LEGALLY SCHMEGALLY: You'd think we'd have learned by now.
But because the lackluster MidWeek advertising rag- the one that's shoved in everyone's mailbox and overflows the trash cans at the Post Office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays- generally has so little relevant content past the puff pieces, we've been tossing them ourselves occasionally without skimming for the rare relevant content.
And in doing so, we'd have missed former Police Commissioner Tom Iannucci's impossibly befuddled and schizophrenic piece on the latest Kaua`i Police Department (KPD) sexual harassment debacle if it weren't for Kaua`i Eclectic's Joan Conrow, who herself only noticed it as she was throwing it out.
Calling Iannucci's tome"an obtuse piece," as she did, is an act of kindness.
Iannucci rambles on with vague analogies about hotel management and all you get out of it is that he- surprise surprise- is yet another troglodytic troll who thinks sexual harassment is best swept under the rug, calling Perry and the two suspended Assistant Chiefs, Ale Quibilan and Roy Asher "wrongly accused," having the unbelievable nerve to state:
Two wrongs don’t make a right. And a wrong may have truly occurred, but to what degree the whip should extend and whom it should consume comes into question, and the motives behind it....
These three officers are men who do care and, in my opinion, their actions and motives are being wrongly accused, and the quicker this is resolved, the better for our island and our department. I stand behind them and their integrity. But they are just the top tiers of a problem whose inception, whose roots are deeper in many different ways.
When all is stripped away and peeled back, we will have to ask: Did it really need to go this far, or was it just opportunity and ability to extend the whip and cause hurt for the sake of doing so? Maybe it will all be buried in legal findings and judgments, and we may never know.
As Perry's biggest supporter- and an ex-Marine with the well-known requisite attitude toward women that goes with it- Iannucci can be expected to take a "boys will be boys" attitude.
But Conrow? We're sure that that isn't the case, at least consciously. But could her admiration and staunch support for Perry be clouding her reasoning? Read on.
Conrow tells the story that we've heard, albeit second hand because the story is apparently being told by, guess who, Perry himself who, we understand, is the source of most of the anonymous quotes in the press since the day he was put on leave by Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr.
She re-tells Perry's cockamamie story about asking to work from home and instead being publicly disgraced by Carvalho who "illegally," according to many, put him on leave... all because Carvalho sees Perry as his biggest potential rival not just for power, as Iannucci would have us believe, but in his 2014 re-election bid.
She also adds a new wrinkle that was brought to our attention over the weekend and that is that current Acting Chief Michael Contrades is the son of Tommy Contrades, "whom the mayor already generously rewarded by creating especially for him the new, highly-paid position of managing the county's capital improvement projects," Conrow reports.
Although we have no direct knowledge of Conrow's source, she, unlike us, has a "hot-line" relationship with the chief as she has written many times. Perry would no sooner take a call from us than respond by-the-book to a sexual harassment complaint.
But she does tell two seemingly incongruous stories.
She first tells the story as to how, as we said a couple of weeks back,
It all started when Officer Darla Abbatiello-Higa reportedly rebuffed Quibilan's sexual advances, and he allegedly retaliated by making mean, sexually-oriented cracks to and about her in front of others, including the kids she works with in the Kauai Police Explorers program. She complained to Asher, who reportedly did nothing to separate the two — as is required under a rule in the county handbook — or chastise Quibilan, whose alleged harassment then reportedly worsened.
And she follows that by acknowledging that:
She next took her concerns to the chief, who allegedly twice tried to dissuade her from pursuing a formal EEOC complaint and allegedly expressed resistance at placing Asher and Quibilan on leave. Instead, he reportedly urged her to try to work things out internally.
That, right there, according to the county's own handbook on sexual harassment- as well as the EEOC's- is reason enough for suspending Perry and placing him on administrative leave. Instead, by law and policy, he should not have tried to get her to withdraw her complaint, as apparently he had been doing since she filed the complaint last October.
But then Conrow says that:
Dissatisfied with his response, Officer Darla then took the matter to the mayor, who reportedly directed Perry to put Asher and Quibilan on leave while the complaint was investigated, which Perry did. Now here's where politics rears its ugly head.
The chief then reportedly said that since the complaint involved him, he also should stay away from the cop shop, and would instead work at home.
Uh, well, actually no. Perry's misconduct in trying to dissuade Abbatiello made it mandatory that whomever was in charge formally suspend Perry for misconduct. It's called an attempted cover-up. Don’t forget either, the second complaint was also sent to the police commission which had failed to act before Carvalho took action. It was only after Perry was placed on leave that the commission scheduled a meeting, one for a Sunshine Law mandated six days later despite the fact that they could have acted under emergency provisions of the Law to meet immediately and confirm any action taken when the properly noticed meeting took place with the required six days notice.
The story that Conrow tells- which could only have come from Perry or Carvalho- and it's doubtful it was the latter- is that:
the mayor disagreed (with allowing him to work from home) and told Perry to come into the office. The two, who have long been at odds, reportedly argued, and Perry stood firm by his decision and stayed home. The mayor then suspended Perry without pay for seven days for insubordination, after which he was placed on paid leave with Asher and Quibilan, pending an investigation of Officer Darla's complaint.
Conrow first cites Carvalho's desire to put Contrades in as acting chief and then explains the politics behind Carvalho's move. As she sees it:
it was appropriate for Carvalho to take some immediate action when Officer Darla came directly to him. Not only was it appropriate, it was mandatory, from a staunch-the-bleeding legal standpoint.
But it was Carvalho's responsibility only to ensure that Officer Darla's complaint was appropriately handled once it came to his attention. It's really a stretch to say that his kuleana also included getting into a power struggle with his political enemy, the police chief, and ultimately suspending him.
Surely, once the chief placed Asher and Quibilan on leave, as he is authorized to do, he could have been allowed to take vacation, comp or personal leave until the police commission could be convened to sort out the issues that specifically involved him.
Instead, Carvalho took the opportunity to thuggishly grab power and mete out some political pay back against Perry. Unfortunately, by taking that particular approach he threw the police department and community into a tizzy, caused Officer Darla to be dragged into the spotlight by those seeking to make sense of the turmoil, possibly exposed the county to litigation by Perry, created a lot of ill will and made our island once again the subject of statewide derision.
As we said two weeks ago, it certainly fits the narrative across the island of the politically motivated Carvalho screwing the beloved Chief Perry for political gain.
It seems like Conrow is of two minds- one in which she says that Carvalho's action was "mandatory" and one in which he should have allowed Perry to "work from home,"
Has her belief in Perry has clouded her judgment?
Maybe. Because the real story as we've heard floating around is that Perry, Quibilan and Asher all threatened Abbatiello that if she didn't drop the October complaint she might just lose her beloved position in administrative services working with youth and heading up the police recruitment program with the Explorer Scouts (sorry to bury the lede). Maybe not in those stark terms but the general idea was broadcast loud and clear.
Either story cold be true. A vindictive, politically ruthless mayor seizing the opportunity to repay a supporter or a chief who is known to try to "smooth over" conflicts in order to "boost morale" going too far and violating the law- one that has cost the county millions already.
But the latter is the story that makes sense here, not the one that Iannucci is pushing on Perry's behalf and that Conrow wants desperately to believe- that Bernard's well known penchant for rewarding his friends and punishing his enemies has gone over the line and is threatening to destroy the reputation of the chief.
We could be wrong- but we doubt it.