Friday, February 6, 2009


KIBBLE AND BITS: Former County Attorney (CA) Matthew Pyun couldn’t run fast enough to escape the morass of the bizarro-world of Kaua`i County’s through-the-looking-glass view of law when administrations changed.

And we’ve been trying to figure out what exactly is going on with the county council’s confirmation of previously rumored and sort-of announced CA appointee, former deputy prosecutor and now defense attorney Al Castillo.

We were kind of taken aback by the selection since he apparently has no experience in governmental law and comes from the criminal law community but chalked it up to more of the same from Mayor Bernard “You (can go to hell) and Me (I’ll pay off my supporters) Together (we’ll steal you blind)” Carvalho.

Almost two months have gone by with no confirmation from the council as is required by the county charter- and no word as to why.

But at the last full council meeting our ears perked up when deputy CA Darren “that’s my story and I’m sticking to it” Suzuki introduced himself as the “acting CA” while he was not answering a question, as is apparently part of the CA’s job description these days.

Now, silently and stealthily, it appears that another appointment has been made.

Former deputy county attorney and county council legal analyst Amy Esaki’s name appears on this week’s council agenda, with Carvalho requesting council confirmation for her to lead the office of the county attorney.

Now of course you’re expecting the usual tirade and excoriation along with the requisite exposition of another revolving-door hack and crony, listing the misdeeds and sneaky crap the nominee has pulled over the years.

But apparently Carvalho was asleep at the wheel of his patronage-addled office because Esaki would be on our short list of who we would pick if we had the ability to do so.

Esaki is one of those attorneys who hasn’t been through that revolving door except for the time when she apparently quit the CA’s office under the widely reviled Lani Nakazawa to work for the council, writing and reading legislation.

She’s actually one of the most straightforward and seemingly honest, diligent and even (gasp) helpful lawyers ever employed by the county.

We have nothing but good things to say about her and can only hope against hope that she will bring a new era of openness and professionalism that’s been lacking in the office for a long time.


With the legislature doing it’s biannual dance-of-the-headless-chicken over the budget and its projected shortfalls, we’ve heard about of a lot of cockamamie bills containing schemes ranging from the brainless to the downright dangerous..

It’s the time of year when un-enterprising reporters can sit at a desk, riffle though the stack of introduced bills, stop anywhere and find something that causes heads to shake back and forth and eyes to roll..

But we have to wonder why none of them have seen one little ditty that has thus far gone unreported, whereby the state would steal the county’s share of the Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT) for the next six years.

Although to the relief of all the state’s mayors and councils it hasn’t yet been scheduled for a hearing, House Bill 1744 (Status) would “(s)uspend... for 6 years from 07/01/2009 to 06/30/2015 the distribution of transient accommodations tax revenues to the counties.”

The measure, introduced under the radar by House Speaker Calvin Say, has passed first reading and been referred to the Finance Committee.

It amends HRS 237D-6.5 by adding a section at the end that reads:

Subsection (b)(3), with regard to transfer of revenues to the counties, and subsection (c), with regard to computation and payment to the counties, shall not be operative from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2015. During the period that subsection (b)(3) is not operative, the remainder of the revenues collected shall be deposited into the state general fund."

Subsection (b)3 reads:

44.8 per cent of the revenues collected under this chapter shall be transferred as follows: Kauai county shall receive 14.5 per cent, Hawaii county shall receive 18.6 per cent, city and county of Honolulu shall receive 44.1 per cent, and Maui county shall receive 22.8 per cent.

The TAT is collected, as one might expect from the name, from people staying at tourist accommodations. The counties’ shares were originally included as a way to mitigate the impact of tourism on the counties’ budgets by giving them a share rather than allowing them to have their own taxation power (perish the thought), as had been proposed before the measure was enacted.

But now, rather than keeping their grubby paws to themselves they’ve got a bill handy to either rob Peter to pay Paul or use in some kind of extortion scheme to balance their budget by sloughing off their politically untenable choices- like actually taxing their precious campaign contributing faux hi-tech companies, land-raping developers and bottom-feeding military contractors- on the county level pols.

The measure would cost Kaua`i an estimated $15 million a year in revenue- more than 10% of the island’s operating budget- on top of the 10% across the board cuts ordered by Mayor Bernard Carvalho for the upcoming ’09-10 fiscal year.


And finally an update- and a happy one for those following the HUD non-discrimination bill in the Senate that we reported on again yesterday.

After a flurry of emails and phone calls yesterday from many people to Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee Chair Roz Baker, SB 456 is now set for a hearing on Friday February 13 at 8:30 a.m..

Testimony may be emailed, if it’s less than 5 pages in length, to the Committee at Indicate it’s “Testimony for SB 456 for the 2/13/09 8:30 a.m. hearing” in the subject line.

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