Wednesday, February 8, 2012


PRESUMPTUOUS ASSUMPTIONS: The outrage is palpable over the actions of Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. in placing ever popular Kaua`i Police Department (KPD) Chief Darryl Parry on leave pending investigation of a reported "hostile workplace" complaint by Officer Darla Abbatiello-Higa against Perry's two assistant Chiefs- Roy Asher and Ale Quibilan.

It fits the narrative- one we admit to perpetuating- of a pompous, politically-motivated. power-hungry mayor, yet again overstepping his authority and perhaps, as many have speculated, going after a potential 2014 political opponent with Perry's name being bandies about by many as the only person who could successfully challenge Carvalho for his job in two years.

But what if the narrative is wrong? What if there was misconduct on Perry's part in handling Abbatiello's complaint- actions that violated the county's own policies on how to handle a complaint?

One thing we can report is that, although Perry's first and only statement to the press- or at least on-the-record comment- stressed that he had "the utmost trust in the... decision-making" of Asher and Quibilan and that "they’re beyond reproach,” literally dozens of people will tell you that it is in fact Abbatiello that has a sterling reputation for being a "straight shooter" and beyond reproach.

And another dozen will tell you that they have no difficulty at all in believing that either Asher or Quibilan were the types who would think they are so "beyond reproach" that they could get away with harassing Abbatiello even after she had successfully sued the county for just such actions by other KPD officers and brass in the past.

It is certainly strange then that Perry's first reaction was to tell the local press he apparently fully supported his two assistants despite what had to be an extremely credible complaint from "Officer Darla" as she is affectionately known.

Remember that a hostile workplace complaint was filed internally by Abbatiello, reportedly against Asher, in October. That complaint seems to have been all but ignored and was apparently mishandled with, at minimum, no "separation" of Asher and Abbatiello as county policy calls for.

The county's 2010 edition of their "Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment" says that “(p)ending investigation, the investigator(s) shall take immediate and reasonable action to limit the work contact between employees where there has been a complaint of discrimination or harassment.”

Seemingly the fact that going up the chain of command in October- a chain that ends with Perry- met with no success led to Abbatiello's January 31 complaint, reportedly against Quibilan, being sent to both the police commission and the mayor.

While we're not privy to the contents of the complaint, the scenario that makes the most sense is that, after finding out about the complaint- and presumably its contents- Perry tried to stop the bleeding by placing Asher and Quibilan on leave. But he felt compelled to side with them against Abbatiello in a comment to the press even after being warned, according to the same article, not to comment on the matter.

So put yourself in Carvalho's place. Assuming the complaint included the fact that Perry had filed to act properly in the October complaint, the "beyond reproach" comment was too much for the politically-oriented Carvalho. But more importantly consider that the comment exacerbated the situation intimating that Officer Darla was a liar. Having the department head take sides against the complainant would be yet another violation of the sexual harassment guidelines.

And we're pretty sure Carvalho was reminded of all this by County Attorney Al Castillo who has also been under fire for allowing these sexual harassment suits to be mishandled and even ignored.

The fact that the complaint was addressed to the mayor left him in a place where, if he failed to act by putting Perry on leave- and not just allowing him to "work from home" as Perry claimed he had demanded- he would be doing what the county has done in similar sexual harassment complaints- at best just ignore them and worse put pressure on the complainant to drop the charges by allowing Perry's statement to stand as the county's only reaction to the complaint.

While we've gone back and forth on the subject of whether Carvalho had the authority to discipline the chief, it's a subject that has even received scrutiny in Honolulu with an exchange between blogger Ian Lind- who asserted Carvalho did not have the authority- and, in comments on the post, former local Kaua`i newspaper reporter and current "Civil Beat" correspondent Mike Levine.

Levine essentially said "not so fast" in pointing out that, while the authority might seem to be with the police commission which hires and fires the chief, it's a leap to say they are the only ones who can discipline the chief since there is no clear written authority to do so anywhere in the Kaua`i County Charter.

The most popular narrative on Perry in the community is that, after a recently reported 61 official grievances having been filed during the brief tenure of his predecessor KC Lum- who was essentially "quitted" for allowing "low morale" to spread through the department- Perry has been able to cut those grievances to a negligible level. But among those who thought Lum got a raw deal, the narrative is that the reason why there were so many grievances under Lum is that he was actually processing them by the book, encouraging an atmosphere where employees felt their complaints would actually be heard, causing the number to snowball not because of morale but because there was so much misconduct.

They say that the reason why the grievances have slowed to a trickle under Perry is that he has sought to "smooth things over" and either ignore the complaints until they went away or intervening and using his authority to intimidate complainants into withdrawing their complaints so as not to "make waves" and "rock the boat."

That, some say, has allowed some "bad apples" to remain in place and created a "don't bother to complain" atmosphere under Perry's permissive reign.

Is that the situation here? While we can speculate and even state that Perry's public handling of Abbatiello's latest complaint was in violation of the county's workplace policy- making them a violation of the law since the law requires employers to have a policy and stick to it- we have no direct evidence other than the public statements to believe one way or the other.

But if others, as they have in almost unanimity, want to speculate that Hizzonah is once again on the wrong end of an issue of process, they would be wise to consider that there is another narrative that, while it doesn't fit the observable past, may just have the quality of the proverbial broken clock- one that right at least twice a day.

1 comment:

anonymous said...

Andy, Since you seem more knowledgable about the safety of smart meter rf than most of us......could you
please show us where daniel hirsch errs when he corrects the comparison charts that utility companies use.....resulting in a much higher emission rate for smart meters than for cell phones.
Could you also show us where the concerns expressed by american academy of environmental science are misguided and why we should not pay attention to them?
Mahalo for your consideration.