Saturday, June 28, 2008


YOU CAN’T SMELLTHAT?: Rachel Gehrlein’s rather confused report today in the local paper about Monday’s Charter Commission (CC) meeting reports both a deferral and a “moving forward” of the controversial County Manager proposal being considered,

Thought the article lacks cohesion and continuity, as if written by the specter of Lester Chang, it does characterize and quote CC Chair Jonathan Chun this way:.

Commission Chair Jonathan Chun said he still didn’t see the need for the proposed amendment.

“What is the problem we are trying to solve?” Chun said. “No one, in my mind, has said what the problem is.

"Every time the question is asked, different answers are given, Chun said.

Maybe because so may things are broken and more are breaking all the time so like the procrastinating unhandy homeowner with the house that’s falling apart, every time you ask “what’s the problem” you get “a different answer”

So let’s assume for argument sake the quote and surrounding material is accurate. It brings up an interesting question

Are you friggin insane Jonathan or just a disingenuous liar trying to squelch the measure for some ulterior motive... because we know you’re not an idiot?

We haven’t exactly been on the County Manager conga line ourselves although we are starting to come around with Walter Lewis and Walter Briant’s specific proposal, even though the proposal itself is extremely problematic and poorly written, disregarding the 89 state laws that would have to be changed to accommodate the lack of an administrative “mayor”

But there are no problems with Kaua`i County government and the strong mayor system that makes every department head job a political appointee, Jonathan? Have you seen these bozos? Have you noticed how mayors are eaten alive when they try to get each new “temp” at the helm to get the department “we-bes” (we be here when you got here we be here when you go) to actually do anything differently?

Have you seen these people give what is laughingly called testimony before the council? Or were you just engulfed by “the fog” as they call it when mumbling incompetents who got their job by campaigning or collecting bundles of cash for the mayor try play their shell games.

The game typically goes like this.

Department head: “Oh I can’t answer that, Wendel has to tell you.”

Councilperson: Where’s Wendel?”

“He’s not here today”

“OK we’ll defer to next week and you get Wendel here”

Wendel comes in next week but no Department head and Wendel says “well I have to ask the department head for more information”

“Where’s he?”

“He’s out of town today”

“OK we’ll defer until next week”

Next meeting there’s the department head but no Wendel

“Wendel’s on vacation”

Finally they get Wendel and the department head there on the same day but either
A) They now say Clayton- who isn’t there- has the real information or
B) The department head testifies, then Wendel testifies and then when they want to get back to the department head he’s
1) left for lunch,
2) left for a meeting or
3) taken a plane to Honolulu

And on and on until the council gives up and moves on to the next calamity caused by an incompetent political appointee department head comes up on the agenda.

For god sake look at Ian Costa. He practically invented “the fog” as the unqualified de facto head of Public Works where he caused the grading and grubbing crisis a while back.

As Baptiste’s top bulldog during the campaign the barely-qualified. huge land-owner has taken an already traditionally incompetent Planning Department and driven it into the ground.

He’s got millions appropriated and set aside for unstarted planning studies and development plans and his rubber stamp planners and befuddled and sycophantic Planning Commission can’t even properly deny a permit the one time they try, getting sued for their incompetence to the point where the County Attorneys had to throw up their hands and settle for the worst development possible.

Then there’s- he’s baaaack- the latest whiplash-of-the-revolving-door largess recipient Wally Rezentes Jr. who can’t seem to get the hang of line-item budgeting so he ignores it since the council is still reeling over the “program based budget” system he officiated over during the Kusaka administration.

He quit the first time when the level of corrupt spending got so out of hand the Mayor was leasing luxury cars from her campaign manager at inflated prices and the Council only found out they gave her the money for it when they saw her driving around in it.

The patronage system we have today actually created jobs that didn’t exist for the truly unqualified like Bernard Carvalho. He preeminently glad-handed every voter he could find during Baptiste’s first Mayoral run and cashed in on his football fame to get appointed as a quasi department head in an insane, hybrid cant-decide-what-it-is Community Assistance conglomeration of Public Works, Planning and a couple of other departments. Then the voters created a Parks and Recreation department for him to screw up.

Guess who’s really responsible for the dog path fiasco? Try Bernard whose “task force” apparently just illegally made the pronouncement that the path was now a park (where dogs are illegal), neglecting to follow the state administrative rules law. He’s the same guy who put together the “task force” to put the teen rehab center in the old dog pound near the culturally iconic salt pans in Hanapepe creating a virtual lynch mob when people found out.

And what about the biggest plum of all- the Conventional Hall manager... a do nothing position that pays well and usually employs the mayor’s best buddy to collect perks and kickbacks by doling out favors under an ambiguous rate sheet system that never undergoes any scrutiny because it’s a separate world over there.

We don’t even want to talk about Public Works, the worst mess of all where the Kusaka and then Baptiste couldn’t even find a crony to fill the position for half of each’s administration.

And once they found a young bright and qualified sucker to take the job they beat down poor Donald Fujimoto into another cover-up artist and administration apologist.

He recently refused to answer Council questions regarding the illegal and crumbling Pono Kai sea wall without going into an illegal executive session even though all the illegalities had been thoroughly discussed in open session previously.

Seem like he’s learned well and will probably be moving on through the revolving door as soon as it’s convenient, which should be soon with a new mayor coming on board.

If Jonathan is not seeing the lack of professionalism in this and every administration and the level of corruption within each department as a problem he’d better either take off the rose colored glasses or quit the Charter Commission so we can find someone who has a little firmer grasp on reality.

We’re not saying the county Manager will do anything to change all of this. What it would do is theoretically make the administrative department heads subject to hiring and firing based on whether the job is getting done since the county manager’s job would be similarly held or lost.

Also, although the manager would be beholden to the political whims of the Council, what it would do in essence is put the decision-making out in the open since the Council would have some control over how the money is spent and a little better chance at getting truthful and transparent testimony out of department heads and other administrative personnel.

And it would take some of those secret decision-making sessions and “task forces” that aren’t subject to the sunshine law and put them, if not under it a little closer to it’s umbrella by having their testimony a little more compellable in open session.

But the critics are right in that if we do have “a” county manger system that it be “the” county manager system that is appropriate and acceptable to the people whom it serves.

It will indeed be an upheaval of political culture if not politics itself to have a new governance system.

The proposal from the two Walters is a start but it doesn’t seem ready for prime time and the deadline is a-comin’ well before we can be sure it’s the right one and one that’s even applicable to state laws.

The problems cited in the article as described by various politicians all have to do with this point- fully discussing and vetting the proposal and allowing the Charter Commission to focus on doing the job they are supposed to be doing in studying and vetting systems, compiling data, holding hearings and getting ready to present a full-formed. fully-discussed, fully “right for Kaua`i” proposal for the 2010 election ballot.

It’s time for people like Jonathan to stop feigning ignorance, acknowledge the mess this county’s government is in, much of it due to the patronage system that has evolved under our strong mayoral system.

Jonathan himself has certainly been employed by it long enough to know not only where the bodies are buried but how they got there.

It’s how, not why Jonathan. You’re almost all alone out on that limb. Whether there is a “how” that will be acceptable can only be found if we look for it.

Anyone with your brains knows what the problems are so don’t play dumb with us

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

problems? what problems? we got problem? i don't see any problem? you see any problem? i don't see any problems. next!