Tuesday, October 11, 2011


LIKE A GLOVE: It isn't like it was a surprise when Kauai County Clerk Peter Nakamura* was apparently fired this week.

After all, the first shoe had been dropped over and over throughout the years with allegations that he had cost the county a cool quarter-million in the Margaret Hanson Sueoka harassment suit along with his alleged misdoings in collecting unapproved cash-for-vacation-time from former Chair Kaipo Asing as has been splashed all over the front page of the local newspaper recently.

Not only that but the second shoe had been poised for a gravity-driven trip for months with executive sessions concerning his employ showing up on the council's agenda almost every time they met.

But the fact that Nakamura was offered and accepted a job in the planning department was a bit odd given that the revolving door was wide open for him after his performance as perhaps the best flack-catcher the county has even seen.

We've had a love/hate relationship with Nakamura throughout his tenure. Early in his tenure his penchant for providing information and documents was unique in the county if not the state, where our sunshine law has been cited nationally for being one of the best while showing up among the worst when it comes to how it actually functions.

But that was before the ascendancy of Asing and, in serving the new king, Nakamura of course took to carrying the king's sword which in Asing's case was a heavy instrument indeed.

As per Asing's instructions, Nakamura became the scrooge of public information, fighting with aplomb councilmembers' battles with the Office of Information Practices (OIP)- like the one over the infamous ES-177 that eventually resulted in the recent full de-toothification of the OIP.

Someone that is willing to fall on his sword like that is invaluable in the corporate world and Kaua`i is littered with such former county officials who have found a place in the close knit Kaua`i business community based on their ability to take a bullet for their bosses... people like current Grove Farm VP Mike Tressler who, as Finance Director, parlayed his part in the pogrom that resulted in the removal of former Police Chief KC Lum, into his current high-paying position.

Could it be that Nakamura's claim that he was returning to his first love- planning- actually be true?

Whether or not that's the full explanation, his trip across the street to the administrative offices, while unique, fits quite well into Mayor Bernard Carvalho's scheme for filling positions with "protected" cronies. Anyone who has served with the kind of blind loyalty Nakamura has exhibited over the years can't help but be an asset to Carvalho in a way few if any from the outside can be.

But would Nakamura settle for a position as a lowly planner when lucrative job the business sector beckons? Of course not.

It just so happens that the planning department has a "temporary" director right now- Mike Dahilig who, according to the county charter, is unqualified to take the position permanently. And he has done the job he was sent to do- take over the reins of a department allegedly under FBI investigation and get the feds off their backs... not to mention guiding the difficult and potentially contentious process of passing the all important ordinance that returns scrutiny of tourist accommodation permits from the council back to the planning department in compliance with the so-called citizen-petitioned General Plan charter amendment.

Nakamura- who ironically served as Planning Director under then-Mayor, now-Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura (who apparently was instrumental in his firing)- seems to be the beneficiary of a circumstance that makes his future as planning director all but a formality once the commission acts.

So all's well in the Minotaur’s labyrinth as the bone mill cranks out another bowl of that distinctly Kaua`i-flavored porridge which, while sweet-smelling to the minotaur and his minions, stinks to high heaven to the rest of the island's denizens.


*Correction: We inadvertently left off Peter Nakamura's name in the first paragraph. This on-line version has been corrected. We apologize for the error.

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