Thursday, May 5, 2011


POISON `IWI: We're still cussin' like a sailor every time we try to use the county's newfangled webcast site but since Ho`ike is, as usual, woefully inept at getting the meetings on the "air"- much less the schedule of council meetings posted on-line- we tuned to the MP3 audio today to get an aural gander at the section on Nancy McMahon's application to serve on the county's Kauai Historic Preservation Review Commission.

And never- we repeat never- in over 35 years, have we seen a steadier stream of people come to the hot seat to talk stink about a nominee.

McMahon, as Joan Conrow wrote last month,

was the former Kauai district archaeologist and SHPD deputy director who approved the burial treatment plan that allowed Joe Brescia to build on top of iwi kupuna. Pua Aiu signed off on the plan after it was rejected by the Kauai Niihau Island Burial Council, thus setting the precedent that capping iwi in concrete and building over them is compatible with a determination to “preserve in place.”

As a matter of fact it was McMahon's actions that were singled out for the wrath of Judge Kathleen Watenabe in the matter as Conrow reported earlier saying

But that irritation was tempered by the good news that Nancy McMahon, the state archaeologist whose misdeeds created the Bresica boondoggle – to quote Judge Watanabe: “The heart of this case is the failure of the state to follow procedures put in place to protect cultural practitioners, the general public and the rights of landowners.” — has been placed on indefinite administrative leave without pay. Her suspension followed a National Park Services inquiry into and state legislative hearings on the screwed up mess that is the State Historic Preservation Division.

It seems like every time there was some kind of pilikila regarding burials McMahon was in the forefront.

Our headline and lede last May said it all:


PNN) -- Three burials that were disinterred by Bruce Laymon's cattle operation on Waioli Corporation property at Lepeuli (Larsen’s Beach) and were unceremoniously moved and reinterred by State Historical Preservation Division (SHPD) Archeologist Nancy McMahon, according to a letter from McMahon to Hope Kallai of Malama Moloa`a.

McMahon's nomination despite the outrageous conflict of interest in serving on a commission that essentially would review her work, was one of those "council only" appointments where the mayor picks three, the council picks three and the body picks the last one. But the problem has been getting people to serve so the commission hasn't met in ages because they don't have a quorum.

So when McMahon put her name forward she was somewhat of an automatic nominee, according to councilmembers.

The only question really for council members was whether to reject McMahon outright yesterday as the oodles of outraged onlookers had demanded or take 60 days, as Chair Jay Furfaro requested, to "investigate" some of the charges.

After much wrangling, somewhat surprisingly since it had appeared there were only going to be three votes to kill the resolution during discussion, the council voted to kill it right then and there.

As a side note, the main thing the council apparently wanted to look into was one charges that many made, as we heard in an email earlier this week.

Apparently McMahon's educational background had been thrown into question because when her opponents checked with University of Hawai`i-Manoa they discovered her degree was "in anthropology, not archeology."

Seemingly they weren't the only ones who didn't know that archeology is more properly called "physical anthropology," as opposed to cultural anthropology. No one gets an undergraduate degree in "archeology" but rather studies both branches of anthropology and is awarded the appropriate degree.

We don't know what's wrong with this woman- she's apparently a glutton for rejection. First she ran and finished last in the 2008 election for council. Then a steady stream of charges- including one by a Kaua`i massage therapist that she was "filthy dirty" (ouch) - were telecast with such vile tossed in her direction that would bring a normal person to tears.

It's hard to say anyone deserves that but in McMahon’s case she's practically begged for it.

And, with twisted aloha, the community has once again granted her request.

1 comment:

Eleanor said...

Jeeez. How do you dig this stuff up -- and you don't even have a degree in archaeology.