Tuesday, March 15, 2011


CROSS YOUR HEART AND HOPE TO LIE: To no one's surprise the yes-it-happened, no-it-didn't, I-ain't-sayin', alleged $250,000 payoff to the Kekaha shrimp farm by the Solid Waste Division of the Kaua`i Department of Public Works Department will most likely fade into the perpetual darkness of the labyrinth after Council Chair Jay Furfaro refused to adhere to his own schedule for releasing information on the matter.

For those who haven't been following (here and here) the now-you-see-it. now-you-don't payment, it all started with a blurb in some paperwork for an appropriation of $417,000 in Bill #2397 that said:

The Shrimp Farm extracted approximately $250,000 to provide assurance that the white spot syndrome would be mitigated flying trash within there (sic) property and laying (sic) in their ponds that could potentially lead to the spread of the disease. The cost of mitigation beyond the settlement is questionable as well as the negative publicity that could have a direct impact on our future landfill siting efforts (emphases added).

That elicited a promise by Furfaro that he would look into it and let council watchers Ken Taylor and Glenn Mickens know what the heck that meant and whether, in fact, the county paid the shrimp farm that's adjacent to the Kekaha landfill a quarter million dollars.

He first promised to reveal the info when the bill came back on the agenda "in seven days".

But in seven days he distributed copies of three past agenda items for executive sessions that didn't mention anything about any claim or settlement. Then he promised an answer in 10 days, conveniently three days after the bill was scheduled to pass final reading and disappear forever from public purview- at least at council meetings.

And sure enough, seven days after the "10 days" promise Wednesday, when badgered by Taylor and Mickens, Furfaro said of the three days left for him to fulfill his promise to reveal what really happened, "If I don't fulfill it in three days, I don't fulfill it in three days" telling Taylor and Mickens to see staff attorney Peter Morimoto who would help him fill out a public document request.

And of course the three days have passed and guess what- shockingly (for the impossibly naive) no info has been forthcoming from Furfaro.

Mickens says he still hasn't filed anything because he hasn't quite figured out what he is asking for- executive session minutes? settlement documents? administration communications? Not filing is apparently the sign of someone who has experience with the runaround given when the council and their clerk are committed to keeping information under wraps.

The only new thing revealed last Wednesday about those executive sessions is that the stated purpose on those agenda's back in 2009- on Sept. 23rd , Oct. 7th and Oct. 14th- was "relating to the expansion of the landfill and related matters."

The Office of Information Practices (OIP) which administrates the sunshine law says that agenda items must be specific in listing the purposes for matters discussed, which quite obviously would make these agenda items insufficient were a $250,000 claim settlement been discussed.

The one clue came from Councilperson Tim Bynum who said that he was "concerned about the secrecy" at the time and that "I put it in writing and I'm trying to get permission to share (it)."

Mickens says he's perplexed and wary of council staff which he says is apparently very eager for him to file for the information. He says he still intends to file for the documents but is trying to make sure that he covers all the bases so that if there is information or are documents that are allowed to be released his request will cover them.

In the past this kind of "put it in writing" demand for requests for documents has led to stonewalling and eventual denials with lengthy appeals to OIP which have on occasion resulted in an OIP demand to release the documents and the county's refusal to do so.

Meet the new minotaur- same as the old minotaur.

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