Friday, February 1, 2013
STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE MONTHS
STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE MONTHS: It not something we'd often admit to but occasionally watching a good political fight can be almost as stimulating as illicit sex.
The emotions behind the charges and counter charges of two combatants and the laughingly-obvious concerted half-truths and outright lies all leading up to an orgasmic first Tuesday in November, then, when it's over we clean it up and go back to our normal boring life.
Most of the time.
When the arguably all-time most entertaining of local campaigns- this year's often indecipherable machination of former Kaua`i Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri Carvalho's reelection campaign- came to an end we thought all we'd have were the sweet memories.
Even when an executive session item on last week's council agenda referred to a settlement of one of those on the long list of harassment complaints against Iseri- this time the one by now-rehired deputy prosecutor Rebecca Vogt- we didn't expect a "for old time's sake" post-coital, spittle-filled rant from the Queen of Xanadu (ask around).
Yet there she was on our screen (7 hours 25 minutes in), doing her best Captain Queeg impression... all that was missing were the steel balls and the claim of "that's where I had them.. with the strawberries."
Yes it's all a conspiracy folks- County Attorney Al Castillo, her opponent and now Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar, Hizzonnah Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr, the council, Vogt herself and a cast of dozens- they wanted her out and would do anything to achieve their goal of stopping Iseri from protecting Kaua`i... presumably from the likes of them.
For those who missed some of the details of the federal suit revealed when veteran Kaua`i reporter Joan Conrow described them in her KauaiEclectic blog, last September 20, she wrote:
The complaint, filed Tuesday in Kauai Circuit Court on behalf of deputy Rebecca Vogt, raises concerns about equal pay, gender discrimination, free speech rights and county ethics violations. It names both the county and Iseri-Carvalho, who was sued by Councilman Tim Bynum yesterday.
Vogt alleges she was pressured to support Iseri-Carvalho, who rewarded employees she considered loyal. When Vogt did not actively campaign, she claims she was passed over for a raise, while five less-experienced male deputies who supported the prosecutor got hefty pay hikes ...
She says Iseri-Carvalho handed out the pay raises even though in March — following “sparse attendance at her major fundraiser” — she had told staff that she would be cutting salaries due to “budget cuts.”
When Vogt complained about the arbitrary nature of the raises, and their apparent unethical link to campaign support, she says Iseri-Carvalho retaliated against her, giving her more work, denying her comp time and stripping her of the authority to independently approve plea offers.
Vogt maintains Iseri-Carvalho violated the county Code of Ethics, which prohibits county employees from using their positions to secure unwarranted privileges, advantages and treatment for themselves or others. She also says her right to free speech was violated when the prosecutor punished her for speaking up.
The complaint alleges Iseri-Carvalho's actions were “willful, wanton, outrageous and oppressive,” and that Vogt suffered job insecurity, income loss, humiliation, and emotional and physical anguish as a result. The extent of the retaliation forced her to take a medical leave of absence, she alleges.
Vogt, who began working for the Office of Prosecuting Attorney in August 2010, says she had always received favorable work reviews.
Iseri claims that, as part of this vast conspiracy, the mastermind, mousey little CA Castillo- with whom Iseri had been feuding ever since she stopped answering the council's budget-time questions regarding her home-made sentencing diversion program- went off and arbitrarily decided all on his own to settle Vogt's suit without any other input, especially from Iseri herself.
So is it true? Could it possibly be true? Well, not exactly.
Because in cases of employment discrimination and wrongful terminations, you are not allowed to just go to circuit court and sue.
You are first required to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC then does its own investigation of the complaint, including requesting that the alleged offender's employer respond to the complaint... something, by the way, the county has a long history of not doing. Then, if, and only if, the EEOC finds that there is reason to believe an offense occurred, it gives permission to the complainant to sue in circuit court.
That means that it would have been impossible for Castillo to act totally on his own to settle the suit just to make Iseri look bad and insure Kollar's election because the fact that a suit was filed in 5th Circuit Court meant that the EEOC- which refuses to discuss cases, which are all "confidential" by law- had already found that there was reason to believe the complaint was valid.
This of course is just one factor. In this week's tirade before the council (which she submitted in writing to the council so it is public record now) Iseri kept repeating that no one asked her about "the settlement." But it was hard not to notice that she kept referring to "the settlement" rather than the facts in the case which presumably she has had the opportunity to refute- something she hasn't done publicly.
But admittedly we don't know, which of course is the point here.
What we do know is that Iseri was- and still is as far as we know- not talking to anyone about anything because early in 2012 she "lawyered up" and got the county to hire her an attorney rather than answer questions from the council when it asked her for the same kind of "due diligence" budgetary information it seeks every year from all department heads.
So is it over? Was Wednesday's testimony simply one last hopped-up harangue from our dear "long time comin', long time gone," Miss Loodacris Lilly?.. a final "say it don't spray it" moment from one of the most entertainingly delusional public figures Kaua`i has ever seen- and most likely will ever see again?
Guess we should just light up a cigarette knowing we'll always have POHAKU.