Tuesday, February 8, 2011


THROWN OVERBOARD: Most county employees we’ve heard from are still quietly seething over their politically motivated furloughs last year with their ire about equally split between the mayor, the council and their union.

But after seeing tomorrow’s council agenda one group that must be positively apoplectic is the county’s lifeguards.

For those who missed the circus, when furloughs were first discussed Mayor Bernard Carvalho assured the council the “public safety employees” would not be furloughed.

But, long story short, they were- including non-sworn officers in the Kaua`i Police Department (KPD), which caused all kinds of constipation as the prosecutor’s office, already backed up by the furloughs in the state courts, had to begin letting people loose people KPD had arrested because they couldn’t process them as fast as the law required.

After a huge fight over whether money for the prosecutor’s office to “catch up” on the backlog- supposedly created by furloughs- was truly “related to furloughs” (as the bill’s “purpose” stated) the money was included in the bill.

The lifeguards, however were not so lucky. During the first committee meeting on the bill to end furloughs, lifeguard champion Dr. Monty Downs described how, while lifeguards are part of the fire department for administrative purposes- where they were finally placed a while back after years of being what many called “second class heroes”- for union representation, unlike firemen they are stuck in some obscure backwater bargaining unit in Honolulu.

Somehow that left them out of being considered “public safety” employees and, through a series of screw ups and political maneuverings, they were left, not with furloughs but accepting the 5% pay cuts that the rest of their bargaining unit accepted, even while other counties didn’t screw their lifeguards.

But when Downs asked to do what was fair and promised and give them back the 5% that had been stolen from them in the screw up, the council decided that this was not “related to furloughs” and anyway the bill was “looking forward” even though the prosecutor’s office was getting money to clean up the mess left by furloughs in the past.

But "never fear" councilmembers promised- we can take that up in a new bill, which they promised, would be introduced at the next council meeting.

And guess what doesn’t appear on tomorrow’s council agenda? A money bill to make the lifeguards whole like the rest of the public safety workers.

This wouldn’t be the first time that assurances given during council debate are forgotten when the gavel bangs and the meeting adjourned.

You can reach councilmembers at councilmembers@kauai.gov and ask them why they’ve seemingly forgotten the lifeguards.


The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a Thursday, February 10, 2011, 2:00 p.m. hearing on HB 343 (Status) which would allow election day voter registration.

Advance registration is an anachronism and more and more states have gone to same day registration without any problems.

If you care about voter turnout this bill is essential.

As always testimony can be emailed to JUDtestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov or submitted via the web at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/emailtestimony and must include the testifier's name with position/title and organization, the committee the comments are directed to, the date and time of the hearing and the measure number.

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