Thursday, August 26, 2010


INTO THE WAY BACK MACHINE: Not much happens at the legislature between sessions especially things that concern little Kaua`i.

But while the state’s eyes are focused on the senate hearings for the next Hawai`i supreme court chief justice one of our favorite senatorial rabblerousing monkey-wrenchers is holding a hearing of her own with an agenda that will certainly pop some local eyes.

Next Tuesday at 1 p.m. Chair Donna Mercado Kim’s Senate Ways and Means Committee will holding an Informational Briefing (click for testimony just before the hearing) investigating, among other things,

6. Lihue Airport –

a. Status of the employee embezzlement investigation

b. Explanation of the overpayment, reinstatement, and settlement of the employee that walked off the job

c. Status of the Mitigation of TSA (Transportation Security Administration) fines on Kauai – mitigation

d. Costs to the State, airlines, and travelers from the security breach at Lihue Airport on September 11, 2009

7. Grove Farm – status of the helipad expansion and status of information requested by the Committee in letter dated July 22, 2010, regarding enhancements to the access points for the Grove Farm land , the value and costs of the enhancements, and whether an enhancement fee was negotiated as part of the contract

Many on Kaua`i have heard about the Grove Farm (GF) fiasco where former county Director of Finance and now GF vice president Mike Tressler bamboozled the state into paying way more for a parcel of land than it was worth leading to the resignation of the state airports operations chief.

But the previously unreported incidents such as embezzlement and the other cryptic references to TSA misconduct are not any surprise to those who’ve followed the origins and evolution of the security crew at Lihu`e airport since the federalization of airport safety.

It’s no shock that there’s apparently elevated if not rampant corruption to those who remember how the TSA was originally staffed in the days after 9/11.

The administration of Mayor Maryanne Kusaka was coming to an end and there was no dearth of disgraced henchmen and women who had served the queen and worn out their welcome in county government, even with Kusaka’s handpicked successor Bryan Baptiste taking office in December of 2002.

There was even talk of mass indictments with then-new Councilperson Mel Rapozo telling the public that he had spoken to then-Prosecutor Michael Soong who was ready to prosecute Kusaka and her cronies for a plethora of alleged crimes from Kusaka’s personally-directed illegal grubbing and grading above Kuna (Donkey) Beach to her alleged instructions to Department of Public Works officials to ignore any violations of law by land-raping developers like Jimmy Pflueger and Tom McCloskey- both of whom had contributed nicely to Kusaka’s favorite charity.

It was then that Kusaka used her Republican connections to clear the way for members of the exodus to find a path to the new George W. Bush administration-created TSA offices at the airport where scandal-tainted Kusaka cronies found employment despite their misdeeds.

The Lihu`e Airport TSA has drifted in and out of the headlines for cronyism, nepotism and the resultant corruption ever since. We’ll be eager to see what Senator Kim has to say about the latest outrage but we suspect that it just might be a symptom of the Lihu`e TSA’s origins almost a decade ago.


Mauibrad said...

Thanks Andy. Will be watching Olelo for this hearing.

Mauibrad said...

Man, that was a great hearing, Andy. Looks like there will be more on this. You gonna write about this one?