Friday, April 24, 2009


DAMN THE DALMATIAN; MUFFY NEEDS A MAKEOVER: The word irony apparently isn’t in the county council’s lexicon although we’re not sure if that’s because County Clerk Peter Nakamura simply refuses to release the dictionary to councilmembers or because the pontiff of Kaua`i, Chair Kaipo Asing, believes in his own self-proclaimed infallibility.

Wednesday’s council meeting presented a plethora of inexplicable and baffling contradictory discussions. When juxtaposed they make it all too obvious why the council makes it almost impossible to access the minutes to their meetings- if people read their words in print rather than seeing snippets in catch-as-catch can cablecasts they might just hold them accountable for what they say and do.

Early on the council chambers was packed with pastel aloha shirts and mu`umu`us with name tags along with a few suits, as a virtual who’s who of tourism and business community hacks filed before the council to sing the praises of the first half of a million dollar flush down the toilet of the Kauai Visitors’ Bureau, which we tore into last month.

The smiling faces and self congratulatory excesses turned stomachs for about an hour as the recipients paraded up to thank the council for tossing taxpayer money into the rat-hole of their bottom lines, one even carefully using the words “domino down” to describe how it will trickle all-over the low paid, expendable workers in the hotel plantations.

Others voiced the unverifiable assurances that there was a “plan” with “measurable” results despite the fact that there is, as yet, no such plan in the hands of the public.

But never fear- the plan had been verbally “shared” in an apparently mesmerizing two hour session where KVB honcho Sue Kanoho, County Economic Development Director George Costa and Hypnotist-In-Chief/Councilmember Dickie Chang (how else would you explain a minimally-talented, sycophantic tourism-shill being our top TV personality) bedazzled nit-picker and council watchdogs Glenn Mickens and Ken Taylor with where and how the money would be spent.

As we said in March, everyone wants to come here- advertising does no good. While we win out all the time on location, location, location the only thing stopping people from coming here is price, price, price.

But rather than use the money, as we and Mickens suggested in March, to directly subsidize tourists’ trips- assuming it is ever a good idea to spend taxpayer dollars on corporate welfare like this- we’re actually using it to pay off travel agents and “wholesalers” to “talk us up”- which presumes other locations aren’t paying them more and that simply advertising big resorts on Kaua`i provides us with additional visitors at all.

When Councilwoman Lani Kawahara suggested that perhaps at least some of the responsibility for promotion should lie with those who stood to benefit she was basically told not to worry her pretty little head about it and literally laughed at by councilmembers and the crowd.

But otherwise, never was heard a discouraging word and the looming budget deficit did not elicit a discouraging word all day as the bankers and hotel executives spread their deer and antelope manure throughout the council chambers.

And why wouldn’t they- if the plan benefits anyone- which is certainly not a given or even knowable in the long run- it certainly isn’t directly going to benefit any small businesses, just the Sheratons and Hyatts and Prineville Hotels who are the promotional targets and set to receive all of any largess the grant “stimulates”.

The bill now heads from the public hearing to the council’s Finance Committee for preliminary decision making and then a predictably swift passage.

But if there’s plenty of cash in the coffers to waste in this million dollar handout to these assorted thieves an afternoon of gloomy projections were yet to come.

Apparently sometime between mid morning and mid afternoon the council “found out” there might be a budget shortfall.

So it seems like it was just bad timing when the agenda turned to getting the administrative personnel of the Kaua`i Fire Department (KFD) out of the shoe box they currently occupy.

The council was being asked to a measly $40,000 cover the rest of the budget year and get them moved into new, although supposedly temporary, digs right now with about $100,000 in yearly lease payments to come.

Yet this request got more scrutiny than State Senator Donna Kim gave the DBEDT this year.

The reason for this- conveniently blamed on “the administration” although the council has been more than complicit- is the total inaction on making the empty space in the Pi`ikoi building available for KFD offices- for which architectural design plans were completed years ago but was never built when the first renovation was done

The council has been throwing money at three administrations- including that of Chair Asing who was mayor for a few months last summer- to get it done but of course as usual without holding them accountable and just giving them all the money they requested for quarter-million-dollars-a-pop consultants... and doing so for the third time just last April with no results.

Poor chief Bob Westerman- perhaps the most competent and honest person in the employ of the county- begging for a an office where they don’t have to work at “mini-desks” to administer arguably the most important service the county provides.

After a fog filled discussion with Public Works Deputy Ed Renaud and Administrative Assistant Gary Heu where they hemmed and hawed their way through an explanation of what the f—k is taking so long to get the space-planner they hired in April to so some planning Asing took center stage for the big disconnect.

Asing asked no one in particular why this delay wasn’t brought to his attention when he was mayor- conveniently ignoring the fact that he, if anybody, should have been most aware of the 20-year delay in getting the various county agencies into the buildings the county purchased for that purpose in the 1980’s since he’s been on the council ever since then except for a two year stint in the 90’s.

Then, as if to highlight all he knew but somehow forgot while he was in the round building, it was time for one of Asing’s famous “presentations”- ones he never seems to be at a lack for especially now that he controls all of the council’s staff research time and an issue which other council members have complained about in public session,

Anyway he started off with a long discussion that flew in the face of his usual admonitions of not just the public but councilmembers to only address times within the strict confines of the matter as described on the agenda- a tactic supposedly to comply with the sunshine law” but usually used by Asing to stop “uncomfortable” discussion when on occasion someone tries to honestly discuss the topic and to connect it to the real impediments or corruption.

Asing launched into his version of the “financial crisis” with long rehashing of national and even international monetary policy passing through the state’s crunch and eventually getting to the point- the possibility the state won’t give us our share of the transient accommodation tax to the tune of a projected $11 million this year.

Conclusion? We might not be able to afford to give the KFD the space it so desperately needs and has so patiently awaited with Westerman’s usual “we will continue to meet our obligations to provide public safety” no matter how shabbily they are treated by the council and administration.

So let’s get this straight Kaipo- there’s plenty of money to throw a million down the tubes of visitor industry’s bottom line needs but, because we won’t get our fair share of the money that is collected from that same industry, we can’t afford $40,000 to get the fire department out of an impossibly cramped room, smaller than the council chambers and containing more people than showed up that day, according to Kawahara.

It’s no wonder getting things like pertinent documents and meeting minutes from the council is nearly impossible and the idea of putting them on-line is anathema to Asing and Nakamura who rule with an iron fist.

Even the cable casts of the meetings are “descheduled” with a catch as catch can, rarely announced scheduling that never puts them on at the same time twice and simply presents them on a revolving basis presenting the most current council, planning and police commission and mayor’s PR programs.

Ho`ike TV is nothing if not accommodating of the power elite on Kaua`i.

We can’t even come up with clever concluding sentences anymore- trite clichés will suffice... as usual... same as it ever was... new week, same s--t.

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