Tuesday, March 2, 2010


EVEN MORE ‘WANTED’: When it comes to playing kissy face in covering the police and courts beat for the local newspaper “reporter” Paul Curtis is a champ with his ceaseless publication of the “Kaua`i “Most Wanted” list and write-ups for every award and commendation given at the monthly police commission (PC) meetings.

But when it comes to covering controversies that come up at the meetings Curtis’ coverage is, shall we say, strangely absent.

You’d never know it if you read the local newspaper but if you watch the government channel you know that during February’s PC meeting Mayor Carvalho’s power grab- formerly covered in January by Curtis in his usual sycophantic style- caused conniption fits on the part of at least two commissioners.

To be fair the quest to allow counties to change their charters to allow the mayors of each island to appoint their respective police chief and others department heads currently hired by boards and commissions has been requested not just by Kaua`i Mayor Bernard Carvalho but by the Hawai`i Council of Mayors- a four person group that includes all the counties’ chief executives.

Right now a state law HRS 52D requires police chiefs be appointed by citizen police commissions. But, using the seemingly phony excuse of “home rule”, Administrative Assistant Gary Heu and Board and Commission Administrator John Isobe have been pushing Senate Bill SB2177 and it’s companion House Bill HB 2016 which would allow the counties to change their charters with a vote of the people.

But when Commissioner Leon Gonsalves- the controversial commissioner who authored the “Hop Sing” email that began the political purge of former Chief KC Lum and was attending his last meeting due to term limits- got wind of it he apparently authored a scathing letter criticizing the plan and defending his now former fiefdom.

He placed the letter on the PC agenda for discussion and vetting by fellow commissioners and that brought Heu and Isobe to the meeting to defend the plan.

But it was another controversial commissioner, homophobic, former marine “Pastor Tom” Iannucci, who started off the critique accusing the administration of “entering scary territory”.

“I support my mayor” Iannucci told the assembled and TV audience in a theme he repeated at every criticism of the plan. “I just worry about what comes after him”.

Saying the police commission “should be a buffer for the people to keep politics out of pubic safety” he wondered what would happen “if we get an ‘old boy’, corrupt mayor” in the future as, he said, has happened in the past although he mentioned no names.

Failing to see the irony of his praise of Carvalho’s administration while addressing to two of the mayor’s chief ‘old boy’ operatives, Heu and Isobe, he told of how when he joined the commission he found out about how procedures called for a list of prospective KPD employees- including officers- to go to the mayor for approval. a violation of civil service law.

Iannucci began his stint on the commission during the Baptiste Administration and seemed unaware that the practice continues today according to many county employees.

“That’s the way it used to be” he said complaining how it wasn’t just the idea of the change he objected to but the way the administration was trying to flim flam the commission into “approval” of it by claiming all they wanted to do was change the state law “for now” when everyone knew and the administration admitted that this was done in order to ultimately take the hiring and firing of the chief out of the hands of the police commission.

Gonsalves, whose letter wasn’t available on the county web site, said he completely agrees with Iannucci who had cited Gonsalves letter in his rant.

“Leave it alone- don’t play with it” said Gonsalves chiding Heu and Isobe by saying they “should have approached the commissions first” and discussed it before the legislative push to change the state law, not after.

“There’s a reason it’s set up that way” he said noting that the set-up goes “back to the 40’s”.

Chief Darryl Perry agreed saying “my fear down the line (is that) things may change for the worse” adding that “ we do investigations from parking citations to the top of government.

“This process may be compromised if one person has the power over this department.”

Nowhere was a discussion of how civilian control over our paramilitary police should be the norm and that taking the politics out of police departments is the norm across the country, not the other way around.

They also failed to mention the incidents during Mayor Maryanne Kusaka’s administration when she tried to personally fire Chief George Freitas for not protecting her “people” until she was informed that only the police commission could do that. Eventually Freitas sued and got a hefty “retirement package” in exchange for dropping his suit.

Strangely enough after discussion of the “good governance” item was over- without approval or disapproval or any vote on disposition- the commission discussed whether and how they could stop the televising of police commission meetings with Iannucci saying "commissioners (are) making statements that shouldn’t go out” to the public and seemingly unaware of the sunshine law which requires open meetings.

Iannucci used the excuse of how money was tight to call for an end to televised commission meetings right before the commission went on to the subject of how many commissioners they could send to the next junket to attend a state police commissioners’ meeting on the Big Island.

We just thought that if you don’t watch the meetings on TV you might want to know about this stuff since we don’t expect Curtis will be publishing anything controversial regarding the commission or department- or the administration for that matter- any time soon.

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