Sunday, March 30, 2008


DON’T YOU WORRY YOUR FURRY LITTLE HEAD ABOUT IT: When Glenn Mickens takes the road to the Council meetings sometimes he actually takes the road to the Council meetings.

He’s been picking up broken off pieces of it for 14 years, charting them, measuring them and physically “putting them on the table”, showing the Council the perennially substandard work that’s cost the County millions a year in unnecessary maintenance and repaving.

Councilmembers have generally agreed with Glenn for years.

“Yup- sure is substandard...too thin” is standard fare.

There are few if any councilpersons who in the last 10 years haven’t gone with Glenn on a tour of some of the most egregious jobs, all of which Mickens has documented- something Mickens is exceptionally good about, starting all his appearances before the council with his mantra- “You have a copy of my testimony”..

But “Coach” Mickens has finally dug deep enough and learned enough simple math to prove that someone is stealing asphalt in the DPW.

Here’s his case:

The National standard for laying asphalt is 120 sq ft of road per ton. For some reason Kaua`i has a standard of only 90. No one in the Dep’t. of Public Works (DPW) knows why when the Council has asked. Old-timers say it goes back even before the 1974 CZO.

“It always been that way” they say because, well, “this is Kaua`i”.

For those who might be confused, the difference is such that the roads on Kaua`i should be thicker and better than the required inch-and-a-half thick national standard. If you pour a ton of asphalt into 90 one-square-foot buckets there’ll be enough to fill 30 more left over for every ton doing it the Kaua`i way.

Glenn has spent the last 14 years showing anyone he could how in fact the roads were actually thinner, not thicker than 1½” as they would be if all that extra asphalt were put only on the roads that are on the official DPW proposed and Council approved and budgeted yearly list of roads designated for repaving each fiscal year.

With that kind of double saving we should have roads that are thicker, last longer and have Cadillac-size shoulders... probably with enough asphalt left over to pave the bike path.

Glenn doesn’t know exactly where all that asphalt is going and is reluctant to call it theft. But he does say that when he asks DPW employees all of them look to see if anyone is listening and then tell him “take a look at the driveways of the supervisors... and developers who contribute to the mayors’ campaigns”:

But Glenn just keeps asking the Council in his respectful way- as nicely as he can- if they will to “look into it”.

And all he hears lately from the Chair, week after week, is “Thank you Glenn... anyone else?”

He tried to ask Councilperson JoAnn Yukimura about her views via email last week and got blown off with the same unresponsive silliness that DPW has used for years, contained in the exchange that follows.

Sent: Sunday, March 23, 2008 6:56 PM
To: JoAnn Yukimura
Subject: Nathan Eagles article about government watchdogs--"Nitpickers"
From: Glenn Mickens

Aloha JoAnn;

Just a note to say I completely agree with your comments to Nathan about the public knowing what they are talking about when they get on their "soapbox", TGI 3/23/08.

However, I find it quite interesting to see you make that statement and yet, no matter how long I have testified about the tax payers getting ripped off by wrong paving methods being used and documenting what I have said. not you nor any member of the council has taken steps to stop it. Or, at the very least. I would welcome one of you or all of you checking out what I say and if it is the truth then why aren't you doing something to change what is going on?

I have sent you all my documentation on this subject and if there is anything you don't understand I will be more than happy to go over it with you.

If you truly mean what you say that community involvement is important and that you need their input, then show me that my 14 years of involvement can make a positive impact.

Your comments, please.


On Mar 27, 2008, at 11:32 AM, JoAnn Yukimura wrote:

Hi, Glenn,

We did "check it out" in the last session with Donald and Ryan Nishikawa and found that the figures were averages--actually more per square foot than the standard, but the actual application varies with the specific parameters of the road. That seems very logical to me. I believe the main solution is raising the fuel taxes so we have enough resources to pave on a timely basis.

What is your response to that?

I do agree with Joe Rosa that paving over dirt is counterproductive and if you have evidence of this happening, please let me know.


Subject: Re: Nathan Eagles article about government watchdogs--"Nitpickers"
Date: March 29, 2008 11:34:27 AM HST

Aloha JoAnn:

The problem we seem to be having here is that you are asking the "fox" that is guarding the hen house about the problem with our roads. Donald and Ryan make a statement and you buy it. If you want the truth then, as you have heard me say a hundred times, ask Greg Schleper (a true neutral expert in asphalt paving) and you will get the real story.

If, as Donald and Ryan say, we are getting "more per square foot than the standard" then let them drill core holes and show us that this is the case. Remember that the rest of the nation including Oahu uses 1 ton of asphalt to pave 108 square feet and not 1 ton to pave 90 square feet as ONLY Kauai does---why would that be, JoAnn???? Mel met with
Schleper before he was monopolized off Kauai so if you want to know more please ask Mel. Again, this illegal way of paving has nothing to do with "averages"---trust me, I have researched this problem for far too long---14 years!

If you want to see a road that had no base course put down before it was paved then go look at upper Waipouli road---they paved right over the dirt, I was there watching the job being done. Joe Rosa is a very smart person and knows what he is talking about when it comes to these roads and a laundry list of problems that impact this Island---LISTEN TO HIM!!!

Obviously we need a lot larger budget for our roads repaving if we are going to repave by the 10 year plan (just as Jay has said) BUT even more, we need accountability of the way our roads are being paved and repaved. Why aren't you pushing for that performance audit along with Mel, JoAnn? If you doubt the validity of this statement then please ask the experts AND NOT THE "FOXES"!!

Also, JoAnn, why didn't you ask Ryan or Donald why Kealia Road was repaved at
a cost of $250,500 when there are few house along that road AND OTHER ROADS WITH MANY RESIDENTS ALONG IT HAVEN'T BEEN REPAVED IN 20 YEARS OR MORE? Everyone knows that road was repaved because McCloskey has the 2000 acre subdivision at the top of it and that was what it was for. BUT why no investigation to find out why tax payers money paid for it??

Thank you for your response, JoAnn, but please delve into the problem more before you simply accept what is told to you by those on the one side of the fence.


That spurred Mickens to write the following letter to the editor of the local newspaper that has gone unpublished for a week.

To The Forum:

A big Mahalo to TGI for their excellent article, "Government watchdogs on the prowl" 3/23/08.

The article quotes JoAnn Yukimura as saying that the nitpickers are a "very valuable resource" and that "Democracy only works well when we have actively participating citizens."

I compliment JoAnn for her hours of work on so many problem areas of our government and I totally agree with her statement, "When you get a soapbox to speak from, it's really important to have your facts accurate and really listen carefully to what's happening---not make assumptions, not jump to quick conclusions." (the public is allowed only 3 minutes on that soapbox).

I have given our government accurate, documented facts and figures for 14 years about our roads not being PROPERLY paved and repaved but no one has responded to my questions. Nor has anyone delved into finding out the accuracy of my statements and if they are correct, why has no corrective action been taken?

The following words give my in depth perception of what is wrong and hopefully Councilman Rapozo's long awaited performance audit will bring some huge tax saving actions for the public:

Probably 90% or the tax payers on Kauai use their vehicles to commute around our Island. And probably 99% of those are dissatisfied with the deplorable condition of our roads. Pot holes, cracked surfaces, dips and irregular paving---all make driving miserable.

There are 300 miles of county roads on Kauai and with the limited budget allotted for repaving those roads we have been getting 8 to 15 miles of them resurfaced each year. Which means that it would take 38 years for the 8 year cycle and 20 years for the 15 year cycle to repave all of our roads---unacceptable! One of our councilmen tried to limit this cycle to 12 years 2 years ago but nothing happened.

Now, let's get into the heart of why our roads are in such bad shape.

For 14 years facts have been brought to the attention of our administrations and councils the reasons our roads are deteriorating at a far faster pace than those roads in the rest of the nation or, even on Oahu. The following details give just a few of the reasons for our roads being in such poor condition and hopefully you, the public, will read them and decide what should be done. It is your tax money that is being wasted and you certainly have the right to tell our officials what you want done.

1) Our elected and appointed government officials have seen and verified that the code of 1 1/2 inches of compacted AC (asphaltic concrete) for repaved roads and 2 inches for newly paved roads is not being followed. By either an inspector being at the paving site or by core holes being drilled to see that the proper amount of AC is being laid, this hasn't been done. But no audit or investigation has ever been done to find out why code isn't being followed.

Whenever a private contractor does a paving or repaving job they are mandated to follow the code specifications before the county will accept the job. However when our public works department tells the contractor to do a job it can be done by any method that their contract specifies. So the question arises as to why the rules are exact for the private contractor and yet, no code when the county sets the rules?

2) The national method of repaving roads (including Oahu) shows that the contractor should use 1 ton of asphalt to pave 108 square feet. This formula means that a road at an average width of 18 feet and a depth of 2 inches compacted to 1 1/2 inches will need 1 ton of material to do 108 square feet. At last years cost of $146 per ton for asphalt, a mile of road would cost us (under this accepted method) $128,480.

However, on Kauai the material used or at least specified in THEIR formula is 1 ton per 90 square feet. Obviously if you do the math that means that our roads should be getting MORE pavement than the compacted 1 1/2 inches by the national standard. And, under this formula, we would use 1056 tons to pave a mile which would cost us $154,156---OR at an added cost of $25,696 per mile!!!

But remember that our Mayor (when he was a council member) and many other members of our council and administration have looked at these roads over the years and verified that we aren't even getting the compacted 1/1/2 inches laid on them. So, where is the additional material going or the added money to buy this overage?

3) Kauai is a member of HAPI (Hawaiian Asphalt Paving Industry) which is a member of a national organization that has precise standards for paving and resurfacing roads. However even though paving contractors on Kauai belong to HAPI they only do their work according to the contract that the county gives them---NOT to HAPI standards.
For example, year after year we repave over existing badly cracked and broken roads and thus with a poor sub base the finished layer of asphalt will crack and get pot holes. And yes, it will cost us more up front to do the job by HAPI standards BUT in the long run our roads will last longer and be in better shape and will save us millions of dollars!

4) By using the Kauai "method" of ordering more asphalt than is needed and by using sub standard methods of repaving our roads, the tax payers are certainly not getting what they are paying for.

5) The methodology of picking which roads to be repaved is also highly questionable. How many of you citizens are living along a road that hasn't been repaved in 20 years of more? And yet on the 05-06 repaving list Kealia road was resurfaced at a cost of $250,800---a road that has few houses along it BUT a 2000 acre subdivision is going to be built at the top of it---any questions??!!!

So, who is responsible for this huge waste of millions of dollars or our tax money? All the past and present administrations for their lack of oversight and finding out what is going on. Plus the past and present councils for continually funding these projects without mandating that we do the job by all nationally accepted methods and not by our much costlier way.

The Council wisely funded an audit ($500,000) that was pushed by Councilman Rapozo 4 years ago and to date it hasn't been implemented. WHY??? Unless we significantly increase our repaving budget, find out where the waste is going, and pave according to national standards to make our roads last 5 times longer, we, the driving public will continue to suffer.

Glenn Mickens


Anonymous said...

you're missing the simpler, less dramatic conclusion.

In addition to ignoring the 1.5 inch thickness, perhaps they are also ignoring the 90 ft2 per ton spec and the inspectors are signing off anyway.

Still a s---y job, but not theft. To prove that you need more data, like the amount of ashphalt purchased and the area paved.

Considering how much roadway gets paved, if the DPW were skimming off a third of the volume or more, every voter on Kauai would have had his driveway paved.

Anonymous said...

dramatic and flamboyant

Andy is the Liberace of home grown investigative blogging.

Andy Parx said...

Just look at the roads Anonymous as Glenn’s been doing it for 14 years. They are not using more and in fact are using less – they are substandard. And they are not “ignoring” the 90- that’s what we’re paying for. We are buying the amount of asphalt that would pave all the roads on the list to “code”. Whether we’re getting it is another question. You can verify that by going over those numbers as presented by DPW, as many councilpersons have done over the last 14 years.

And any examination of the county roads revels they don’t last as long as they should if they were up to code with potholes- the result of substandard paving- revealing that.. As Glenn has said, he’s asked for core-drilled samples to prove that somehow they are using it all where you can’t see it but they won’t do it. As more evidence, when you look at roads that are way overdue for repaving and are worn down to the base in the middle (where presumably the “extra” would have to go to be “invisible”) you can also see that we’re not even getting the correct thickness so the “average” argument doesn’t hold water.

Anonymous said...

your logic remains flawed.

I agree, if we are paying for a 90/ft2 specification we are getting hosed. Our roads are built for crap.

But failing to meet the spec (and therefore overcharging/robbing us financially) is not the same as diverting 25%+ of the asphalt to paving driveways. I wouldn't doubt a bit of pilfering on the margin here and there, but the wholesale theft of that much tonnage would be virtually impossible to keep covered up.

As usual Mickens has some facts and real problems mixed with a bit of bile and frustration. Which is why he is generally ignored. The only person as poorly prepared for council meetings from what I've seen is Councilperson Yukimura.