OF SEWERS AND SKEWERS: The characterization of Kaua`i County government as an open cesspool has been more than appropriate for as long as we can remember. Sometime we feel like our function in life over the past few decades has been to observe the surface and provide commentary on the largest and smelliest of the visible and odoriferous of contents--the "turd de jour" if you will.
But there is one exemplary piece of excrement that seems to resurface with regularity: the gold-plated, iconic fecality of the re-re-re-roofing of the Kilauea Gym.
When we saw it on the county council agenda a few weeks back we assumed our recent cataract surgery had been a failure. Surely the leakiest roof in the west had been fixed "once and for all" the last time it was fixed "once and for all."
That was back in 2003 when, after at least two previous attempts at stopping the perennial waterfall that flooded the basketball court with every precipitation, the county hired an independent consultant to watch over the other consultants that watched over the buildings division that watched over the Public Works Department that watched over the contractor that built the roof that covered the house that built Jack-sh*t.
The first re-roofing was done after Hurricane `Iniki knocked off the original one- which we can remember leaking in the 70s. But that "new" roof stopped fulfilling it's function (if it ever "filled" it in the first place as some old-timers speculate) as soon as the FEMA warranty ran out after two years in 1999, Council Chair Jay Furfaro told the assembled last Wednesday. Attempts at fixing it, including first patching it followed by a brilliant scheme to build a roof covering the leaky roof, finally culminated in the county getting, well, Jacked-up, as we described above
Actually back when it had only been re-roofed twice it had become so archetypical of Department of Public Works' (DPW) incompetency that it was the key factor in various schemes by the council to "launch and investigation" into DPW under Charter section 3.17- the only provision in the guiding county document that allows the council to "interfere" in the functions of the administration.
The matter appeared on the council agenda repeatedly. This was during the "fog" years when a thick layer of snooze-inducing, mumbling whispers from DPW engineers and assorted functionaries routinely caused the council to react like Dorothy and her crew entering the poppy fields upon their first glimpse of Oz.
After hagglin' and stragglin'- mostly over how to proceed with an "investigation" thus allowing stonewalling by councilmembers, especially those who routinely addressed DPW officials as "my good friend"- it all culminated in a charter amendment setting up the Office of the County Auditor.
The Auditor, who serves at the pleasure and under the direction of the council, has actually completed an audit of the "re-roofing" of the Kilauea Gym. But it was published before the current leak was discovered during the recent big rains in March. And nobody really knows what it says because it doesn't seem to be posted at the Auditor's page on the county web site.
But guess what? The DPW- specifically the buildings division which is the place that building projects are overseen- has "handed off" the Kilauea Gym to the newly created Department of Parks and Recreation overseen by the usually stumblin' and bumblin' Lenny Rapozo, whose main qualification for the job was that he managed the campaign of Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. in the last election.
But never fear. Even though shovels of money have been poured into past efforts, the latest answer to the musical question, "Who'll Stop The Rain?" is "Lenny," who says he has $120,000 floating around in his budget to hire (drum roll please) another consultant--one who this time will certainly figure out what to do about the the fact that the old man has apparently been snoring while it's raining and pouring.
Oh yeah, we forgot, turns out the front door of the gym also leaks when it rains hard because not only was the entire gym designed improperly with the door facing windward (the direction from which rain usually comes) but there is no "awning" or "eave" over the door and apparently the door is not water tight either. So the rain comes through the door and the floor is now "cupping" where the rain has blown in and pooled.
Oh, and the "warranty" on the labor on the current roof? Wouldn't you know it, darn the luck. it's just run out because somehow, despite the fact that there had been nothing but problems with the leaky roof for decades, the county failed to obtain a "lifetime" warranty.
It would seem that if there is indeed another "design flaw" someone- perhaps the contractors and/or consultants- should be held responsible. But of course the county will most likely only be able to prove this if we hire outside attorneys, and that would probably cost ten times what a new roof would cost.
The council has instructed Rapozo to report back in July. That should give us plenty of time to get a new pair of binoculars and a set of top-of-the-line nose plugs. We'll leave it to the council to purchase diving equipment- that's why they get the big bucks.