Tuesday, January 26, 2010


REAL OPTIONS: As our readers- and anyone who’s seen a council meeting lately- know, one of the more power-drunk county officials is often demented County Attorney (CA) Al Castillo who last week thought it was within his purview to order someone testifying before the council to remove his hat.

Castillo is the latest in line of CA’s that have acted as political hacks and stooges for the council and mayor, following in the “law is what we say it is” footsteps of Hartwell Blake, Matthew Pyun and Lani Nakazawa who is currently serving Mayor Bernard Carvalho as his own private attorney and political “advisor”.

We’ve called for a charter amendment to elect the county attorney since the current 10-year-long charter review commission (CRC) first met in 2004 but it has escaped their radar screen due partially to the fact that the post-2006 members don’t seem capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time except for regurgitating an old seven-time rejected amendment for four-year council terms and other assorted Titanic seating-chart tinkering.

Today we received an advance copy of a letter from CRC watchdog Horace Stoessel making the case for an elected CA with a particularly pithy set of choices.

Here it is.


The county charter provides for the county attorney to be appointed by the mayor, with council approval, and to serve as the county’s chief legal adviser and legal representative.

The charter also mandates that the Charter Commission “study and review the operation of the county government under this charter” and propose amendments to the charter that it deems necessary or desirable.

Based on my observations of government operations and study of the charter, if the commission honors its mandate it has two options for proposing amendments regarding the county attorney’s office.

If the commission wants to bring the operations of the office into line with the charter, it should propose that the county attorney, like the prosecuting attorney, be elected for a four-year term, thereby freeing the office from having to serve not one but two political masters who are sometimes at odds with each other.

However, if the commission deems that the proper course is to bring the charter into line with current practice, it should propose adding a phrase to make the charter read, “chief legal adviser, legal representative, and political enforcer.”

For reasons too obvious to require spelling out, I favor a proposal for a four-year elected term.

Horace Stoessel

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