Wilson was identified as the suspect in two killings and an assault many years ago, according to Chapter 8- The Serial Killer in the book KPD Blue by Anthony Sommer (see left rail to read the entire book).

Seems police beat “reporter” Paul Curtis must have missed one of the “5 W’s” in J-school classes- the one where, after covering who, what, when, and where, they cover “why”- leaving out the fact that Wilson was a suspect in those killings.

Instead Curtis wrote that “a widely circulated e-mail came just short of accusing an innocent man of murder”.

Innocent? Well, maybe just short of it according to Sommer.

The article essentially repeats Joan Conrow’s report a few weeks back regarding the KPD and AG’s office contention that they checked and Wilson “is still living in Kane`ohe” although later in the article it says that “(i)f visiting another island for more than 10 days, (registered sex offenders) must register in person with the county police department on that island within three days of arrival” implying that no notification is needed to visit for 10 days so it doesn’t mean Wilson was never here as Curtis strains to imply.

Our favorite part of course is where Curtis writes:

“Word spread from as high up as Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s No. 2 man, Administrative Assistant Gary Heu, to as low as blogs written by local residents saying Wilson may be living in Puhi”

Well if Heu is “high” and we’re “low” we suppose today’s publication means the story has finally hit rock bottom.

So why would the local newspaper fail to report the core of the story? Well it wouldn’t be the first time they failed to touch the story with a 10 foot pole.

Sommer tells us why that might be, writing:

On Sept. 12, 2000, the KPD announced it had arrested a convicted rapist on a parole violation. The man’s name and mug shot were released through the mayor’s office.

The press release was almost instantly followed by another insisting the parole violator was in no way a suspect in the west side attacks and his only crime was violating the conditions of his parole.

The KPD was so vehement in pointing out that the man was not the serial killer, every editor in the state bought it. Except for one Honolulu television station, which used his name and broadcast his picture, all the “news executives” were frightened by the KPD’s threat of libel suits.

The next day, the KPD, through the mayor’s office criticized the lone television station that identified the arrested man for “irresponsible reporting.”

The television station was correct. It was the KPD that was lying. And the mayor’s office knew it but lying to the press was pretty much standard operating procedure. Next, Inspector Mel Morris, head of the investigations bureau, began dragging a red herring claiming, “KPD has not ruled out the possibility that there may be more than one person responsible.”

He said the man arrested is “unrelated to any of these cases. Any impression that might have been given that these cases are close to being solved is flat-out wrong.”

The arrested man was, of course, KPD’s primary, in fact only, suspect and (off the record, of course) they were certain he was the killer but they couldn’t prove it.

His name was Waldorf “Wally” Wilson, and his name and picture were all over the west side on anonymously printed flyers.

But the Honolulu media executives would not publish his name until two years later—and then only because Wilson filed a lawsuit against KPD, a newspaper and a magazine.

Wilson was convicted in 1983 of a brutal rape on Oahu. He was paroled on Jan. 9, 1999 and in January 2000 moved to Kauai. The attacks began three months later.

Wally Wilson’s brother was a KPD officer, Buddy Wilson, a long-time member of the Vice Squad known for his somewhat less than subtle tactics in investigating narcotics cases.

(Once again the circle that began with the Randy Machado trial looped back. Kelly Lau was a witness for Machado at his trial. Lau indicated quite clearly she was a confidential informant working for Buddy Wilson.)

All the while, KPD insisted Wally Wilson was not a suspect. For the next two years, the KPD engaged in tactics that Wally Wilson later claimed in his lawsuit violated his Constitutional rights.

But he was kept off the streets without ever actually being charged with any crime.

And there were no more attacks.

According to Wally Wilson’s lawsuit, KPD “coerced” him into taking a polygraph test on Sept. 12, 2000 and then “strongly pressured” the Hawaii Parole Authority to revoke Wilson’s parole. The results of the polygraph test were not given in the lawsuit.

A judge ultimately threw out Wilson’s lawsuit but by then KPD’s tactics were pretty obvious, as was its complete inability (or unwillingness) to bring criminal charges against him involving the three attacks.

Unable or unwilling to cover news in a timely manner?.. failing to include facts not just material but central to the story?... repeating whatever those he covers tells him to without questioning and an inability to adhere to basic reporting standards?...

Check, check and check.

So much for “without fear or favor.”

That’s our Paul and that’s our newspaper- serial offenders of journalistic standards by any measure.

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