Friday, April 29, 2011


LICENSE TO DRILL: Atrocious English notwithstanding, today's local newspaper report of the state's latest desecration of kanaka `iwi along the beach in Wailua gave us that old familiar feeling that you know so well.

The article says that apparently, that old black magic was being performed by "(c)ontracted archaeologist Jim Powell, of Scientific Cultural Surveys, (who) also found artifacts associated with ancient Hawaiian burials" according to cultural activist Ka`iulani Edens Huff.

“These guys are all over the place,” Edens said of Powell’s company, which also surveyed Joe Brescia’s property in Naue, on Kaua‘i’s (sic) North Shore. “They are dirty and they are everywhere bones are desecrated.”

Edens of course has been put through hell for daring to try to defend the `iwi against Brescia's graveyard mansion in Wainiha.

But what caught our eye was this citation in the article:

Title 13, Chapter 300 of the Hawai‘i Administrative Rules states that it is “unlawful for any person to remove from the jurisdiction of the state, any human skeletal remains over 50 years old, or any associated burial goods, without prior written authorization” from DLNR.

That's a long way to go to say today's post is a Best of Parx (okay it's a re-run) from July 1, 2008 when we first discovered that there was such a thing as "prior written authorization from DLNR" to desecrate Hawaiian graves.


HEY- THAT’S MY SACRED DOG DISH: After falling out of our chair this morning we got to thinking about the latest statement from developer Joe Brescia who still wants to put his house atop a kanaka graveyard despite a police warning that to do so would violate state anti-desecration laws.

The local paper reports that he told them:

“The law was obviously designed to punish those persons who desecrate burials without authorization.”

Sometimes there are so many different government departments, divisions and offices we can’t keep track of them all. And obviously we missed the one Brescia must be referring to.

We’re pretty sure never-say-die Brescia’s telephone call went something like this:

Hello, Office of Desecration Authorization and Permitting.

Yes I’d like to perform some desecration. Have I reached the right person?

You sure have. What can I help you defile today?

Well it seems like I have these old bones on my property and those jerks put them right where I want to put my obscenely obtrusive illegal vacation rental....

Are they Hawaiian bones?

Yes – they aren’t even white people!

Well nonetheless you have to have a permit to commit sacrilege in this state even against those godless Hawaiians. Now how many are buried there?

There’s at least 30 sets of them.

Oh. my- 30, eh. Well that means you will need a Comprehensive Desecration Permit and don’t qualify for the two-graves-or-less provisions where I could just issue you a Minor Insult Permit today. Now exactly how many people have had their sensibilities outraged?

Well, I’m not sure- there were at least a hundred protesters out there when I....

Hold it right there sir- do you have the names and contact information for those you want to offend?

Well, no but...

Well you must document the names of the persons you’d like to disrespect and provide us with the specific ways each would be likely to observe or discover your actions in order to get authorization to perform your sullying. That involves notifying the specific persons affronted and calculating the level of offensiveness each experienced so you can file your form FU-13 Defilement Filing.

File my defilement filing?...

Yes. Then of course you’ll be publishing your Public Notice of Intent to Desecrate and hold a public hearing....

Public hearing?...

Yes how else can the Desecration Commission tell whether it’s a true sacrilege or just an imposition upon the culture. Now how exactly do you plan to despoil these bones?

I just want to put a house on top of them.

Oh- a house, eh. Then you’ll need to fill out a special GH-100 Spiritual Retaliation Waiver form releasing the Commission of all future liability for ghostly events and apparitions - you know, night marching warriors, fireballs, crying aumakua- you probably know them better as specters, phantoms, poltergeists and the like. It’s all quite common....

Well it’s all quite daunting if you ask me but I suppose I’ve manipulated and paid off so many offices and officials that, well, what’s one more?

Fine sir- we’ll send you our 150 page pamphlet, “So you want to Desecrate Our Host Culture”. Where shall we send it?

Just address it to the biggest jerk in Wainiha. I’ll get it.

Are you sure? I hear there’s a lot of them lately?

Hey- I’ve fought hard for that title. If I know anything it’s how big an a-hole I am..

Very well sir- Is there anything else we can help you thumb your nose at today?

No, I’ve done enough damage for now.

Thank you sir and have a very blasphemous day.


UPDATE: Although our investigative report about abuses in the of of Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri Carvalho was greeted with a collective shrug, to our amazement Councilperson Dickie Chang's lack of recusal in the matter of the obscene $150,000 grant for the Kaua`i Marathon yielded this from the council's May 4 agenda

C 2011-135 Communication (04/28/2011) from Councilmember Chang, providing written disclosure on the record of a possible conflict of interest and recusal on Bill No. 2404 (An Ordinance to Appropriate $150,000 to the Kaua'i Marathon Grant), because he is the Owner of Wala'au Productions which tapes and aires (sic) footage of the Kaua'i Marathon and also he serves as an emcee for the Kaua'i Marathon at several pre and post events.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


FEED YOUR HEAD: It never fails to amaze how may ways the Hawai`i state legislative system stinks.

It's bad enough when a great bill gets to a conference committee and collapses because no one can agree on a version. But it happens. And it's worse when the rules allow one graft-addled schmuck to kill it.

But of course the ultimate stomach-churner is the poison pill that comes out of nowhere to take a fine piece of legislation that has waited years for its day in the sun and turns it into a revolting piece of crap.

This years toxin-toting villainous vexation comes courtes of Senator "Dr." Josh Green who has stolen the pilot program to establish medical marijuana distribution centers and is using it to kill virtually the whole medical marijuana program.

According to yesterday's Honolulu Star-Advertiser when Green got done with the bill:

(u)nder the pilot program proposed in Senate Bill 1458, medical marijuana prescriptions would be limited to patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, cancer, HIV, AIDS and/or glaucoma. It would establish a “compassion center” for distribution on an island where the Department of Health determines there is the greatest need, based on the number of prescriptions.

This bonehead Green thinks because he is an emergency room physician he can say who does and who doesn't need the medicine provided through marijuana despite the fact that he doesn't see chronic patients and has no idea what the medical value of marijuana is.

Admittedly there are only volumes of anecdotal evidence that marijuana treats pain better than opiates- which recently have been called out as the most abused drug in the country- and have allowed many to actually throw away their pills.

That's because research has been squelched by anachronistic, reefer-madness, anti-drug zealots who are way too afraid of allowing marijuana's medical value to be proven.

Green has taken it upon himself to alter the bill at this stage of the game after actually passing it out of his own committee without any restrictions on conditions for which a patient can receive a doctor's recommendation.

It would make Hawai`i the first state to restrict doctors from using their own medical judgment in cases of recommendations for medical marijuana.

We'd gotten spoiled the last few years with former Kaua`i Senator Gary Hooser serving as the Senate Majority Leader where he could make sure these types of bills got a fair shot. Same with former Kaua`i North Shore and Kapa`a Rep. Mina Morita in the house where energy and environmental bills were her kuleana.

If indeed the bill does get to the floor in its current form, the only thing left for proponents is to ask senators and representatives to kill the bill or attempt a rare almost unheard of amendment removing Green's amendment from the bill.

You can write all senators at and reps at and ask them to maintain the pilot program without stripping the medical marijuana program and restricting physicians' ability to make medical decisions for their patients.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


PLUMBERS HELPER: Perhaps the most unpleasant experience in the world is that certain kind of indigestion that you get when a meal makes putrid oral reappearances over and over with each re-tasting more revolting than the next.

It's similar to the experience you get when watching our county council do "the old gush and flush" every time Kaua`i Visitor's Bureau chief Sue Kanoho and county’s Director of Economic Development George Costa make an appearance in the council chamber.

Last Wednesday was yet another re-re-regurgitation as the council gushed over how well the duo flushed the latest appropriations for tourism promotion down the proverbial crapper.

Apparently the council is still skittish at re-revealing the latest $200,000, with furious glances exchanged at Kanoho's cryptic "oh I shouldn't have mentioned that" reference to the latest flush before Chair Jay Furfaro finally made reference to it.

As we reported in January regarding the meeting on the 19th:

Things were off to a bad start when it was revealed that the way this worked was not with Kanoho coming to Mayor Bernard Carvalho- who proposed the bill- and asking for certain amounts for certain “programs” but rather the mayor telling her we had $200,000 to spend and asking her to come up with ways to spend it, according to Costa.

And astonishingly enough expenditures for the six “programs” added up to $200,000.

Previous gushing had them all taking credit for the lack of any increase in tourism numbers- after spending $2 million- with truly preposterous axiom that "even is the new increase." So of course this time, even though tourism has rebounded slightly across the state, Kanoho and Costa were equally ready to take credit for the Kaua`i increase.

Then it was the council's turn to perform what's called "Lihu`e Yoga"- contortionist back patting in taking credit for spending our money on it.

As usual there was no evidence whatsoever of any cause and effect- especially the "kama`aina campaign" to promote interisland travel- although a picture of a few hundred people gathered in Alberta Canada at a trade show for a "must be present to win" drawing for a free trip to Kaua`i was presented as evidence of effect.

And once again Kanoho had to mention the "American Girl Kanani doll" promotion we mentioned in January claiming proof that it worked because she saw someone get off a plane with the doll- a doll which we have since learned is made in China.

How much is going straight down the cesspool next fiscal year? Well, miracles of miracles the usual county appropriation to KVB of around $150,000 has been cut to $75,000 in the current budget but that decrease may well be made up for with another round "emergency" spending to promote the airlines and resorts.. with zero monies coming from those industry biggies.

Just another day in the glad-handing "nothing to see here- go back to your homes" latest version of our county council.

Makes you proud to be voter, don' it?

Monday, April 25, 2011


PROSECUTE THIS: When county furloughs were ended earlier this year in conjunction with their end, the office of Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri Carvalho lobbied the county council to include some money for them to "catch up" on what they called a furlough-caused backlog of cases.

As we wrote on February 8:

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.

Well although, as we wrote, the lifeguards were denied back pay in the money bill- even though "public safety" related jobs were supposed to be exempt- Iseri got her money.

But we failed to report a little wrinkle in the proceedings.

When the original request was made it was claimed that while the attorneys in the office were working during the furlough period they were unable to get the needed support to be able to go through the cases and now would have to work overtime to clear the backlog.

That, the council was told, was what the money was for.

But after that claim had rolled around in the minds of councilmembers through the public hearing and a couple of committee meetings a light bulb seemed to go off in the mind of Councilmember Tim Bynum who asked a very basic question.

"Wait- aren't the prosecutors on salary?"

This set off some verbal scrambling because salaried people don't get paid for overtime. After some hemming and hawing the council was told that the extra money would be going for overtime pay for the support staff in the prosecutor's office to get the paperwork done and enable the individual prosecutors to catch up.

But even though Iseri had essentially misrepresented the need for the "catch-up" money, the new explanation seemed to hold water and of course it was a matter of the public's safety so the money for the staff overtime was appropriated.

So why do we bring this up now?

Because, after a three month investigation, PNN has learned that shortly after the bill passed Iseri instituted a new cost cutting policy, telling the support staff that the doors to the office would be locked promptly at 5 p.m. every day and no overtime would be paid.

Many sources describe the Kaua`i prosecutor's office as "a mess". They say that virtually all the long-time prosecutors have either been fired or were "quitted"- as in "you can't fire me, I quit"- along with career support staff. The newbies are all inexperienced attorneys, fresh out of law school, imported from the mainland, with no knowledge of the local community much less courtroom experience. There is only one attorney that is a long time Kaua`i resident left in the office.

The same goes for staff where employees with decades of experience have quit in disgust. One precipitating episode was that when Iseri took over in 2008, in order to "keep and eye on" everything, she took the offices of many staff members away and put them all in partitioned cubicles in a main area, and then used the vacated offices for "storage."

Also, according to multiple sources, Iseri fired one attorney when the attorney announced she was pregnant and needed legally mandated maternity leave. That cost the county a cool $30,000 after County Attorney Al Castillo quickly settled the resulting EEOC complaint after the council's equally prompt approval since the unlawful termination case was so outrageously obvious.

But those matters pale in comparison to something we've heard about from multiple sources who are in positions to know.

Apparently Iseri recently sat her "team" down and issued orders that certain local attorney's clients are not to be offered plea bargains.

If this is true- and we have no reason to believe it is not- it would be an outrageous violation of not just the code of professional conduct for attorneys but a severe violation of the public's trust that our prosecutor runs her office in the name of justice, not the petty vendettas and personal power grabs that appear to be Iseri's hallmark.

But all is not lost. We've been hearing all over town that Deputy County Attorney Justin Kohler who works with the Kaua`i Police Department (KPD) is telling anyone who will listen that he is going to oppose Iseri in 2012 and, as a result, people say that Iseri will try to return to the county council in next year's election.

Those are just the things we can verify to our satisfaction from sources close to the prosecutor's office who fear retribution if we were to use their names. There are other stories that are single sourced- even though the sources are reliable- and we've been unable to confirm them. Others that would burn your ears off cannot be told due to the privacy concerns of the principles.

We have urged all our sources to come forward and file complaints with the Hawai`i State Bar and/or the Office of the Attorney General, as appropriate.

This reign of terror must end.

Friday, April 22, 2011


INCOMING: It's that's time of year when all the hard work at the legislature pays off like a Vegas slot with three lemons.

But as the members of the firing squad within the conference committee system load their Uzis for next week's inevitable blood bath somehow some bills manage to hide under the sanguine slaughtered and make it to a vote in both chambers.

Of course those measure are usually half of what could have been done with some kind of red tape thrown in just to make sure nothing in done in perpetuity.

And so it goes with this year's reporters' shield legislation which, instead of making it permanent. "extends the limited news media privilege against the compelled disclosure of sources and unpublished information to 6/30/2013." for some idiotic judiciary study that was already done the first time the law passed with a 2011 sunset date.

The Hawai`i law also covers bloggers making a nasty battle over who is a journalist moot for those of us who do reporting along with commentary and analysis.

But it's real import has been in getting people to talk and being able to offer them the added protection of a law that protects us.

For decades we've given assurances to certain sources that we would never reveal their identities, especially when their safety or job security are involved. But that meant convincing them that we would go to jail to protect their identities.

After a few notable cases across the mainland in the last decade where a handful of reporters either cracked or put pressure on their sources to reveal themselves it made people think twice and forced us to abandon some investigative pieces for lack of corroborating or even primary information, despite the fact that we could sit in Kapa`a and smell a story from Kekaha.

With the shield law we have been able to tell those who would expose corruption and wrong doing that our freedom is no longer an issue.

The problem is that it only applies tothe state court system since there is no federal shield law which would have to make its way through congress where it has stalled year after year.

If you have a story to tell us give us a call (we're listed) or drop us an email (gotwindmills(at) and join us in giving thanks for another two years of peace of mind for whistleblowers around the state.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


EVEN REPORTERS GET THE BLUES: Mesmer never had TV but if he had he would have done well to use the county council's budget hearings to lull his patients into the half-sleep of passive compliance he sought.

So we'll excuse ourself for having such heavy eyelids after attempting to view the un-viewable and relying on- god help us- Leo Azumbuja's account of the council services budget requests session.

Of course he starts off his article with a total fabrication from who knows what recess of his imagination in referring to "County Clerk Peter Nakamura’s mayoral re-appointment and subsequent Kaua`i County Council confirmation in December."

The obviously click-challenged Azumbuja might have at least checked the county charter to find out that the mayor has nothing whatsoever to do with the appointment of the clerk.

But we'll have to rely on his account of a much more important matter- one so important he saved it for paragraph 18 (of 21) in noting that:

(Nakamura) also asked for a new position in Council Services for secretarial support. This new hire would provide support to increase web postings of council documents.

“As part of our goal of increasingthe presence of the council and council documents on the Web, the primary objective that we were given by the council chair was to obtain and upgrade our copier systems to multi-function systems,” said Nakamura, adding that the system would allow the office to begin such process at Nawiliwili and be able to transition directly to the network systems in the renovated Historic County Building.

Nakamura said the office should obtain the second multi-function copier within one month.

“Our hope is that it would be able to decrease the amount of steps that we currently have to do to convert paper documents into readable, searchable documents,” he said.

As we've noted over and over, the posting of the supporting documents for council agenda items that are given out routinely at the council services office has been ourand others' source of choice for uncovering corruption and malfeasance by both the administration and council and therefore the council has had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the information age although they've been successful with foot dragging for years now.

As we revealed long ago, council services already has a fancy-schmancy super-duper "copy machine" right now that scans and then actually posts documents on their website- one they've used on things like minutes, agendas and summaries.

But while ignoring that- until now with their questionable claim that they need another one- their main claim has been that somehow they need a new "secretary" whose job we suppose will be to push the second button when they make hard copies of those supporting documents for the members of the council.

Now they need a second machine for the button pusher.

Of course now that they've told the lie about needing a new position for so long they are trapped into including it in the budget.

We can just imagine Nakamura calling up Personnel Director Malcolm Fernandez and asking for the civil service personnel code number for a button pusher. We're pretty sure civil service must have a special class of people with huge index fingers at the ready.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


UP ON THE ROOF: They say that with age comes wisdom but the real trick may be in getting to be old enough so that others see that what appeared to be a good idea 10 or 15 years ago actually was.

When solar hot water heaters were becoming ubiquitous- back before passage of the Gary Hooser legacy bill requiring new homes to be built with them- we had wondered why utilities shouldn't make it easy to help people finance not just rooftop solar hot water but solar electricity units with zero percent loans that are collected each month to be paid off with the savings the customer was realizing in the billing period.

We assumed that it was opposition from the utilities that was blocking it because, despite lip service to conservation and alternative energy, each was stuck in "we sell electricity to you" paradigm where the more electricity they sold the bigger the profit.

So we went to the State House Energy Committee Chair Mina Morita and asked what it would take would move the legislature off the dime and get them to pass enabling legislation despite the opposition from electric companies.

We assumed that the handful of providers of solar systems would be a good place to start since they could provide the resources to begin the fight.

But shockingly we found out that the main stumbling block was those self-same companies.

Seems that there were only a couple of them at the time and they had all the business they could handle, thank you very much, and they worried that if the government provided for a massive program it would bring oodles of competition into the market, cutting their monopoly into a million little pieces.

Cut to today and amazingly enough, there are plenty solar companies and so House Bill 1520 SD2 has reached a conference committee and appears to be poised for passage despite opposition from- you guessed it- the utility companies.

The bill, introduced by Morita before she left to head the Public Utilities Commission,

Directs the public utilities commission to consider implementing an on-bill financing program for residential electric utility customers to finance purchases of energy efficient or renewable energy devices and systems through their regular electric utility bills.

According to a Sierra Club's Capitol Watch email "Blue Planet Foundation is holding a rally to promote House Bill 1520 SD2 today at the capitol from 12:30-1 p.m."

Although testimony is no longer being taken at this point in the legislative session it couldn't hurt to drop an email of support to representatives ( and senators urging their support for this long overdue measure that would start the ball rolling to decentralize carbon-free electricity distribution.

Monday, April 18, 2011


SLIPPIN' ON THE SLIME: Someone who we thought would know better called to ask why new state rep Derek Kawakami didn't have to recuse himself from voting on the "plastic grocery bag fee" bill currently still alive at the legislature, as he did as a county council member with our plastic bag "ban."

There were two reason why that struck us as strange- the first being that the person didn't know that state legislators don't even have to declare conflicts-of-interest much less refrain from participating or voting on the matter, the second that, unlike many, they did know that Kaua`i voters changed our county charter to state that councilmembers with a conflict "in any matter pending before him shall make full disclosure of the conflict of interest and shall not participate in said matter."

The only problem with the provision is that the charter does not make clear who decides whether a conflict exists and so evidently leaves it up to the conflicted member to declare they have one. All the charter says is that "(t)he mayor, the council and the board of ethics shall be responsible for the enforcement of provisions of this article."

So when we saw Bill 2404 on the council's April 6 agenda which would give a $150,000 grant to this year's Kaua`i marathon, we could not believe that not only didn't Councilmember Dickie Chang recuse himself but he actually introduced the bill and it will be heard in his Economic Development Committee.

Chang, of course, hosts the local "Wala`au" television program which has gotten hours of "content" from the past two marathons- content which is the lifeblood for any television program as it generates the advertising revenue that Chang depends on for his living.

While the bill is in trouble already with Councilmember Mel Rapozo voting a rare "no" on the first reading of the bill and others expressing doubts they would vote to give money to the marathon again this year, the fact that there is a direct financial benefit to Chang from the marathon makes his failure to declare his conflict of interest unconscionable.

The charter also says that "(a)ny violation of any of the provisions of this section shall constitute cause for fine, suspension or removal from office."

The real solution to the whole conflict of interest problem is to make the office of councilmember a full time job and eliminate outside employment. That would of course necessitate raising the salary for the position to a level equitable with that of the mayor or department heads- about double what it is now.

But those who object to the extra approximately $350,000 a year that would take would do well to note that this not-at-all-unique expenditure is 3/7ths of that in one fell swoop and, when combined with other expenditures of a similar ilk, demonstrate that we're paying way more that 350Gs on the "back end."

Those wishing to testify on Bill 2404 can send their mana`o to .

Friday, April 15, 2011


ZZZZZZ: We've spent a rousing week of evenings waiting for something to actually happen at the county council budget hearings, so it was another "huh" moment when today's local newspaper story by you-know-who proclaimed that "(s)parks were flying Thursday morning between County Council members during a heated discussion at the Nawiliwili Council Chambers."

What a witty lede. There was only one problem with it- the article never mentioned the "sparks" perhaps because in actuality these budget hearings have alternated between snooze-fest and schmooze fest since the festivities began.

You'd think that with the all-cronies-all-the-time nature of the department heads appointed by Mayor Bernard Carvalho the level of incompetence at the top that's been reported to us by the county's "we-bes"- as in "we be here when you got here, we be here when you're gone"- might have been an issue for councilmembers, whose job is, after all, oversight of the administration.

Instead, after the department heads' usual perfunctory reading of their "prepared remarks" councilmembers lobbed a few softballs before heaping the praise on them reminiscent of the post-secret-handshake "you're great, no you're great" declaration from the Tom Hanks Saturday Night Live "Fiver Timer" sketch.

Most of the questions that have been asked are invariably of the "what the bleep did you do with the money" nature with "anykine" answers sufficing as appointees stumbled and bumbled their way through the sessions until they finally ran out the clock. That was followed by councilmembers declarations of "I especially liked the way you listed..." whatever it was they listed and an "I love you too" from the person in the not-so-hot seat.

Apparently, we have it all wrong. There's no incompetence at the top in administrative departments- our experiences are illusory. It's just coincidence- the mayor's campaign workers and big contributors just happen to be the most qualified people to lead these departments.

So glad we cleared that up. Go back to your homes folks- nothing to see here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


SICK BUT NOT TIRED: "Hi, can I ask you something" she almost shouted as we approached her place of business from 40 feet way.

What the heck is this we thought? Kapa`a is turning into barkers' paradise these days as the guy in the chicken suit down the road attested earlier.

But she wasn't trying to sell anything but attempting to buy.

In a heartbreaking story she explained that her husband and she hadn't smoked marijuana for 20 years but now he has a debilitating illness and a small amount someone had given her had given him the first good nights sleep he's had in months.

And this is what it's comes down to these days- people risking not just their job but their freedom to get medicine because of the catch-22 of the current Hawai`i state law that provides for possession of medical marijuana with a doctor's "recommendation" but gives patents no way to actually obtain it without breaking the law.

We were sorry to have to tell her we've been out of the circuit for many years too but were able to give her some hope by telling her that SB1458 SD2 HD3 which "establishes a comprehensive five-year medical marijuana distribution pilot program in an unspecified county" was hanging on by it's teeth as the state legislature draws to it's close.

And this morning, despite reports of it's demise, the bill apparently almost unanimously passed "third reading" in the house and was referred to a conference committee.

And though the bill at one time had inserted Maui as the county where the pilot program would be established, it now leaves the name of the county blank.

Of course the idiocy of leaving the whole program under the Department of Public Safety rather than moving it to the Department of Health where it belongs will apparently be status quo for another year and the measure to legalize possession of less than an ounce is also dead. It's now a matter of seeing what the conference committee will do.

Overall it's been a disappointing year after so many good bills made it through crossover only to die in the other chamber but as long as our insane hurry-up-and-wait legislative system allows single legislators to kill good bills we'll have to fight every year to achieve some degree of sanity on this and a lot of other no-brainer" issues.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


DELIGHTFULLY DELUSIONAL: It's pretty rare to be pleasantly surprised by anything the Kaua`i County Council does but it's hard not to be after our only endorsement in the November 2010 election, Kipukai Kuali`i, was selected to replace the bad rubbish to which we've bid good riddance, former Councilmember Derek "Going Places" Kawakami.

Even though we assigned the usual evil motives to the remaining council in our analysis last Tuesday and intentionally left Kualii's name out of our discussion, we now have to admit to missing the fact that there was a bigger picture in the alliance angle we pursued.

Although the list was apparently illegally withheld from public purview we can assume that the names fell into one of two categories: blasts from the past like "fourth generation plantation daughter" Maxine Correa- one of the truly abominable councilmembers in the 80's and early 90's- who actually attended the meeting, or absurdist and delusional self-promoters like Kimo Rosen.

One thing that all probably had in common was that they imagined themselves as someone who would "hit the ground running" whether they had a clue or sought to purchase one. That left the "humble" Kipukai as the only one that would be a complete follower- one who would be depending on the remaining councilmembers to "teach him the ropes."

We're not sure from the description of how the meeting was conducted since of course the article in the local newspaper was "written" by the observationally challenged Leo Azumbuja but we suspect that Mel Rapozo, who is increasingly becoming a minority of one, was left dangling in the wind in his hope for an ally.

Once current Chair Jay Furfaro- who has increasingly seen his bread as being buttered by the progressive wing of Yukimura and Bynum- fell into line, his lap dog Dickie Chang quickly heeled.

That left newbie Nadine Nakamura- who has, after the vote to sustain the plastic bag ban last week apparently declared her allegiance to the Yukimura/Bynum progressive alliance- to continue to drift even closer to them. Although she will no doubt not be able to help herself in trying to find compromises with Rapozo, the fact is that the council could just be gelling into a 5-1 (and now with Kuali`i 6-1) progressive bloc with Nakamura a solid third vote for a away from the promised land.

Really? Well, maybe.

Look at it this way. Kawakami had not only provided a vote opposing the majority but his apparent popularity had also made Furfaro- and so also Chang- a double swing vote making for a shifting majority depending on whether Furfaro feared Kawakami's sway more than he saw voting with Yukimura and Bynum on the progressive side as beneficial to his hold on the chair- which of course, in the final analysis, is all that his vote depends on.

Removing Kawakami removes that dynamic freeing Furfaro and so Chang.

Of course Chang is not really a solid sixth vote. His allegiance to Furfaro may sway depending on how much pressure the Chamber of Commerce/Kaua`i Visitors' Bureau crowd exerts on him and how far the progressive bloc tries to go.

And, as we said Nakamura's penchant for compromise will be strengthened if there are actually two opposing votes, especially if Chang provides a "second" for any Rapozo's lone-wolf proposals.

We hate to get ahead of ourselves in predicting this kind of amazing and even stunning shift to an overwhelming progressive majority but depending on how things play out, after all the recriminations and resignations to another two year of watching paint dry, this just could be the council we've waited for for decades.

You can bet your Prozac and Lithium on it.

Monday, April 11, 2011


ALOOOOO-HA: A week ago yesterday few knew what or who "Preserve Kauai's Rural Character (PKRC)"‏ was. And apparently no one knows or will say today.

Last Sunday was the day we received an innocent enough yet slick professional email- produced by marketer VerticalResponse- reviving the anti-Kilauea Amphitheater movement in the wake of news of a takeover of the Kalihiwai Ridge Community Association (KRCA) in Kilauea by proponents of the project, causing KRCA to drop it's contested case for the required Special Use Permit before the planning commission.

The mass mailing- replete with one of those "click here to unsubscribe buttons" and a personalized "Dear Andy" salutation- tried to reframe the argument from one of "stay loud already" vs the "nahting for do around hea" mantra to appeal to we professional land use rabblerousers by putting the fear of commercialization of ag land in our green little hearts.

Despite numerous requests this week the originator of these emails remains unknown but not his, her or their intentions.

It didn't take but a few hours for the now ubiquitous developer-Bill-Porter-as-Hitler video to surface, again anonymously. And it didn't take us but a few seconds to identify the style of the short film to be that of a certain local filmmaker who has done a few "who did that" videos.

Not only was the mailing slick- not to mention costly, especially complete with a mailing list- but the PR effort and the knowledge of what pushes the sustainability crowds solar-generated buttons was almost impeccable.

Almost, except that some of the so-called "facts" weren't.

So it was until mid-week when KRCA busted out the big bucks and published a full page ad in the local newspaper and another email announcing it.

The ad proclaimed that approval of a special use permit would be a first-ever for commercial use "on land zoned as 'Agricultural' by the State"- a meaningless phrase that belied the author's lack of sophistication in the ways of land use in the islands.

As we find ourselves explaining way too often the state, under direction of the Land Use Commission, does "districting" while the county does "zoning." It's an important distinction and one that has caused no dearth of legal wangling over the years.

The next move, apparently from the developer, was an email going over and attempting to refute, point by point, the contentions of the ad, although most were semantic arguments as to whether the ad's depiction of an "amusement park" was appropriate, but also attempting to debunk the ad's debunking of the "Six Myths About the Kilauea Pavilion."

And yesterday, once again, the antis were at it again with a debunking of the debunking of the debunking in point by point by point, tri-color regalia.

The real issue here is the same one that's plagued this and the surrounding parcels for generations- what to do with the "light industrial" land- a remnant of the sugar cane mill days- that sits in the middle of agriculturally and districted and zoned land just north and mauka of Kilauea. It's gone through all sorts of designations over the years, reverting back and forth, as plans either fell through or the Kilauea community rose up against the plans.

While we don't have any way of verifying the "first ever commercial use permit for ag land" claim made by KRCA we seriously doubt it although that may have more to do with Preserve Kauai's Rural Character's confusion between county zoning and state districting and what the two different "agricultural" designation actually mean. And rather than stating and quoting any specific section of HRS 205, which lists the allowable- and more importantly the not allowable- uses of ag lands, KRCA just listed a hodge-podge of provisions and a contention... the point being that unless uses are specifically banned they are generally allowed with a special use permit.

What is pretty obvious is that the handful of Kalihiwai Ridge residents- who themselves live on ag subdivisions and "condos"- that were ousted from their community association posts for their opposition to the project are trying to reframe the argument to suck in- and we might say quite successfully noting the many "re-sendings" of their emails- the land use/sustainability crowd even after a buy-in to the project by the apparent majority of both Kilauea and Kalihiwai Ridge (KR) residents.

Will it set a precedent that will forever change the way special use permits are issued for commercialization of ag lands as PKRC claims? Unlikely considering the way the developer went to the community and asked what they'd like to see on the land which is the one thing that the majority of local people require as an act of "aloha."

It doesn't help that the KR folks are seen as a bunch of rich haoles whose use of ag land as "gentleman estates" is seen as far more objectionable- not to mention destructive of agriculture by cutting up and skyrocketing the price of ag land- even by those whom they are enlisting in the fight to stop the project.

Perhaps that's why the PKRC people refuse to identify themselves and answer questions from the press and have rather tried a last ditch effort to rally the usual suspects by casting the issue as a battle for the future of agriculture on Kaua`i.

Aloha has less to do with smiling as you clean toilets for the tourists as the visitor's bureau wants people to think and more to do with respect- you don't just walk up and take the fruit on someone's lawn, you ask first. Same goes with a notoriously hard to develop parcel of land slated for development.

And no matter what Bill Porter is doing, he not only asked but actually listened.

And while we have apprehensions at the commercialization of the already commercialized area, it's the North Shore residents who will have to live with what they bought into.

Tomorrow the sh*t hits the fan at the planning commission meeting where the permit has been recommended for approval by the planning department staff and director. But, depending on what side you're on, fortunately or unfortunately, the genuine of ingenuous efforts of PKRC will likely have been in vain.

Friday, April 8, 2011


AND WE WERE GOING TO TAKE THE DAY OFF: When is news not news? When it's in our local newspaper in an article penned by journalism’s worst enemy, Leo Azumbuja.

Yes we're tired of criticizing his "work" (note the quotes)- it's too easy.

But today’s article proclaiming that the SuperFerry bill that has been hanging around the legislature is still alive is so disturbingly inaccurate that it constitutes journalistic malpractice.

If you're going to cover the legislature the first rule is to know something about the process and then look at the legislative calendar.

Because despite Azumbuja's lede proclamation that "(t)he economic crisis that refuses to leave the Hawaiian Islands has not been sufficient to sink the idea of a state-run interisland ferry system" the fact is that today is what is known as "Second Decking Deadline" when as "Civil Beat" put it today

The House and Senate must get their respective bills in final form today in order for the measures to be voted on next week and make second crossover April 14.

The deadline to get bills to the House Clerk is 10 p.m., but the Senate Clerk had not announced its deadline as of late yesterday.

Next up: conference committee, which will pretty much consume the last two weeks of the month.

If Azumbuja had bothered to look at the status he'd have noticed that on March 23 it was referred to the Senate Ways and Means (WAM) Committee where it died after failing to be scheduled for a hearing. And since hearings must be noticed 48 hours in advance the bill will not receive an okay from WAM.

He would have also noticed had HE had read the bill, as he accused 16th District Representative Dee Morikawa of failing to do- he'd have noticed that the current bill was amended by the house with a "defective date" of July 1, 2030.

Of course like any bill it can be pulled by the full body for a vote. But that virtually never happens, with last year's civil unions bill being an exception that had even long time legislative correspondents scrambling to find the last time it had happened.

Of course most anyone who really cared about the SuperFerry Bill had, most likely, received a notice from anti-SuperFerry Activist supreme Dick Meyer of Maui last week that the bill was apparently dead after not showing up on the final WAM hearing notice. But for those who rely on the Kaua`i "newspaper of record" to record the actual record it's the same sad story written by a man seemingly incapable of telling one accurately.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


UNSUFFOCATINGABLE:Babooze-In-Chief Mel Rapozo's attempt to reverse the so-called "plastic bag ban" has gone down to its inevitable defeat but after sitting through hours- nay months- of yammering it was both refreshing and, at the same time, distressing to have seen those who weren't going to vote for a change in the first place just sit there and say nothing as disinformation flowed like a beer keg at a toga party.

Not once was the fact that we don't really have any "ban" on Kaua`i mentioned in debate.

As we wrote in February when the bill was first introduced

(Rapozo's) bill strikes the definition of a plastic checkout grocery bag that, in Ordinance 885 made for a “de facto” ban by requiring, not just that they are compostable or biodegradable but that they not contain any fossil fuel polymers, since no such bag currently exists. Unlike the outright ban on Maui our bill allows the bags if and when a bag that meets this requirement becomes available.

So the bill simply changes the definition removing the “fossil fuel polymers” part.

And, as we wrote the day before after an nation-wide investigation by our friend Brad Parsons- later confirmed by the Department of Public Works (DPW)- although material exist that would meet the standard no one is making bags out of it.

It was like sitting through one of those horror movies and wanting to scream "look out" as the knife wielding villain sneaks up on the protagonist from behind, as the plastic bag industry lobbyist- who failed to declare that fact in each of his appearances despite council rules requiring that disclosure- told the council that the only problem with the bill was that silly inconsequential "no fossil fuel polymers" provision, which he asked to be removed so his "new science" plastic could be sold.

Of course this had nothing to do with "food safety" as Rapozo claimed was the sole purpose of the bill. As a matter of fact the words "food safety" barely left anyone’s lips after the first couple of times the bill was on the council's agenda.

Also unmentioned was the fact that any allowance for establishments that purveyed hot food would have allowed any supermarket with a deli- which includes almost every one on the island- to again provide plastic bags.

The expected attempt from "the compromiser," rookie Councilperson Nadine Nakamura to amend the bill also reflected facts missing from the week upon week long gab-fest.

Although we're reluctant to accept as fact anything written by Leo Azumbuja in the local newspaper he wrote

Nakamura introduced an amendment Wednesday in an attempt to offer a compromise between an “outright ban on biodegradable bags” and Rapozo’s proposal.

She said her amendment, which tightened the broad definition of “biodegradable bags” in Rapozo’s amendment, would have required ready-to-eat food establishments to use compostable bags that meet specifications of the American Society of Testing and Materials Standard Specification for Compostable Plastics D6400.
“Progressive cities like San Francisco and Santa Monica use this standard in defining biodegradable bags,” she said.

The problem is that these bags don't really biodegrade like organic materials but rather break into itsy-bitsy little pieces which still litter the roads, are swallowed by birds and turtles and generally don’t break down into their component chemicals for a bazillion years.

Unbelievably, rather than spend all that time asking those we identified in February as having materials that are made without fossil fuel polymers to produce plastic bags that fulfill our unique ordinance, councilmembers all sat there like bumps on a log and allowed Rapozo to hijack the staff, the viewing public and the public access camera time for a self-aggrandizing appeal to idiocy filling the room and everyone's ears with utter bullsh*t.

And when one did do some "research" she came up with a totally unacceptable change.

Yes Rapozo is a boob. But to allow him to spout his drivel without any corrections for almost three months doesn't speak well of the others who had already decided how they would vote the day the bill hit the table.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


TIME KEEPS ON SLIPPIN', SLIPPIN'...: We've been glued to the RaptorCam where a live streaming camera has it's sights set on a couple of eagles who recently hatched a duo of chicks and are currently sitting on them and another egg- which is supposed to be ready for it's close up Mr. DeMille today or tomorrow- feeding them from the bloated corpse of what appears to be a rodent of some sort, dropping strips of flesh into the babes' upraised, open yaws.

Kind of reminds of of the budget machinations not only in Washington and Honolulu but potentially, next week here on Kaua`i with the leaders in the role of the raptors supplying we ravenous chicks the putrefied scraps of their choosing.

Here the budget may well inform the selection of our newest county council members and if past is prologue we well might see the Big Bird upchuck a a rotted piece of carrion named Darryl Kaneshiro.

It all depends of what Council Chair Jay Furfaro thinks will help solidify his long fought for power as chair.

Apparently he tried to make sure that Derek Kawakami remained on the council so as to avoid this potential appointment because word has been the the Minotaur himself- former Chair Kaipo Asing- might have the votes in a split council to make his triumphant reappearance, pushing poor Jay back to the shadows again.

If the story we've been hearing is true it's no wonder Jay tried to assure Derek would remain on the council during the legislative replacement process conducted by the Democratic Party we detailed yesterday. As it was repeated on Joan Conrow's comment board:

Jay manipulated the whole thing. He was on the nominating committee, did not speak up about the Ducker ethics thing, got Neil to throw his hat in the ring, and tried to rattle Joel with his follow up questions in the 10 minute interview. All to stick it to Mina and try to keep Derek from leaving the Council. He succeeded on sticking it to Mina, but failed on stopping the change in makeup of the Council. But, he's not done trying. Watch this Council selection process. Jay will still try to control it... Specifically, watch for Furfaro to push for Kaneshiro who headed the budget committee last year to keep Asing from going from also-ran to Chair.

Look for Mel Rapozo and Dickie Chang to put Asing forward with, as has become the norm, Nadine Nakamura as the swing vote. If her loyalty is to her brother-in-law, Asing sycophant County Clerk Peter Nakamura, it might just produce a 3-3 tie and dump the whole matter into the lap of Mayor Bernard Carvalho who would no doubt pick a crony out of left field who could be assured to do his bidding on the newly restructured council.

But that presumes that the rumor- and though it is just a rumor, we're going to repeat it in case anyone who has definitive evidence it's true might produce it for us- that Kawakami does not indeed live in the home he claims as his residence- a house in the 14th district which, it has been alleged, is owned by his wife while they actually reside in another district.

Though state law requires members of the legislature to live in their district it is unclear who makes the ultimate decision in these kinds of cases although certainly the courts would be the final arbiter.

The last time there was an opening on the council Kaneshiro slipped right in there due to his supposed "experience." But he replaced the man that is, most likely, his chief rival- Asing, who had moved into the round building upon the demise of Mayor Bryan Baptiste, giving Furfaro his first taste of the power of the gavel.

There's talk of the 8th place finisher in the last election, Kipukai Kuali`i, getting the nod but unless there's a huge outpouring of support from the public he stands about as much chance as Bob Carriffe.

The decision on the council replacement will, no doubt, come down to alliances from both the past and the present. But we may well have to wait for the egg to hatch to know for sure who be feeding us carrion for the next two years.

Monday, April 4, 2011


MORE MONKEYS, LESS WEASELS: As we first reported last Monday the magical "Recusalgate" transformation of one Foster Ducker from selector to candidate for the vacated 14th District State House Seat vacated by Mina Morita, finally got the Leo Azumbuja treatment Sunday in the local newspaper, providing a series of the usual half-assed factoids (Factoid: Did you know that a factoid is not really a fact?), unresearched pronouncements and irrelevant quotes and citations.

But one quote did catch our eye describing the prestidigitation involved in Ducker's metamorphosis:

“It came a little bit out of the left field for me,” he said. “I was sitting in the selection committee and all of a sudden I was sitting in front of the selection committee.”

Yup, he was just sitting there minding his own business and, as if in a dream, "all of a sudden" he replaced Morita's choice for replacement, Joel Guy who has been the presumed replacement.

That of course made room for the golden boy Derek Kawakami to follow his ancestral destiny. Gee, why would anyone claim that the the whole process has the smell of a backroom deal?

The problem is that when it comes to conflicts of interest it becomes hard to see the forest for your own personal tree.

For the Democratic Party it looked like a matter of their rules for recusals, according to Azumbuja's mish-mosh which quoted our friend District 14 Democratic Party Chair, Susan Wilson, as saying:

“Do you know what the rule is on the council?” she said. “The rule on the council is you just say, ‘Gosh I have a conflict of interest,’ and then you’re allowed to vote on it.”

Of course Wilson- and Azumbuja- obviously missed the 2008 County Charter amendment which modified the Code of Ethics' Section 20.04D, Disclosure, to say, in relevant part

Any elected official, appointed officer, employee, or any member of a board or commission who possesses or acquires such interest as might reasonably tend to create a conflict with his duties or authority... shall make full disclosure of the conflict of interest and shall not participate in said matter.

So, we decided to drop Wilson an email setting the record straight.

But Wilson was more interested in setting the record straight on the reason why Ducker was permitted to run and vote despite the conflict of interest, since, as is the usual complaint about Azumbuja, she was haphazardly quoted.

We agreed to let Wilson have her say so here's what she wrote- in full- about the situation. See ya on the other side.

State of Hawaii Democratic Party Constitution does not require recusal, but I think at its next state convention the issue could be worth discussion again. Right away, in mid February, I posed the recusal question to the Democratic Party Central committee. An answer came back from a central committee member. In essence it was, with so few registered democratic voters coming forward to hold precinct offices all over the state it was advised precedent has been inclusion rather than the opposite. In the specifics of District 14, I welcomed that answer as I needed full district council member participation on all levels of what I hoped would be a serious process. For example there is only one precinct officer in one of district 14's biggest precincts. If he would have decided to be a candidate and recusal was required about 400 or so registered democrats in his precinct would have had no vote at the table. Likewise, at one point two district council members were considering throwing their names in the pot. Again, I looked to the Party's core value and was comfortable with precedent. All council members were in accordance, and we are a council of eight. I then took it a step further and set up a very fair leveling voting procedure. What came out of this process was a standard of civic involvement worthy of emulation. And, yes, Foster Ducker participated in the voting. And, yes, he did become one of the three names forwarded on to the governor as one of District14 Council choices for the governor to consider for appointment. Our council did not have the power of appointment. And, yes, one candidate who seemingly had considerable headwind coming in was not chosen to move forward. I have no idea who voted for who. It was a secret ballot. Three clear winners were chosen on the first ballot. And, yes, a candidate who supposedly was favored by our former Representative to take over her unfilled position, even before the process had started, did not move forward. I'd say what happened was anything but politics as usual. It was democracy in action. And, finally, grace in defeat, is a sign of maturity and leadership.

It's not like Wilson would be the first to miss what the problematic part is in your typical "conflict of interest." Certainly some of the recent appointments of Governor Neil Abercrombie have raised eyebrows when big contributors and campaign leaders received nods for various positions. And when it comes to the champion of cronyism, our own warbling Warrior, Mayor Bernard Carvalho, few can hold a candle to his penchant for promoting his pals.

What they all seem to miss is that any conflict of interest is anathema to good governance way before it ever leads to corruption.

It's the very potential for that "tit for tat" and "quid pro quo" that raises the hackles of voters leaving the perception of the opportunity for wrongdoing to appear to be the reality of illicit dealings.

The potential conflict of interest is an actual conflict of interest. Appointees should not come prepackaged with baggage that causes people to roll their eyes and shake their heads back and forth. Rather they should be like Caesar's wife... beyond reproach.

The message from the good governance community is that if your laws- or rules- allow conflicts of interest to be, not just the exception but, the norm perhaps it's time to change that rule.

Friday, April 1, 2011


ANOTHER PRICK AND THEIR WALL: As a news junkie- in recovery or at least reducing consumption to a more reasonable ration of late-the hammer came down for us on Monday when the NY Times started charging for on-line access.

Not that we really have time to read the Times much but they do host the Associated Press wire which we peruse as time permits. In the past three years since we've started concentrating on more local news, a quick glance down the AP wire- which is nearly impossible to find at the main Times page- has given us the basics of national and international news so that if we ever get to more "alternative" news providers we have the background to get past the "explanatory" paragraphs and gnaw on and digest the meat.

So, caught unawares, we got to our 20th article of the day on Monday rather quickly and were told we'd have to pay almost a buck a pop to read any further articles.

We say this not to whine too much but to point out that we found the solution to the problem rather quickly because blaringly and glaringly we couldn't help but notice a bunch of beckoning headlines every time we logged into our Yahoo! mail account.

And, of course, one click away were all those self-same articles "aggregated"- along with some Reuters- for free.

Now being a journalist we have sympathy for our brethren who are victims of the mammoth downsizing of the newsgathering business and the "everything you ever wanted for free" nature of the internet. The question of who pays for all that first hand newsgathering in that age is a perennial stumper and has led the Times to decide to erect their pay wall.

But geez guys- what the heck are you thinking?

The only thing that the Times is accomplishing is to drive the eyeballs that they had, to other sources, And although the amount that on-line advertising brings in is miniscule compared with the ad revenues that newspapers have traditionally reaped, they're doing nothing but directing those eyeballs to the aggregator sites like Yahoo!, Google and the like.

People searching for a workable business model to support newsgathering need to think about the only workable solution- to form a consortium of all news providers and charge a small monthly amount- maybe five or ten bucks or whatever happy medium price point wont discourage readers/customers- for access to all on-line "newspapers"... national, state or local.

The model is similar to one that's existed since the first days of radio. The ASCAP/BMI model provided music artists a small amount per play for many years and, although the profits are less now- and their tactics in achieving it have pissed off many a customer- it has remained, if not as successful in an on-line world, at least as viable with subscription services and on-line radio beginning to thrive.

The Times has picked the easy and thoughtless was to protect their intellectual property. You'd think people that smart would be smart enough to see that it's an experiment bound for failure.