Saturday, November 29, 2008

KPD Blue- Chapter 17: Former Police Chief George Freitas

KPD Blue

by Anthony Sommer

Chapter 17: Former Police Chief George Freitas

On Oct. 21, 2003, George Freitas announced he would retire as chief of police effective Oct. 31.

Freitas stopped short of saying he was being forced out by Mayor Bryan Baptiste.

But, obviously, he was.

“Was I contacted about retiring or did I initiate the contact?” Freitas asked. “I was contacted.”

Freitas was “asked to retire” on the day he returned from his honeymoon.

Exactly what options were open to Freitas other than to accept the buyout never have been made clear.

It was obvious the county attorney had worn down yet another opponent. Freitas was not willing to pay the lawyer fees to keep fighting.

Forced retirement wasn’t all gloom for Freitas, who had just turned 60. The county paid him $200,000 in compensation (again approved in a Council secret meeting) for taking early retirement rather than finishing out his contract with the county.

He already was receiving a pension from the Richmond (Calif.) Police Department where he had been an assistant chief.

His new bride, Elizabeth, was a retired Richmond police detective with her own pension and already had established a business administering polygraph tests and working as a private investigator for several private attorneys on Kauai.

Although his name is on the door with Elizabeth’s in the family investigations firm, from all appearances Elizabeth does most of the detecting while George prowls the island’s many golf courses.

If the mayor and Council publicly thanked Freitas for his many years of service, wished him well and gave him a gold watch, it must have happened in an executive session.

With Freitas out of the picture, Mayor Baptiste could now “fix” the broken KPD.

Friday, November 28, 2008


PLUGGING HOLES: One striking Mayoral appointment that was missing from the report we cited the other day was included in another list in the local paper yesterday.

And it shouldn’t come as any surprise that cronyism and provincialism are apparently alive and well in the Bernard Carvalho administration as the most praised and extraordinarily skilled and competent department head is going to replaced with a good old boy hack from corrupt administrations past.

According to the paper the new director of the Housing Agency will be former Deputy Finance Director for the county from 1994 to 2002. under Mayor Maryanne Kusaka and former housing head before that- Eugene Jimenez., who like the rest of the appointees was of course rewarded with a job for his work on Carvalho’s campaign.

But who he will be replacing should speak volumes to anyone who thought they should “give Bernard a chance” to show he’s not as corrupt and dumb as he appears to be.

That man is Ken Rainforth. For those who don’t attend or watch council meetings let us clue you in.

We’ve spoken a lot about how department heads do a little dance before the council because they cannot be compelled to testify much less forced to tell the council the truth due to the “strong mayor” aspects of our county charter.

Rainforth has been the exception that proves the rule for many years and there is no other department head that has received such persistent and unanimous acclaim, praise and thanks from the council for not only the work he has done but the fact that he has been the only one that’s been consistently forthcoming with full, accurate information.

Unlike almost every other department head, we’ve never seen a time when a housing matter was on the council agenda when Rainforth wasn’t there in the chamber to answer questions- whether he was asked to be there or not.

Not only that, he never used the “I’ll have to ask my assistant” dodge we’ve described a few times where the matters are deferred over and over until they are replaced with another crisis of mismanagement and councilmembers finally just give up on their administration-oversight responsibilities .

That’s because he usually, shockingly, actually anticipates the questions the council will ask and brings the assistant with him if the council has to have the details of the work described.

As a matter of fact his considered testimony actually- gasp- answered the council’s questions directly honestly and fully. When the council would send a written advance list of questions to be answered he did what no others seemed capable of doing- getting through the list without “pulling a Sarah Palin” by saying “I’ll have to check that and get back to you”.

Unlike Carvalho when he came before the council, Rainforth would actually use a “Power-Point” presentation to not just outline a reiteration of the questions asked like Bernard, he’d actually put the answers in the presentation... imagine that.

Just last month he came in with a list of available federal housing grants that he had dug out causing councilmembers to say aloud they wished other department heads would take that kind of initiative or even had that kind of ability.

He also spent the last two years negotiating a document long missing from the county arsenal detailing a consistent, systemic approach to affordable housing requirements for developers.

Until the council recently instituted a standard requirement, they were assessed on a whim on a case by case basis by the corrupt planning department and commission, often giving connected developers a break that “the little guy” would never get.

That created a methodology that, given the right wing, “property rights” bent of courts these days, gave the county exposure to civil charges of inconsistency and a lack of basis for these “assessments” such as the recent case with a Kapa`a development.

Setting a standard had been something the council and “others” in the Baptiste administration- including the planning department which should have been responsible along with Baptiste’s “affordable housing task force” that was delegated responsibility- couldn’t seem to get together despite having it on their “to do” list for many years.

The “others” is in quotes because one of the “others” was none “other” than the task force’s head honcho (guess who?) Bernard Carvalho who was Rainforth's “boss” when he was the head of the “community assistance” agency. that oversaw, among other things, county housing.

Those who followed the recent campaign will remember one of the few times the two final mayoral candidates “mixed it up” it was over the Carvalho’s task force’s recommendation that, in lieu of actual affordable housing being provided in exchange for zoning permits for the Kaua`i Lagoons project, the county accept $25,000 per unit instead of actual housing.

The council thought this absurd and of course called in Rainforth who described what he was working on- since nobody else seemed competent enough to do it- in the area of a standard for affordable housing and compared it with Maui that has the highest requirement in the state if not the country- a solid 50%.

Parenthetically this 50% is opposed to the much lower standard with loopholes galore that our council eventually passed after pressuring Rainforth to go back and lower the requirements that originally, for the most part, mirrored Maui’s.

The council then, rather than accepting Carvalho’s recommendation for a paltry $1.6 million donation to some county housing fund,. required 83 units to be actually built with a cost to the developer of up to $300,000 a piece- a whopping $275.000 difference per unit required (for a county in the middle of a housing crisis).making a contribution of $22,825 million more than Carvalho wanted to accept.

Amazingly enough when Carvalho’s opponent JoAnn Yukimura brought up the whole debacle in a live televised debate Carvalho used his “last word” to say “well the 83 units got built, right? What’s the problem”... though of course it was built no thanks to him.

Jimenez on the other hand was the assistant chief cooker of the books during the Kusaka administration and is widely credited with instituting her failed “program-based budget” system that wound up being trashed after the “last straw” of Kusaka’s use of county funds to secretly lease herself a red luxury Chrysler.

“Program-based” budgeting was a concoction of “a new era cooperation” that the council and newly elected mayor instituted whereby each “program”- or really whole department in many cases- were given a lump sum of money to spend as they saw fit without council oversight or even a need for a report to the council of how it was being spent in most cases.

This allowed the budget sessions to be abbreviated allowing for increased revenues at the golf course with all the free time the council had.

It came about after Kusaka discovered the Steve Covey “Seven Habits” of Highly Manipulative A-holes classes which were basically a series of feel-good seminars and workshops focused on creating so-called “win-win” situations,

There, problem solving was accomplished by ignoring the problem and basically telling the losers to shut up and sit down and not complain when they were railroaded.

This allowed the devious Kusaka to do what the program really does- allow unscrupulous people to get way with that which would be unimaginable if transparency triumphed over complacency.

When the high-priced, leased-car purchase- made at full or more than full price from her former campaign manager Charlie King of King Auto (now there’s a “win win”)- was discovered (because some of the regular council “nitpickers” were asking questions about the big red Chrysler” she was seen driving around) the council freaked out at the “smoking gun” of abuse of the system and chucked program-based budgeting, going back to the standard “line item” budget process..

Jimenez was the henchman in the trenches of the finance department that helped devise and execute the system and was responsible for secretly juggling the books over the years to make sure no one knew where county money was being spent,

This allowed the council and mayor to do more important things like fast tracking zoning approval for any and every development that came down the pike.

The appointments of both the new county attorney and county engineer (as the head of the Dept of Public Works is known) are not in yet but that may be because they are positions that have actual charter-based professional requirements and apparently none of the assorted cronies and bozos in Carvalho’s campaign is qualified.

Actually the County Engineer post stood vacant for many years before the current stumblebum, Donald Fujimoto took the job because no one qualified wanted the job.

The county engineer position then became a socket to screw cronies into by making them “deputy” county engineer and having them act as the chief, as when current Planning Director Ian Costa served both Kusaka and Baptiste even though he was not qualified for the job.

That was because Kusaka’s other solution- changing the requirements- was rejected by the people in a failed charter amendment proposal.

Before Fujimoto took over they actually had an attorney in charge for a while because they were under such fire over things like the Jimmy Pflueger’s and Tom McCloskey’s “Developers Gone Wild” televised video presentations of grubbing and grading violations... which the county ignored until Pflueger’s actually killed people.

But you can bet this is only the beginning. Watch for more of the same Baptiste-style lack of action and pervasive corruption to be the order of each day under Carvalho... only more corrupt and without the (place tongue in cheek) “political savvy” of Baptiste.

And to think there were actually times when, for a brief moment we got a notion that it was possible that Carvalho might deny us a pathetic and transparently corrupt administration, ripe for two years of daily ridicule, by running a smart competent operation.

Glad we nipped that one in the bud.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


YOU TURKEYS: We’ll be taking today off to mourn all the indigenous American and Hawaiians victims of the genocide perpetrated by the European hoards.

Instead here’s the real story the first and the almost 400 “Thanksgivings” since

Roast pilgrim all around my good man..


Thanksgiving: The National Day of Mourning

Text of 1970 Speech by Wampsutta, an Aquinnah Wampanoag Elder

Frank James (1923 - February 20, 2001) was known to the Wampanoag people as Wampsutta, In 1970, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts invited him to speak at Plymouth's annual Thanksgiving feast. When the text of Mr. James’ speech was revealed before dinner, Massachusetts "disinvited" him.

Wampsutta refused to revise his speech and left the event. He went to the hill near the statue of the Massasoit, the Wampanoag leader during the Pilgrims' arrival in 1620. There, overlooking Plymouth Harbor and the replica of the Mayflower, Frank James recited the speech that Massachusetts Commonwealth had refused to hear:

"I speak to you as a man -- a Wampanoag Man. I am a proud man, proud of my ancestry, my accomplishments won by a strict parental direction ("You must succeed - your face is a different color in this small Cape Cod community!"). I am a product of poverty and discrimination from these two social and economic diseases. I, and my brothers and sisters, have painfully overcome, and to some extent we have earned the respect of our community. We are Indians first - but we are termed "good citizens." Sometimes we are arrogant but only because society has pressured us to be so.

"It is with mixed emotion that I stand here to share my thoughts. This is a time of celebration for you - celebrating an anniversary of a beginning for the white man in America. A time of looking back, of reflection. It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People.

"Even before the Pilgrims landed it was common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them as slaves for 220 shillings apiece. The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans. Mourt's Relation describes a searching party of sixteen men. Mourt goes on to say that this party took as much of the Indians' winter provisions as they were able to carry.

"Massasoit, the great Sachem of the Wampanoag, knew these facts, yet he and his People welcomed and befriended the settlers of the Plymouth Plantation. Perhaps he did this because his Tribe had been depleted by an epidemic. Or his knowledge of the harsh oncoming winter was the reason for his peaceful acceptance of these acts. This action by Massasoit was perhaps our biggest mistake. We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end; that before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people.

What happened in those short 50 years? What has happened in the last 300 years? History gives us facts and there were atrocities; there were broken promises - and most of these centered around land ownership. Among ourselves we understood that there were boundaries, but never before had we had to deal with fences and stone walls. But the white man had a need to prove his worth by the amount of land that he owned. Only ten years later, when the Puritans came, they treated the Wampanoag with even less kindness in converting the souls of the so-called "savages." Although the Puritans were harsh to members of their own society, the Indian was pressed between stone slabs and hanged as quickly as any other "witch."

"And so down through the years there is record after record of Indian lands taken and, in token, reservations set up for him upon which to live. The Indian, having been stripped of his power, could only stand by and watch while the white man took his land and used it for his personal gain. This the Indian could not understand; for to him, land was survival, to farm, to hunt, to be enjoyed. It was not to be abused. We see incident after incident, where the white man sought to tame the "savage" and convert him to the Christian ways of life. The early Pilgrim settlers led the Indian to believe that if he did not behave, they would dig up the ground and unleash the great epidemic again.

"The white man used the Indian's nautical skills and abilities. They let him be only a seaman -- but never a captain. Time and time again, in the white man's society, we Indians have been termed "low man on the totem pole."

"Has the Wampanoag really disappeared? There is still an aura of mystery. We know there was an epidemic that took many Indian lives - some Wampanoags moved west and joined the Cherokee and Cheyenne. They were forced to move. Some even went north to Canada! Many Wampanoag put aside their Indian heritage and accepted the white man's way for their own survival. There are some Wampanoag who do not wish it known they are Indian for social or economic reasons.
"What happened to those Wampanoags who chose to remain and live among the early settlers? What kind of existence did they live as "civilized" people? True, living was not as complex as life today, but they dealt with the confusion and the change. Honesty, trust, concern, pride, and politics wove themselves in and out of their [the Wampanoags'] daily living. Hence, he was termed crafty, cunning, rapacious, and dirty.
"History wants us to believe that the Indian was a savage, illiterate, uncivilized animal. A history that was written by an organized, disciplined people, to expose us as an unorganized and undisciplined entity. Two distinctly different cultures met. One thought they must control life; the other believed life was to be enjoyed, because nature decreed it. Let us remember, the Indian is and was just as human as the white man. The Indian feels pain, gets hurt, and becomes defensive, has dreams, bears tragedy and failure, suffers from loneliness, needs to cry as well as laugh. He, too, is often misunderstood.

"The white man in the presence of the Indian is still mystified by his uncanny ability to make him feel uncomfortable. This may be the image the white man has created of the Indian; his "savageness" has boomeranged and isn't a mystery; it is fear; fear of the Indian's temperament!

"High on a hill, overlooking the famed Plymouth Rock, stands the statue of our great Sachem, Massasoit. Massasoit has stood there many years in silence. We the descendants of this great Sachem have been a silent people. The necessity of making a living in this materialistic society of the white man caused us to be silent. Today, I and many of my people are choosing to face the truth. We ARE Indians!

"Although time has drained our culture, and our language is almost extinct, we the Wampanoags still walk the lands of Massachusetts. We may be fragmented, we may be confused. Many years have passed since we have been a people together. Our lands were invaded. We fought as hard to keep our land as you the whites did to take our land away from us. We were conquered, we became the American prisoners of war in many cases, and wards of the United States Government, until only recently.
"Our spirit refuses to die. Yesterday we walked the woodland paths and sandy trails. Today we must walk the macadam highways and roads. We are uniting We're standing not in our wigwams but in your concrete tent. We stand tall and proud, and before too many moons pass we'll right the wrongs we have allowed to happen to us.

"We forfeited our country. Our lands have fallen into the hands of the aggressor. We have allowed the white man to keep us on our knees. What has happened cannot be changed, but today we must work towards a more humane America, a more Indian America, where men and nature once again are important; where the Indian values of honor, truth, and brotherhood prevail.

"You the white man are celebrating an anniversary. We the Wampanoags will help you celebrate in the concept of a beginning. It was the beginning of a new life for the Pilgrims. Now, 350 years later it is a beginning of a new determination for the original American: the American Indian.

"There are some factors concerning the Wampanoags and other Indians across this vast nation. We now have 350 years of experience living amongst the white man. We can now speak his language. We can now think as a white man thinks. We can now compete with him for the top jobs. We're being heard; we are now being listened to. The important point is that along with these necessities of everyday living, we still have the spirit, we still have the unique culture, we still have the will and, most important of all, the determination to remain as Indians. We are determined, and our presence here this evening is living testimony that this is only the beginning of the American Indian, particularly the Wampanoag, to regain the position in this country that is rightfully ours."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


WHAT’S HE DOING BACK THERE?: Despite our analysis of the council’s organizational meeting yesterday and our conclusion that the 4-3 split is a positive development there’s still a lot of bemoaning of how the process was “lacking...lokahi” (unity expressed with harmony) and “akahai” (kindness) and “aloha” (love and consideration for each other)” according to someone who might know- former councilperson JoAnn Yukimura.

Her letter to the editor in today’s local paper describes how it might have gone if everyone had followed the usual gritted-teeth, phony-smiling-while-readying-the-backstabbing-knife kabuki of council organizational meetings past.

But for those who still want to express themselves on the raw power play that Kaipo Asing and his 3D (Darryl, Derek and Dickie) cohorts, don’t forget- it’s not official yet.

Because, speaking of Kabuki, there’s yet another piece of theater yet to take place that is usually done out of sight of the public amidst the pomp and circumstance of the inaugural gala at the Convention hall.

Every two years- and four in the case of the mayor- there’s what appears to be the swearing in of the newly elected officers on the stage of the convention hall before a packed house.

But what many don’t know is that this is but a play because the actual swearing in and even the inaugural meeting of the council has already taken place.

The agenda for the first meeting of the council is already published and it includes the following list of items



KAUA‘I WAR MEMORIAL CONVENTION HALL 4191 Hardy Street Lihu`e, Kaua`i, Hawai`i







Resolution No. 2009-03, RESOLUTION RELATING TO THE

Before the big “event”, usually in the back ballroom, the real inauguration and meeting is played out in accordance with the Charter which reads:

Section 7.01.(Mayoral) Election and Term of Office. The electors of the county shall elect a mayor whose term of office shall be four years beginning at twelve o'clock meridian on the first working day of December following his election. No person shall serve as mayor for more than two consecutive full terms.

Section 3.07. Organization of Council; Officers; Rules; Employees.

A. The council shall meet in the council room at the county building or in the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall for its organization promptly after its inauguration and swearing-in ceremony at which time it shall elect one of its members as chairman and presiding officer of the council. Until such time as the chairman is elected, the mayor shall preside at the council meetings, provided that the mayor shall not have a vote. The council shall also elect one of its members as vice-chairman who shall act as the presiding officer in the event of the chairman's absence. The council shall appoint a presiding officer pro tempore from its members in the event of the absence of both the chairman and vice-chairman.

B. The council shall adopt such rules as it may deem necessary for the organization of committees and the transaction of its business.

Some strange things stand out to the observant, in a plain reading of agenda. How can a “mayor-elect” serve as the original presiding officer before the new council has a chair? Doesn’t he have to take office first?

And how can the council meeting start at noon when the mayor is sworn in at noon?

Actually what usually happens- or has happened in the past- is this:

Before the council is assembled the 5th circuit court judge with the most seniority swears in the new mayor in a even more secretive ceremony in a smaller corner somewhere (we’ve never actually seen this happen despite trying on an occasion or two) precisely at noon along with the council.

Then later the mayor presides over the first council meeting and takes the actual vote for the chair person which, despite the lack of a report of such in the papers or blogs, is not really official yet.

Though we’ve never seen it happen, by law the council is required to take public testimony at this inaugural meeting- if you get there early enough and can find it.

That means that the new mayor is required to allow anyone there time to speak on not just the “Appointment of the council chairperson” but once again on the “Appointment of the vice chairperson” and once again again on the “Resolution relating to the appointment of the chairpersons, vice chairpersons, and members of the several standing committees of the council of the county of Kaua`i.”

One question that arises- and you have permission to skip this part if your eyes glaze over with a blur of “too much information”- is how long each person is permitted to speak.

People have often heard the council chair say “according to our rules you’re allowed three minutes to speak and another three minutes once everyone else has had a chance to testify”.

But those “rules” are necessarily voted on by each new council- as the agenda above says- after the appointment of the chair and vice chair (although before the vote on committee chairs and assignments).

According to the Sunshine law, testimony on every agenda item must be taken and the OIP has said that that means that the council must define in its rules how long each person is allowed and then stick to it.

But if the rules aren’t passed yet is there a time limit?

But back to those rules. They are perhaps the most important thing that guides the council throughout the two year term and also contains the times and day of the week of the meetings.

Until recently regular council meetings took place at 1:30 p.m. and have traditionally taken place on Thursdays not the current Wednesdays. Committee meetings took place at 9 a.m. for the first one of the month and 4:30 p.m. for the second.

This 4:30 meeting was instituted in the 90’s to allow more public testimony. And the 1:30 start of regular meetings enabled the same thing- they usually began with public hearings on bills and then moved on to regular council business enabling people who wanted to testify to only take a half day off from work to do so.

But in the secrecy and hidden action years of the Asing regime everything that can be done has been done to diminish the public’s participation including things like shifting the order of agenda items so that, if a crowd is there at 9 a.m. to testify and then thins out, eventually no one is left when the item comes up late in the afternoon.

Anyone who complains they can’t take time off from work to attend council meetings would do well to show up and make a stink about the early meeting times- if you can find the meeting.


News flash- the Honolulu Advertiser is reporting that some of Mayor Elect Carvalho’s cabinet appointments are official

According the “breaking news” article:

Gary Heu will be reappointed to the position of administrative assistant and Wallace G. Rezentes Jr. will be reappointed as finance director.

Other appointments include:

• Director of Parks and Recreation: Lenny Rapozo Jr.

• Director of the Office of Economic Development: George Costa Jr.

• Deputy Director of Finance: Belma Baris (reappointment).

• Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation: Kylan Dela Cruz (reappointment).

Additionally, Beth Tokioka will be appointed executive assistant to the mayor and will be responsible for communications, governmental affairs and community relations. Mary Daubert will be reappointed as public information officer and will report to Tokioka.
Rapozo has been employed by the state Department of Public Safety for 20 years and is currently the branch manager for Kaua`i. He is also chairman of the county's Parks & Recreation Department Advisory Committee, and a member of the Kaua`i Police Commission.

Costa is general manager of the Kauai Hilton Resort, and has 32 years experience in hotel management on Kaua`i. He is president of the Hawaii Hotel and Lodging Association — Kauai Chapter. For the past six months, he has served as a member of the Landfill Siting Committee for Kaua`i County.

Tokioka has served for the past five years as director of the Office of Economic Development. Before that, she served as the county's public information officer and executive secretary to the mayor.

The positions of county attorney and chief engineer have not yet been filled. Those interested in applying for these positions should forward a cover letter and resume to Mayor-elect Bernard P. Carvalho Jr., P.O. Box 3510, Lihu`e, HI 96766.

The real news is there that Dela Cruz, who was expected to take over the reigns from Carvalho at Parks and Rec. has been replaced by Carvalho’s campaign manager Rapozo... So much for the new era of merit based, non-crony appointments.

As expected, Tokioka- another campaign stalwart- still has a job. But the question is, where did this new job come from?

There has never been an “executive assistant to the mayor ...for communications, governmental affairs and community relations” before and more importantly of course no such line item appropriation for the job appears in the council approved 2008-09 county budget

Also, according to an unconfirmed contention in the comments to that article, someone reports that Ed Okomoto will be fired as the head of Wailua Golf Course, effective Dec. 1.

What happened Bernard? Couldn’t get a good tee time?

The list does not include an appointment for the Convention Hall manager, a post the mayor does appoint that is considered a “political plum”- a low workload job usually awarded to campaign supporters.

What also strikes us is the appointment of departmental deputies which, according to one of the only county attorney opinions by Lani Nakazawa ever released to the public, is illegal as the charter is clear that department heads are selected by the mayor and then they appoint their deputies.

The matter was a bone of contention during the Kusaka administration when she attempted to install an unqualified crony as the deputy planning director and got then county Attorney Hartwell Blake Sr. to opine that she could.

But following a two year battle by government watchdog Horace Stoessel the new administration’s county attorney reversed the ruling and disallowed the mayor the privilege of appointing deputies. and the a new council chair, Ron Kouchi released it.

This is not my beautiful new administration... same as it ever was.


Correction/clarification: Yesterday we reported that Andrea Brower supported Derek Kawakami in this year’s council election. Although we and many others believed that was the case we might have drawn the conclusion in part due to of her association with and Malama Kaua`i and Keone Kealoha. Ms Brower says she in fact did not support Kawakami. In addition the piece as a whole might have been read to intimate that Brower was malahini. She was born and raised on Kaua`i and in no way was the characterization meant to apply to her.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


WE’LL NEVER SEE KANSAS NOW, TOTO: There’s nothing like watching malahini get genuinely dazed and still remain confused at politics on Kaua`i.

Keone Kealoha’s account of yesterday’s somewhat bizarre but predictable council organizational meeting spread like electronic wildfire last night and by this morning his houses-are-falling-from-the-sky account of Kaipo Asing’s 4-3 re-grabbing of the council reins was the talk of both Joan Conrow’s and Katy Rose’s blogs this morning as they joined in on the munchkin hand wringing.

Kealoha opened his epistle by saying:

Today showed the true power of running a hui on council. In a rare occurrence (first time ever?), the council was exposed to a public mtg when making their choice of chair, vice-chair and all committee members. It was stunning to watch Kaipo Asing take over completely with a predetermined hui of four and proceed to announce the new committee structures, committee chairs, vice-chairs and new members all with four members completely aware of the decisions and three others left with lots of questions.

Actually, as we explained earlier this month, council organizational meetings have been pseudo-public since they were declared to fall under a legal loophole to the Sunshine Law since they weren’t meetings of councilmembers but councilmembers-elect.

Although the OIP has strongly “recommended” the meetings themselves remain public, pre-meeting discussion of commitments to vote- which would also be illegal under the law if they were actually on the council- have gone on since the opinion was issued.

But strangely- or perhaps not so strangely for someone who hasn’t really watched Kaua`i politics in action up-close- Kealoha ended by bemoaning the “division” on the council saying:

It appears all council members need to have a call, some a call of condolence, others, a wake up call that a divided council is not what is going to best serve Kaua`i in the coming years. The hope remains that some good policy can come out of this divisive style of politicing but that's not usually the case when out of the gate we're playing hardball.
The count is 4-3; whether you take a walk or consider you're self out, the outcome will appear to be the same in every case

With two bloggers, a community activist and the local paper all describing the meeting you’d think someone would recognize the real news- we have a real council with a real live minority faction... and on Kaua`i that’s not just a step but a leap forward.

As a matter of fact “unanimity” is the least democratic form of governance around and by condemning “division” we play right into unfettered support for every development and sneaky, secretive ploy at the root of the corruption of Kaua`i government that we all condemn.

Let’s not forget- there has only been one council “faction” for at least the last 10 years with virtually every single vote coming out 7-0.

But after yesterday’s meeting those who are fed up can take heart that Lani Kawahara’s distaste for council politics as usual has taken Jay Furfaro’s and Tim Bynum’s formerly impotent and whiney urges to occasionally “take exception” to “Uncle Chair’s” dictatorial paternalism and formed them into a faction that is one vote away from stopping much of the utter crap that has passed for legislation.

But it may be that Kealoha had a little more going than disappointment at the organizational results that shut out the minority faction from a majority on any committee and restructured the committees to give at least two of them the chairs of less than desirable working groups.

Though he and his Malama Kaua`i associate Andrea Brower didn’t make it very public, every politically active individual on Kaua`i knows that they supported Derrick Kawakami for some insane reason they couldn’t be talked out of. But when the rubber hit the road of course Kealoha’s disillusionment with D-E-R-I-K had to be palpable.

While Kawakami didn’t make any of the progressive “lists” of “good” candidates during the campaign his support among malahini activists like the MK pair was probably what put him over the top.

It remains to be seen how- whether with Kawakami or even in the presidential realm- people will deal with disappointment after throwing their support to status quo disguised as “change”.

But what is important is that for the first time since the 80’s the Kaua`i council will be a real political body complete with political infighting, covering each other’s asses and vote stripping.

While this might sound like the type of thing that makes the average knee-jerk citizen who pays little attention to politics cry “why can’t they get along” the alternative is a rubber stamp for corruption, back-scratching, revolving door cronyism and your basic protection racket for incumbents.

What factions provide is things like having your motion get a dependable “second” from members of your bloc who will not be afraid of pissing off a unanimous majority as they would if you were a single dissident voice.

They provide support for getting items on the agenda in the first place which otherwise is used to “teach that uppity new member a lesson.”

And what it provides is a future where the majority is one big screw-up away from losing their majority. The first time innocent little Dickie sees politics in action, his penchant for supporting the chair might not be as strong. Or if Derrick sees his political fortunes as being different from that of the retiring Chair Kaipo Asing, he might just defect.

From the local newspaper accounts it seem that Lani Kawahara is the real power and motivator behind this no-nonsense structure. If she would have stepped back like all the other newbies have and “learned the ropes” from “older and wiser” council members you can bet that the Jay the Cowardly Lion and the Tim the Scarecrow would never have started down the road to the Emerald City with Dorothy.

The fact that someone on the council has, after six years of the iron fisted Asing regime, come in and refused to accept political business as usual is perhaps the most courageous move by any council member since Asing himself made up a minority of one while Ron Kouchi ran the show throughout the 90’s.

The most important message from this is that showing up to the organizational meeting is nice but if we want to take back our county government the way to do it is to show up and testify- not just to the council but to the TV viewing public- and do it every week to put the political pressure on members of the “hui” to strip off a vote on a bill or even call for a leadership change.

Don’t forget- everyone of them is already running for re-election and if what Asing has said is true, this is his last go around.

If animosity grows as he is publicly exposed on television by a real opposition wing with no real power to lose any more, everything may be up for grabs especially if Asing’s allies see that their political survival is up for grabs.

Don’t forget- for all of Asing’s fierce political power play, he has no real experience in running the in-power gang and little in the normal factionalism that usually pervades legislative affairs.

With a one vote majority he’ll have to do it all without any room for failure.

Kawahara could have cast her vote for Asing- it wasn’t like she wasn’t asked and prodded to do so.

But as Asing said in an outburst according to the newspaper article:

“You pushed it, and pushed it, and pushed it... Lani pushed it and pushed it.”

Kawahara has apparently figured out early what most politicians rarely “get”- the power to do things you really want to do comes from the doing, not the power. And if doing what you really want doesn’t get you the power at first, if you are right the rest of the power will flow to you.

Otherwise you’ll “go along to get along” for so long that by the time you realize you’re a hack- it’s long past time to do what you really wanted.

So when you go to the supermarket and run into Councilperson Kawahara make it your business to thank her for having the guts and strength to “push it” and acting on principle to send a message to the hacks that she is a force to be reckoned with...

And when you run into the others let them know that if they care for their political futures they’d be well served re-consider which side they’re on.

You can show your support by showing up to some council meetings and voicing it. Don’t forget- how long someone sticks their neck out for you is directly proportional to whether you stick out yours for them.

Because if you’re waiting for some magical Wizard to suddenly produce four decent, accountable, honest councilmembers you might just as well try clicking you heel three times and saying “there’s no place like Kukui`ula”.

Monday, November 24, 2008


HEEL: Sports fans all know the routine.

You just don’t do it- don’t say it out loud. You don’t sit down, turn on the TV for the big game and say to your buddy “well this one is in the bag- we’re gonna win easy”. When your team takes a big lead late in the game you may think it but you never say “well, this one is over.”

The “jinx” factor is just too strong.... and you don’t have to be a sports fan to whistle in the graveyard or knock on wood either.

That irrationality may be the only plausible explanation for why no one wants to ask “what the heck is going on with this $1.99 a gallon gas just months after $150 a barrel ”peak oil” was redefining our future in every imaginable aspect.

Six months ago you couldn’t turn on a panel of TV talking heads without hearing detailed explanations of the hows and whys of soaring prices and the resulting imperative for a change in the very essence of our energy production and consumption.

Now it’s shhhh- don’t say anything... you’ll hex it.

Has anyone heard anything? Nope, not a peep in the press asking how the heck this price drop happened. And along with that is a severe dearth of discussion of any plans to address what was and will be a crisis again... very shortly.

We’re not much for evidence-free conspiracy theories. But that said there is little we wouldn’t put past most of corporate America.

And we’re hardly alone in thinking there’s absolutely nothing we wouldn’t put past the oil companies.

While the price for oil soared there was no end to the detailed price-fixing charges against “big oil”... not that it really took much of a jump to connect the record profits from Exxon-Mobile, Shell and the rest to the jacked up prices that seem to have no basis in reality or rational economics.

But no one- and we mean not the mainstream corporate media, not the alternative media, not even the bloggers- is questioning this brief era of cheap gas..

Now why would the oil companies conspire to lower prices beyond all reason- even more beyond reason than last Springs’s spike?

If you have to ask what Veep Chaney and his Bushy cohorts are up to, as Jon Stewart is fond of saying, you don’t know Dick.

Let’s remember the response to those high prices especially coming in the middle of a presidential election season.

While a diminishing handful of reactionary rabble were chanting “drill baby drill” the smart savvy and sane crowd could talk of nothing but a “green” energy future brought about through aggressive public and private investment in development of non-fossil, non-carbon producing alternative energy technologies

Democratic candidate Barack Obama made a huge commitment to this investment making a non-carbon renewable energy future a centerpiece of his energy policy. Even oil man T-Bone Pickens of all people became a harbinger of this new day dawning.

But T-bone’s defection notwithstanding the oil companies were predictably silent on developing unconventional energy options preferring to counter the cries with insanely-euphemistic, oxymoronic advertisements for things like “clean coal” and “green drilling” that didn’t fool anyone.

So what’s an oil company that’s been raking in obscene record profits to do, especially with the likelihood that a windfall profits tax was a top agenda item for the inevitable Obama administration and new congress?

Well if you have a few trillion in profits lying around- cash you gouged out of consumers through years of unregulated price-fixing abetted by two oil company executives in the top two executive federal chairs- the one thing you don’t want to do is see all the self-absorbed SUV-driving Americans change their gas-guzzling ways.

Well the dicks at Exxon might be malevolent but they ain’t dumb.

They knew they’d be in deep kim chee if January 20 were to roll along with high-priced gas- and alternative energy was going to be the number one issue.

High prices were bound to be perceived as, if not the sole cause, certainly the most immediate aspect exacerbating the impact of the coming economic Armageddon.

Not just their obscene profits, not just their business model, but their business itself might be swept out the door of “change”... unless....

Unless the price of oil falls off consumers’ radar screens at the very time when the plans for legislation and action are drawn up for the first year or so of an extremely busy new presidential and congressional regime.

And with the pile of cash they have been stockpiling- and the ease of raising prices back to $5 a gallon at the drop of a hat once the agenda is set to exclude a massive push for alternative fuel plans- it’s a no brainer to invest a few hundred million to lower the cost for their products.

There was only one way to assure that we sheep would go back to sleep- give us cheap gas until that window for planning closes until the devil in the details of other “change” overwhelms the D.C. policy makers..

And very soon all the money- and perhaps more importantly the legislative time and effort- that was set to be invested in research, development and infrastructure for wind, solar, geothermal, hydrogen production and distribution networks and the like will be gone.

And then welcome back to $5, $6 maybe $10 a gallon gas.

And by all means if this scenario makes sense don’t say anything. As Phil Ochs said “Monopoly is so much fun we’d hate to spoil the game”

Or as Chaney and Bush would quote Ochs as they steal the silverware on their way out, “I’m sure it wouldn’t interest anybody outside of a small circle of friends”.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

KPD BlueChapter 16- A Stampede to the Courthouse- Part III: Alvin Seto versus KPD

KPD Blue

By Anthony Sommer

Chapter 16: A Stampede to the Courthouse- Part III: Alvin Seto versus KPD

Former KPD Lt. Alvin Seto, who had moved on to become a security supervisor at the Navy’s Pacific Missile range, filed his own lawsuit against Freitas and Kauai County one month after Begley’s.

Seto, a 22-year KPD veteran, had quit the force in May, 2002. He filed his lawsuit on May 27, 2003, just under the wire to meet the one-year statute of limitations deadline.

Seto’s attorney was Clayton Ikei, the same lawyer representing Jackie Tokashiki in her lawsuit against Freitas and the county.

And the case was filed in federal court in Honolulu.

As an investigating officer, Seto won many criminal cases in Judge George Masuoka’s court. But when it came to a civil case against Kauai County, Seto was well aware of Masuoka’s track record of favoring the county. So, he went to U.S. District Court.

The basis of the lawsuit was the same accusation Seto made against Freitas two years earlier: That Freitas had “hindered” the prosecution of Nelson Gabriel on 22 charges of sexually molesting his step-daughter.

When he heard about Seto’s lawsuit, Freitas was furious.

“I’m done with saying ‘no comment.’ How many times does he get to make this same complaint and how many times do we have to prove there isn’t any truth to it?” he asked.

What Seto alleged Freitas had done was to prohibit Seto from illegally using a sexual harassment complaint against Nelson that Seto had coerced out of a police dispatcher.

Seto planned to use that information in an attempt to strong-arm Gabriel’s wife into testifying against her husband. Mrs. Gabriel was prepared to tell the court her daughter had a long record of lying when people made her angry, including falsely charging them with sexually abusing her.

Freitas said the county attorney advised him any mention of a pending sexual harassment charge would be a violation of federal law and Seto could not reveal it to Gabriel’s wife.

Seto had tried to convince County Prosecutor Michael Soong to charge Freitas with “hindering prosecution,” but Soong said there was no case and he refused to file charges.

Seto then went to Mayor Maryanne Kusaka and the Kauai Police Commission. After many months of investigation and closed-door meetings, Freitas was absolved of “hindering prosecution” by the Police Commission on the advice of the county attorney.

The police dispatcher already had sued Seto and Kauai County for violating her right to anonymity when she reluctantly filed the sexual harassment charge against Nelson. The county settled that case for $100,000.

Yet here was Seto in federal court with exactly the same allegation no one else would believe.

In November 2005, in another of its illegal closed-door sessions, the Kauai County Council agreed to pay Seto $120,000 to settle the case.

Seto received more than the dispatcher he had wronged.

Kauai County never announced the settlement, even though every expenditure of taxpayer money is supposed to be public record. Once again, a newspaper reporter found out about it—six months after it was done.

No reason was given for paying off Seto. Clearly, no one on the Council wanted to brag about it.

Friday, November 21, 2008


GOT TO KEEP THE LOONIES ON THE PATH: One steaming pile of legacy that will appear on the new Council table is the coastal bike path- a project that everyone apparently loves but no one really seems to like.

Seems people are waking up to the fact that this ill-conceived, illegally-executed, environmentally-insane, over-regulated and costly boondoggle of a bureaucratic nightmare has, instead of preserving beach access as it was originally “sold” by the late Mayor Bryan Baptiste, actually cut off access to the area north of Kealia Beach.

As PNN reported in 2002 the actual deed to the property contains a clause that requires it remain open 24/7/365.

Yesterday’s local paper’s report on Wednesday’s council meeting detailed yet more county-fabricated problems with the path, spurring statements from prosecutor-elect Councilperson Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho comparing walking there to stealing from a store and threatening to throw the book at anyone daring to go there until it’s declared open- sentiments echoed by Council Chair Jay Furfaro.

This was a bit much for reporter/blogger Joan Conrow, who has been seemingly non-committal on the path except when it comes to dog walking. She laid into various aspects of the path and Iseri’s declaration of war.

She wrote

OK, Shaylene, let’s get a grip. First, walking on a portion of the Path that has not been officially opened is not in any way like stealing a blouse. And second, you’re not trying to protect us from ourselves — whatever that is — you’re just trying to make sure the county doesn’t get sued.

She also expresses her dismay at some general aspect of the path.

And that’s what concerns me about the Path. Mark my words, we’re going to end up losing access when the concrete cracks or a dog bites somebody or coastal erosion encroaches — already a scenario at the portion by Pono Kai — and then the county will close it up, just like they’ve relinquished beach accesses, because they’re worried about liability.

In the meantime, best not be planning any scofflaw behavior, like walking Fido without a doo doo bag in hand and a carefully measured leash, because the county will show no mercy — and presumably, neither will Shaylene.

But like many others who have harsh words for a specific aspects of the “bike path” she still apparently remains neutral on the project as a whole.

Like Mel Rapozo- who with Iseri spent the last few years looking for accountability and uncovering the almost imbecilic derivation, justification and actualization from bike path to dog path- most people can’t find much good to say about the project path yet still “support the bike path”.

Another heretofore silent critic, David Stewart of Wailua, weighed in in today’s letters to the editor in the local paper.

He writes:

What is going on here? This whole area of pathways and canehaul roads had been used for years by me and others for hiking, biking and walking dogs. Suddenly, in January 2006 the entire area was officially posted closed and we were told that the new path would open early in 2007...

It seems that the entire project is totally mis-managed by the county and the contractors. There does not seem to be a will to finish. There does not appear to be a concern, or understanding, that this area was heavily used by residents before path construction started. In addition, there is no transparency on status. Only when county staff have to testify before the County Council do we get any information. Phase II is but a quarter of the entire envisioned path project, and engineering-wise some of the easiest.

Yet at the end he says

I fear that the county has demonstrated its inability to manage such a project and, although I am a supporter of the entire path, I seriously wonder about the county’s ability to lead the entire project to completion.(emphasis added.)


Do people like this also support the next phase, one for which we don’t have any money, having long ago spent that “free money” from the feds... or misspent it since it came from a fund for construction of a bike path “for transportation not recreation”?

That new phase- proposed in an illegally-segmented environmental assessment- brings the “coastal path” across the highway and smack through the Safeway and Foodland parking lots.

According to the newspaper article “(t)here will be a meeting next month to discuss the design of the portion that will connect Lydgate Park to Lihi boat ramp.”.although no announcment appears on the county web site.

But of course one man has not minced his oppositional words and has been the harbinger of the corruption and incompetence and downright pigheaded persistence of the path proponents since day one.

While the public slept the advocates have turned the once open and accessible makai areas into a highly-restricted, tightly-regulated “linear park” by illegally (as we’ve detailed many times) plopping down a ribbon of concrete where much if it will be eroded away by the ocean in a matter of a few years if not hours what with tonight’s predicted raging storm.

We’ll leave you with Glen Mickens’ testimony at Wednesday’s council meeting.

I believe it is way past time that this administration give an update on this total path---itemization of the money spent so far for work done; total money obligated for work now being done; prospective money needed to finish the entire 16 to 23 miles of path (length having changed several times since the start) including land acquisition, condemnation and ALL variables; a copy of the original contract with the Federal Government showing what TE funds were asked for, the exact route as outlined to the Feds; a copy of the final EA done on the entire outlined route remembering that the Comprehensive Exemption List for the State of Hawaii DOT states under Exemption Class 1: "Operations, repairs, or maintenance of EXISTING structures, facilities NOT proposed new ones as Doug Haigh once told the council that they were.

On October `18th, 2007 the council by a 4 to 3 vote approved an audit of this path by the State auditor to "examine expenditures, permitting and compliance with grant requirements"---a Garden Island quote. This audit was highly fought by all path proponents including 3 members of this council but, as Kipu Kai Kualii so wisely said, "It's the Administration's mismanagement of this entire project that leads responsible people like Rapozo and Iseri-Carvalho to call for an audit. If we don't have anymore "nonsense" and "incompetence" to hide (&/or correct) then why should we oppose an audit? The citizens of Kauai. if you ask me, deserve an audit as much as we deserve a path."

This path was ill planned from the get go and the chances of it ever being completed are slim to zero, especially in this highly unstable economy. I just returned from Broadbeach, Australia and there are some beautiful walking, jogging paths there. But the roads have huge bike lanes along them (the lanes are as big as for cars) and the true bikers ride fast on them.

Their paths, as so many on the mainland were programmed into the community BEFORE the area was developed---not like the path we are trying to retrofit here on Kauai.Had those who proposed this path tried to put it Mauka instead of Makai it might have had a chance to be built. However, as I have repetitively said, our tax dollars have way too many places of high priority to be used before even thinking about a bike path.

Remember that Doug Haigh once said that no study had ever been done on the usage of this path but the question screams for an answer, WHY? Before you spend millions of dollars on a project you certainly need to know the bang you are getting for your buck.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


SERVING TWO MASTERS: The blogs and press are all trying to make heads or tails of what many claim is a scam of native Hawaiians trying to reclaim lands stolen from them and then resold despite purportedly “irrevocable” Royal Patents granted in the mid-19th century.

Mahealani Ventura-Oliver of the Hawaiiloa Foundation has been giving seminars and presenting compelling evidence that people who can trace their genealogy to those to whom the patents were granted may be able to reclaim the lands and those that still own them do not have to pay taxes, mortgage payments and other debts.

You can read up on a lot of it in everything from two articles lacking exposition in Honolulu paper to Ian Lind’s three link-filled but inconclusive blog entries to the racist treatment in the right wing Hawaii Free Press.

But what none report is whether, upon examination, the chain of events from those days to this comprise a valid legal case.

We haven’t the time or inclination to determine if there is a valid claim but the real question is one that is at the rhetorical core whre the winding road of the erosion of Hawaiian rights and theft of Hawaiian lands is concerned:

Even if they are perfectly valid claims, do we really expect justice in an American court?

We all know of the successful attempt to show that annexation of Hawai`i never legally took place. That and other dubious transactions by the US government should, by all rights, result in the return of lands and rights to a sovereign native kanaka maoli body politic

And we all know the results of almost 25 years of these and other efforts backed by seemingly proper precedence - the American so called “justice” system refuses to acknowledge the cases much less rule favorably on them..

Maybe in the 80’s if you were kanaka maoli it might have been a good gamble to put your life and possessions at risk in an attempt seek justice from American courts. But even then it seemed like a long shot to those who saw the way the government treated the valid claims of the native communities on the mainland.

The genocide of native Americans is well documented and continues today. Though treaties were signed and land rights designated, the supra-judicial theft of both lands and rights- many times validating actions taken at the same point of a gun that stole the Hawaiian kingdom- has prevailed in the realms of American jurisprudence.

Just this week a program on PBS’ “Independent Lens” series detailed the plight of the residents of the Swinomish Reservation in northwest Washington State. Despite the fact that they own a portion of land called March Point the fact that an oil refinery sits there – a plant that has polluted and killed-off their traditional fishing grounds and so their subsistance lifestyles- has made reclaiming the land impossible.

It’s an all too familiar and common story- though they have a apparently legitimate claim to the land, no court will apparently ever rule in their favor

What is obvious is that even if Ventura-Oliver’s claims are valid it takes a bit of schizophrenia on the part of kanaka to think that the very American system that is denying them the actualization of their inherent sovereignty is a good place to seek redress of their grievances.

Those who own property, have mortgages, credit card debt and owe taxes have by their actions already bought into the American government’s occupation of the islands. They have helped give legitimacy to the illegal occupation by allowing the greed and individualism of westerners to take hold over their own lives.

In doing so they make apparent that on some level they believe in the corrupt American system so it would make sense that they would naively go to American courts to enforce the law.

But at the same time they’ve got to know that they are asking for the recognition of their sovereign rights flies in the face of the corporate control of the American government and it’s courts.

Whether this woman and her aides are actually stealing from gullible people is something that requires we examine her motives just as with the “Perfect Title” case in the ‘90’s and early ‘00’s. And that’s something we’ll leave for others closer to the situation to determine

But participation in both requires a duality in thought on the part of the alleged victims- the belief that the very entity they believe stole what is rightfully theirs is the right entity to petition to voluntarily restore those rights.

Next time it might be wise to ask the Swinomish people how that’s going for them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


SNIFF IT OUT SHERLOCK: The new book “The Superferry Chronicles” received quite the prominent although not-so-complementary review today courtesy of Honolulu Advertiser reporter and blogger Derrick DePledge who, after reading the book called it “a romantic and idealized view of the protests at Nawiliwili Harbor that stopped the ferry in August 2007”

The book by Koohan Paik- who in her bio lists “journalist” first among her credentials- and anti economic globalism author and activist Jerry Mander.(links courtesy of DePledge)- has caused some on Kaua`i to question whether Paik is exploiting or even “cashing in” on the actions and even legal miseries of others as PNN detailed last week

But DePledge questions the use of falsehoods based on apparently shoddy research that resulted in what he called:

factual errors that would be easy to chalk up as mistakes — we all make them — if they were not used by the authors to make critical points.

He listed some.

*The authors suggest Lingle and state lawmakers were sending a message with the name of the law that allowed Superferry to resume operations while an environmental impact statement is prepared. “In a direct slap at the court, they brazenly call it `Act 2.’” (Page 12) “In Special Session, the governor flippantly dubs the draft bill `Act 2,’ as if overturning a Supreme Court ruling were a mere trifle.” (Page 178)

The law was named Act 2 because it was the second bill passed during
special session that was signed by the governor. The first bill, signed into law as Act 1, was a response to a state Supreme Court ruling on extended criminal sentencing.

*The authors claim Lingle did not give much notice for her meeting with Kaua`i residents and did not announce that the purpose of the meeting was to warn of the penalties for violating a new security zone at Nawiliwili. (Page 56)

Lingle gave a week’s notice that she would be coming to Kaua`i and described the penalties at a
news conference at the state Capitol that was given front page and top-of-the-news treatment by daily newspapers and local television and radio.

*The authors describe “illegal Superferry donations to Lingle.” (Page 175) The
donations from Superferry executives to Lingle’s campaign were not illegal. However, the donations were contrary to the Lingle campaign’s voluntary policy of not accepting contributions from companies negotiating with the state.

But the lack of acumen was not his only problem with the book. He writes

The authors do not break any new factual ground about Superferry and accept most of the critical theories about the project without skepticism. The central theory — so far unproven and denied by Superferry executives — is that Superferry is a military prototype designed to help shipbuilder Austal USA win lucrative defense contracts.
The book, which describes Superferry as an “uninvited menace,” is a celebration of direct action that is unlikely to persuade many neutrals.

While DePledge might be right about the slapdash journalism when it comes to researching facts, his contention that the “Superferry is a military prototype” theory is “so far unproven and denied by Superferry executives” is indicative of a the narrow view of what journalism is in today’s corporate news room.

Today’s journalism seems to take the concept of objectivity far beyond neutrality and instead of using investigative techniques that are universally accepted, boils down it’s coverage to a series of “he said, she said” competing quotes from anyone with a title and a tongue- the waggier the better.

Today’s reporter’s shun the utilization of the technique of comparing competing theories based on the factual material until, either the investigation peters out for lack of sufficient information to select from those competing theories or until one theory becomes the only plausible explanation for a series of events.

Though this system isn’t infallible- as the stream of release of innocents from jails proves- it’s the one that investigators- police, journalistic and detectives both real and fictional- have used for a century or more.

They all know that 99.9% of the time, when you eliminate the impossible and can’t even find an improbable that passes the laugh and smell tests, the theory turns out to be correct.

This is at the root of using inductive logic to solve a “case” where the deductive proof of a “confession” is not forthcoming. But many journalists from the post-modern school of “objectivity”- one only fully developed in the post WWII era- refuse to accept the validity of the technique.

Instead they ask those who would accept the indisputable validity of a certain “theory” to prove a negative. Nothing but an admission of guilt to suffice.

In plain English, it’s an “are you going to believe me or your lyin’ eyes” school of journalism and causes costly, time-consuming, investigative journalism to fall conveniently by the wayside in the “el cheapo” libel-phobic news “business” of the 21st century newsroom.

Two summers ago- before top Kaua`i journalist and blogger Joan Conrow’s brilliant series at her KauaiEclectic blog, her “U.S.S. Superferry?” investigative piece in Honolulu Weekly and her recap in a chapter of the Superferry Chronicles; before the Supreme Court ruling mandating an environmental assessment; before the name “Austal” (the builder of the Superferry which just last week landed a big contract for 10 Superferry-clone Navy warships) became a well known commodity among anti Superferry activists- PNN wondered in a column what the connection might be between the new aluminum catamaran ferry, similar naval vessels being considered by congress at the time and the financier of the project, former Secretary of the Navy under Reagan, John Lehman.

It didn’t take a genius to ask the question even way back then: was Hawai`i a guinea pig to show congress this thing is a viable Naval war ship?

But though formulation of the theory at that time was a stab in the dark nothing has been presented- except denials from some ferry executive- to refute the near certainty that the Superferry was a “demonstration project”. to show congress that the vehicle could ply shallow near-shore waters effectively.

As a matter of fact other officials- state and Superferry- have been quoted admitting the connection if not the actual intention to use our state apparatus to perpetuate a prototype without concern for the islands, its people and its economy

A frequent insightful commenter in various on-line publications- one who has identified himself only as an attorney and a Democrat and goes by the handle “Kolea”- addressed the state of denial by some of the Superferry-as-Navy-prototype “theory”.

He summed up the impossibles, the improbables and the all-but-certains this way in a comment on DePledge’s review.

As for SuperFerry serving as R&D for a proto-type for use by the military, that is the only sensible explanation. Otherwise, Lehman would have been an idiot to believe the SF made any business sense.

When local anti-militarist activists were insisting the SF was REALLY designed to carry Strykers inter-island, I had to tell them that theory did not make sense. But a review of naval national security debates convinced me Lehman was still promoting an idea from his days as Secretary of the Navy, the idea of a “600 ship fleet,: though he had updated in a few key ways. First, he had upped the number to “1000 ship Navy,” Secondly, he had looked with envy at the success Halliburton and Carlyle were having through the outsourcing of military functions to private companies owned by well-connected Bush cronies. Lehman proposed the “1000 ship navy” consist in large part of privately owned ships leased by the Navy for different lengths of time depending upon the shifting missions.

I see the SF as the development of a prototype ship, subsidized by Hawaii taxpayers and tested in our waters. As a private interisland ferry, IT never made sense. It is not viable and never was. The market did not exist prior to the current recession–simply check the passenger loads, both cars and people. People dreamed about a gentle cruise to another island for camping and holoholo, but the seas were too rough, voyages were cancelled with short notice and passengers were throwing up all over the boat. Ulpp! A bad idea.

The Navy has recently expressed a strong interest in the SF and ships of its type. Lehman headed up McCain’s “transition team” and would have been well=positioned to cash in as a “Naval Halliburton” had McCain won. Had “his ship come in.”

Lehman is either an extremely incompetent or conniving businessman. Or both.

To attack Paik and Mander for basing contentions on sloppy journalism is one thing. But to attack that which is apparent to all but the village idiot because it is “just a theory” that “you can’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt” makes lies of theories like that of gravity and evolution or any prospective statement based on observations of frequent occurrences without variation from time immemorial.

There are, in logic, strong inductive arguments and weak ones. And sometimes people just can’t see the fleet because they’re too busy examining an individual boat.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


LOOSEN THAT COLLAR WILL YA?: The myth of the benefits of a garbage-to-energy incinerator we wrote about yesterday were further debunked today by energy advocate Ben Sullivan in a letter in today’s paper.

Sullivan, who lost the election to the Kaua`i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) board and was later rejected by the board to fill a vacant spot, apparently got a different answer from Walter Lewis than that the one which appeared in Lewis’s column in the paper Saturday as to the energy available in incineration of our garbage..

Upon questioning Lewis about his statement that “the benefits would be dramatic.”

Sullivan reports that Lewis privately told him instead that

“No reliable assessment can be made as to the user savings that might occur if a WRE supply contract were made. The variables include: the time when WRE output would commence; the price of oil at the time; the scope and terms of the WRE contract; and the accounting changes for KIUC if it ceases to be primarily a power generating utility. However, some range estimates could be permissible. Since the saving could be material, the public ought to be informed.”

Sullivan goes on to say:

As this is an opinion page, and we are certainly in need of solutions, I would like to offer one.

It is not solar, or wind, or biomass (although I do like the potential of hemp as a fuel). It is not the Small Wind Ordinance being proposed by Councilman Tim Bynum (although that’s certainly a good step in the right direction).

I would assert that we should all be capable of reducing our own electricity usage, through conservation and efficiency, by 50 percent. Now that would be a “silver bullet,” and would allow us to practice both discipline and action. I’m not there yet myself so I’m off to get to work on it.

While conservation is a must, one problem is that both Sullivan and Lewis- and anyone else who has had their ears and minds bent by the KIUC still-corporate spiel - apparently still buy into the for-profit model of an electricity utility.- one that says “we sell electricity to you.”

This KIUC mind-set was never more apparent than in the recent news that co-op members had topped out KIUC’s “net metering” percentage and now, anyone who now starts to generate their own electricity at home will not be able to take advantage of a program that allows them to “run the meter backward” at the same rate- or even a reasonable difference in rate- going in as coming out.

Not only that but the voice of KIUC is notable for it’s absence in trying to help its “customers” in moving away from their dependence on the co-op’s product by encouraging consumers to make their own electricity at home.

The KIUC party line goes that wind and solar are “intermittent” sources and therefore unreliable so will never be able to substitute for a system of selling electricity to you- electricity presumably generated by burning stuff whether fossil fuel or some other carbon and pollution spewing materials.

But the real problem is the way that, even though KIUC should be putting the consumers first, they are still looking at their business as that of selling enough electricity to maintain a corporate structure – a structure identical to the for-profit model only they refund the “profits” to the co-op members instead of shareholders.

Providing people with a way to actually decrease they bills is not just not job #1 it’s not on any list except for the one in the lip-service file.

The fact is that their prime objective is not to lower the costs of electricity to co-op members- something that, though it is more complicated than the current model, is achievable.

If every home generated it’s own electricity it could equal or even surpass Sullivan’s conservation in terms of savings. Solar roofs- not just solar panels but roofs that are made of solar harvesting materials- are common on the mainland where sun isn’t even as good a source as it is here.

And a windmill in every yard would decrease our bills further. The new ones make no noise at all.

And a revolving fund to finance loans that will be paid off in time with the savings needs only to be set up, modeled on the solar water heater programs.

That leaves the cooperative to use the current and developing technology to develop the models that will accommodate those cloudy days and times when the wind doesn’t blow as much by generating more at those times and less at others- not to throw up their hands and say “it’s too hard” as our company honchos have convinced the KIUC board is the case.

Today’s computer monitored “smart-grids” and modern use-sensitive generation units accommodate changes in demand all the time but for some reason Kaua`i seems incapable of innovation especially with the prospect of selling less electricity.

The decrease in the need for investment in new generation capability would be significant with a lot of little generation spots that add up to a lot. And utilities across the country are already experimenting- and having great success with electric rates that are higher when demand is higher and lower when it’s more available, a system that could, if structured to account for that availability at times of high sun and wind, allow consumers to use electricity when it’s available at a lower rate.

But instead all we hear from KIUC is “nope- trust us, it can’t be done”.

The main thing we need is the will to move away from the model that says when the going gets complicated and innovation is involved we throw up our hands and just revert to the safe and expensive for-profit model of selling energy to the consumer and stop doing what we can to empower the users to purchase less energy if not attain total energy independence.

Yes “we” paid way too much for Kaua`i Electric and that is what is costing us a bundle today in higher rates so we can pay back the loan.

And Kaua`i ratepayers- not the stock holders at Citizen’s Electric who took the risk of being uninsured- got stuck paying the entire cost of the Hurricane Iniki costs where money was essentially thrown at the repairs and cost wasn’t a factor until we got the bill...a bill we’re still getting every month.

But even working what we are unfortunately stuck with doesn’t mean that we have to be stuck with the same lazy thinkers that populate the board and high level staff at KIUC that got us into this mess.

We can elect people to the board who will shift their fiduciary responsibility from “the company” to the “members” but only if we chuck the for-profit model and put the consumer first by starting to think of how we can allow individuals the degree of energy independence that is technologically available today...the one members of a collectively owned co-op deserve.


But when you ask for the engineering particulars of why generation can’t just fill the gap at the times needed they go amazingly silent.

And that’s because the technology is here today to do it through a computerized modern generation system that measures needs and generation based on

Monday, November 17, 2008


A HOLE IS NOT TO DIG: One of the results of the defeat of JoAnn Yukimura in the mayoral election is that the idea of a garbage-to-electricity incinerator remains on the table at least as far as the administration of Mayor-Elect Bernard Carvalho is concerned.

But whether that sits well with the new county council- who will make the final decision- is up for grabs.

The council still hasn’t signed off on the R.W,. Beck study that recommends a waste-to-energy (WTE) incinerator-as we discussed in June- but that hasn’t stopped Carvalho from declaring “we have a plan and we need to follow it”.

The Beck report doesn’t make clear how the competing schemes it now contains will work. Originally the plan called for the incinerator only. But the council asked Beck to go back and include a plan for a massive recycling effort including curbside pickup and moreover a “MERF”- Materials Recovery Facility- where the whole trash stream goes through a sorting process to remove the recyclable and reusable materials.

The problem is that it really is a one or the other situation especially because it’s doubtful the waste stream on Kaua`i is really big enough to support a “waste- to energy” facility even with the whole trash stream, including recyclables.

It especially doesn’t make economic sense when viewed with an eye toward “economies of scale”. Unlike say, Honolulu we just don’t create enough trash to make the costly pollution spewing facility work here- and even more so after ¾ of the stream is taken out for recycling and reuse..

Those issues are unaddressed in Walter Lewis’ column in the local paper this Saturday which attempts to start fabricating the bandwagon leading to an incinerator.

He couches the issue of the facility as one of that “would result in significantly lower electric rates on Kaua`i.” but ignores the cost of the facility itself and how we would feed the beast.

And in today’s paper is a letter from another Princeville resident seemingly ready to jump aboard Lewis’ bandwagon- destination: Fool’s Paradise.

Well who can blame them? Because it’s doubtful that Princeville is on the list of possible sites for the plant. Which raises the question of just where would this monstrosity- which has a price tag some have estimated at more than $125 million- be situated?

Given the fact that Kaua`i county has been trying to find a place for a new landfill for the last 20 years without success the real question is whether there is going to be one community saying “give us the dump” and another town that will “accept” an incinerator- even if we start paying them off like we’re doing in Kekaha, as we discussed last month.

The article in last Friday’s newspaper hardly did justice to the breadth of the issue in covering last week’s contentious council meeting regarding the $650,000 bribe to Kekaha to get them to stop complaining about the dump that’s being expanded there

Although it pointed out how the county and the community had apparently settled their differences over the county trying to control the process for deciding how to spend the money, what it left out was the fact that the $.65 million was a low-ball figure according to outgoing Councilmember Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho.

“We originally wanted to start at a million” and that wasn’t even “nearly enough” she told those gathered for last week’s council meeting saying a million dollars was a low-end figure that the council had asked be included in the mayor’s budget. But when the Baptiste administration only offered $100,000 she said the $650,000 figure was “a compromise... for now”.

She said the payment is just a start and only for this year. She said it didn’t make up for 50 years of “putting up with” the landfill nor did it pay for “inconveniences” over the next who-knows-how-many years until a new dump is opened and the Kekaha one goes through the 30-year EPA mandated process of closing a landfill.

And of course this is just for a dump that already exists. The real question is how much “hush” money taxpayers are going to have to come up with to get a community to put a new one in their midst and what the yearly payments for that one will be.

And of course the same can be said about an even more disgusting incinerator because although trucks rumble up to each one, the rubbish stays in one place with a dump while an incinerator spews poisons all over the place.... and yes, even the new “EPA approved” WTE incinerators do that.

How many millions- or perhaps tens of millions- are we talking about? And for how many years? And in how many places?... once the trend starts what other types of facilities like power plants – or even windmills or solar farms- will require pay-offs.

The issue of payments aside and concentrating just on the cost, the whole WTE idea makes little sense. Our only hope might be something Carvalho- in his inimitable “I’ll lead the people by doing whatever they say they want me to do” way- said during the statewide TV debate.

“Maybe we’ll even ship it out” he told viewers when challenged as to the whole landfill siting, recycling waste-to-energy/incinerator debate.. right after he committed to the WTE in the Beck “plan”.

And although he was grasping at political straws, even a broken clock is right twice a day and Carvalho verbally stumbled onto the only sensible cost effective way there is to deal with our waste as we detailed last June.

Using a Zero-Waste program’s principles we can require curb-side recycling, set up a MERF to separate the rest and ship the last small amount- estimated to be a high of 30% but a low of less than 10% of our waste stream- and ship it to any one of a number of landfills in the mainland-northwest that are ready, willing, able and in fact eager to take it off our hands.... all at a comparable cost to what we are paying today

For a small island to ship-in virtually all of it’s consumer goods and then, when we’re done with them, bury them in the ground is insanity and unsustainable.

Though there is a line of thought that sending a community’s trash to a far away place is ecologically irresponsible- as former Councilperson JoAnn Yukimura has stated- that is a concept that might be appropriate where regional landfills are widely available and goods are grown and manufactured nearby, not on an island that imports all it’s “stuff” from 2000 miles away..

To throw that stuff in a hole in the ground makes the least ecological sense of all.

“Ship it in-ship it out” has got to be our garbage future. And apparently if we all demand it, the broken-clock-born program will be instituted before the one that’s ticking on our solid waste crisis strikes midnight and we’re overrun by mice and rotten pumpkins.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

KPD Blue Chapter 15: A Stampede to the Courthouse: Part II: Mark Begley versus KPD

KPD Blue

by Anthony Sommer

Chapter 15: A Stampede to the Courthouse: Part II: Mark Begley versus KPD

On April 8, 2003, KPD Officer Mark Begley filed a lawsuit against his employers in federal court in Honolulu.

Mark Begley found the fastest (and most bizarre) track to promotion in the history of the KPD. In 2003, Begley, then a patrolman, sued the department claiming he was beaten and suffered permanent brain damage when he tried to expose an organized crime ring within the KPD. His lawsuit was tossed out by a federal judge. Three and a half years later, Begley was named deputy chief of the Kauai Police Department.

Begley’s lawsuit was prepared using the legal strategy of “throw lots of mud at the wall and see what sticks.”

Some of it may well have been true but there is so much overkill in the allegations that it was impossible to figure out which parts to believe.

It is educational to note that Begley’s attorney, Mark Zenger, later filed a similar scattergun lawsuit against the Kauai Fire Department on behalf of a Kauai lifeguard charging the KFD brass with everything but the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Begley’s lawsuit alleges:

• That Lt. Martin Curnan, at the time the head of the Vice Squad (which also, more importantly, is the defacto Narcotics Squad on an island where marijuana is a major cash crop) was a member of a criminal organization that included both KPD officers and civilians. The organization allegedly was in the business of officers seizing drugs from drug dealers but not turning the drugs in as evidence.

• That a KPD officer twice went to Kapaa High School and took possession of narcotics seized from students by school administrators. Allegedly, no police reports ever were filed by the officer and the drugs never were turned in as evidence.

• That when Begley complained to Chief Freitas, his complaint was ignored.

• That Curnan allegedly assaulted Begley, hitting him on the head so hard that he had to be flown by air ambulance to an Oahu hospital where he was treated for brain damage that has left him permanently disabled.

• That a woman who worked as a KPD confidential informant alleged that drugs she obtained in “controlled buys” were kept by Curnan and arrests never were made.

• That she also claimed she told the Curnan about two drug-related murders that never were investigated.

• That the same woman claimed she was raped by a relative of Curnan’s and was told the rape was a warning to keep her mouth shut about Curnan’s activities.

• That all of the members of the Vice Squad were either members of the criminal organization or had promised Curnan to ignore it.

Curnan retired. The case droned on for four years and finally came to trial before a federal magistrate (there was no jury). The magistrate ruled for Kauai County.

The only allegation that could be shown to be true is that Begley was in a fight and received permanent brain damage that has left him with a sometimes headache and a constant ringing in his left ear.

It was true Begley had been drinking at an abandoned sugar mill with Curnan and a civilian friend of Curnan’s named David Nawai.

Begley testified it was not uncommon for Vice Squad members to meet at remote locations for the purpose of getting very drunk both on and off duty, sort of the Kauai variant of Joseph Wambaugh’s novel, The Choir Boys. Begley admitted he was so drunk he couldn’t recall who hit him.

Curnan and Nawai claimed Begley took a swing at Nawai and Nawai hit him in self-defense. They said Begley’s head hit the pavement and, when they carried Begley to his truck to drive him home, Begley’s head accidentally hit the door frame.

The filing of Begley’s lawsuit reignited efforts in the mayor’s office to oust Freitas. It appeared clear Baptiste had been given a mandate to “Get Freitas” by his mentor, Maryanne Kusaka.

“We have a duty to seek the truth for our citizens,” pronounced new Mayor Bryan Baptiste, commenting on Begley’s charges.

During his tenure on the County Council, Baptiste never met an executive session or a locked government file cabinet that he did not love. “Seeking the truth” wasn’t exactly one of his virtues.

Baptiste announced he would call in the FBI.

Obviously, the county had learned from the Seto fiasco that all the Kauai Police Commission knew how to do was spend huge amounts of money to prove nothing.

The FBI wouldn’t cost Kauai County a cent and Baptiste liked anything he could get for free from the state or the feds.

Freitas said he had investigated every one of Begley’s claims and found nothing to turn over to the county prosecutor.

The chief said he would welcome an FBI probe and publicly urged his officers to cooperate.

Whether or not the FBI ever looked into Begley’s allegations will never be known. But no charges ever were filed by federal prosecutors. It can be assumed they found no basis for Begley’s accusations.

It would be easy to assume that Begley would never return to work at a department he considered so evil and corrupt.

That would be a false assumption.

Limited to a desk job by his “permanent brain damage,” Begley’s star immediately began to rise.

In fact his fast-track promotions up the KPD chain of command were nothing less than meteoric.

He became the KPD’s recruiting officer, quite literally the department’s poster child.

Begley was named “Police Officer of the Year” by the Kauai Police Commission.

In August 2007, Begley was promoted to lieutenant.

In November 2007, with less than three months in grade as a lieutenant, Begley was chosen by newly appointed Chief Darryl Perry as his deputy chief.

Asked how a chronic malcontent who had made outrageous charges against the KPD, none of which ever were proven, became deputy chief, former Chief K.C. Lum shrugged his shoulders: “That’s politics on Kauai.