Wednesday, June 30, 2010


WE REGRET TO INFORM YOU: We’re still not ready to support- or oppose for that matter- any “county manager” proposal but one thing that was said at the televised “meeting on wheels” of the Charter Review Commission’s Special Committee on County Governance held in Hanalei recently caused us to go back to the drawing board- not only ours but theirs.

That’s because it made us question the legality of the “current” document.

We had received a copy of the latest iteration penned by retired Princeville attorney Walter Lewis- who still refuses to disclose his involvement in the drafting of the proposed charter amendment in his columns in the local paper on the subject- and were all ready to declare it not ready for prime time due to, if nothing else, its legally sloppy nature, leaving many “new” sections in conflict with the remaining portions of the charter

But that may not matter because according a statement made at the meeting by our friend, one of the three committee members, Jan Tenbruggencate:

“We as a committee sat down after receiving the proposed document from the ad hoc committee and we reviewed the charter from beginning to end and made numerous changes to what was proposed.”

Other than causing us to have to go back and read the “new” proposal
before we open our trap it brings up a matter we’d have thought Jan would have considered before, as a duly selected member of a government board, he and the committee apparently went behind closed doors to do the work of the committee.

Although the section of the web site dedicated to the committee doesn’t list agendas for open meetings of the committee we’re pretty sure that the confab where this work was done was not open to the public.

And that would make it a blatant violation of the state open meetings or “sunshine” law.

According to HRS 92-2.5 Permitted Interactions Of Members

(b) Two or more members of a board, but less than the number of members which would constitute a quorum for the board, may be assigned to:
(1) Investigate a matter relating to the official business of their board; provided that:
(A) The scope of the investigation and the scope of each member's authority are defined at a meeting of the board;
(B) All resulting findings and recommendations are presented to the board at a meeting of the board

So far so good. The committee is permitted to do this kind of fact finding. But the next provisions looks bad for compliance with the sunshine law

(C) Deliberation and decisionmaking on the matter investigated, if any, occurs only at a duly noticed meeting of the board held subsequent to the meeting at which the findings and recommendations of the investigation were presented to the board

Any meeting of a board in the state or county must be open to the public with the exception of matters listed under eight provisions under HRS 92-5. But drafting a proposed document- even if by an “advisory” board- is not included in those exemptions.

One person can do it- arguably two. But not three.

The “last” charter commission- the one that in 2006 proposed a list of amendments as part of the “every 10 years” provision in the charter, including one creating the current semi-permanent commission lasting 10 years- did all their work at meetings open to the public.

They had a special appropriation from the council that allowed them to hire an attorney specifically to write up any proposed charter amendments and then they deliberated upon those in open session.

We’d have though Tenbruggencate would know better having been a staunch defender of the sunshine law throughout his career as the Kaua`i Bureau Chief of the Honolulu Advertiser. And perhaps somehow we missed it and the meeting at which they drafted the ‘new” proposal- which we will read and review soon- was duly agendaed and open to the public.

But we suspect that this was a well intentioned oversight that will have to be remedied to be in compliance with state law.


We’ll be traveling into the belly of the beast tomorrow and actually be appearing on “community radio” station KKCR on Jonathan Jay’s program at 4 p.m. as part of a series of interviews he’s been doing on media on Kaua`i.

We have been assured that we will be allowed to discuss anything we want to including, in that context, our thoughts on KKCR itself although we don’t expect to dwell on it.

We’ll be taking calls so if anyone has questions as to local media or county government and issues before the council and/or administration- as well as the history behind them- we’ll be glad to answer them- assuming we know.

We may get to post tomorrow but will not on Friday. If we get busy tomorrow with other things, we’ll see ya Monday.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


DOLLARS AND NONSENSE: Another day another attempt at journalism by our favorite punching bag Leo Azambuja, purported government beat reporter at the ever-downward-spiraling local newspaper.

But strangely enough his attempt included an effort at some context in describing some of the “legal issues” behind how, as Joan Conrow wrote today “Councilmen Tim Bynum and Jay Furfaro are giving the public the royal shaft with their support of a wholesale legalization of vacation rentals on ag land”.

The problem is that he failed to make any connection between what those who are actually serving the public interest- as opposed to the parade of self-interested, money hungry ag land transient vacation rental (TVR) owners and their shills- were trying to say.

What makes Azambuja’s lack of understanding even more unfathomable is that he actually quoted Caren Diamond saying what anyone watching the public hearing on Bill 2364 knew went to the crux of the absurd legal claims being made by Bynum, Furfaro and the ag land TVR owners’ string of shysters.

“To anyone who’s saying ‘we’ve been legal all along,’ where is the use permit?” she said. “There’s a procedure available, I don’t see why this council acts as if their hands are tied.”

As anyone who has followed the issue for the past decade knows the legislature many years ago set out the land use scheme for TVRs saying that the counties, which do the actual planning and zoning, were supposed to keep single family TVRs in designated “visitor destination areas (VDAs)”.

Since the state law said it, the law was written on Kaua`i to say that yes, TVRs were permitted in VDAs. Although there was no real enforcement it seemed clear enough until some wise guy in the county attorney’s office wrote an absurd opinion that said that although the law said where the TVRs were allowed, they didn’t say where they weren’t allowed- therefore they were allowed everywhere.

This bit of warped logic known as that “Kobayashi opinion” seemed just some off the wall idiocy from the office of Mayor Maryanne Kusaka’s County Attorney Hartwell Blake’s office- one known to write any-kine opinions requested by Kusaka who had been notoriously sucking up to ag land subdividers for contributions to her campaign and pet self-serving “charity”.

Years later the opinion began to be cited by illegal TVR owners to say they “depended” on the opinion to run their TVRs in non VDAs, state law notwithstanding.

But rather than just enforcing the law and letting the TVR owners sue if they wanted to- something that would have settled a matter hugely important to the future of the island a decade ago at minimal cost- the administration and councils refused to do so letting the matter get way out of hand.

When former Mayor and Councilperson JoAnn Yukimura returned to the council people expected her to continue in the “slow growth” bent she had been famous for. But instead of working to enforce the law she set up a “stakeholders committee” that not only delayed the matter for many more years but allowed the TVR owners to get a nose under the tent.

Finally, as the whole camel emerged, the council finally grandfathered existing TVRs in non VDAs in a supposed attempt to stop it there.

And, quite rightly they stated in the bill that no matter what, ag land TVRs were always fully illegal, as a recent attorney general’s opinion reiterates and as many opinions from various and sundry Department of Land and Natural Resources mucky mucks had said over the years.

But now of course after many attempts to somehow legalize the illegal ag land TVRs- including the infamous “non enforcement” bill which would have actually instructed the planning department to not enforce the law- they came up with a way to allow them under a section of law that allows for ag land owners to apply for “special use permits” under extremely restrictive rules- rules that actually were amended a few years back to state explicitly in so many words that, notwithstanding anything else, no overnight accommodations were permitted, in case there was any doubt about the matter.

So let’s go back to the claims that they relied on the Kobayashi opinion- also being claimed in the ag land cases- and so they paid they taxes and ran they TVRs over the years legally.

But if they really relied on Kobayashi and thought therefore they were legal- and legally relied upon that opinion- why didn’t they apply for special use permits which are and always have been available for ag land uses not defined by law?

They can’t have it both ways. If they claim they didn’t apply because they thought they were illegal, well, that takes care of that. If they claim they thought they were legal then they should have applied for a permit before they started using the dwellings for TVRs.

One way or another there’s something fraudulent about the claim that they relied on Kobayashi yet operated without a special use permit.

But don’t expect Bynum and Furfaro to give up. With Chair Kaipo Asing a definite “no” vote there are still four more votes out there and it may behoove the electorate to remind them all that November is just around the corner and for many this and the bill to gut the TVR in non VDAs ordinance is the last straw for “anything goes on land use” councilmembers who kow-tow to the invading money-grubbing-developer hoards.

Monday, June 28, 2010


IN THE HOLDING COMPANY OF THIEVES: Our Friday report on Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s revelation regarding the long delayed- and delayed again- siting of a new landfill didn’t try to make sense of why he was not taking advantage of the seeming lack of any real opposition in Kekaha to “hosting” the new one in the vicinity of the old one.

We wrote:

Despite the willingness of Kekaha to accept the new site- as long as the number of dollars contributed to the “community benefit program” currently designed to bribe them into not complaining over the existing landfill was increased- it may not get sited there afterall... despite what Carvalho said to many last April.

But that was before watching last Wednesday’s council meeting where the host community benefit (HCB) program was on the agenda with a “report” due soon from the citizens’ advisory committee (CAC) purportedly assembled to decide what to do with the $700,000 already in the “fund”.

We’d heard rumbling from the sovereign nation of the Westside that all was not well in dumpsville and that the community was doing what most people do when someone dumps a pile-o-cash in their collective laps- squabble over it.

But the fact is that there is so much confusion as to what CAC’s role is as opposed to that of the administration and Department of Public Works (DPW) that the whole matter seems, shock-shock, designed to fail.

Seems that among the mysteries has been just who is in charge- the CAC or the county. And, despite early assurances to the contrary, guess what the answer is.

Community members- and even some members of the CAC- were under the impression that the money had been “given” to the CAC and in fact they would decide. But the fact is that the money is just sitting somewhere in the budget for the DPW and a recent survey to produce a prioritized list of projects to be funded- controversial in and of itself- is only of an “advisory” nature. And guess who will make the final decision.

Not that it matters because the CAC was appointed by the mayor and is also stacked with county employees- albeit non-voting members- who have pretty much controlled the action and determined what the CAC can and can’t do, as these kind of “advisors” are wont to do.

The survey itself, according to some community members who testified, was anything but a democratic exercise to take a true poll of those who live in Kekaha.

Rather than being an open survey where those polled could decide what projects they wanted, a pre-approved list was distributed and residents were told to choose among the items listed.

But perhaps the most undemocratic part was the fact that the survey was distributed only to homeowners- by hand with CAC members going house to house- and then only one survey per household.

According to testimony that meant that only the head of the household, usually a kupuna, got to fill it out leaving keiki and young adults- the ones who might ask for recreational facilities like skate parks and other things to keep them off the streets- were given no input resulting in a list that was a bit heavy on senior services and mundane projects already requested long ago.

There were also allegations that the CAC had their thumb on the scale with one resident asking how it was possible that one project that wasn’t on the list- but was known to be a pet project of one of the CAC members- ended up on the final prioritized list.

Some councilmembers tried to defend the process with Councilperson Jay Furfaro saying that the county had the fiduciary responsibility so it was necessary that the money not be given to the CAC but held by the DPW.

Chair Kaipo Asing said there was “no problem” at all with anything after Councilperson Tin Bynum questioned why there was no definitive transparent process set up in writing even though the council appropriated money for and the administration hired a “consultant” who was supposed to design a fair and honest one.

According to CAC member Jose Bulatao the consultant merely acted as a “facilitator” at the meeting and in fact the confusion as to where the money was and who was in charge testifies to the lack of involvement of the consultant in setting up a clear and democratic methodologies.

Some suspect that the control DPW is exhibiting has been instrumental in the “first choice” of the CAC being a comfort station at Kekaha Beach Park.

That project has long been on “the list” of future capital improvement projects and that means that really the original comfort station funds will now be freed-up resulting in the use of the money for the next project on the list... presumably one not located in Kekaha.

Bulatao also questioned why t money has to be used for a capital improvement in the first place and not, say, for scholarships for Kekaha keiki- an idea Furfaro said might be possible in the form of a grant given directly to the CAC for a specific proposal.

According to many we spoke with they were originally given the distinct impression that the money would be going directly to the CAC, which according to Bulatao is set up as a 501(c)3 so as to be able to accept the money. As a matter of fact some came to the meeting thinking that the CAC already had possession of the cash.

Assuming the next landfill will be “centrally located” as Carvalho said last Thursday and so won’t be in Kekaha, will the next community to be designated for a landfill site stand for the kind of control the administration has demanded?

Wherever that is and whatever the outcome of this growing debacle, the next area selected would be well advised to “get it in writing” as to what real control they will have over any HCB bucks.

Friday, June 25, 2010


WHERE NEVER IS HEARD A DISCOURAGING WORD: When we reported on April 7 that Mayor Bernard Carvalho said he would announce the siting of the new landfill by April 15th according to some- or by “the end of the month” according to the county’s spokesperson- we weren’t too surprised when the deadline came and went without comment by the administration.

It’s been impossible to find out what’s happening in hizzonah’s super-secret world since apparently his selection of the Kalaheo “Umi” site- one that sits smack in the middle of the coffee plantation- was received dead-on-arrival.

We reported that, to the surprise of many, a large number of people in Kekaha including prominent community leaders were actually, if not in favor of, at least resigned to, having the “new” site nearby the current one.

That’s what makes Carvalho’s statements last night on PBS’ Island Insights regarding the new siting even more perplexing and eyebrow raising than they would normally be.

After claiming that the Umi site was, so to speak, dumped in his lap when he came into office- an odd contention considering he made the announcement and took credit for making the long delayed decision at the time- he told of a new super-secret and faceless cabal that is re-reviewing the options.

“We collectively brought a whole team together to see how we’re going to do this” he told host Dan Boylan who asked a question from “Carol on the Westside” regarding when he would make a decision.

Who this “team” consists of is unknown but as anyone who has followed Carvalho’s tenure in county government knows, forming secret decision-making committees has been his modus operandi since his days as Community Assistance Director when he did the same for a few projects including the then nescient bike path.

But there were surprises a plenty from Carvalho last night.

He also said that the “team” was now talking about siting not just a landfill but what he called a “resource recovery park”.

Though he didn’t really explain it fully except to say it would include “education... composting (and) greenwaste”- features of the current and proposed landfills all along- it is presumed that it would include the materials recovery facility (MRF).

In the county’s typical cart-before-the-horse “fire, ready, aim” fashion the MRF will not be built before the new curbside recycling program goes into effect in September leaving the carefully separated recyclables without a destination for sorting, evoking visions of Honolulu’s long delayed trash-shipping bundles stacked up somewhere on Kaua`i awaiting disposition.

And, showing that we’re really no closer to a decision than we were in April- or even in April of 2008 when Mayor Bryan Baptiste was still alive- he announced two things.

First was that “what we really need is a willing land owner (and) a willing community”- something that has actually plagued the new landfill siting process for around two decades showing we’re no closer than we were in the ’90’s.

Then came the stunner. Despite the willingness of Kekaha to accept the new site- as long as the number of dollars contributed to the “community benefit program” currently designed to bribe them into not complaining over the existing landfill was increased- it may not get sited there afterall... despite what Carvalho said to many last April.

He told Boylan that he was seeking “a centrally located area hopefully where this park concept can benefit the island”.

Those who have followed the process lo these many years will remember that the only “centrally located” site designated in past consultant studies is in Kapaia where the decision to site it there in the 90’s blew up in Mayor Maryanne Kusaka’s face when the nearby Hanama`ulu resident claimed “environmental discrimination” based on the then-new power plant also sited in Kapaia plus the predominantly Filipino ethnic makeup of the town.

The upshot seems to be that since Carvalho apparently is facing no serious opposition to reelection this November the massive solid waste problems that have plagued the island since, well, seemingly forever, are now back on the back burner- a place they will remain for, most likely, another four years while we build Mt. Kekaha to the sky, probably spending the time begging the state Department of Health for another “expansion”.

Oh- and Carvalho also said he now favors reviving the interisland ferry concept but this time with “resonating positive energy- forget the negative energy”, describing his vision of a united island community with everyone dancing happily on the conga line to automotive invasion of our roads parks and facilities.

Keep dreamin’- We got ya positive energy right hea, B’nard.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I’LL GIVE YOU A RED “S”... AND A BLACK EYE TOO: Apropos of this weekend’s “What does it mean to be a haole?” confab and our recent differentiation between the descriptive and adjective-preceded versions of the word, we happened to be perusing the comment section of the local newspaper’s letters to the editor section today and we found this, apropos of nothing.

“spiritualkauaian” asked:

How do you pronounce the name of (our) Island, Kaua`i, now? In the 50's, we (Ha`oles and kama`aina) all spoke 2 syllables: "Cow-eye."

But now the diacritic mark between the a and the i means you're supposed to pause, right? , 3 syllables: "Kau-ah-ee" ?????

Just curious. We'll be there in November and at the least we'd like to get the name of the island right per current Local speech.

Well, at least they’re trying.

But the answer was really trying- of our patience. “Kathmandude” replied:

Kauai is pronounced KA-'WY-EEE with the accent on the second syllable. See you in November!!


No- there is only one “i” in Kaua`i. The “Kaua” part- as with any string of vowels in the `Olelo ‘Hawai`i (the Hawaiian language) is a diphthong, as it’s called in linguistics and the string of vowels is always one syllable.

All vowels in Hawaiian are pronounced- none are “silent”. The vowels are all pronounced with a “soft” sound so the “i” at the end is pronounced like the letter “e”.

“spiritualkauaian” had also asked about how to find the `okina on the keyboard was delighted with Kathmandude’s answer to that and the bungled answer to the question of the pronunciation of Kaua`i saying:

Kathmandude: It works! Thanks, er Mahalo. Now I can ‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘ in Ha‘ole, Kaua‘i and humuhumunukunuku‘apu‘a to my pu‘uwai's delight.

Nooooo- as we said before it’s haole not ha`ole and please stop the idiotic “no breath” explanation of the derivation unless you want to be a “stupid f-ing haole”. And stop using a possessive apostrophe “s” with Hawaiian words. The construction doesn’t exist in Hawaiian which has no verb “to have”.

If in doubt please- look it up. And if you want to learn more about the language it’s easy to do on line.

You don’t need a symposium for that. We haole will never be Hawaiian Supermen but you don’t need an “S” on your shirt to have some respect.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


DARE I SAY IT?: The stereotypical mad scientist of science fiction from Dr. Frankenstein to Dr’s No and Strangelove has always been an almost comic-bookish aberration.

Perhaps that’s why, no matter how much real scientists try to invoke the precautionary principle, the more insanely oriented researchers blithely make decisions that carry the seeds (pun intended) of calamity.

Today’s announcement that the

(t)he state Department of Agriculture is expected to release an environmental assessment today... seeking approval to release a Brazilian scale insect into Hawaii forests to control the spread of the popular but environmentally needy strawberry guava tree

casts Art Medeiros, a research biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, in the insane “don’t confuse me with the facts” researcher who seemingly has never heard of species mutating.

In the case of the Brazilian scale, although presently it infects only the admittedly invasive strawberry guava, the plant is in the same family as the `ohia lehua an endemic and significant part of local forests.

Of course should the introduction of the scale actually make the guava scarce it doesn’t take a genius to envision a slight evolutionary genetic change that would enable it to decimate the `ohia.

It all pales in comparison with the unknowns of generically modified organisms (GMOs) being cranked out to allow companies like Monsanto to control our food supply- assuming they don’t eventually wipe it out.

But there is hope.

This week the first GMO case reached the Supreme Court and while the court didn’t rule specifically on the dangers of widespread GMO crops it did note that they- as a Center for Food Safety news release (thanks to Joan Conrow for the pointer) says-

recognized that the threat of transgenic contamination is harmful and onerous to organic and conventional farmers and that the injury allows them to challenge future biotech crop commercializations in court.

What’s interesting in reading the whole opinion is that it seems almost a given that irreparable harm can come from GMOs with statements throughout the opinion seeming to indicate that there is no doubt about it with nary a challenge to the contention.

It’s hard to put our hopes on a supreme court whose concept of justice is warped by corporate subservience but it may just be that they can recognize junk science when they see it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


GOT UGLY?: Not being a Democrat has it’s benefits.

The biggest perk is that while party members have to bite their lip in order to repress chuckles at the more buffoonish character traits and activities of some of their candidates we can partake in full fledged guffaws.

So we got a kick out of news blogger Dave Shapiro’s “exclusive” report on a leaked letter sent by Democratic Party Chairman Dante Carpenter to some party faithful detailing some of the more outrageous posturings of gubernatorial candidate Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann at the recent party convention.

Shapiro summed up the letter-before providing some side splitting details you’ve gotta read- saying that

In a 2 1/2-page letter to Hannemann, Carpenter complained that the mayor and his campaign committee decided not to sponsor a breakfast it was expected to host, “created turmoil” by hosting a competing campaign event that drew delegates away from Resolution Committee meetings, breached an agreement on the time for the mayor’s speech to the convention, ignored the time limit on the speech despite repeated warnings and tried to bamboozle hotel audiovisual people into playing an unauthorized campaign disc after the Hannemann speech.

Hannemann is the kind of “only in Hawai`i” pol whose political ambitions and tactics are so transparently ego driven and devoid of any sustaining philosophy other than increasing his own power that this election season promises to be what normally would be a hilarious skit if it weren’t for the possibility that he might actually win.

His clearly customarily-corrupt campaign-coffer-cramming has his war chest choke with corporate rail contractor’s cash and his chances in the September primary are subject only to the question of how dumb the electorate really is.

With the exception of his regrettable lock-step support of the military occupation of the islands- and the waste of billions in the process- his opponent Neil Abercrombie actually promises a tolerable administration if elected, especially after enduring the eight-year fiasco commonly referred to as the Linda Lingle administration.

While it’s a little too early for us to publicly endorse candidates- with some notable exceptions like our own Gary Hooser in the lt. governor’s contest and Lani Kawahara in our council race- the Mufster makes it easy to find the worse of two evil no matter who he’s running against.

So pop up some corn and enjoy the show. Unless of course you’re a Democrat in which case the best advice we can come up with for you is to duck.


Clarification: Councilperson Lani Kawahara voted against the “Ako” rezoning in Waimea which we mentioned yesterday.

Monday, June 21, 2010


COME AND GET IT: The current crop of council incumbents has been accused of being a do-nothing body what with dog paths and the old boys’ sniping at insurgencies dominating the debates.

But an examination of the record shows that they actually been very busy- undoing whatever crumbs recent councils have thrown us.

One example is the effort in recent months to undo a decade of work to end the circus going on at Spouting Horn that succeeded via a sunset ordinance that passed a few years back.

The Po`ipu sale-a-thon that has evolved since the 70’s when the county allowed a few puka-shell-lei makers to sell their wares, had been given due notice for many years that the party was ending and local people were going to get their park back and a sunset date was as carved in stone as any council action can be,

But all of a sudden, as the deadline approached the crocodile tears of the vendors over losing their lucrative lair of lucre convinced the all-too-gullible council to just say damn it all and make the loss of the park permanent.

Then there’s the pending bill to gut the “vacation rental in non visitor destination areas” sunset ordinance. Despite a year’s work to close all the loopholes the current bill would chuck them out the window leaving enforcement- which was already difficult due to planning department indifference (or worse, complicity with owners)- an impossibility.

There’s also the “Ako” parcel in Waimea which was just granted residential rezoning despite the fact that the neighboring residents had successfully fought the rezoning for many years because the parcel acts as a flood plane and because it had been designated for a future park.

But last Wednesday one of the most insidious bills to undo past efforts came to council’s planning committee in the form of a measure that would chuck a key element of the givebacks that were included in the Kukui`ula development rezoning passed the council a few years back

Despite the quote in today’s paper’s promotional piece- disguised as a real new article by Coo-Coo Slickos- from A&B Properties Executive Vice President Paul Hallin that “(f)or those of you who want to become a developer, I want to share my pain with you”, it apparently will be a little less painful when a measure to remove a provision to insure perpetual affordability of the “workforce housing” required in exchange for the zoning passes the council a few weeks from now.

A&B’s development effort goes back to the 80’s and was universally opposed like no other before or since. But when one of it’s chief opponents who had led the effort to stop it for many years- former Mayor and at the time former councilperson JoAnn Yukimura- came back to the council to the chagrin of many she actually led the bill through the planning committee she chaired at the time.

She says she didn’t see a way to stop it because the votes were there for rezoning to cut the density by about half which actually changed the development from one designed to provide housing affordable by local people to a high priced one affordable only by mainland transplants.

So she instead got the developer to agree to many conditions and givebacks to the community, one of which was a scheme for workforce housing that, among other conditions, called for a 90 year buyback clause whereby the developer would have to buyback the houses at the original price plus inflation from anyone selling and the re-sell it to others whose median income qualified them for the housing.

But now the developer is proposing- and the council is apparently going to give them according to those who spoke at last Wednesday’s meeting- to change it to a 20-year buy-back meaning that after 20 years the housing will revert back to “market price”.

Not only that but, although it isn’t in the current version of the bill, they are asking that the responsibility for the buyback be transferred to the county- a huge expense that the county will certainly not be able to afford.

So get it while you can all you fat cat land rapers. This council will apparently respond to any request for them to bend over only by asking how far.

Friday, June 18, 2010


BADGERING THE BADGES: State Auditor Marion Higa’s audit of the much maligned Sheriff’s Division the State Department of Public Safety confirms the dysfunctionality that has been apparent for years.

She rightly criticizes the lack of focus and ever expanding role set for state sheriffs with her prime critique centering around what was summed up in the title of Chapter 2- “Lack of Guidance and Leadership Has Resulted in Defective Law Enforcement”.

That’s the understatement of the year according to our many sources in the judiciary who regularly call us with complaints of abuse of power.

As Higa points out:

(T)he Sheriff Division, saddled with an ill-defined role and a lack of mission clarity, has struggled to uphold its expanded law enforcement duties and responsibilities. As the State’s law enforcement needs have expanded, confusion over the extent of the State’s law enforcement responsibilities has grown. This confusion and uncertainty is the result of vague constitutional language, a broad interpretation of statutory authority, and the consolidation of functions previously deemed incompatible.

As a result, the law enforcement responsibilities of the Sheriff Division have expanded beyond the service of process and the security of state buildings to now include drug enforcement, illegal immigration, homeland security, fugitive arrests, criminal investigations, eviction proceedings, and traffic enforcement.

But what has really evolved since it’s 1989 inception is a secret police department that operates purely at the beck and call of leaders of the judiciary without any oversight.

Judges may order them to do anything they please even if they have questionable motives and with no one to answer to but themselves the division has been all too eager to please. Some higher-ups in the sheriff’s division have even evolved so much power that often it is they, rather than the judges, that have ultimate sway over the division according to judiciary employees past and present.

According to the summery of recommendations:

We recommend that the Department of Public Safety perform a risk assessment of each section of the Sheriff Division in the course of developing a comprehensive strategic plan for the division that, at a minimum, meets the requirements of Act 100, SLH 1999. The department should also consider proposing statutory amendments to align with the division’s duties and functions as indicated by the risk assessment. We also suggest that the department pursue accreditation for the Sheriff Division from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA), to ensure that proper law enforcement policies and procedures are enacted and followed.

It’s not really shocking that there are apparently no administrative rules for their activities- that’s a common denominator of many out of control state departments and apparently without the filing of a lawsuit- in this case to be heard by the very judges that take advantage of the system- it remains up to those in charge to pass Chapter 91 procedures.

But even more important is what is hidden in the last sentence- again to no one’s surprise the Sheriff’s Division is not an accredited law enforcement agency.

One of the main tenets of accreditation is the idea of civilian control of our paramilitary forces- i.e. police- whether local, state or federal.

The Sheriff’s Division joins another out of control secret state police department. the Department of Land and Natural Recourses’ (DLNR) Division of Conservation and Recourse Enforcement (DOCARE) which answers solely to the director of the DLNR with no civilian oversight board or commission.

Unless people demand civilian control of those that carry weapons and have the power to detain and arrest citizens, conditions like those described in this audit will continue to plague law enforcement.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


SHHHH: Another day another Hawai`i governmental travesty of justice, this time the red-queen-style “execution first, trial later” firing of Hawaii State Ethics Commission Executive Director Dan Mollway after 24 years on the job.

While we’ve criticized Mollway for his lack of aggression and tendency to seek slaps on the wrist in many cases, the way he was fired typifies the shady way many boards and commissions hire and fire their executives behind closed doors.

In response to the news today Disappeared News’ Larry Geller is questioning the firing and:

has faxed a request to the Chair of the Commission requesting copies of the minutes of its executive sessions that included discussion of the termination of Mr. Mollway.

The request is based on the strong public interest in the process by which the Ethics Commission carried out its action, a process that has been criticized in public testimony presented to the Commission. The Commission has declined to post the testimony on its website, but under Hawaii’s public records law it must provide copies to anyone who requests it.

But while Geller is rightfully asking the commission to provide the “secret sauce” there’s really only one person to blame for the surreptitious nature of the whole process- Mollway himself.

Under law, investigatory and/or disciplinary proceedings regarding “personnel matters” are to be closed to the pubic with one exception- the target may request that the matter is dealt with entirely in public.

But Mollway, like almost every other employee in his position, chose to keep the investigation and surrounding documents secret- a traditionally losing strategy.

That’s because the elephant in the room that no one is really mentioning is that these things are usually political in nature, in this case involving a board that has, over eight years, been stacked with appointees of Republican Linda Lingle and as the clock is running out, they’re going after someone that has been a target of partisan snipes for many years.

So why did Mollway choose to keep the investigation under wraps? It’s anyone’s guess but it was probably something he didn’t give much thought to, possibly related to the fact that a medical problem- identified for the first time today as a problem with “migraines”- was at the heart of the matter.

It’s hard to think of many examples of people who decided to make their matter public. But when they do they seem to be successful in turning the tables on the investigatory body because, as anyone whose dealt with governmental secrecy knows, it’s usually the body doing the investigation that has more to hide.

This was shown in archetype during the political persecution of two Kaua`i police commission members who were charged with unethical activities involved in the hiring of former Police Chief KC Lum.

Both Chair Michael Ching and Commissioners Carl Furtado were targets of a Kaua`i Board of Ethics investigation based on allegations contained in a complaint filed by Council Chair Kaipo Asing, at first on official stationary but later, after that was found to be improper and itself a violation of the ethics code, as a private citizen.

But the two chose divergent tactics in fighting the charges with Ching preferring to go the closed door route and Furtado demanding an open review.

The results? While the retired Maui judge appointed to hear Ching’s case didn’t really find a true violation and stated so in his report the ethics board revealed only sections of his report to make it seem like he did and presented those pages to the council to show guilt.

Despite the fact that the whole report surfaced - including the exculpatory portions- when a citizen claimed “ a little bird dropped it through my window”, when he tried to submit it as testimony before the council, they refused to accept it and the actual pages were physically thrown back at him during an open council session.

When he tried to go to the local newspaper with the full report he was equally thwarted by a reporter and editor of questionable intelligence and/or integrity who either couldn’t or didn’t want to figure out what the truth was.

Furtado on the other hand was cleared of charges because under the light of day it was apparent there was no real evidence of unethical activity- or, more importantly, no evidence that the county attorney’s office was willing to state in public and submit to cross-examination.

If Mollway had chosen the open session route it seems that the lack of evidence his attorney has alleged as well as the illegal nature of the firing (apparently based on a medical condition) might well have cause the charges to be dropped rather than expose the commission’s actions to the scrutiny of the press in the high profile case.

If nothing else it should serve as a precautionary tale for those who have the opportunity to open charges against them to public review, turning the intimidation tables on those who would use their office for political vendettas.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


SHUFFLING A DECK OF JOKERS: We’ve been having a field day ridiculing Leo Azambuja even calling him “the worst reporter in the world”.

But that kind of presumes he’s a reporter, not some schlub hired off the street at starvation wages by the “el cheapo” management of the local Kaua`i newspaper.

It’s kind of like the Raspberry Awards, given to the worst movies of the year in that they aren’t given to some low budget unknown film but rather to a big expensive Hollywood bomb.

So we take it back- sort of- and instead bestow our “worst reporter”- at least in the state- award to long time political reporter, late of the new Honolulu Starve-a-tizer via the late Star-Bulletin, Richard Borreca.

We’ve been laughing at his seeming inability to venture beyond the most bland of conventional wisdom in his commentaries and his distinctly “he said she said” reporting style for many years.

And so we were none too shocked a few months back when appearing on the PBS program “Island Insights” he told host Dan Boylen with a straight face that there has never been a story broken by a news blogger, especially given that his arrogant self-important attitude has been worn on his sleeve throughout his long career.

So we were wondering whether he had a plate of sautéed crow handy when today he had to report on the story about Mufi Hannemann’s secretive Pittsburgh fundraiser-that-wasn’t-a-fundraiser, thrown by Honolulu rail contract hopefuls, after blogger and Honolulu government watchdog extraordinaire Carroll Cox broke the story a week ago June 9.

KHON TV’s Ron Mizutani picked up on the story the next day although if it wasn’t for Cox’s revelation it’s pretty doubtful anyone in the corporate press would have done so.

From there former S-B reporter, blogger Ian Lind, picked up the ball and ran with it filling in many details Cox and Mizutani had missed, reporting twice on the issue on June 11th and 13th as Mufi’s militia made various pronouncements of questionable veracity, finally deciding to give back the money.

(Parenthetically today Lind presented a post dealing with our favorite fake reporter’s fake reporting on the fake farm approved by our fake planning commission this week.)

So a week later Borreca, no longer able to stand the criticism being leveled at the S-A for ignoring the story, finally wrote it up today with zero new facts and, of course, written in the intelligence-offending “he said she said”, opposing quotes style.

It wouldn’t do for Borreca to just report on the actual events when they became known. That might have made the report timely and spun bullsh-t-free.

Indeed his lede indicates his typical lazy journalist’s angle.

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann's chief opponents in the governor's race say he should answer questions and explain his recent trip to Pittsburgh to raise campaign funds.

After a brief 40 word description of the basic long-ago-reported story he goes back and forth between quotes from the always-good-for-a-laugh Republican Party Chairman Jonah Kaauwai, Hannemann campaign Spokesperson Carolyn Tanaka and prospective Hannemann opponents in the November governor’s race, fellow Democrat and former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie and Republican Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona.

For those that don’t really follow issues in journalism, the "he said she said" reporting style has evolved over the past few decades as a response to complaints from those who don’t like the way the objective facts look, in order to assure that their “spin”- including outright idiotic crap- will be dutifully reported. unchallenged except for some other apologist’s quote.

It’s what’s made true investigative reporting something that is apparently forbidden in the modern corporate newsroom.

While it always good journalism to report what those who don’t like the news are saying about it, it’s one thing to include their quote, perhaps at the end of a piece in order to contrast it with the known facts, and it’s a whole other thing to base the entire article on opposing quotes that leave the reader confused as to what the actual facts are.

But it’s beyond that with Borreca. He’s simply a dinosaur whose defense of his lack of real craft has deluded him into actually thinking that only he should be reporting the news no matter how uninformative his version of it is.

With all the excellent journalists out of work after the slaughter of the Honolulu Advertiser it’s apparently way past time to put Borreca out to pasture where his BS will be, if not appreciated, at least tolerated.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


STONED AGAIN: One of the stupidest things we’ve ever heard of- and on Kaua`i that’s saying a lot- is the plan to try to prevent a rockslide at the waterfall on Kalalau beach by causing one.

If the local newspaper article by still-unable-to-find-the-lead reporter Leo Azambuja is to be believed:

Workers will then suspend themselves from the top of the cliff, and using crowbars they’ll hammer out rocks that appear to be less than 50 percent attached to the cliff’s face.

It’s hard to say which is more imbecilic- the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) that has come up with this harebrained scheme or the Kaua`i Planning Commission that actually issued a Special Management Area Permit to do it- an approval that was reported 1037 words into a 1137 word article.

Have these people ever spent any time there? We have- lots of it.

Yes rocks fall- very occasionally. And people generally avoid the areas where they are likely to fall, obeying the signs in the area.

But as long as you leave them alone, when they do fall they present little or no danger. The only “incidents” have come about when sh-t-for-brains tourists mess with them by climbing around on them.

As anyone who has spent any time looking at the geology of landslides on the crumbly islands’ sheer cliff faces can tell you, if you actually bring down the loose stuff- the rocks that are actually holding the whole thing together- the rock slides will continue at an advanced rate for many years until it stabilizes... leaving others rocks ready to fall in perpetuity.

If you let them fall intermittently by themselves the occurrences will be sporadic and won’t potentially allow a huge “face” to fall with the first good rainfall.

This has been shown over and over and is why, when the Department of Transportation (DOT) does any rock removal work above highways nowadays, they put chain link meshing over the disturbed area to stop the rock and landslides that inevitably occur immediately after the work is done.

And even stupider is, according to the article, the idea to try to bring down:

two massive blocks that are apparently slowly detaching from the cliff’s face.

Conservative estimates measure the blocks at approximately 230 and 1,250 cubic yards each.

(Environmental planner for AECom, the company contracted to oversee the project,
Tobias) Koehler said there are cracks so wide that it’s possible to stick an arm inside of them.

The idea is to insert air bags into those cracks, and then pump them until the blocks detach from the face of the cliff.

In talking to the old-timers as far back as the 70’s those “slowly detaching” boulders have been doing so for decades, perhaps centuries- as far back as anyone can remember. An examination of the large boulders in the area shows them to have been where they are for a long long time.

A couple of the comments on the article agree:

“If you pop off the big rocks the more numerous small ones the size of your fist will crumble off the cliffs and kill and injure more people than 1 big one. Leave Kalalau natural like it has been since it began.”

“Anyone who's spent any time down the coast knows that rocks fall - and will continue to fall. You can't stop it. Avoid the rock fall zones just like we did as kids. Anyone remember when the entire cave at the Honopu end collapsed?”

Along with the recent announcement that despite almost unanimous local opposition the DLNR is going to put up a gate in Koke`e to charge “non-residents” (for now).

It’s no wonder they use the excuse of having no money for “maintenance” of parks to justify the Koke`e fees when they spend $800,000 (reported 974 words into the article) on nonsense like this.

This kind of idiocy of allowing decisions regarding our parks to be made around a table in Honolulu has got to end with the end of this administration.

The question only seems to be how much damage they can do before December.

Monday, June 14, 2010


A BLESSING ON YOUR HEAD, MAZEL TOV, MAZEL TOV: No one ever said Councilperson Derrick Kawakami was an idiot.

As a scion of the two-headed Kawakami political family no one ever said he lacked political acumen to read the political winds.

And as a scion of the Kawakami “Big Save” family no one ever said he couldn’t take care of business when he had to

But who knew he was an thespian?

Not that he had to be a Brando to deliver his “I had a Dream speech” at last Wednesday’s council meeting given that his target audience was all too willing to believe any performance that led to the result they were looking for.

But this one had to be a humdinger.

With November just around the corner Kawakami looked into the abyss and saw what could be a difficult row to hoe in the coming months. And anything less than a top-two or three result just wouldn’t do for his plans for a life as a professional politician.

A loss would be a disaster. With two former councilmembers and an up and comer already in the race and none of the other six running for anything else, the math looked iffy- especially based on the demographics that put him into office in ’08.

Back then Kawakami didn’t just cash in on the local cache of the Kawakami name but took advantage of a dearth of progressive candidate endorsements to garner a large chunk of the slow-growth “Keep Kaua`i Kaua`i” crowd that was willing to “give him a chance”.

But his vehement defense of Chair Kaipo Asing and attacks on progressive darlings Lani Kawahara and Tim Bynum had put him in a position where cries of “well I won’t make that mistake again” were making it almost impossible to garner a wide swath of that portion of the electorate again.

Beginning in the spring the pandering began in earnest with his early and unwavering support for the “I own a dog and I vote” crowd. But although that politically wise move assured the votes of some single-issue voters there was a blow back brewing. Not being an idiot, he could see that there were many out there who, though comparatively silent, saw the naked political ploy as another indication of pandering “hack-dom”.

He needed something meaty- a real issue that was uniting many leaders of the “sustainability” wing of the island’s progressives. But as luck would have it he had tried the same “get out front early” strategy that worked on the “dog path” but it was boomeranging on the farm worker’s housing bill.

When the bill first came before the council it appeared that the issue of abuse of ag land and the resulting sprawl- especially on the north shore- was causing widespread opposition to the bill. There were just too many ways to take advantage of the added density and, based on past abuses of well-meaning ag land measures, the smart growth/sustainability crowd and even most akamai farmers were lining up to oppose the measure.

Kawakami’s attempt to get out front looked like a good political move and also kept him in lock step with the Asing majority- seemingly a win-win for him when and if the issue became a winner for the majority faction.

That fell apart when the farmers and the three minority faction councilmembers in favor of the bill- minority leader Jay Furfaro (who did most of the negotiating), Bynum and Kawahara- spent almost a year negotiating a laundry list of restrictions which, although they made the bill useless to 99% of the island’s farmers, assuaged the concerns of those lining up to oppose the original bill.

All of a sudden Kawakami found himself not just not making headway with some of his ’08 constituency but actually being seen as the main reason why the now reasonable compromise would be defeated.

No doubt this did cause “sleepless nights” as Kawakami said. And there was just one way out- reverse his formerly staunch opposition to the bill which was approaching a final vote last Wednesday.

But what kind of cockamamie story could he come up with as to why he was flip-flopping at the last minute?

The reality is that Derrick is for one thing and one thing only... Derrick. And actually admitting he was changing his mind to win in November wasn’t something a smart politician would do.

Not only did the story have to be minimally convincing for those whose votes he was seeking- at least enough to just have them enjoy the victory and assure they wouldn’t ask (or care) why he changed his mind- but he would have to have a bone to throw to his base whose support came from his support of Asing and the good old boys network and whose votes he had worked so hard to put in his pocket.

Could he pull it off? He had to try.

He knew that all he had to do was convince the all-too-willing-to-believe crowd in the council chambers to take his story all at face value and that if they did he could expect another hook line and sinker job- this time swallowing the rod and reel too- by the wide mouth bass on the government beat at the local newspaper.

Spinning a phony-baloney tall tale of a beloved deceased relative coming to one in a dream in order to explain a change of one’s mind and get someone to now agree with the new position, goes at least back to author Shalom Aleichem, as immortalized in the Tevye’s Dream sequence in the Broadway play “Fiddler on the Roof”.

But mixing in the tales of old plantation days for the old boys along with support for ag on Kaua`i was pure Kawakami.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


DON’T YOU WORRY YOUR PRETTY LITTLE HEAD ABOUT IT: The cesspool of sexual harassment in Kaua`i county government is nothing new to our readers.

But worse than the harassment itself and the retaliation, has been the utter lack of attention to the pervasive problem and indeed active attempts to make the growing list of complainants just go away.

Today the county council will, most likely, compound the problem by going into executive session to hear about the cases and then give the okay to the county attorney’s office to fight two of the more prominent lawsuits, those of “Kaua`i Bus” driver Kathleen M. Ah Quin and former Kaua`i Police Department dispatcher and then Liquor Department employee Kristan C. Hirakawa who now is known as Kristan C Suniga.

Also outstanding is the case of Margaret Hanson Sueoka who has filed a case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as we exclusively detailed in June of 2009.

Ah Quin’s case, which we reported in December of 2008 remains the same but Suniga case- which we exhaustively detailed in December of 2009- originally filed in federal district court, has now moved to state circuit court.

And while the original case alleged one of the more nauseating tales of harassment and retaliation – in two different jobs no less- and told of a distinct lack of interest on the part of the county, the new case is, if possible, even more unsettling with details of harassment by the county attorney’s office front and center.

Suniga’s story of harassment began in KPD where she won a different suit and as a result she was moved to the Liquor Department where it didn’t just continue but escalated under her boss Dexter Shimatsu.

Yet that was only the beginning.

According to the suit:

Instead of investigating and remedying Plaintiffs sexual harassment claim, the County instead protected the accused supervisor, Shimatsu, by offering no remedial action to Plaintiff and. failing to conduct even a basic investigation for several months. The County failed to conduct an unbiased investigation to this day.

That’s where the much maligned county attorney’s office came into the picture and, the suit alleges, it compounded the already outrageous treatment of Suniga.

The suit goes on to say:

In many cases, County policy directs employees to report allegations of sexual harassment to the Office of the County Attorney, which is charged with allegedly overseeing an unbiased investigation of the matter. Thus, the Office of the County Attorney is responsible both for the Human Resource function of ensuring independent investigations of complaints of sexual harassment for the protection of county employees, while at the same time the Office of the County Attorney must defend the County against claims of improper sexual harassment in the workplace. In Plaintiff's case, the Office of the County Attorney did not make good on the County's promise of a fair investigation and appropriate corrective action, but instead the Office of the County Attorney, in 2007, used its position of trust and responsibility to investigate Plaintiffs complaint of sexual harassment in an adversarial manner, designed to minimize liability to the County by casting doubt on Plaintiff's character and allegations. 28. In August of 2007, the County contacted Plaintiff and informed her that the County Would conduct a sex) harassment/hostile work place investigation based on Plaintiff's allegations. The County offered Plaintiff the choice of one of three investigators, without disclosing their relative training and experience investigating sexual harassment claims.

Given no information as to each proposed investigator's background, Plaintiff chose Ann Wooton ("Wooton") based on the fact that Wooton was the only female investigator offered by the County.

Wooton is a county-employed grant writer/social worker, with no prior training or experience in sexual harassment investigations. The Office of the County Attorney oversaw an investigation into Plaintiff's complaints that was so biased that the investigator did not even ask Shimatsu the most basic questions such as if he had sent the sexually harassing emails and memoranda Based on this sham of an investigation, Wooton then concluded the investigation by finding, among other things, that Plaintiff's allegations could not be substantiated due to a lack of evidence.

The suit alleges that it took two months for Wooton to even interview Suniga and that even though she was entitled to the results of the investigation under the state’s open records law, “the Office of the County Attorney remarkably responded that the investigation would not be produced because, inter alia, it was prepared in anticipation of litigation”.

As if that wasn’t enough the next episode described in the suit was truly frightening

In the fall of 2008, an unknown individual or individuals hacked into Plaintiffs financial accounts, social networking accounts and various retail merchant accounts. The hacker made unauthorized purchases on Plaintiff's credit cards, and created and posted documents and web-pages online that falsely suggested that Plaintiff was not unable to work for Defendant, but that she was instead making significant money by moonlighting or working for the private sector while she claimed to be suffering from a hostile workplace at the Liquor Department. The hacker(s) took various actions with regard to Plaintiff's accounts, which appear to be designed so as to discredit Plaintiffs claims against the County.

Plaintiff reported the series of unauthorized hacks into her accounts and expenditures on her credit cards to the Kauai Police Department However, on information and belief, the Kauai Police Department (the defendant in Plaintiff's former case) took a report, but otherwise has done nothing to investigate or solve Plaintiff's reports of identity theft. Thereafter, the County sought to use the fabricated documents manufactured by the hacker(s) against Plaintiff.

The suit’s narrative sums up Suniga’s situation by saying:

The County, through the actions of supervisor Shimatsu, the Office of the County Attorney in managing the response to Plaintiffs complaints, and the Kauai Police Department in refusing to respond to her police report, has left Plaintiff, a single mother of two, in a precarious financial position. Plaintiff's mental and physical health has suffered due to the County's action and inactions.

Plaintiff remains unable to resume working in direct contact with Shimatsu.

The aforesaid events have changed the course of Plaintiff's life and career.

Plaintiff has complied with the administrative procedural requirements for maintaining a civil action for discrimination on the basis of sex for retaliation under Haw. Rev. Stat. § 378 et. seq. Plaintiff dual filed the aforesaid charges with the United States EEOC and the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission ("HCRC"). The EEOC made a determination of cause to believe that the alleged sexual harassment occurred. On March 17, 2010 the HCRC issued Plaintiff the notice of right to sue.

On November 13, 2008, the EEOC found that "The Commission's investigation determined that there is reasonable cause to believe that Charging Party was subjected to sexual harassment because of her sex, female."

Plaintiff timely filed this action within 90 days of issuance of her right to sue letter from the HCRC issued on March 17, 2010.

The County retaliated against Plaintiff by: 1) having the Office of the County Attorney direct an incomplete and inadequate investigation into Plaintiff's complaint of sexual harassment; 2) the Kauai Police Department's failure to investigate Plaintiff's complaint that someone hacked into Plaintiffs financial accounts and misappropriated her image and personal accounts; and 3) failing to timely promote Plaintiff from Trainee to Investigator I despite Plaintiff receiving "More Than Satisfactory" ratings from Shimatsu.

Tomorrow, in granting the county attorney’s request for more money to fight rather than settle the two suits, the council will no doubt be adding another misdeed to the list.


We’re taking tomorrow off and possibly taking a long weekend although we may get to post something Friday. If not we’ll be back Monday.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


ANOTHER HOLDUP: As a five-year-old pup growing up in the concrete canyons of the northeast megalopolis we were quite sure of our reply when we answered a teacher’s query as to where milk came from by saying “the A&P”.

Not that we were technically wrong given the way the question was asked but we soon came to find that it’s a little more complicated and indeed, the farmer is the man that feeds them all (with apologies to all the hard working women farmers).

Here on Kaua`i it’s even more complicated because despite lip service about preserving agricultural lands they’ve been cut up in little pieces and the resulting “fake farms” make sure the only thing that grows is the bank accounts of the shysters who used land use law loopholes to line their pockets.

The fact is that because of this the cost of farm land is already so high that no one can afford to successfully farm it if they have to pay off a mortgage on it from the proceeds of the farm.

So when a few years back farmers started asking for a Farm Worker Housing Bill it sent up all sorts of red flags as just another loophole-ridden legislative initiative to increase the density on all this used-to-be ag land destined to drive the prices of ag land higher still.

When the bill (#2318) hit the council floor over a year ago that’s exactly what it was- even those legitimate farmers who asked for the measure were saying so.

But to make a long story short after many hours of work by farmers and politicians a bill that has a long list of really tight restrictions is about to be passed into law tomorrow... maybe.

In Sunday’s newspaper a guest column by one of the true farmers on Kauai, Louisa Wooten, along with farm advocate Andrea Brower of Malama Kaua`i details why they have come around and what the bill does to make sure only legitimate farms will be able to put up “temporary” worker housing.

The point out that the bill says that:

- Farmers would have to show receipts of $35,000 from gross sales for two consecutive years. This level would have to be maintained each year in order to keep qualifying;

- The land would have to already have a county agriculture dedication;

- Only certain crops would qualify, with tree and turf farms excluded. Those crops have had a history of abuse under the ag dedication program;

- Farmers must have a viable commercial plan that clearly defines a need for worker housing;

- Farmers must appear before the Planning Commission;

- Only current CPRs can apply;

- In case of sale or transfer of land, the Planning Commission must be notified and the permit reviewed;

- Annual fillings and regular inspections will ensure compliance;

- Structures, which will sit on stilts, must be removed within six months of non-compliance;

- Possible fines and liens could bring stiff financial repercussions.

Sounds pretty restrictive. And in most places these things might insure that the bill doesn’t give fake farms- the ones that with no farms just “farm dwellings” as state law requires they be- the added “density” to put up another house on their lot.

And in just about any other place the bill, as it stands right now, might pass muster.

But this is Kaua`i and the last two of those restrictions give us pause.

Because the success of this measure. like others before it. lies in our planning department’s ability to enforce the law and, from past experience, anyone who pays attention knows that the requirement that “(s)tructures... must be removed within six months of non-compliance” is a joke waiting to be told.

This was the main point made by Council Chair Kaipo Asing in a convincing presentation at the last council meeting and is the main reason why the bill may not pass tomorrow.

The article states that “Maui has had a less stringent farm worker housing bill in place for ten years. It has been a great boost for farmers on that island with no documented history of abuse.”.

But then again Maui has had a real planner in charge of their planning department for the last 10 years.

There is hope though. Brower and Wooten write:

If there are concerns about potential abuse of the bill, let’s work together to close the loopholes.

There is one more thing that might insure that these “temporary” structures are removed- a requirement that farmers put up a bond in the amount of the cost to remove the structure and be required through the conditions on the use permit to allow the county to use the bond money to do the removal... and sign legal documents allowing the county to do so.

Even then we have reservations given the track record of the planning department to enforce council-passed ordinances such as the botched transient vacation rental bill that has become it’s own joke since it went into effect almost two years back.

The fact that legitimate farmers and farm organizations who saw the problem and opposed the original bill have signed off on it says much in its favor. But legitimate farmers have waited years for the bill’s enactment and can wait another couple of weeks to include a provision to assure that the houses will be removed when they are no longer called for.

Monday, June 7, 2010


ADJECTIVAL OBJECTIONISM: One of the most unintentionally hilarious things we’ve seen in a long time was a press release- picked up by the local newspaper yesterday- announcing that:

Kaua`i Nonviolent Communication will soon host its first ever “conscious community dialogue” to answer the often controversial question: “What does it mean to be ‘haole’ in Hawai`i?”

But the funny part was that:

The event aims to attract white, or “haole,” residents of Kaua`i in particular, but welcomes the participation of Kauians (sic) of all ethnic backgrounds

So let’s see- apparently a bunch of haoles want to talk to other haoles because they’ve got their panties in a bunch over being haoles.

First off let’s get something straight here- there’s the word “haole” and then there’s the term “stupid f—ing haole” and there’s a world of difference between the two.

The former- a moniker we proudly wear- is simply descriptive and used in the local culture in describing. originally anything foreign or introduced but nowadays, a white/Caucasian person. It has no inherent derogatory connotations any more than any of the other term used locally like Kepani, Pake, Portagee, Popolo and other terms used locally to describe culture and ethnicity.

Because so many people from so many places have congregated here local culture has less of a taboo against identifying one’s self and others by ethnicity. We think nothing of walking up to a person and asking “what are you” with no mal intent whereas on the mainland that question might get you punched in the nose.

It might be useful to look at the real definition of haole in the Pukui-Elbert English Hawaiian Dictionary:

White person, American, Englishman, Caucasian; American, English; formerly, any foreigner; foreign, introduced, of foreign origin, as plants, pigs, chickens; entirely white, of pigs.

And that bring us to the term “stupid f’ing haole which is usually well earned when mainlanders come over and don’t just refuse to adapt to local culture but try to force their cultural on those they meet.

And as if to emphasize this the some of the “comments” on the article in the paper could only come from stupid f’ing haoles.

Try this one from “Pohaku” who said.

"Ha'ole" is insulting. People who use it are racists. The translation means without Ha, in this case breath or Life. It was used to describe the officers on the first contact vessels, who wore powdered wigs and powdered their faces as part of dressing in their finery to meet the chiefs of the islands that they visited. These pale, powdered officers looked to be without breath or life to the Hawaiians.
We don't dress that way now. Many whites have "Ha" in a way now that many Hawaiians have lost.

This “ha ole” nonsense is the epitome of S-F’ing haole behavior. There is no truth whatsoever for this theory of the derivation of the word yet it’s used by people who have taken offense at the term because of their mainland cultural bias and made up some kind of explanation that now permeates haole S-F’ing cultural rumor mill.

On the other hand “ricanvegan” said something that rings true

Being ha'ole means putting together seminars like this.

Although (s)he uses the wrong spelling (using the `okina) and fails to say it’s the S-F haole that organizes seminars to figure out what only interaction can inform, it does bring up the right way-wrong way to avoid “makin’ A” and being tagged with the S-F label.

So how can you avoid being a S-F haoles? Essentially the same way you avoid being a "damn Yankee" in the south or one of those "damn California people" in Montana with the knowledge that local Kaua`i culture has grown from a multi-cultural rather than a uni-cultural base.

The methodology is no different here than it is in coming into any place where a different culture is present.

S-F haoles have an attitude of the superiority of their culture often times unconscious because well, that’s the way Americans are. They’d do better to approach individuals as they would anyone else who they seek to befriend.

If you approach people with a genuine interest in the way they do things they will reciprocate in kind. If instead if you tell the person of your culture with an attitude of “this how it’s done the ‘right’ way” you will quickly be seen for what you are- a S-F haole

Don’t assume everyone here has it in for you because you are a haole and don’t assume it is an insult when the term is used or you will quickly become a S-F haole.

Be a member of the community that’s here- don’t build one of your own in isolation. Local people have a tradition of sharing and being friendly. Get to know your neighbor and don’t be critical of what they do just because you don’t do it.

Don’t put up a no trespassing sign and a locked gate. Don’t honk at people in traffic. Smile at people and make eye contact. maybe with a little head nod, in the supermarket- even say “hi” sometimes.

And don’t forget that taking pride in your culture and ethnicity doesn’t mean foisting it on others. Try to become aware of when you’re doing it. People like sharing their culture as much as you do and will be happy to respect yours if you respect theirs. Eventually you both will come to celebrate both without pushing one on the other.

Then, when you’re sitting around and people start talking about S-F haoles they will turn to you and say “oh, not you”.

Then you will know you are simply haole and once you embrace that you will start calling people stupid f’ing haoles yourself.

Friday, June 4, 2010


ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL: Really? “Rock bottom” as we said yesterday in describing the latest version of the worst newspaper in the world?

Just take a gander at the hook, line and sinker swallowed by “government beat” reporter Leo Azambuja in regurgitating statistics purporting a wondrous job in using the second half-million-dollar county tourism stimulus toilet-flush presented by Sue Kanoho of the Kaua`i Visitors Bureau and the county economic development director George Costa.

The story of the “amazing success” Kanoho claimed at Wednesday’s council meeting in bringing more visitors to the island was an example of the worst of the worst in covering government- the unabashed unquestioning rote re-recital of governmental double-talking bulls—t.

Anyone who has been following the story knows that, as we wrote about here, here and here last year, accountability and actually being able to correlate the dollars spent to any increase- if there was one- in tourists and the resulting dollars spent was deemed essential, if not by the council by the many taxpayers who spoke out at the time .

But of course when Kanoho’s presentation didn’t include one verified example of anyone who came as a result of any promotion- with one exception: the $30,000 spent on the “South Pacific” Mitzi Gaynor appearance- the council just sat and applauded like the trained seals they are.

Seemingly Kanoho and Costa just pulled any-kine numbers and plugged them in to show their self-declared “success”, even admitting in the case of the so-called “radio blitz” that the only thing they could report as “attributable” to the money spent is through an anecdote Chamber of Commerce honcho Randy Francisco reported after talking to someone in a bar who said they came as a result of the promotion

The worst waste was in using half the money to bribe the “top six producers” of “on-line bookings”- sites like Orbitz and Priceline. The problem is that these sites don’t actually report how many bookings were made as a result of our money being spent or provide any proof that it was a successful “buy” because, as the council knew last year when they approved the money, that information is “proprietary”.

What a scam.

Kanoho admitted that their “coupon book”- one of those pseudo-discount buy a thousand dollar item and get a two cent piece of crap for free promotions- was disastrously unsuccessful... something that many told the council in no uncertain terms would happen last year.

One of the most ridiculous parts of the presentation- one of course unquestioned in the newspaper article along with all of these examples- was the “Northwest media blitz” and trade show appearance by Kanoho and a slew of other Kaua`i people.

Kanoho actually said that although it was “hard to track” Francisco “put 1200” as the number of attributable tourist trips with apparently no real reason to think it was correct.

As a matter of fact each item was “hard” or “impossible” to track according to Kanoho although that little fact was distinctly missing from the newspaper coverage.

What we saw happening at Wednesday’s meeting- something those who read the “newspaper of record” will never know- was a presentation of a series of made-up, pulled-from-their-asses numbers that had absolutely no verified, documented correlation to the money spent.

The real shibai though wasn’t Kanoho prevarications or Azambuja’s incompetence but the council’s attempt to justify the million they spent in making sure the business community and CofC crowd will fill their campaign coffers this year, and wasting (read: stealing) a cool million (half was spent last year in the same manner) taxpayer dollars to do it.

Their performance Wednesday- especially that of tourism industry shill Dickie Chang who engineered the whole debacle- in oohing and ahing at Kanoho’s faux success was just what you’d expect on Kaua`i.

Did anyone really think councilmembers were going to aggressively seek answers that they didn’t want to hear, specifically regarding their use of a million dollars that didn’t do a damn thing- and do it at a time when they just furloughed county employees for two days a month?

It’s open season for the council lies and secrecy and with no one to call them on it. And they know it. Don’t ya just love this town?

Thursday, June 3, 2010


ENOUGH?: We know of no one on the island who will deny that the local Kaua`i newspaper has hit rock bottom. No matter how bad it’s been over the past 25 or so years- and there have been some real stinkers- it is probably the worst overall product anyone has seen since the 1984 departure of Editor Jean Holmes.

The utter lack of even competent reporters- much less good ones- is shameful. But now there’s no excuse for it with literally hundreds of excellent experienced journalists losing their jobs in the “merger” of Honolulu dailies.

According to the story in today’s Advertiser

The Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin employed roughly 880 people before a Feb. 25 announcement that Star-Bulletin owner David Black was acquiring the larger Advertiser from Gannett Co.

Star-Bulletin Publisher Dennis Francis said yesterday the Star-Advertiser will employ about 450 workers. The loss of about 430 jobs makes this one of the larger mass layoffs in Hawai`i in the past several years....

This is catastrophic," said Wayne Cahill, administrative officer for the Hawaii Newspaper Guild. "Not only is he (Black) closing a newspaper, he is dumping more than 400 good workers on the community."

But the fact most likely is that none will find their way to Kaua`i for one reason- the starvation wages paid to reporters at our “newspaper of record”.

Publisher Randy Kozerski has maintained the tradition of paying starvation wages according to some who have of late “inquired within” and there’s little doubt that he will not even make an attempt to lure any of the now unemployed former Advertiser reporters to Kaua`i with a reasonable, fair, living wage.

Unless of course the subscribers rise up and say “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take any more”.

Call or write Kozerski personally today (808 245-3681, ext. 221; and tell him you’re canceling your subscription unless he pledges to hire some real reporters and put out a professional product.

Although it is a private business a newspaper has a civic responsibility to provide its readers with the news and information they need. And unless people demand it we’ll continue to have the dismal product we see today.


Correction: In yesterday’s post we said in error that the `okina is a vowel. It is actually a consonant. We regret the error.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


WORD IMPERFECT: As we perused the morning Honolulu newspapers in anticipation of soon perusing the Honolulu newspaper we uncharacteristically stopped at June Watanabe’s Kokua Line today after reading the hed stating State's official spelling of 'Hawaii' omits okina

Here on Kaua`i that’s not true with a council resolution passed about a decade ago that tried to assure that all official government uses of Hawaiian words are spelled correctly.

Being a writer in Hawai`i is fraught with pitfalls for those without a basic knowledge of the Hawaiian language-`Olelo Hawai`i- and although ours came from a couple of semesters of instruction almost 30 years ago there are things that we learned from our kumu, Ilei Beneamina, that stick in our mind.

One is about the so-called diacritical marks- the kahako and `okina.

Back to the article- and the reason we bring it up- it answers the question of why the name of the state is spelled without an `okina on the news state drivers’ licenses

But Watanabe’s answer leaves a lot to be desired. She says:

The answer is that "Hawai'i" is not the state's official spelling... Hawaii, as do all other U.S. jurisdictions, follows the driver's license/ID card design specifications set forth by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators "to ensure nationwide standardization of data elements," explained Dennis Kamimura, administrator of the city Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing.

The guidelines do not allow for punctuation marks to appear on any printed data element, such as the name of the state, the name of the licensee, street name, etc., he said.

"However, if the official spelling of Hawaii is changed to Hawai'i, it may be possible to change the spelling of our driver's license," he said.

The problem is that the `okina is not a “punctuation mark”- it’s an actual letter to be treated as a vowel for all intents and purposes.

Watanabe seems to have missed that even though she questioned an associate professor of Hawaiian language at UH-Manoa.

It’s been one of our pet peeves over the years and brings up another more important one that journalists and regular scribes around the state - including many dedicated to preserving and perpetuating Hawaiian culture- set off on a daily basis.

It’s the use of a possessive apostrophe in Hawaiian words, especially along with the use of an `okina.

We cringe every time we see something like “Hawai`i’s” or “Kaua`i’s” people because the Hawaiian language has no possessive case. You can say “the home of Kimo” – ka hale ‘o Kimo” but there is no way to say “Kimo’s home”.

Just as there is no verb “to be” there is no verb “to have” in the Hawaiian language as there are in most.

We remember as a young impetuous pup grilling Beneamina- who, being from Ni`ihau and having attended UH speaks both Ni`ihau and UH Hawaiian fluently- about whether to include the `okina when we were using the possessive apostrophe for Hawaiian words.

She simply wouldn’t give us an answer except to say that Hawaiian words should be written in Hawaiian only.. and spelled correctly.

At first, as a writer in English we were unwilling to accept that when writing in English we couldn’t at least use an English-ized spelling- without the `okina’- to accommodate the apostrophe and still be respectful of the language.

At first we thought that it’s really absolutely impossible to avoid using possessives apostrophes but after a while it became apparent that with a little wordsmithing there were no situations where we couldn’t accommodate the respect the Hawaiian language deserves and alter the sentence structure to say “the people of Hawai`i” instead of “Hawai`i’s people” or even “Hawaii’s people”.

That of course has a related corollary- the inexplicable use of the `okina in the words “Hawaiian” and “Kauaian” which aren’t even Hawaiian words. And don’t get us started on the pluralization of Hawaiian words like “heiaus” or “kanakas”.

So please all you writers out there- have a little respect and stop using the apostrophe in Hawaiian words and the okina in non-Hawaiian words. You’ll find it’s an easy accommodation that will become second nature after a while.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


SIMPLE MATH: Despite the fact our butt sits in the second congressional district we’re heard quite a bit from people mistaking us for a Democrat and asking what we thought about Ed Case’s “surprise” decision to drop out of the 1st CD race.

Of course opinions, as they say, are like assholes in that “everyone has one”... or in the case of Case, “has been one”, in the minds of the Dem faithful.

The problem with those opinions across the Hawai`i punditry class is that most of them see themselves as either Democrats or, very occasionally, Republicans including the self-proclaimed “Independents” who tend to be one or the other but are loathe to admit it for obvious reasons.

That seems to cause of the rash of beans-in-the-ear syndrome causing them to have difficulty in listening carefully to Big Ed’s words when he said his heart told him to stay in the September primary race but his head told him to get the hell out.

Getting inside Case’s head isn’t too difficult if you look at his political record.

Few will deny that he’s made his living as a DINO- Dem in name only. But that is a slightly different type of DINO in Hawai`i where there basically isn’t a viable Republican party. That’s not because they have or haven’t done anything wrong politically but because their policies simply don’t appeal to very many in the state- Linda Lingle playing the “exception that proves the rule” role here.

That’s left a big swimming hole for Case swim in over the years as evidenced by the types of races he’s run, going up against the more progressive Dems and gaining weight by sopping up gravy of the right wingers who basically have had nowhere else to go without running off the side of the political plate.

The problem is that that no matter how hard he tries to bring in the votes of the Democratic base to add to those R’s and R leaning independents he keeps coming up a little short.

Until now his “heart” has told him that all he has to do is try a little harder, bring in a little more money and maybe start his campaign a little earlier.

But now he’s faced with the results in black and white- a 40% showing by Charles Djou. Case’s “head”- a head that has been very adept at self-delusion in the past- now tells him that the little puka at the right end of the Democratic Party that has only been there because Republicans have been a joke in the past, is a sign of changing demographics and won’t be there as for him any longer as actual Republicans, even if RINOs, fill it.

That left him with only two choices if he ever hopes to win another race in Hawai`i- either quit the Dems and go over to the dark side or make kissy-face with those he’s royally pissed off over the years.

While R’s often come to the realization that the very R before their name is an albatross necklace they don’t need and would rather switch than fight, we can’t think if a D that became an R in this state and Ed would have to be dumber than we thought to take that kind of plunge off the deep end.

Leaving him only one choice- stop banging his head against the wall and get it over with- kiss Don Dan’s ring and live to fight another day.

It was one thing to go up against the other Dan and lose in a primary- his supporters stayed with him after he lost and he even gained some R support. With Akaka’s easy win in November it assured there were no lasting consequences other than hurt feelings. But this race was quite another thing.

His presence in the race served as bloody food for Audrey 2- no not some kind of clone of Case’s wife of the same name but sustenance for that now thriving Little Shop of Horrors plant Djou, creating a monster even Dr. Frankenstein couldn’t have contemplated (to mix horror movie metaphors).

Giving up a bruising race that he was bound to lose- especially given his distinct lack of ability to juice his war chest during the campaign- in exchange for support in his next endeavor isn’t, as many have said, “courageous” as much as a decision to politically survive a potential second “Djou debacle” that Democrats would blame him for.

Instead his decision to drop out allows Colleen Hanabusa to keep her financial power dry for the inevitable November showdown with Djou, something donors who now don’t have to pay for an additional primary fight may remember in his next race too.

It’s a mistake to think that Ed Case ever was or is “for” anything other than the one he’s always been for- Ed Case. He did the only thing he could, turning a sows ear into a silk purse to boot.

The only thing “surprising” about his decision is that he did something politically astute, hence out of character for the perennial skunk at the Democratic Garden Party.