Tuesday, December 30, 2008


WHO’S MINDING THE ZOO?: Former Councilmember Mel Rapozo’s “Kaua`i Politics” blog, which was interrupted when he ran for mayor, is back and the first item up was a “poll” asking:

What do you think is the most important issue that will face Kauai in 2009?

But the available answers were limited the usual suspects:

Economy; Traffic; Affordable housing; Solid Waste; Drugs and Crime; Transportation; Superferry; GMO Crops


Seems the one subject Mel knows a lot about is curiously unavailable- corruption and secrecy in county government.

But though he didn’t seem interested in responding to a comment we left noting the absence of the issue from the survey he did answer a comment from someone else asking

(A)ny chance that 2009 will bring the FBI into the picture regarding the hiring practices of the county. andy parx recent post... details a little of the FBI probe. any comments to his assertions that the FBI is investigating the administration's hiring decisions?

Mel’s response regarding something that we kind of glossed over in yesterday’s article on the FBI probe of Kaua`i county corruption was:

As far as the FBI coming here to investigate the hiring practices of the County, I can only hope. I have asked to be on the Civil Service Commission agenda to inform them of what has been happening. After two deferrals, I am set to testify at their January 20th meeting at 3pm. I hope to convince them to initiate an inquiry into the practices that the personnel department has been using for many years.

The Civil Service Commission on Kaua`i is another of those supposedly independent boards and commissions- like the Planning, Police, Fire and Liquor Commissions- that hire and fire their respective administrative department heads..

But their autonomy is almost non-existent in practice because they have been corrupted over the years evolving into the dog being wagged by the administration’s tail, acting as little more than rubber stamps for whatever the mayor wants.

Sometimes we wonder if commissioners are even aware of the hiring and firing power they have especially in the case of the Planning Commission whose associated department head Ian Costa is a three-administration poster boy for cronyism and corruption on Kaua`i, yet is treated as the commission’s boss rather than an employee.

Since the mayor appoints the commission members it’s not hard to control what they do, especially since they are administratively run by the administration which “orients” the new commissioners by indoctrination in the “process” that has “always been that way”.

In the cases of all of these “hiring” commissions, the commissions have no independent staff of their own but rely on those that were hired by the department head and who are of course beholden to that administrator- not the commissioners- for their job.

And guess what- there are no administrative rules for any of them on how to remove or fire a department head. It’s not hard to imagine how much cooperation they will get from their- and not so coincidentally the department head’s- staff should they decide a change is needed.

If there is anything that challenges the authority or threatens the job of their bosses you can bet those administrate personnel will make sure the commission gets only the factual material the department head wants them to get.

And since no one wants to rock the boat - especially the new members- meetings just continue to run as they always have, including of course violations of the Sunshine Law. That’s mostly because no one ever goes to their meetings or cares what goes on except for those who get personally screwed somehow by the county and its corrupt practices.

Rapozo had actually sent a letter before the meeting we described yesterday and instead of notifying him that his communication would be on the agenda, their “protocol” called for receiving the letter and putting it on a future agenda... if they felt like it.

And because they don’t seem to want to deal with it their lest two meetings- in November and December- Rapozo is counting on them to actually listen in January.

Maybe Mel has spent too much time on the official side of the council bar but that notion is one that elicits guffaws from the longtime council watchers.

In his last few meetings Rapozo had promised to keep up his watchdog activities at council meetings and “join the nitpickers on the ‘other side’” after leaving office. We hope that his absence from the first meeting was only due to the family health problems he has reported upon at his blog and not because he is abandoning his efforts to stir up the cesspool.

His promise to pursue the Civil Service Commission action is encouraging.

Whether any of the new council members are even aware of some of the loose ends left by Rapozo and Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho- such as the various audits and investigations of employment and procurement practices in various departments and the mayor’s office- is anyone’s guess at this point..

If past is prologue, we can be sure that Chair Kaipo Asing and Councilpersons Tim Bynum and Darryl Kaneshiro will do their paternalistic best to block the efforts to expose the corrupt practices and the people perpetuating them,

We aren’t too sure which side Jay Furfaro is on in all this but without all three new members’ vocal support and willingness to speak up and speak out on these matters it will be another two years of “same old, same old”.

If people don’t care- or don’t let them know they do- it will just go away as new Mayor Bernard Carvalho and his cronies hope, FBI investigation notwithstanding.

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