Tuesday, June 17, 2008


SICK PUPPY YIELDS NEW TOP DOG: It’s a sickness. While it’s not unique to Kaua`i government it is certainly standard operating procedure here, especially in the administration- the seeming mandate for secrecy and cover-up of anything and everything either consequential or mundane that happens around the Round Building

It was typified again yesterday with the news from the County that there was an apparent seven-day cover-up of the diagnosis of the need for heart by-pass surgery for Mayor Bryan Baptiste and a three day cover-up of the actual surgery.

While everyone wishes the Mayor a speedy recovery, one has to wonder why such news which could effect all sorts of public policy was delayed this way.

We do know that for at least three days Administrative Assistant Gary Heu, an un-elected appointed official, was promoted “pro tem” to the job of top decision maker in the county without anyone knowing.

If a governor or president had done something like this we can just imagine the outrage. Should it be any different here? .

Did Baptiste actually suffer a heart attack- even a mild one- something that many times proceeds a heart by-pass operation? According to medical text books, a myocardial infarction- also known as a “heart attack”- is the blockage of one or more arteries in the heart and any subsequent tissue death. It can be minor enough that the patient isn’t even aware of it other than the chest pain or “angina” that usually accompanies coronary artery disease. Usually the only way to absolutely confirm a “heart attack” took place is by a test for an elevation of cardiac enzymes.

Did Baptiste suffer a heart attack or not? Since apparently no other reporters asked the question directly we asked the County’s Public Information Officer (PIO) about it via email today.

According to Baptiste’s spokesperson Mary Daubert “(t)he Mayor did not ‘suffer a heart attack’”.

We are requesting they obtain a statement to that effect from Baptiste’s doctor and are asking whether the Mayor will release test results to show his enzymes weren’t elevated and did not suffer a heart attack.

We also asked how many bypasses were performed, something also not reported in the County’s short press release nor in the article in the local or two Honolulu newspapers but certainly information that would indicate the seriousness of the Mayor’s heart disease both currently and in the future.

Daubert did not respond to that question

We also asked about the “lag time” between the events and the release of the information to the public.

Daubert told us “We provided information as we deemed appropriate” indicating any withholding of information was purposeful.

Whether or not there was any urgency for public disclosure or were any actual events effected by this typical lack of transparency is not the point. The fact remains that the top elected official is incapacitated by a severe medial condition- one that often causes death- there is a new Mayor in charge as least temporarily and no one tells the people who supposedly depend on their Mayor being “in charge” 24 hours a day.

We deserve to know who is making decisions for the County. What if a natural disaster had taken place? Would we have the same confidence in Heu as Baptiste? Even if so shouldn’t we know “who’s in charge.”

Perhaps the most distressing thing is that Baptiste himself doesn’t think it’s important enough for the public to be informed... or maybe didn’t even think of it... or, more likely maybe he is so used to keeping everything he does secret that this was just one more routine situation where the immediate impulse is toward secrecy and lack of transparency once again carries the day.


Anonymous said...

I don't see why so many people are making this into a big deal. It's not like we're at war and the forces from Oahu might attack at any moment. Having by-pass surgery is pretty mundane these days. In many cases today they don't even have to crank open the chest. But I guess there wasn't enough real news to chew on.

Anonymous said...

Charter section 7.06B: "During the temporary absence from the county or temporary disability of the mayor...the administrative assistant shall act as mayor. In the event both the mayor and the administrative assistant are temporarily absent or disabled, the finance director shall act as mayor during said period."