Monday, December 22, 2008


BEST PAW FORWARD: Well, one council meeting down and if last Wednesday’s is any indication the next 101 for this council will provide plenty of nap time.

Because for all the talk of change there wasn’t a peep of challenge of anything by anyone.

The biggest controversy was who gushed the most in lavishing undeserved praise of another one of those vapid content-free PowerPoint presentations, this time from new Director of Parks and Recreation Leonard “Lenny” Rapozo,

Rapozo was rewarded with the job despite no expertise or experience in the area, taking over for now-Mayor Bernard Carvalho after qualifying by running Carvalho’s campaign.

The meeting started out with promise when the monthly-minister- whose name we didn’t catch- slyly told a story about the time he ran a red light.

When confronted by his son in his lawlessness, instead of stressing how important a person he was and making excuses like “I had to get to church to deliver my sermon”, he told the boy he’d (pardon the interruption) “try to do better next time”.

If any of the re-elected councilmembers caught the significance or applicability of his parable they didn’t let on.

That was followed by the first indication that this is going to be yet another “go along to get along council” when an executive session was yanked from the end of the agenda and inserted into a mid-morning slot, leaving those who came to speak on other items out in the hall waiting.

Despite pleas from the nitpickers to explain 1) why the council allowed a trick question on the ballot to remove our own Kaua`i Sunshine Law from the county charter, 2) why, if it was removed from the charter, it was still on the agenda and 3) when they could see the now-moot county attorney’s opinion on the matter as proscribed by the state sunshine law- they were, as usual dismissed summarily by Chair Kaipo Asing.

But surprisingly enough the county’s “outside” attorney- only identified as “David” despite the fact he is working for the council, got up and actually lied in trying to “explain to the new council members” how the infamous 3.07(e) provision was rejected by a judge.

The fact is that the charter provision had nothing to do with the infamous ES-177 case.

David- Minkins, we believe his last name is- tried to use a judges ruling specific to ES-177 to give the impression that the judge ruled that the council could do anything they damn well please in secret meetings as long as they cloak it in “attorney client privilege”.

First he attempted to try to mash-up and mix-up the case with a request by Walter Lewis and Ray Chuan to see a slew of past executive sessions minutes after the need for secrecy was no longer valid- something provided for in the Sunshine Law.- a case that had nothing to do with ES-177 in which the county sued the Office of Information Practices (OIP) which oversees the Sunshine Law.

The case of ES-177 involved newly elected at the time Councilmember Mel Rapozo when, acceding to OIP, he apparently ranted and raged over a bunch of police department matters that had nothing to do with the agendaed subject matter.

Judge Kathleen Wantanabe’s ruling however was actually very specific to that particular ES transcript saying that any “attorney-client privilege” at the meeting was “inexorably intertwined” with the portions that normally would not be covered- something that Minkins of course did not mention at all.

And the councilmembers- all seven – sat there like bumps on a log and okayed the current request for an ES on a current unrelated lawsuit against the county.

Later the questionable use of asset forfeiture funds we discussed last week- and specifically sent to the council as testimony- wasn’t even mentioned by any of the seven

The uses of the fund for a boat, new badges and a fax machine was approved unanimously without discussion of whether they were “supplemental” in nature as the law for the funds’ use requires.

But this was all a prelude for “the show” when Rapozo, with his deputy Kylan Dela Cruz by his side, whipped out a stack of apparently expensive, spiral-bound booklets, with plastic covers, printed on high quality, almost poster-board like, paper and distributed them to councilmembers before proceeding with their “presentation”.

“Lenny” was introduced with no last name and when Councilmember Tim Bynum asked him to identify himself Rapozo claimed he already had.

Rapozo actually started off trying to get away without doing his PowerPoint presentation and had to be forced to use the glorified overhead projector..

Then believe it or not he started off by saying “On the first page we identified the dog path task force members”.

But this was no mere slip of the tongue like the one that an embarrassed Kaipo Asing used a few months ago to be met with derisive laughter.

He followed it up by describing the next item- “meeting dates... to help us with the enforcement part of the dog path”.

“PowerPoint” presentations for the council have been the coin of the realm for department heads in recent times under the late Mayor Bryan Baptiste, especially Carvalho who used them in order to feign competence, as we discussed a while back.

They obviously figure that the councilmembers are too dumb- or too incompetent themselves- to notice that the content is usually just a bare-bones outline of stuff that would fit on one sheet of paper with no exposition of the specifics of each “point”,

This one though went further, presenting pages of two-per sheet giant color photos of the various signs and other “features” that anyone could see if they visited the path.... none of which explained any specifics.

The first page appeared to have maybe 25 word tops with such outline subjects as “Maintenance” and lines under it saying “trash cans”, “landscape”, “informational signs”, and “dispensers and refills”

That was followed by the only other thing on the page the heading “Enforcement” which was followed by “2 bicycles (stored at Kapa`a Neighborhood center), “3 vehicles” and “hand held radios.”

Actually this brought the only questioning because apparently they took three old police vehicles to use on the non-motorized traffic bike path.

Asing was incredulous because, as anyone in county government knows and he explained, there is a strict policy against using old “retired” police vehicles because they are “high powered” and notorious gas-hogs.

After some other superfluous info with a distinct lack of detail and the “how I spent my summer vacation” picture-show came the most important thing the council had demanded they come up with more than a month ago but never got because Carvalho was too busy running for Mayor- the actual forms for the bureaucratic functioning of the experimental “dog path”- those for writing tickets, signing up volunteers etc.

Problem was that, although they were in that Cadillac of Booklets they weren’t on the actual slide show- er, PowerPoint..

Well with all the gushing from all- and we mean all- the councilmembers you would have thought these geniuses had expanded string theory what with all the oooo’s and ahhhh’s over the presentation.

We’re distinctly disappointed in the new council for starting off on the wrong foot.

The fact is that it becomes increasingly more difficult to stop unethical, even illegal practices once you allow them to happen by not raising your hand to question them.

No one’s asking the newbies to be confrontational but at least ask the questions required of an oversight body when you’re made aware of them.

That’s been the major complaint about the council- even when members of the public legitimately question practices, do research to back it up and testify or submit it to them they’re greeted with “thanks for sharing- all in favor?- next item please”.

In the case of the police requests, the chief was even in the room. And in the case of the prosecutor’s fax machine if she wasn’t there, why not? Certainly when she was a councilperson the new prosecutor, Shaylene Iseri Carvalho would have demanded someone requesting money from the council be there to answer questions.

And accepting shoddy work without asking pertinent - not impertinent- questions is bad enough. But heaping praise instead of deserved criticism can only be seen as a political ploy possibly to secure a place at the corruption table.

Worse is actually voting for the measure that should have gotten more scrutiny without asking the questions the voters expect will be asked.

Once you have complemented people who are doing shoddy work on one matter how do you confront them later?

Some may say “hey- give them a chance- that was just their first meeting”. But that misses the point- that first meeting will set the tone for other 101 over the next two years.

If past is prologue it could be “same old, same old” as the new members especially if instead of sharpening elbows they just use them to make room for themselves in the “look the other way” old boys and girls club.

We’ll see how it goes in January but if last Wednesday was any indication we’re not too hopeful for any change.

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