Tuesday, November 30, 2010


UNDER FURTHER REVIEW: Our, shall we say, less than enthusiastic “endorsement” of now Governor-elect Neil Abercrombie was partially based on years of disappointment in the appointments of appointed appointees.

Though those of the departing Republican Governor Linda “Ding-a” Lingle were particularly egregious we’ve watched equally in horror at most of the democratic governors’ department heads, especially those at the helm of the all powerful position of the head of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).

And though we saw the petition effort to see former Kaua`i State Senator Gary Hooser appointed DLNR director as a nice thought but doomed to failure, we couldn’t believe our ears last night when we heard that Waianae harbormaster and environmental and kanaka activist Bill Aila will be in charge of the many-tentacled department- if he’s confirmed by the state senate.

Laura Thielen, the current DLNR Director- who also sits as Chair of the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) where most of the nitty gritty decisions effecting the future of “land and power in Hawai`i” are made- has been an unmitigated disaster. Under her mismanagement developers have received rubber stamps from republican appointees to the Board like developer’s friend Ron Agor, our Kaua`i Rep.

Aila, a former Sierra Club Executive Committee member who ran for governor in 2006 will have a chance to, among other things, fix the broken State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) which has bungled the treatment of `iwi kupuna (burials), kill the planned commercialization of Koke`e and stop the onslaught of state redistricting of agricultural lands that are now required under the Judge Ibarra Hokulia ruling ending de facto resorts on ag lands.

For the uninitiated, Hawai`i has two levels of approval for land classification. While the county “zones” land in classifications like agricultural, rural, open, urban and resort, laid on top of that is a template of state “districting” which classifies land in the four basic categories that dictate county zoning.

While in law zoning is supposed to follow districting the practice has been to have counties approve zoning and the state follow suit with redistricting. But sometimes the applicants have been afraid of rejection by the DLNR-chief-chaired Land Use Commission (LUC) for redistricting so they just don’t apply once they have “bought” county approval, especially in the case of ag lands that have been cut up into high-priced “gentleman farmers' estates”.

But recently, because of the Ibarra ruling which said “no- you can’t do that anymore,” projects have been going before the LUC before the counties get to rubber stamp these projects.

We’re used to being disappointed and will certainly be watching and holding Aila’s feet to the fire- just as we would have done were Gary to have been appointed. But with Aila at the head of the table it might just be possible to do things like stop the theft of access at Lepe`uli or reverse the theft and sale of Koke`e cabin leases to the highest bidder.

We’ve seen the position corrupt people with good intentions before. But then we’ve never started from this kind of “advantage: environment” arrangement before.

We aren’t exactly ready to break out the rose colored glasses but we can’t imagine anyone better in the seat from which springs all clout in the islands.

Monday, November 29, 2010


G-MEN AND THE TWO C-MEN: The sudden resignation of Planning Director Ian Costa was apparently forced due to a current FBI investigation of the Kaua`i Planning Department focusing on Costa and his Deputy Imai Aiu.

According to an extremely reliable source close to the investigation, the bureau has been focusing on the planning department in recent weeks. This was also confirmed by a second source independent of the first one.

Anyone who watched the planning commission meeting last Tuesday couldn’t help but be convinced that Costa didn’t simply resign- the measured hesitating speeches, the down-looking faces, the references to a “sad day”, the reassurances by Mayor Bernard Carvalho that “no matter what” there would be “good days ahead for Costa”, even comments from commission members referring to “the situation we’re in” and “the steps we’ve taken.”

Prior to Costa’s “resignation”, at their October 26 meeting the planning commission held an executive session “to discuss matters pertaining to the Planning Director and, if necessary, to consult with the County’s legal counsel... pertain(ing) to the evaluation of the Planning Director.”

The investigation may be related to the cases upon which we reported recently that were brought before the Kaua`i Board of Ethics (BOE).

They involved the practice of department employees of taking outside work that came back to the department for approval. And it wasn’t limited to underlings but extended to Costa himself who was reportedly the subject of a complaint that he did architectural work on projects his department later approved.

Not only is this kind of thing a violation of the local Code of Ethics, if the FBI finds that there was say, a link between their work and the approvals or that the amount of work was not really commensurate with the amount they were paid or even that a kickback scheme existed, indictments could be ahead... not just for the actions themselves but under conspiracy and racketeering laws if it were found to be pervasive in the department.

But aside from the inherent nature of Carvalho’s “ode to cronyism” speech to the commission- in which he pledged to give Costa another job because their “relationship goes back to ‘hanabata’ days” and talked of how “it’s all about the relationships,” his attempt to use his “ex-officio” membership on the planning commission to promote and lobby for Deputy County Attorney Michael Dahilig as interim planning director is a huge ethics violation in and of itself.

Ethics and Sunshine watchdog Rob Abrew made it plain in his testimony before the commission.

The Kaua`i County Charter makes the mayor an “ex-officio”, non-voting member of every county board and commission. And as a member of a board or commission- which is the capacity in which Carvalho wrote he was acting in his letter to the commission- one is not permitted to lobby for a vote except during a duly agendaed and called-to-order meeting. To do so beforehand- and to make sure, as Carvalho did, that everyone saw it when it was printed on the front page of the local newspaper - is a blatant violation of HRS 92.

But that isn’t the worst ethics violation inherent in Carvalho’s request.

Most remember the case of former Police Commissioner Michael Ching who was accused of using his position on the commission to lobby for the hiring of K.C. Lum as police chief.

And although the decision was tainted by a series of manipulations by the BOE and county council to get the result they wanted, that kind of action was found to be a violation of the code of ethics which prohibits the use of one’s position to seek a special favor or benefit for another.

Ching was forced to resign and Lum’s contract was nullified.

How that case differs from the case of Planning Commission “member” Carvalho lobbying for the appointment of Dahilig as interim planning director is anything but apparent.

While details of the FBI investigation are not available just yet, it is known that they have been looking into the possibility of corruption in Kaua`i county government since the end of the Baptiste administration, as revealed by then Councilperson now Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho in an open council session.

She and others in county government revealed that they had been grilled- often for hours at a time- by FBI officials who then opened an office on the island for the first time.

There’s one more interesting note on Costa’s appointment by Carvalho to the post of deputy director of parks and recreation.

Back in the late 90’s then Mayor Maryanne Kusaka attempted to appoint the deputy director of the planning department, even though the county charter specifically calls for the appointment of a department directors who are then to hire and fire his or her own staff.

Then County Attorney Hartwell Blake, in a bizarre opinion, told Kusaka that it was all legal for her to hire the deputy.

That outraged another ethics and sunshine activist, Horace Stoessel, who waged a years-long battle to have the opinion reversed. When Baptiste was elected the first action of his new County Attorney, Lani Nakazawa, was to reverse the opinion.

The Nakazawa opinion stands to this day and would ban Carvalho from hiring a deputy director of parks and recreation.

Of course the Director of Parks and Recreation is one of Carvalho’s closest cronies, his former campaign director Lenny Rapozo so the actual appointment of Costa may be moot. But once again using one's position to secure a special favor or benefit for another- something Carvalho didn’t mince words in admitting he was doing in his testimony before the planning commission- is a violation of the county charter, section 20.02(E).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


SAIL AWAY: For we children of the 60’s it hard to think of Thanksgiving without thinking of it as a celebration of the “let the genocide begin” moment when European white supremacists commenced the treachery upon which the American nation is based.

Back in the days of the free speech movement and academic reform there was hope that perhaps at least some of our history might finally be rewritten from the viewpoint of the vanquished.

What fools these mortals be.

A handful of PBS documentaries notwithstanding, 21st century Americans have successfully reclaimed the vapid lack of conscience not seen since the '50’s

The 2010 American political landscape has somehow once again escaped reality, as many heartlanders once again circle the wagons and retreat into their delusions of the kind of “American Exceptionalism” that allowed them to smile as they killed in the name of their savior- and verily, smite the heathen nonbelievers.

The movement to ethnically cleanse any honest depiction of the county’s history from modern textbooks in places from Texas and Tennessee has matured into a full fledged movement to turn actuality on it’s head, allowing the truly deluded to think that they are indeed the oppressed who need to “take our country back” from the unwashed and unwanted brown hoards.

When we sit down tomorrow to engage in the truly American tradition of stuffing our faces with as much as we can stomach, try to think of every calorie as one of the vanquished, every mouthful as a people enslaved and slaughtered and every second helping a nation once again devoid of conscience.

Give thanks for your white privilege and “exceptional” greed and stupidity America. It’s at the head of the list of things you’ve got to be grateful for.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


NOTHING LIKE BEING THERE: And speaking of getting “quitted” it appears the brief tenure of the worst reporter in the local newspaper’s annuls (yes, even Lester Chang) has ended after a week or so’s absence of the name of Leo Azambuja from the paper’s pages and today’s coverage of yesterday’s council’s organizational meeting by council neophyte Vanessa Van Voorhis.

For the record Editor Nathan Eagle did not return multiple emails seeking information on Azambuja’s job status.

Although the pedestrian coverage appeared adequate we can’t help wonder whether it’s a disease or a habit of the paper’s reporters to use the kind of “lede” that first day J-school students are warned against.

Professor: They know there was a meeting yesterday because you’re writing about it. Pick something that happened there- the most important thing- and put it at the top, in 25 words or less. Then follow the “inverted triangle” format- Don’t report events chronologically but by order of importance.

But speaking of neophytes- at least as far attending or even watching council meetings- Joan Conrow has her own first hand account today.

It’s nice to occasionally have the two newspaper experience on Kaua`i but someone was obviously having a bit of fun with both Van Voorhis and Conrow on the subject of having the meeting open to the public.

As we wrote last week, a few councils have actually done their organizational business in open session. The issue is always whether they appear to have been scripted.

But Van Voorhis wrote that “(o)fficials said the meeting was unprecedented in that it was the first time a Kaua`i County Council held such a caucus open to the public” while Conrow said “in a nod to 'transparency and open government' — words rendered as meaningless as pristine and sustainability — the new County Council did its organizing for the first time in public”.

Oh well. If either decides to attend on a regular basis they’ll get the hang of not believing a word of what they’re hearing and only half of what they’re seeing.

But we were especially taken aback by this quip from Conrow whose malice toward Tim Bynum has been hardly concealed of late:

Tim said he was expecting Councilmembers to have “equal and equitable access to the key documents that are theirs” before going on to say he wants to structure the Council so that decisions made in Executive Session are made public. That way, you see, he won’t have to risk violating executive privilege by leaking them to a certain blogger.

Ah, engaging in libel per se now, eh Joan?

For the record our report on the Margaret Hanson Sueoka suit last month was based on having attended council meetings for many years which enabled us to go back to our notes and decipher the background of the Margaret Hanson EEOC harassment case, without any conversation whatsoever on the subject about it with Bynum.

Seeing recent executive sessions listed to evaluate Nakamura’s performance right after one to consider the Hanson settlement helped tip us off. Then, upon hearing the council’s discussion of the plethora of harassment suits including an oblique reference to a case “right here” in council services- and knowing that deputies in the county attorney’s office serve both the administration and the council- we realized that perhaps Hanson’s suit may not have had anything to do with her experiences with the administration, as we had previously theorized.

Years of leg work- something our bum back prevents us from doing these days- paid off.

We remembered the incident with Nakamura years ago and sure enough when we checked our files from the era, it turned out that it was Hanson that was the deputy county attorney assigned to the council at the time- the one who was harassed by her then-boyfriend County Clerk Peter Nakamura, according to many council regulars and employees of council services at the time.

As they say, we deny the allegation and we deny the alligator- we did not seek, receive nor use any illegally obtained information in our report.

It’s all especially strange considering Conrow’s final statement:

In the end, Tim got what he wanted in terms of committee assignments, and so did JoAnn. The question now is whether they’ll also get something else they want — an executive search firm to find a new County Clerk. Mel and Derek said they like current Clerk Peter Nakamura and Nadine had to recuse herself because he’s her brother-in-law.

I know why Tim doesn’t like Peter, but I’m not sure what JoAnn has against him. I’m pretty sure he had to go through Seven Habits when he was her planning director.....

Maybe that search is because Nakamura’s actions in harassing Hanson cost the county the $250,000.

Actually JoAnn wasn’t enamored with Steve Covey and “The Seven Habits of Truly Disingenuous and Irritating Assholes” when she was mayor. As a matter of fact it was because of her 180 from the micromanaging of where every paperclip went as mayor to seeking to become the consummate politician when the voters threw her out of office, that she turning to Covey.

Funny story here- at the actual first “public” organizational meeting of the council when Yukimura returned to elective office after a hiatus, we actually asked Yukimura whether she was going to support Nakamura’s reappointment and she replied “why wouldn’t I- he was my planning director”... which we always thought to be a strange statement in and of itself because the planning commission appoints the planning director... which of course reinforced her penchant for micromanagement reputation.

So Round and Round the Mulberry Bush they go and it helps to see every council meeting for a decade plus and report on county government for 25 years if you want to be able to tell the monkeys from the weasels.

Monday, November 22, 2010


WITH A BANG, NOT A WHIMPER: The future begins this week on Kaua`i and it has little to do with the new council’s makeup or leadership, which will be determined today according to a “notice” that appears nowhere but on the wall at the temporary council chambers.

But it all may be just business as usual if none of the people who claim to care about land use show up and force these upcoming changes to be positive ones.

As we said Friday, with Planning Director Ian Costa being told not to let the door hit him on the ass on his way out at tomorrow’s planning commission meeting, there is a once-in-a-decade chance to convince the commission to conduct an open process- one devoid of administration interference- in their search for a new director... one who understands controlled growth principles and is attenuated to rural- as opposed to urban- planning.

Too often when we hear “smart growth” mentioned on Kaua`i these days it is linked to California-style “walking communities” as an answer to suburban sprawl and other concepts that don’t really fit the truly rural nature of Kaua`i- a character that a vast majority of island residents say they want to protect.

The term “smart growth” is really rooted in a process of true citizen directed growth where an open process first determines whether a certain type of growth is currently appropriate and then considers where that growth should go. Then, rather than let developers who have money determine which areas will be used for growth and allow them to submit plans for rubberstamping, they compete for the right to develop the pre-citizen-determined locations, also through an open process.

We need a planning director who understands this process, especially since the first thing he or she will be doing will be to start a new charter-mandated General Plan Update process, since 10 years have passed since the last one was completed in December of 2000.

Actually, that may be the second thing the new planning director will be doing because the petition created charter amendment passed in 2008- the one that links the actual number of planning commission approved visitor accommodation units to specific growth standards set in the general plan- has finally been given form and substance in a bill set for introduction at Wednesday’s lame duck council meeting.

That means it will be going to the planning commission for analysis and approval and then returned to the council for first reading, hopefully within 60 days.

Bill 2386 (scroll down to page 40) sets up a standard for “Transient Accommodation Units” and proposes a one-and-a-half percent (1½ %) per-year growth rate with a lottery each year to determine who gets those rights to build them.

It also calls for a four-year time limit for “commenc(ing) actual construction of 20%” with one year extensions available “upon a showing of good cause by the (transient accommodation unit) certificate holder”.

The commission can also use a five-year “average of growth rate” of the one-and-a-half percent if the planning commission decides to do so upon recommendation of the planning department.

One of the provisions that may raise eyebrows is that only 10% of the certificates are reserved for developments of five units or less while the other 90% are reserved for those of six or more. This give preference to large resorts and hotels rather than “mom and pop” operations including potentially single-family vacation rentals and bed-and-breakfasts in designated visitor destination areas.

There are also exemptions for existing resorts and those who started the process- or were approved- before December 5, 2008 (when the charter amendment took effect), provided they file for one within a year of the effective date of the ordinance.

And we all remember how well it worked- or more precisely, didn’t work- the last time the planning department was given a year to certify past use of transient visitor accommodations.

The bill leaves an awful lot of discretion to the planning commission and department in areas where it could make the ordinance a joke, especially a lot of those pesky “may” instead of “shall” do such-and-such phrases.

And the “five year average” could turn into just what many feared- a free for all for well connected developers who get their ducks in a row early on. Perhaps a small percentage of deviation from the one-and-a-half percent rate would be appropriate.

There is a chance for public input at Wednesday’s council meeting for the bill, as well as at Tuesday’s planning commission meeting for the opening of the planning director’s job.

It’s now or never for all those who like to kvetch and moan about unfettered growth and those who worked so hard to get the amendment on the ballot in 2008.

As usual, the spoils will go to those who show up and you can bet those who stand to make a buck off these two decisions will be there.


Update: It only took us an hour to find the new page for the Kaua`i County Charter. If you want to “bookmark” the page you need to go to the Public Documents page and right click and then click the appropriate line for your browser (“add to Favorites” for Internet Exploder).

Friday, November 19, 2010



(PNN) -- Long time Kaua`i County Planning Director Ian Costa is expected to resign from his post at next Tuesday’s planning commission meeting after apparently being forced out following an executive session evaluation by the commission at it’s October 26 meeting.

This comes on the heels of an Board of Ethics (BOE) October 15 finding that, according to the minutes, various planning department officials’ “actions were in violation and not permitted under the (county’s) Code (of Ethics)” after they were found to have been performing outside work on projects that were then coming before the department for approval.

Although Costa was also discovered to have been moonlighting on projects under his jurisdiction he was not one of those found to have been in violation however he was thought to be the subject of an executive session at that meeting “to consider the evaluation dismissal or discipline of an employee or officer of the county relating to a complaint filed against the employee or officer”.

Following the BOE’s actions, at it’s October 26 meeting the planning commission held an executive session “to discuss matters pertaining to the Planning Director and, if necessary, to consult with the County’s legal counsel... pertain(ing) to the evaluation of the Planning Director”.

According to next Tuesday’s planning commission agenda they will first consider a “Letter (11/16/10) from Planning Director Ian K. Costa to Chairman Raco and Members of the Planning Commission offering his resignation as Director of Planning for the Commission’s acceptance”.

In addition they will consider a “Letter from Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr., ex-officio Planning Commission (11/17/10) member, to Chairman Raco and Members recommending that the Commission consider the appointment of Michael A. Dahilig as Director of Planning to serve in the interim”.

The planning commission is responsible for hiring and firing of the planning director according to the Kauai County Charter, which recently disappeared from the county’s web site.

Dahilig is currently a deputy county attorney who has a degree in urban planning although he apparently lacks the administrative experience required for the position under county charter provisions.

Dahilig has faced ethical questions of his own with a public outcry over his and other deputy county attorneys’ “beer summit” with Councilperson Dickie Chang last summer in which they visited Chang’s home one evening, “coldpack” in hand, to successfully lobby for his vote for a bill to allow transient vacation rentals on ag land.

Costa, a licensed architect, has been the planning director since Mayor Maryanne Kusaka’s administration when he came to the post after serving as the acting county engineer.

Though the planning officals’ action were found to be in violation of the charter’s code of ethics no charges will be brought because, according to the BOE minutes, they were relying on a 1991 BOE opinion which, the county charter says, excuses them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


ON A WING AND A PRAYER: Ever since Joan Conrow’s article a week ago in Honolulu Weekly about the county’s decision to end what she said was traditionally called “Friday Night Lights”- a term we’ve never heard used on Kaua`i to describe high school football games in 30 years of attending them- in response to the federal suit brought to protect the endangered Newell’s Shearwaters, she’s been building to something.

And today she really let loose on Mayor Bernard Carvalho, accusing him of intentionally planning the “Buck the Firds” backlash by making the county’s first and thus far only reaction to the suit to shut down the traditional night games in favor of afternoon contests- something bound to get people up in arms and blaming the birds, not the county for it’s decades of inaction in the face of federal threats to clamp down.

She writes that:

the outcry over the end of Friday Night Lights was never based in reason or reality. Otherwise, people would have been calling for Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s head. Because as leader of the county, and former director of Parks and Recreation, he’s the one responsible for the decision to end the games.

And make no mistake, it was a calculated decision, a diversionary tactic intended to take the heat off the county and instead, as one friend noted, “make people want to stomp the birds and the Sierra Clubbers.”

She cites an email from a reader “who has been close to the action” and was similarly enraged over the ploy, who wrote

one thing you failed to mention was that the county did not have to go to this extreme in shutting off all the lights and canceling night football games. They could have focused on other areas such as Kilauea, and other games such as night soccer or tennis courts. The county cut the Friday night games to spite the state and the feds and to turn public sentiment against the birds. It's absolutely disgusting the way they handled it and what they did and I think your article should have been tougher on them.

But while, in the rest of the post, she searches for answers from the administration, an examination of events before the county council for the last decade or so reveals what’s at the core of the county’s malfeasance in ignoring those warnings.

The Carvalho administration isn’t the first to ignore the feds when they told the county as far back as the 1990’s that they had to at least start mitigating the effect on endangered birds of county facilities including, but not limited to, lights.

But rather than getting started and then developing an ongoing mitigation program, which is all the feds really asked at the time, the council, which controls the purse-strings to get the work done, decided in their incredible arrogance and stupidity to demand a list of precisely what the feds wanted the county to do and seek assurances from the feds that, once they had jumped through these specified hoops, they would be free to kill as many birds as they wanted.

Instead of heeding the answer of “just get started already” they all agreed that until they had an “end point” in a list of everything they needed to do in order to not get fined for “taking” any more birds, they wouldn’t do anything.

Eventually by the mid ‘00’s the council’s position, most often expressed by Mr. Liability, Councilmember Jay Furfaro, became that they would do nothing until they council was assured that there would never be any problems again with the feds over the `a`o- the real name for the shearwaters.

The feds of course finally threw up their hands at trying to get the county to get with the program and sued them.

While Carvalho- or most likely his chief henchwoman Beth Tokioka- is certainly to blame for the treacherous decision to whip up the misplaced community backlash there’s certainly enough blame to go around for the predicament in which the county has found itself today.


We’re taking a long weekend. Be back Monday.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


A TOUCH OF TUSH: By now most people have heard about the new grope-a-thons going on at the gates of many airports- including Lihu`e- when people refuse the new porno-scanners that bare all.

And how could you miss the story and accompanying viral video of the quote-of-the-year contending “if you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested” guy.

But while most are screaming “don’t molest me bro” we haven’t heard from those who pay good money for such services.

Apparently the TSA has sought to quell concerns by making sure that only males molest men and females grab women. But obviously that only works for straight people.

We’ve heard unconfirmed reports that if a gay man states that they don’t want have the family jewels “inspected” by another man they will provide a woman. And we presume, the same switcheroo is available to lesbians. Sounds only fair... until you start to think about it.

As we said, there are people who. well, get off on that sort of thing, providing an opportunity for a freebie every time they fly if they simply claim a different sexual preference.

But that raises the question of what to do with the bisexuals? Maybe they’ll have to haul out robots... although we have to ask what they’ll do about the cyber-sexuals.

What do they do about transvestites? Do they assign a groper based on their actual or assumed gender? What if they can’t really tell? Does that mean that only the ones who are really good transvestites can get an opposite gender inspector? Can they get felt up by just wearing falsies and shaving really well? And what if they’re gay or lesbian?

The possibilities boggle the mind.

And don’t even start to try to fathom the issues transsexuals present. It’s been hard enough for a sexually neurotic America to deal with the whole bathroom issue surrounding those who have undergone gender reassignment. Imagine how they’ll react to men who used to be women and vice versa, especially given the many permutations presented by gay and lesbian transsexuals.

And what about the poor inspectors now that people will be lining up in the hopes that this service will be provided for the price of a $49 Southwest Airlines ticket?

The only solution appears to be to “embrace the suck’ and provide a “win-win” for everyone by having the TSA go down to the red light district- usually conveniently located right near the airport- and give those in the sex trade a chance to go legit.

Of course this being America the TSA might even embrace this new business and even promote it. The President will announce it as a jobs program and we’ll soon be seeing ads with catchy jingles like “We put the T&A in the TSA.” or even a retro revival of the old ‘60’s “I’m Barbara- come fly me” ads.

Kinda gives a whole new meaning to “the friendly skies”.

Monday, November 15, 2010


A PERMANENT TIME OUT: Our foaming rant last week suggesting that the actions of those that want to shove their devout delusions down our throats have ripened the time for the rest of us to convince our legislators to remove those 10 little marriage defining words (“which shall be only between a man and a woman”) didn’t mean to suggest that true homophobia was the sole domain of religious fanatics.

There are plenty of fear-gripped family folks whose insecurities over their own sexuality make them think they have the right to tell the rest of the world how and who to “love honor and cherish”.

These are the bozos who, though they can’t seem to articulate why, think that somehow allowing same sex couples to marry will devalue their own mom-dad-sis-bub, white-picket-fence-and-a-mortgage, child-abusing bickerfests.

We’re under no delusions that suddenly a majority of legislators and our new avowed anti-same-sex-marriage governor will suddenly see the absurdity of their “separate but equal” solution contained in last session’s HB 444.

But what they may do could, in the end, turn out to be the ultimate irony for these sociopaths who want to make sure that BTLG folks remain second-class citizen.

We were reminded again today of a “solution” that had traction among many if not most civil unions proponents and political pundits during the 2010 Legislature.

As a letter to the editor of the local Kaua`i newspaper suggested,

the government should get out of the marriage business all together and not issue marriage licenses to anyone. Instead, all couples would be issued a civil-union license. Couples who felt the need for the sacrament of marriage could go to their church. It would be up to the individual churches whether or not to perform the marriage ceremony. This way all couples would be in the same boat. We would all have equal standing under the law and the issue of how the Bible defines marriage would be in the hands of the churches where it belongs.

As a matter of fact, at one point last session there was a version of HB 444 that would have done just that. It was only nixed due to circumstances surrounding the last minute political process needed to bring the committee-withheld version of the bill to the floor for a house vote on the last day.

Wouldn’t it be deliciously ironic if these childish little cry-babies got their comeuppance for refusing to share their “right” to marry by having mommy and daddy essentially say “if you’re going to fight over it we’re going to take it away from both of you”?

We have no love lost over the demise of an institution that has been used simply to oppress since time immemorial... an institution whose time has been “up” for decades.

Funny, it’s these same types who want to government out of their lives. In this case, we say “gladly”.

Friday, November 12, 2010


A FINAL SHOT IN THE CHAMBER POT: The final “gift” from outgoing Council Chair Kaipo Asing was presented during his final meeting Wednesday.

Unfortunately it was a gift for the developers of Kaua`i Lagoons not people seeking promised affordable housing, who were left holding nothing but a bag of steaming turds.

Along with returning Councilmembers Derek Kawakami, Dickie Chang and presumptive new chair Jay Furfaro, they simply gave away at least 41 of the 82 Waipouli Courtyards affordable housing units, which can now even become transient vacation rentals (TVRs) should the developers so choose.

Outgoing Councilperson Lani Kawahara put it best saying “I can say this because I’m gonna leave- sometimes I feel like I’m sitting at a Chamber of Commerce meeting not necessarily the chamber of the people,” after a failed attempt to at least delay the measure which came as a legal document rather than an amendment to the zoning ordinance- the normal way to alter conditions.

Of course “Mr. Big Save” Kawakami said of Kawahara’s statement “I take that as a compliment”.

An ordinance change would have taken at least four weeks under normal procedure. A deferral would have seen the next council, which takes office December 1, vote on the matter.

The developers brought on the crocodile tears saying they couldn’t rent the units that were to be rented to people making up to $67,000 a year (120% of median income), so not only do they get to rent out the units at market prices to all comers- no matter what income and no matter where they currently live- but they were able to get the council to vote to chuck the whole “10- year affordability” clause.

The project is in a Visitor Destination Area (VDA) where TVRs are permitted, unaffected by the recent TVR grandfathering and ban in non-VDA areas.

Another simply astounding revelation came from the once and future, incoming Councilperson JoAnn Yukimura who urged deferral so that the council could do their “due diligence”- which was apparently extensive.

The shocker was that, despite the fact that 41 of the units are supposed to be rented to people who qualify for HUD Section 8 rental vouchers by making 80% or less of the median income, Waipouli Courtyards has been refusing to rent to Section 8 clients due to a dispute with the County Housing Agency over energy allowances for HUD clients.

The measure- which came from Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s office rather than county housing- was pushed on through by a 4-2 margin with councilperson Tim Bynum joining Kawahara in seeking to refer the measure to the Housing Committee for further due diligence, with lame duck Asing casting the all important fourth vote at his final meeting.

The most objectionable part was that all the councilmembers seemed to buy the developers argument that the affordable housing project- which was given to the county in exchange for the developers being allowed to develop Kaua`i Lagoons- was unable to turn a profit or at least break even “in this economy” so they should be let out of their commitment.

The fact that the Kaua`i Lagoons project as a whole is going to be immensely profitable and that “success” of the affordable housing component should, by all rights, be measured in combination with the resort development, was lost on everybody.

The fact that Waipouli Courtyards is one of the only low income rental housing givebacks the council has ever required (most are for sale) was not even considered, of course.

And just like the recent removal of an affordable housing requirement for Kukui`ula, it went way beyond what the developer had asked for- in this case, according to testimony, the removal of the 10-year buy back.

There was lots of discussion of how the county has first right of refusal should the project go up for sale and a lot of talk about buying it. But of course with the lifting of the condition, the value of the project and therefore the price to the county will soar, doubly screwing the county if and when that happens.

It wasn’t the first time a lame duck screwed the people and it won’t be the last. Voted-out Billy Swain cast the deciding vote in November 2002 for a General Plan update after he and lame ducks Ron Kouchi and Randall Valenciano amended it to put his bosses’ “Princeville Mauka development” on the official development map.

But as for Derek, Dickie and Jay, that’s what you voted for and that’s what you’ve got for the next two years- a developers dream team. All they need is one more vote and that shouldn’t be too hard to find.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


WHY SAY YOU WILL WHEN YOU WON’T?: What a difference a year makes.

As the ’09 legislative session approached, the bigot community was whipping up a frenzy among assorted churchies, causing legislators to quake in their flip flops at the prospect of being voted out of office if they dared slap same-gendered couples in the face by granting them all the same rights as marriage but reminding them they were still to be dehumanized with denial of marriage itself.

But guess what. Not only did all but one legislator (and he had other problems) who voted for the HB 444 civil unions bill get reelected but a slew of those who either voted against or opposed the bill were tossed aside on their biblically-bridled butts.

This year a new civil unions bill will be introduced and, most likely, dispatched and signed into law post haste. But despite the fact that since 2004, five states- Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts- and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage, we still continue to enshrine intolerance and parochialism in our laws.

Ever since the constitutional amendment passed in the narrow-minded frenzy of fear in 1998 the legislature been allowed to perpetuate the denial of human rights to same gender couples.

Now, the real shame of Hawai`i resides in Chapter 572 of Hawai`i Revised Statute which begins with the words:

§572-1 Requisites of valid marriage contract. In order to make valid the marriage contract, which shall be only between a man and a woman, it shall be necessary that: (emphasis added)

Ten words. That’s all that stands between real civil rights and the pseudo civility of civil unions.

The question is whether there is one legislator who has the fortitude and the temerity to introduce a bill striking those 10 words from HRS.

A year ago it was hard to find legislators who weren’t fearful of being tossed out if they voted for civil unions. But in the wake of last week’s vote only creed-clouded cretins can be as delusional as to think that things haven’t changed 180 degrees since 1998.

The only question now is whether the 76 normally gutless wonders will take real action to establish the “civil rights” they claim to support.


We’re taking tomorrow off. Be back Friday.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


WHEN I AWOKE DEAR, I WAS MISTAKEN: And while we’re on the subject of leadership and the way our county council views the Sunshine law, we mentioned in passing recently that a good indication of how seriously they take HRS 92 will be whether they conduct their organizational meeting(s) publicly.

But the fact of the matter is that, according to the Office of Information Practices (OIP) a “a loophole in the Sunshine Law allows such an assemblage, which would be prohibited after councilmembers officially take office”.

And as a matter of fact, according to an article in the Hawai`i Tribune Herald:

In an organizational meeting held Sunday at Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong's Honokaa home, Yagong was elected chairman and Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann vice chairman, Yagong confirmed. In addition to Yagong and Hoffmann, the meeting included South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford and councilors-elect Angel Pilago of North Kona, Fred Blas of Pahoa and Brittany Smart of Ka'u.

Not invited to the meeting were current Chairman J Yoshimoto and Councilmen Dennis "Fresh" Onishi and Donald Ikeda, all of Hilo.

The matter goes back to an OIP opinion from 2002 that says that although the loophole exists:

the OIP strongly recommends that a quorum of members-elect of a board not assemble prior to officially taking office to discuss selection of board officers, in keeping with the spirit of the Sunshine Law.

That’s all because of the lag time between election and swearing in during which the council elect isn’t technically subject to the sunshine law.

The OIP opinion quotes the law as saying

"[d]iscussions between two or more members of a board, but less than the number of members which would constitute a quorum for the board, concerning the selection of the board's officers may be conducted in private without limitation or subsequent reporting."

Thus, less than a quorum of a board may meet privately and without limitation or subsequent reporting to discuss selection of board officers, regardless of whether or not board members have officially taken office. Whether board members have officially taken office is irrelevant, so long as the meeting is restricted to less than the number of members that would constitute a quorum.

It is not illegal for a quorum of newly elected members of a council to meet to discuss selection of officers prior to commencement of their terms of office.

But the situation applies to members of the council-elect who are still technically members of the “existing” council at the time of the meeting.

That’s why the Big Island’s meeting was able to stay within the “spirit” of the law by inviting less than a quorum of current members (three of nine) and add three “new” members-elect.

As the Tribune Herald explained:

Hawaii's Sunshine Law allows secret meetings to select officers, but participation is limited to less than a quorum -- in this case, four members or fewer. The law doesn't apply to incoming councilors whose terms haven't started.

That means that, with three “new” members, Nadine Nakamura, Mel Rapozo and JoAnn Yukimura, any two members- who according to the sunshine law can meet to deliberate toward a decision as long as no actual commitment to vote is offered or made- can organize with the three newbies, leaving the other two returning members in the dust.

On Kaua`i, staying within the spirit of the law has been spotty with organizational meetings announced- if not officially agendaed- and held before the public.

But all those meetings were under the presumed returning chairmanship of the departing Kaipo Asing- despite a challenge in ’08 by council Vice Chair Jay Furfaro- so anything is possible, especially since there is no single figure authoritative enough to really “call” for a meeting.

We’ll see how the council acts when they are asked by the OIP to stay within the “spirit of the sunshine law” when they are not required to.

But with past not necessarily being prologue this year if you want to know what deals are being cut to determine the council chair and committee chairs and assignments- as well as what the new committees may be- you just might want to stake out the Barbeque Inn.

Monday, November 8, 2010


THE KING IS DEAD; LONG LIVE KING: Some may think the room at the top of the Kauai County Council signifies the death of the Minotaur. But while the personage of the beast may change there’s always a defender of the darkness all too ready, willing and able to perpetuate the legacy.

So with Joan Conrow’s report that Derek Kawakami “made it clear he doesn’t want to be Chair, even though he was the top vote-getter, saying that as the youngest child in a big family, he’s learned to wait his turn” all eyes turn to the only elder left- current Vice Chair Jay Furfaro who’s made no secret of his desire to move on up to the head of the table.

But if anyone thinks that means some kind of new era of sunshine-inspired transparency and access to documents they haven’t been paying attention to Furfaro’s quest to outdo former Chair Kaipo Asing when it comes to sweeping HRS 92 under the rug.

While Asing apparently understood the open meetings provisions of the state sunshine law and chose to flout them, just as apparently Furfaro doesn’t even get the concept that council business is supposed to happen on the floor, in open session, not behind the scenes by trying to get “consensus” before a bill, resolution or any other matter for discussion is introduced.

Unfortunately many in the public don’t “get” this either but then they aren’t public officials ready to take the reins of the county’s legislative branch.

In Furfaro’s case he seems genuinely flummoxed when confronted by this notion as over and over, in open session, he even boasts of how he’s approached other councilmembers for their support for measures that have never been on a council agenda- something in opposition to the basics of the sunshine law.

The most blatant example of this is the still-open Office of Information Practices (OIP) case (S INVES-P 09-5) filed in January 2009 by PNN based on Furfaro’s written and documented circulation of the original version of the infamous “vacation rentals on ag land” bill to all other council members which would have, in and of itself, been a violation of the sunshine law had it not also included an actual solicitation for support, which made it doubly illegal.

We had been looking for a "smoking gun” indication of what’s been obvious for many years, especially in Furfaro’s case- that matters under council consideration have already been discussed among more than two councilmembers before they hit the floor.

The OIP has also said that you can’t get around the prohibition by using “serial communications” or by using a third party to conduct “deliberations toward a decision” and/or especially solicit or commit to a vote.

But rather than learning his lesson, Furfaro said publicly this summer that he has spent $1700 of his own money fighting the case, indicating that he still doesn’t “get” what he did that was wrong.

You can read the full story and supporting documents (read them in reverse order) for yourself but the case is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Furfaro’s dedication to conducting business in back rooms rather than before the public.

He was instrumental in delaying the posting of documents on-line last summer when the topic was again placed on the agenda after a year delay despite the fact that a contract had been signed with a company to organize and post on-line things like the paperwork surrounding agenda items (rather than forcing people to travel to Lihu`e to get hard copies of them) and links from documents to the actual video of the council meetings at which they were discussed.

Furfaro used some cockamamie excuse that it might require an increase of staff time while furloughs were in effect, to delay discussion until December. The fact is that council staff has been dealing with which documents are public information and which are confidential and part of “executive session” documents for many years- and the fact that the super fancy-schmancy copier council staff uses can actually post documents on-line with the push of a button, according to sources in council services.

Whether Furfaro genuinely can’t understand the concept keeping all public policy communications between councilmembers in open, duly agendaed council meetings or whether he just doesn’t want to do so- most likely due to the kind of paternalism that allowed his predecessor to rationalize that he was doing what was “best for the community”- doesn’t matter, although as we said we suspect the former.

But either way putting someone thus inclined in the position of chair- where the line can become blurred due to the chair's need to actually see agenda items in order to place them on the agenda in the first place, thus requiring an extra scrupulous conscientiousness and diligence in not sharing that advance knowledge- is tantamount to continuing the current regime of secrecy and darkness.

And that’s a lot of bull-man.

Meet the new Minotaur; same as the old Minotaur.

Friday, November 5, 2010



(PNN) -- In the face of a recent “October surprise” report of wrongdoing, recently reelected Kaua`i County Councilperson Tim Bynum denies he ever refused planning inspectors access to his home and says that the whole matter was politically motivated and perpetrated by Kaua`i Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho and her close associate Mel Rapozo.

Bynum and Rapozo ran against each other in last Tuesday’s council election finishing fifth and sixth respectively and were battling to stay in the top seven to win a council seat previous to the election.

In an exclusive interview with PNN Bynum said that he is currently awaiting an inspection of his home after the planning department had mistakenly issued a violation notice based on someone having illegally entered onto his property, looking through the window and seeing a rice cooker in a room that contained a refrigerator and a sink.

For a unit to be “an illegal dwelling unit within his single-family residence”- as Bynum was alleged to have in his home according to a blog post by journalist Joan Conrow six days before the election- it must, according to county code, contain a stove which alone is the determining factor.

The plans for the room had been approved by the planning department and are reflected in Bynum’s building permit, he said.

When Bynum received the violation notice he says he contacted planning officials by phone and they agreed that the violation notice based on the rice cooker complaint was bogus and said they would send him a letter requesting an inspection, which Bynum says he has yet to receive.

Bynum said that the incident began when his son and daughter-in-law, who were at the time living in the room in his residence, were involved in a domestic dispute. The police came and the report wound up on the desk of Prosecutor Iseri. (*- see correction below)

Iseri has been a political enemy of Bynum’s as exhibited by her multiple attacks and personal tirades against him during both of their time on the county council from 2006-08.

Bynum says that the information that he had what might have been considered an illegal second unit was communicated by Iseri to Rapozo who, he says, was directly or indirectly the source of Conrow’s report.

Rapozo and Iseri were well known political allies during their time together on the council and their relationship continued when she hired him as an investigator for the prosecutor’s office after she was elected prosecutor and he was off the council following an unsuccessful run for mayor, both in 2008.

Bynum said that when he constructed his house he carefully cleared the plans with the planning department and obtained a building permit noting the refrigerator and sink and did not include a stove specifically because planning officials told him that it would have made the room an “illegal unit”.

The planning department originally sent Bynum a notice of violation based upon the “trespassing and looking though the window and seeing a rice cooker” incident but, he says, he immediately called and was told that the notice was in error and that a rice cooker did not constitute a stove according to county code. At that point he was told that a notice requesting an inspection would be forthcoming which, he says, he will be happy to comply with when it arrives.

Conrow did not respond to an email seeking more information on the complaint and the complainant but Bynum says that the complaint was officially filed anonymously.

Generally county departments do not accept anonymous complaints.

Bynum declined to say how he knew of Iseri and Rapozo’s involvement.

It is a violation of the Kaua`i Code of Ethics to use one’s position to grant special favors to others, whether material or political.

Both Rapozo and Conrow have been angrily critical of Bynum recently over Bynum’s introduction- and the eventual passage- of a bill that allowed previously-banned transient vacation rentals on agricultural land.

For more background see the Monday, November 1, “got windmills?” post.

* Correction: In an email today Bynum clarified that although the room in question was built for his son, his son’s girlfrind and their child, the domestic dispute involved a family friend and her boyfriend who were confronted by the boyfriends ex while at Bynum’s home. We regret the error.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


BRINING IN THE SHEAVES: Since our a.m. agenda failed to materialize we had time to read the sum of the Hawai`i punditry trying to analyze why the Republicans failed so miserably here, not just losing both major races in which they ran allegedly viable candidates but in failing to pick up more state house seats and dropping down to one senate member.

We’re not talking abut the devastating loss in contrast to the national insanity but in terms of Hawai`i politics where the huge margins of the Democratic victories belied the polls that had both the governor and first congressional races neck and neck.

So why the difference?

It’s clear to us that it was the over the top religious statements and affiliations of Republican gubernatorial candidate Duke Aiona and, even worse, the way when Aiona tried to play down his ties to some of the worst of the worst of the evangelical nut job organizations, the International Transformation Network, his party’s Chairman Jonah Ka`auwai, chose to up the ante with his infamous “Duke will win because the Church has been behind him the entire time operating in the POWER and the AUTHORITY of the NAME OF JESUS!” essay.

While many look to the way the Aiona campaign and his outside supporters pushed the devilization of Barack Obama or the gravity driven approval ratings of current Republican Governor Linda Lingle those factors might helped but could have been overcome.

We’re not just talking the kind of “my faith is important to me” type of religious mumbo jumbo that can easily slide by but it was the rabid, bible-thumping, nonsensical rantings of the Kaua`i born and bred Ka`auwai that turned what could have been a close race into a runaway for Abercrombie.

With Ka`auwai representing the party in general it not only addled Aiona’s campaign but hurt the party up and down the line with many who might have considered changing over in the current national political climate shying away from supporting the kind of radical Christian agenda represented by the party leadership itself.

Ka`auwai isn’t just one of those “Hawaiian” loyalists who have traditionally been Republicans for a century or even one combined with the 200% Christian element held over from missionary days.

He’s taken that political demographic, which is normally acceptable in the islands, and added the mainland-style, nutcase, religious fanatic element to establish an image in voters’ minds of some kind of Christian Taliban governing though literal interpretations of the bible.

And that’s just too much for multi-cultural Hawai`i voters who just shook their heads and voted Democrat as they have for generations.

Ka`auwai’s time as party boss is over if for no other reason than, when you lose that badly- and do so while the rest of your national party is grabbing power- your welcome is always worn out.

But if the Hawai`i Republican party is smart they’ll run, not walk, away from the brand they’ve been selling this election cycle. Even Eric Ryan might be an improvement.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


BANG V WHIMPER: It’s not without a wave of ambivalence that we greet the news that we won’t have Kaipo Asing to kick around anymore.

We relished the possibility that he would seek another term and actually lose at the polls after announcing earlier that the last term would be his final one, if for no other reason than to send a message that the old days of secrecy and paternalism were over.

But we can’t help but feel sad it came to that. Not only was Kaipo at one time a force for the people- and sometimes the only one- on a council full of self prompting, pro-development corporate shills but was a good friend during the years we spent attending every council meeting.

A few years ago at the first court hearing regarding the infamous ES-177 Kaipo told us privately- and later denied doing so- that he didn’t really care what the Sunshine Law said, he had always done what he thought was best for the people of Kaua`i and would continue to do so no matter no matter what it took or what people said and did.

Though we- and apparently most of the people of Kaua`i- eventually rejected this method of governance he was never the type of corporate shill that has dominated the council over the last few decades.

Looking up and down the list of those who comprise the new council that’s all we see- a new generation that’s all too willing to kow-tow to the mucky-mucks and embrace the old boys machine when it benefits them politically.

Even a political neophyte knows Kaipo’s departure leaves a huge leadership vacuum and the fight for the chair will show a lot about the new and returning councilmembers.

A three-way battle is shaping up between Derek Kawakami, Jay Furfaro and JoAnn Yukimura but the determining factor may not be who cuts the best deals for committee chairs as it usually is when a new chair comes in but whether or not the process plays out in public or behind closed doors.

Watch to see if the “open meeting” plays out with genuine intrigue and public horse-trading or whether it appears scripted and pre-determined to give the indication of whether this council will really move in a direction that rejects the back room dealings of Asing’s council or whether the change at the top just means more room for other assorted hacks and self absorbed buffoons.

Asing’s departure could serve as a new opportunity for progressive change but with the current crop of possibilities it will most assuredly serve an opportunity for another power junkie to climb to the top of the dung heap.

We’ve been watching this movie for many years and aren’t expecting much from this group. We’ve been surprised before but no one’s holding their breath.


We’ll be taking tomorrow off.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


We apologies for the “missing links” in our original post- this is the corrected version

Here’s the first printout results:

KAWAKAMI, Derek S.K. 6,380 9.3%
NAKAMURA, Nadine K. 6,316 9.2%
FURFARO, Jay 5,104 7.4%
YUKIMURA, JoAnn A. 5,031 7.3%
RAPOZO, Mel 4,572 6.6%
BYNUM, Tim 4,542 6.6%
CHANG, Dickie (Walaau) 4,013 5.8%
ASING, Bill (Kaipo) 3,242 4.7%
KUALII, KipuKai Les P. 3,235 4.7%
DALIGDIG, Ted III 2,531 3.7%
JUSTUS, Ed 1,894 2.8%
TAYLOR, Ken 960 1.4%
BIEBER, Rolf H. 923 1.3%
FOWLER, Dennis M. 629 0.9%
Blank Votes: 19,459
Over Votes: 5 0.1%


PLACE YOUR BETS: It’s finally over. After months of tortuous clashes and callous remarks we can finally and happily close the books on the 2010 campaign.

But enough about the way the Giants shocked the world with the kind of set ‘em down pitching that the Democrats could have used.

The story of politics this year, if you listen to the news (and how could you miss it?) is that, as usual, the American people are insane and, unlike Faye Dunaway in the famous “she’s my sister, she’s my daughter, she’s my sister, she’s my daughter”, Jack Nicholson face-slapping scene in “Chinatown”, they will never figure out that the Dummocraps and Repugnacan’ts are both “my sister AND my Daughter” and so vote with the persistent delusion they are changing something by selecting one group of corporate shills over the other.

Like the abused spouse we’ll be going back to that old relationship, falling for the old “oh, baby, baby, can’t you see I’ve changed” line and telling our current flame “well after all, (s)he didn’t beat me up as bad as you do.”

And like the lemming we are, we’ll bemoan all the money spent on “negative ads” all the way to the polls where we’ll vote for the one who spent the most money on the worst of them.

There’s so much loose cash floating around Hawai`i that this morning 1st congressional district candidate Colleen Hamabusa was putting spots on the “local insert ads” on CNN here on Kaua`i in the 2nd CD.

As usual the Honolulu TV stations will be ignoring the Kaua`i results tonight, as their reporters breathlessly read the results of the governor’s and 1st CD races off the anachronistically named “first printout” (they stopped “printing out” anything years ago) and withhold the fact that you can get the same thing they are reading from on line.

So if you get tired of waiting, the Kaua`i-only results are easy to find on line by going here. But a warning- during the primaries they had glitches galore and none of the actual results pages would load properly, especially on the second “print out”. If that happens today try going back to the main elections page and click back into the “2010 General Election –Results” banner at the top and then scroll down to either the Statewide Summary or County of Kauai buttons. You may even need to close your browser and try a new one if the “second printout” doesn’t load properly once it’s released.

The only way to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear tonight is to go to the “victory party” of the candidates with the biggest war chest and eat until you explode.

And don’t forget to “make plate”-you’ll be paying for it many times over for the next few years.

Finally, for those who are handicapping the race- especially for the 7th spot- here are the results of the “primary”.

Kaua`i County Council

1) Derek S.K. Kawakami, 10,284
2) Nadine K. Nakamura, 9,469
3) Joann A. Yukimura, 8,927
4) Jay Furfaro, 8,611
5) Tim Bynum, 7,802
6) Mel Rapozo, 7,527
7) Dickie (Walaau) Chang, 6,583
8) Bill (Kaipo) Asing, 6,433
9) Kipukai Les P. Kualii, 4,992
10) Ted Daligdig, III 4,522
11) Ed Justus, 3,100
12) Rolf H. Bieber, 1,856
13) Ken Taylor, 1,787
14) Dennis M. Fowler, 1,166

Kaua`i Mayor

Bernard P. Carvalho Jr., 13,026
Diana LaBedz, 2,548

Monday, November 1, 2010


A FINAL WORD: Kaua`i has never been much of a place for the “October surprise”. While whispering campaigns have been few and far between we can’t even remember a last minute revelation about a candidate in print.

But last week’s excoriation of Tim Bynum by our friend Joan Conrow contained not just her reasons for not voting for Tim- many of which we agreed with- but reported one tidbit about Bynum that we had been trying to find out more about for the last month or so.

Joan starts out by saying

When Tim finally did get elected, in 2006, I was hearing a lot of talk about how we — as in mainland haoles — needed to elect a haole to represent our interests on the Council and fight the “old boy” system. They saw Tim as "the great white hope."

Of course, Tim is actually a product of that very same system, seeing as how he was appointed by the late Mayor Baptiste to run the totally worthless, do-nothing county “outreach” program known as Ka Leo O Kauai — a position Tim lists as Community Response Specialist
on his resume.

Though we never saw Tim as such, for just that reason- in addition to his involvement with the bike path as Joan also cites- it’s hard to see how being a crony of Baptiste’s is compatible with being “the great white hope”, as Joan says.

And more than fair criticism was the fact that Bynum extensively talks about the horrors of how our ag land has been subdivided and condominiumized (CPRs) into gentlemen’s estates but built his house on CPRed ag land.

Then of course there’s his transient vacation rental (TVR) bill which weakened the 2008 bill that banned new TVRs on residentially zoned lands and opened up ag lands to TVRs, which were banned under the original bill.

We aren’t the only ones for whom that was the tipping point on whether to give Tim our support tomorrow so no disagreement there.

But then comes the story that we’ve been chasing since Ken Taylor raised it during a council meeting a while back.

What Tim fails to mention is that he himself bought a lot in one of those pretend farm developments, built a house and let someone graze a horse in the yard to further the pretense.
What's more, he is the subject of a formal complaint alleging that he’s been operating an illegal dwelling unit within his single-family residence. However, when a county inspector went to check it out, Tim refused to give him access to the house — even though he had signed a use permit agreeing to periodic inspections. Tim also failed to respond to numerous susequent (sic) written requests for access. As a result, Tim was issued a zoning compliance notice and the county will seek a search warrant to conduct the inspection.

Wow. No wonder Tim wouldn’t answer our emails asking him for clarification. We asked Conrow if she had a copy of what should be a publicly available complaint, especially in light of one comments which said,

The rumor is that Tim was set up by a trespassing planning inspector who was probably there at the request of one of the mean three (K.A., M.R. and S.I.C) and who tried to accuse him of having an illegal kitchen for having a coffee maker plugged in a bedroom or something ridiculous like that. If that is true (I'd like to know before the election) it would seem like a political dirty trick aimed at getting an uninformed media to ruin his election chances.

We certainly would like to know the source of the complaint but haven’t as yet heard back from Joan. We certainly trust Joan’s reporting and would like to hear Bynum’s side of the story. Our question is in the timing of the report and the wisdom of publishing it in the middle of a piece with such obvious animus.

But then Joan says something that baffled us.

This sort of refusal has happened only once before, by a man who had 20 unpermitted houses on his property, and it's certainly surprising to such behavior in someone sworn to uphold the law. Normally, people want to give an inspector access to show they're in compliance. Unless, of course, they're not. Perhaps that's why Tim never replied when I asked him for a comment.

Only once before? Hasn’t Joan followed the stories about people like Jimmy Pflueger and Tom McCloskey as well as other “Friends of Maryanne” Kusaka who refused entry to Department of Public Works (DPW) and Planning inspectors until Kusaka allegedly told them to back off?

This has been a huge issue for both DPW and the Planning Department with both County Engineer Donald Fujimoto (and his predecessors) and Planning Director Ian Costa who have bitterly complained over and over on specific cases- on the record at planning and council meetings- that they have been denied entry to people’s properties and have begged for a law which allows them to gain entry administratively.

But then comes the criticism that makes us think that if Joan had watched the council in action she might have gotten a different impression.

In further supposed support for farming, Tim recently introduced three bills related to agricultural lands. But because he has failed so miserably at consensus-building (another one of his campaign pledges), the Council nixed them immediately. However, his oft-stated quest to reduce density on ag land — which would hit family farms hardest — instilled sufficient fear in some large ag land owners that they moved to lock in their density, including CPRs, while they could. As a result, speculator/developer Tom McCloskey now has 1,000 units all lined up and ready to go in Kealia.

Actually those bills were first introduced by Mayor Bryan Baptiste years ago and McCloskey has had his units “all lined up” for years.

But to blame the obstructionism of those who are letting some personal revenge factor on the target of their ire is pretty tea-partyish. And, as a matter of fact, talking to more than one other councilperson about a bill before it is introduced is highly illegal.

After justifiably criticizing the thousand dollars in campaign funds from the Transient Vacation Rental Association Conrow then says something that we can’t fathom, especially from a journalist who deals in documents and should know how important access to them as well as transparency and accountability in government is.

All in all, it's pretty hypocritical for someone who wrote, in his response to the previously mentioned questionnaire:

I believe that public participation in government is essential, and helps us make better decisions. For that reason I have tried to improve the public process, specifically by advocating for easy access to public documents, release of county attorney opinions of Law, and public broadcast of all council proceedings — including budget hearings. Frankly, I am dismayed that this has been contentious and difficult.

Perhaps it was contentious and difficult because Tim, who was later joined by Lani, never sat down with the Council Chair or sought support from other Councilmembers to work out such a change. Instead, they turned it into a self-serving and very public crusade of “us against them,” making a mockery of his campaign pledge to “strive for consensus.”

If Joan had actually viewed all the meetings on the topic rather than relying on the notoriously inept reporting in the local newspaper, she would have known that Bynum repeatedly tried to meet with Chair Kaipo Asing’s despite Asing denial- that is until Tim produced the document requesting a meeting and that it was Lani, relying on Tim who was introducing the needed changes- who didn’t meet with Asing.

While we have many reasons to withhold support for Bynum this year- and it was not an easy decision for just this reason- his fight for access to the agenda for councilmembers and the posting of public documents on-line as well as many other instances of abuse of the rules and process by Asing (as we’ve detailed over and over) was the one high points of this council term.

To blame those who fight for positive change in the face of paternalistic intransigence for “not striving for consensus” is the reason why Asing and the three D’s- Derek, Dickie and Darryl- got away with their obstructionism.

And guess what- the subject documents are still not posted on-line.

But the reason why it sticks in our craw is because it’s not just Joan who seems to take this attitude.

Way too often we hear from candidates- and from voters- that we need to “all get along” and “stop all the fighting.”

But those blaming people who fight hindrances and impediments to change thrown up by the forces of the broken status quo seem to have very little understanding of what open governance really means.

Is that what you want?.. politicians “seeking consensus” in back rooms rather than before the public at a meeting, as provided in the sunshine law?

Bynum’s and Kawahara’s crusade for accountability and transparency and access to documents should not be the subject of closed door meetings- the antithesis of the spirit- and letter- of the law.

This type of criticism assures that nothing will ever change except for assuring that, when those who challenge corruption and the old boys’ control over the process are turned out of office, the next politician won’t fail to get the “sit down and shut up” message.

And as long as politically astute progressives buy into this Kumbaya form of governance the Minotaurs and their minions will continue to control access to “our” government.