Thursday, April 10, 2008


BEST IN SHOW: There’s an old saying that goes “‘tis better to remain silent and thought the fool than to speak and remove all doubt”.

Never has it resonated louder than in the case of today’s newspaper piece from Mayor Bryan Baptiste trying to sell his “from the heart” administration’s so-called community outreach “Ka Leo” program.

Today’s bewildering tome is even more so for anyone who ever attended one of these sessions or is familiar with the “talk all you want then shut up so we can do whatever we want to do” administration... which always ends up doing nothing about anything consequential and at best not doing anything at all and at worst allowing cronies and developer buddies to rape and steal the public lands and pocketbook.

The title alone tells tons- “Gathering community input important government task”. Note there’s nothing- in the title or the article- about actually accomplishing or even attempting to deal with what the public wants. People who actually attempt to give that “input” find the administration acts as if listening is a supreme hassle that they go through just to shut people up... which might well be Bryan’s motto.

Baptiste’s description of his miserably failed “Ka Leo” program is priceless. He says that
in the “five years (since) we launched Ka Leo O Kaua`i... (m)any community concerns were addressed and resolved in the early years. As concerns abated, the Ka Leo program transformed to working with communities and empowering them by helping them realize the important role they play in the governmental process.”

The fact is that Baptiste and his flack-catchers actively “abate concerns” by routinely rejecting any “input” that has actually required his administration to do anything. He then manages to get all the active community members and leaders to “abandon ye hope all who enter” at the Ka Leo doors.

People who actually know anything about and have given thought to county governance like Dr. Ray Chuan and Glenn Mickens and dozens of others were ignored and chided for “proposing things all the time” according to the overheard complaint of a “Community Response Specialist” as they are called, undoubtedly a term thought up by someone a lot smarter than Baptiste.

And, as publicly alleged by many, that goes double for white people.

Once they got rid of anyone who actually cared about or knew anything about County government as the next step they “empowered” the remaining community to do whatever the administration wanted them to do to enhance power and hire more “Community Response Specialists”.

Baptiste originally announced the program shortly after taking office by saying that people couldn’t just come to the meetings with “complaints” and had to “propose solutions”. But as all those who did propose solutions quickly found the solutions had to be something that required nothing from the county and had to conform to whatever Batiste was- or wasn’t-doing in the first place to be considered for consideration by Baptiste’s hand picked crew.
Gee thanks Mr. Mayor- we could never have done things we could do ourselves without giving stupid do-nothing jobs with the county to your campaign contributors and workers so you and they could tell us we could do it.

His big “achievements” according to the article?

• New community associations

What he means is the remnants of the people who still showed up after they kicked out most everyone who was smarter than a fifth grader (by definition smarter than Baptiste himself) in one area they now call themselves the Hanama`ulu Community Association, that somehow being an achievement... and the remnants five years later in Kekaha and Hanapepe might do something like that sometime maybe after he leaves office.• More participation in the Adopt-A-Park program

Oh boy- here we go again with the premise that we can save money on parks maintenance by getting volunteers to do it. This was Baptiste’s big “in” to County government when he was appointed “Ho`olokahi” volunteer coordinator by former Mayor Kusaka who had scammed federal money to “beautify” the airport entrance with artificial waterfalls and non-native vegetation by guaranteeing volunteers would maintain it- which never happened and has been a well-reported burden on taxpayers ever since.

It’s pretty obvious that you can’t depend on volunteers to do County work- they don’t show up and you can’t exactly fire them. All this was discussed ad nauseum by the Council and that’s part of the reason why they are trying to deny funding to the Ka Leo program although Baptiste continues to illegally use other funds for the positions.

Any examination of “adopted” parks reveals they are not well maintained except in the rare cases where one or two individuals- usually a retired person who lives down the block from the park- does what he doesn’t need a whole team of tax payer paid minions to tell him he can do in the first place... and usually was doing long before Ka Leo came to town. The only difference is that now Baptiste is using the work to justify the program.
• Expansion of the CERTS (Community Emergency Response Teams) programNo one quite knows what CERTS do and we can’t figure out if they need to be paid in sparking drops of Retsin (ding). But they’re there waiting for an emergency. Maybe when hizzonnah hits a pot hole on the way home they can repave the road to his house which seems to be yearly activity for the Pubic Works Department. He CERTtainly hopes Ka Leo paves his driveway now.
• Planning for the Citizen Patrol program
Wow- after five years we’re planning another thing for the community to do for itself since we can’t seem to attract or keep public safety officers under his or the previous administration..• Renewed interest in Neighborhood Watches
Holy Vigilante Batman- Renewed interest! Perhaps if they keep police patrols out of enough neighborhoods the people will eventually do the job themselves.

• Active Waele A Ola Hou (Weed & Seed-like) programsYeah- we sure have solved the drug problem.. using federal money to do nothing but pat ourselves on the back and again clean up a park so we can say we did something about the scourge of methamhetamine that operation Green Harvest created... so we can get more money for both programs• Organizing community celebrations
Yes, that certainly is a feather in Bryan’s cap- the celebrations and events people have been putting together for 100 years are actually continuing to be presented. Given how many good programs have ceased during his administration, we might have to give this one to him since despite his interference at least some people are continuing to do what they were doing already.

Maybe in hanabata days Bryan watched too many of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland’s “Andy Hardy” movies and now thinks if we can “fix up the barn and put on a show” all the problems of the County will go away with his song and dance routine
• Island-wide Graffiti Busters programYes this is the biggest problem facing the world and Kaua`i today.. writing on bathroom walls. Here I sit- broken hearted- paid Bryan my taxes and he only parted... with some paint.

Yes, sometimes the County even provides the paint... and, as reported, has been known to leave half-a-can of it behind which was used by graffiti artists the next day to re-paint the painted re-painting.
Baptiste goes on to blather about how now he wants to take county employees from understaffed departments to join in his community deflection program with someone in each department doing “public relations”- Baptiste-speak doing nothing but letting you talk yourself blue.

The Planning Department is a mess- as again reported the other day they have dozens of funded studies and community plans either undone or where they already spent the money and have nothing to show for it and have asked for more money... and have dozens of other reports and studies collecting shelf-dust waiting for the new ones to be done by which time they will be outdated and have to be done all over.

The Dep’t of Public Works actually has so many divisions that have been exposed for corruption and malfeasance that the Council won’t do performance audits of them because, according to councilmembers- and I am not making this up- there are too many to do and the costs of the audits would be too astronomical- so, in plain English, they won’t do anything because it’s impossible to know where to start.

The Police Department can’t get anyone to respect them much less work for them, the Housing Department tells you there no such thing when you call and ask for public housing and no one can figure out what to do with the trash despite what was called a “solid waste crisis” 30 years ago.

Baptiste sums it all up by saying “We set up these community meetings to go out and listen and bring government closer to the people we serve, and show them that we’re there to support them.”

The only way he could get people further from the government is if he moved the County seat to Kalalau Valley. But then he’d have trouble finding people who are already paying for the services to do the County’s job for them...

Hey, maybe those Charter amendment groups could.... oh, never mind.


Anonymous said...

Ah, I see you and Mel Rapozo see eye to eye on this one. Two peas in a pod!

Anonymous said...

and Mickens too.

All the Cavemen are out today.

It's a pretty safe position to be against anything the Baptiste Admin is doing/not doing. They really aren't that good.

Wonder how bad things would be if we're elected the garbage mafia rep instead though.

Andy Parx said...

Here's some stats and specifics from Glenn Mickens

Mayor Bryan Baptiste’s words and thoughts in his Guest Viewpoint (“Gathering community input important government task,” Forum, April 10) are far out of touch with reality. No matter how hard he has tried to make his case that the Ka Leo program is a success, it is a failure.

By estimates of some of our County Council members, this “social get together” program is costing the tax payers $150,000 or more each year. Three moderators or more, county officials mandated to be there, staff time to call the public to attend, advertising and more accounts for this wasted money.

In their wisdom, a majority of the council voted against funding this program in the budget as their investigations and participation found that it just wasn’t worth the money being spent.

In the mayor’s mistaken opinion he doesn’t think it matters if this program is funded by “25 percent of a single position, 100 percent of three positions or any other scenario.” Thus he has gone to funding “his” program by back door methods and, in essence, is overruling the power delegated to the council of funding projects.

Before the Olohena Bridge was built, I and a number of other members from the public participated in numerous Ka Leo programs. We were trying to get our moderator (who was the conduit to the mayor) to convince the mayor to use alternate forms of bridges at the Olohena site which were far cheaper and far faster to install than the $4.8 million that was spent. Our moderator came back week after week with no response and our efforts were proven futile.

Another time I attended a Ka Leo program in Kapa‘a and only the moderator, the mayor, and one other member from the public came. I attempted to bring up a community concern but the mayor refused to let me speak as he said I was in the wrong district and he wanted to hear from the “other” person.

Let us look at what the mayor considers worthwhile projects to spend thousands of dollars on: more participation in the Adopt-A-Park program. Our parks and recreation areas are in dire need of maintenance. The mayor’s solution is getting more volunteers to look after them. We now have over $17 million in our unappropriated surplus (or general fund) so why should we be begging the public to do a job our tax dollars should be paying for? Are volunteers the answer to any project? Absolutely not.

Volunteers are a supplement to any job and I applaud all of them for the work they do. If volunteers were the answer, then every hotel and restaurant would find volunteers and save a lot of money in their payrolls.

Look at the Gateway project: the corridor going to the airport. Six months after KNL finished landscaping it, volunteers were asked to come in and take care of it. Except for a few patches taken care of by dedicated people, the area was mainly a dirt and weed patch. Today we are paying a private contractor about $500,000 to maintain it and it is beautiful.

Island-wide Graffiti Busters Program certainly needs no moderators to solve this problem. Again, a job for public works and if they need more help then ask the council for a money bill to add more positions.

Let this mayor cite one major problem that has been addressed and solved in the five years of this program. We are drowning in our traffic with no alternate roads being built to alleviate this mess; low income housing; our homeless people screaming for help; over development. These and many more are the major problems that need solving and our tax dollars shouldn’t be funding social get-together programs that accomplish nothing. I have no problem with anyone who wants to form a group and discuss whatever they want to.

But I don’t want to use my tax money for that use.

Glenn Mickens

Anonymous said...

Assuming any info from Glenn Mickens is accurate is a poor place to begin.

As an anti-development Green, are you supportive of ol Glenn's desire to 4 lane every road between his home and the camera in the council chamber?

Shorter Glenn -- spend money on roads and baseball fields. Anything else is wasted.

Andy Parx said...

Gee thanks for your erudite and articulate point-by-point presentation of your research disputing Mr. Mickens fully factual information.

I’m sure glad we have anonymous commenters like you who avoid absurd contentions and mush-brained attacks on the person rather than discussing the factual points they raise.