Tuesday, May 31, 2011


WE LIKE THE DARK AS DARK AS CAN BE: To call Kaua`i Councilmembers' disingenuous claims to be champions of open meetings "lip service" is to do a disservice to all lips.

Because all the gum-flapping and tongue-wagging in the world can't negate the anti-Sunshine provisions contained in the final version of the new council rules, set for a vote at their June 15 meeting.

It's actually a double slap in the face for the public because not only did the one reform the public has demanded for years fail to be introduced by even one councilperson for inclusion, but a new rule will assure the home viewing public will be befuddled into a new sub-level of darkeness at every meeting.

For many years councilmembers insisted that the state Sunshine Law- HRS 92- forbade the public from speaking utterances that were not on the agenda. But in fact what the law actually says is that councilmembers are the only ones who are banned from discussing items that aren't posted on an agenda six days in advance of the meeting.

That "misconception"- to be generous, since the word implies no ill-intent- was dispelled by the Office of Information Practices (OIP) which, in responding to a question from the Big Island's county clerk and a member of the public, said in 2005 that

a board may permit members of the public to speak at a meeting on matters that are not on the agenda, but is not required to do so. The board members themselves, however, may not discuss, deliberate, or decide matters that are not on the agenda.

Thus, if a board elects to hear public statements regarding matters not on the agenda and the statements relate to “board business,” i.e., matters over which the board has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power, the board members must be careful not to respond or discuss the matter.

And in fact since 2005 the Hawai`i County Council has set aside time at the beginning of meetings when members of the public can come forward and testify on any matter within the purview of the council whether it is on the agenda or not.

That means that rather than allow Kaua`i councilmembers to sweep matter brought to their attention by members of the community under the rug, they might now- once it's cable and web-cast- have to acknowledge everything from allegations of mismanagement, corruption and cronyism to questions regarding unfilled potholes or the need for a bus stops.

But although a parade of people testified over the many months that the council's "Subcommittee on Rules" has been sitting, asking the council to emulate the Big Island's practice, not one councilmember even tried to introduce a rule requiring such a session, assuring that they wouldn’t have to face an on-the-record anti-Sunshine vote.

As a matter of fact when testimony was given councilmembers actually told the public that they were still awaiting word from OIP- even though anyone could look up formal opinion 05-02 in about a minute and a half as we did today- despite the fact that people testified that the practice was ongoing in Hawai`i County.

But the council didn't stop there. They actually made it so that people who are currently treated like mushrooms (kept in the dark and fed bullsh*t) will now be made totally blind to anything the council chooses not to discuss, by creating something called a "consent calendar."

Anyone who watches meetings at home has no doubt watched in confoundment as the county clerk rattles off a bunch of numbers and the council votes to "receive" the associated list of communications without revealing what they contain.

Forget the fact that people are watching so that they can find out what the council is doing- "don't worry you pretty little head about that" say councilmembers.

And then there are "communication for approval" which, although they are read aloud and, by law are supposed to contain enough information to let the average person know what they are about, are usually so brief as to confound rather than inform.

Usually these two types of communications pass with absolutely zero discussion. But at least when, for example, the prosecutor requests she be allowed to purchase a $3000 printer or the police department wants to buy 10 new $5,000 computers the home-viewing public gets to say to themselves "hey- how come so expensive... can't they get them cheaper at Wal-Mart?"

Now the council will be able to place all of these items on the new consent calendar and approve them in one fell swoop without even reading them aloud, making sure that any potentiality embarrassing or even interesting information contained therein is kept fully up their sleeves.

And guess what? They will get away with this because in making it harder for the public to understand what they are up to, they know that people will simply give up.

If anyone cares to let the council know how they feel about getting the fungi treatment email them at counciltestimony@kauai.gov.

Monday, May 30, 2011


WAR CRIMES 'R' US: We were going to re-post our traditional column regarding the traditional sickness of celebrating war and death on this day, as we did last year in "Baloney Hero, Hold The Mustard Gas". But somehow with the Obama regime's abandonment of all pretense that American war criminality is a thing of the past, the following "dispatch" from Tripoli, penned by former Georgia Congresswoman and 2010 Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney, seemed far more appropriate.


Anatomy of a Murder: How NATO Killed Qaddafi Family Members

May 28, 2011

by Cynthia McKinney

How many times must a parent bury a child?

Well, in the case of Muammar Qaddafi it's not only twice: once for his daughter, murdered by the United States bombing on his home in 1986, and again on 30 April 2011 when his youngest son, Saif al Arab, but yet again for three young children, grandbabies of Muammar Qaddafi killed along with Saif at the family home.

Now, I watched Cindy Sheehan as she bared her soul before us in her grief; I cried when Cindy cried. Now, how must Qaddafi and his wife feel? And the people of Libya, parents of all the nation's children gone too soon. I don't even want to imagine.

All my mother could say in astonishment was, "They killed the babies, they killed his grandbabies."

The news reports, however, didn't last more than one half of a news cycle because on 1 May, at a hastily assembled press conference, President Obama announced the murder of Osama bin Laden.

Well, I haven't forgotten my empathy for Cindy Sheehan; I haven't forgotten my concern for the children of Iraq that Madeleine Albright said were OK to kill by U.S. sanctions if U.S. geopolitical goals were achieved. I care about the children of Palestine who throw stones at Israeli soldiers and get laser-guided bullets to their brains in return. I care about the people of North Africa and West Asia who are ready to risk their lives for freedom. In fact, I care about all of the children--from Appalachia to the Cancer Alley, from New York City to San Diego, and everywhere in-between.

On 22 May 2011, I had the opportunity to visit the residence of the Qaddafi family, bombed to smithereens by NATO. For a leader, the house seemed small in comparison, say, to the former Clinton family home in Chappaqua or the Obama family home. It was a small whitewashed suburban type house in a typical residential area in metropolitan Tripoli. It was surrounded by dozens of other family homes.

I spoke with a neighbor who described how three separate smart bombs hit the home and exploded, another one not exploding. According to the BBC, the NATO military operations chief stated that a "command and control center" had been hit. That is a lie. As anyone who visits the home can see, this home had nothing to do with NATO's war. The strike against this home had everything to do with NATO adopting a policy of targeted assassination and extra-judicial killing--clearly illegal.

The neighbor said he found Saif Al-Arab in his bedroom underneath rubble; the three young grandchildren were in a different room and they were shredded to pieces. He told of how he picked up as many pieces as he possibly could. He told us that there are still pieces there that he could not get. He asked us to note the smell--not the putrid smell of rotting flesh, but a sweet smell. I did smell it and thought there was an air freshener nearby. It smelled to me of roses. He asked me why this was done and who was going to hold NATO accountable.

Muammar Qaddafi was at the house. But he was outside near where the animals are kept. It is a miracle that he survived. From the looks of that house and the small guest house beside it, the strike was a complete success if the goal was to totally and thoroughly demolish the structure and everything inside it.

NATO wants us to believe that toys, items and clothing, an opened Holy Koran, and a soccer board game are the appointments found in military command and control offices. I wonder if we could find such articles in NATO's office in Brussels.

The opened Holy Koran seemed to be frozen in time. In fact, there was a clock dangling from its cord--dangling in space. And indeed, for the four young people in that house at the time of NATO's attack, time had stopped.

The concussion from the bombs were so great that eery tile on the walls and floors of the home had been knocked from the walls. Black burn marks scorched the walls. The force broke a marble or granite countertop. The bathtub was literally split into two parts. Shards of the bomb were everywhere. I wondered if the place was now contaminated with depleted uranium.

The Qaddafi home is a crime scene--a murder scene. The United States prisons are full of men and women who are innocent--even on death row. I wonder where the guilty who are never prosecuted go.

Now, if the International Court of Justice were really a repository of justice, it would be investigating this crime. Instead, it is looking for yet another African to prosecute. We in the United States are familiar with this: on our local news every night, we are saturated with photos of Black and Brown criminals with the implication being that White people don't commit crime. The moment the face of someone arrested is not shown, then we know that the culprit is White. It's the unwritten code that we people of color all live by wherever in the world we might happen to be. Global apartheid is alive and well and exists on many levels.

I left the house sick in my heart. As I was about to depart, the neighbor begged me, asked me over and over again, why had this happened? What had they done to deserve this? He seemed to not want me to leave. Honestly, I think I was his little piece of America, his little piece of President Obama and I could help him to understand why this course of action was necessary from my President's point of view. He said NATO should just leave them alone and let them sort out their problems on their own.

I did leave his presence, but that man's face will never leave me.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned, "History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

In response to my previous article, "NATO, A Feast of Blood," I received the following quite about Buddha from Shiva Shankar who excerpted Walpola Rahula's "What The Buddha Taught:"

"... The Buddha not only taught non-violence and peace, but he even went to the field of battle itself and intervened personally, and prevented war, as in the case of the dispute between the Sakyas and the Koliyas, who were prepared to fight over the question of the waters of the Rohini. And his words once prevented King Ajatasattu from attacking the kingdom of the Vajjis. ...

... Here is a lesson for the world today. The ruler of an empire publicly turning his back on war and violence and embraced the message of peace and non-violence. There is no historical evidence to show that any neighbouring king took advantage of Asoka's piety to attack him militarily, or that there was any revolt or rebellion within his empire during his lifetime. On the contrary there was peace throughout the land, and even countries outside his empire seem to have accepted his benign leadership. ..."

Please don't allow special interest press and war mongering gatekeepers of the left to blot out the tragedy unfolding in Libya. Please don't allow them to take away our chance to live in peace throughout our land and with countries inside and outside our hemisphere. Congress should vote to end NATO's action in Libya and barring that should assert its Constitutional prerogatives and require the President to come to it for authorization of this war. And then, Congress should heed the wisdom of the people of our country who are against this war and vote for peace.

Friday, May 27, 2011


A SPORTING CHANCE: The cronyism in Mayor Bernard Carvalho's administration is already legendary. After his election to a full term last November competence sank to the bottom of the list of qualifications to hold appointed office.

And recently hizzonnah actually confirmed it in an interview.

As Joan Conrow wrote yesterday

I went to see Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. yesterday.

He’d called me last week, and asked if I’d be willing to sit down and talk story. We'd met, but never really had a discussion...

After a bit of small talk, he made the reason for our get-together clear: he wanted to know the person behind the blog...

Bernard then said he was opening the door for me to call him any time, and asked if I had any questions.

Why do we get the feeling we won't be getting a call.

Joan couldn’t help but ask about Carvalho's end run around the council's kuleana in a mid-budget-year hiring of five cronies, accomplished by shifting around money in his office to fill "dollar funded" positions- including one for ousted and disgraced former Deputy Planning Director Imai Aiu, a noted Carvalho water carrier who was alleged to have been the target of an FBI investigation before resigning.

Carvalho's response?

In explaining the rationale behind his hires, the mayor used a football metaphor that placed him as the quarterback in the line up. “I gotta be able to trust the guys on either side of me,” said the former Miami Dolphins player, looking right and left, his face and voice registering excitement. I could imagine him preparing to hike the pigskin. “I don’t ask how much they’re making, I just know they’re gonna be able to run with the ball and make a touchdown.”

It seems that Bernard, who advanced from the rank and file during his 26 years with the county, knows how difficult it can be to light a fire under the butts of some county workers, is aware of their tendency to cruise and wait out the term of the newest mayor. After sitting in the mayor’s chair for two years, fulfilling the term and agenda of the late Mayor Baptiste, he was eager now to make his own mark, advance his own ideas. And to do that, he said, he knew needed to put people he could trust, and whom he could personally hold accountable, in some key positions.

He acknowledges their participation in his campaign, and is aware that some of us view it as political patronage. He, however, sees it as insurance that at least some of the changes he envisions will occur.

Un-freakin'-believable. Normally any corrupt pol will at least TRY to make believe that the hires were the best person for the job. But perhaps Bernard knew that the laughing would have shattered ear drums from Kekaha to Ha`ena had he tried to foist such bullsh*t on us.

As if to make the point that the "protected" class of county employee is there to make sure nothing happens, at yesterday’s final passage of the county's operating budget it was revealed that the poster child for the county's cart-before-the-horse, incompetency-preservation scheme, the curbside recycling program, was essentially killed by the council because once again the purchase of the horse was not even in the budget.

A year or so ago the mayor dragged out a brand new curbside recycling "pilot program" making use of the county's brand new automated trash trucks and the purchase of a bunch of 96 gallon trash bins.

The problem is that the rest of the world makes sure they have some way to actually deal with the recycled items before they ask people to separate them and put them out by the curb.

But not good old Bernard and his good old boys and girls.

The missing sorting facility- called a materials recycling facility or MERF- was supposed to finally be part of this year's budget after years of delay for reasons unknown. But guess what? It was nowhere to be found, according to Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura's comments on the budget on Wednesday.

She explained that the lack of the MERF in the mayor's budget was why the council decided to end the curbside recycling program. It seems, she said, that the administration had at first told the council that it would cost only a reasonable $2,000 a month to sort the collected recyclables that were put in the bins unsorted. But when the bill came it was actually $14,000 a month- an outrageous amount $168,000 a year instead of $24,000.

So who's in charge of this mess? None other than the county's poster child for incompetence for over a decade and a half, Solid Waste Division head Troy Tanegawa, the epitome of the protected county employee who, through three administrations, has become the king of "fire, ready, aim." incompetence.

Having a "vision" is a two sided coin. It only works if the vision is based on a presumption that those engaged in its execution have the solid background to pull it off.

In football, the undrafted free agent may be the most enthusiastic player in the world but that and the fact that he's the owner's nephew doesn't insure he'll "be able to run with the ball and make a touchdown" like the first round draft pick.

In little league everyone gets to play, regardless of talent. But you'd think government would be a little more professional.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


SLIPPIN' INTO DARKNESS: "It was the same- only different" is one of our favorite "huh?" inspiring expressions.

And it was hard not to feel that way about this year's county budget process, the difference being that they were open for all to see with not just on-line but TV coverage.

That allowed the public to see what the few of us who have actually sat through them in the past know all too well- any pretense of actual due diligence is a joke with the proceedings alternating between snoozefest and schmoozefest.

As we wrote in mid-April

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.

What we failed to mention is that when any difficult question- read: potentially embarrassing or threatening to the administration's corrupt crony cabal- arises, the department head is given time to get the answer and come back during the "call backs," scheduled later in April.

Problem is that when they do come back they inevitably dodge the questions again through equivocation and obfuscation and truly run out the clock because the next phase of the process is the public hearing, supplemental budget from the mayor and final decision making.

But one thing that was different this year was that some councilmembers actually started to complain about the "compressed time line" that supposedly forced them into "rush job" budgets.

Of course our response was "and you just figured this out?" followed by "we'll bet dollars to donuts it's the same next year."

Another thing different- at least as far as the local newspaper coverage- was that our favorite reporter was apparently absent and his substitute, business reporter Vanessa Van Voorhis, became the first one in years to actually report the unique way the final budget is determined on Kaua`i.

The first thing she wrote was the usual wrong information saying:

The budget will now go to Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. for final approval.

But then she actually gives a clue as to the real "final" phase of the Kaua`i County Budget process:

The mayor has the power to line-item veto the budget, meaning he does not have to approve the budget as a whole. A council super majority of five of seven votes could override a mayoral veto.

Every year, not just the local newspaper but the Honolulu press dutifully report how "the budget now goes to the mayor for his signature." And no amount of hair-on-fire notes from us to reporters to "read the charter" seem to force them to avoid the same mistake the next year and every year thereafter.

So how did this come about. That too is an "only on Kaua`i" story.

Back during the administration of then-Mayor, now Council Vice Chair JoAnn Yukimura, the battles between the council and mayor were epic on just about every issue. So, under the budget process of "council approval, mayoral veto and council override" that just about every jurisdiction across the county uses, that's exactly what happened... except for the override.

The budget had passed by a 5-4 margin so with Yukimura's veto there were only four votes to override- on short of the five votes needed. And it stayed that way all though May and June until finally the new fiscal year came around with no budget in place.

Of course being politicians no one wanted to admit that this was obviously a politically-created mess and instead called it a "constitutional crisis."

And the newspaper and the sleeping populace quite obviously bought it in the form of the ultimately confusing and contradictory charter amendment that left us with a guiding document that, in it's Solomon-like wisdom splits the baby and gives no one the final say over the budget which just sort of slips into existence.

The year after it passed the council had no idea what to do and the only one who supposedly understood the process- or claimed to- was long time council "legislative analyst" Ricky Watenabe without whom, all councilmembers agree, the council could not operate.

What happens when Watenabe retires is anyone's guess but when he does these arcane and questionable council procedures are bound to blow up in the council's faces.

And when they do you can bet things will pretty much the same... only really, really different.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


REPLY HAZY- TRY AGAIN: Political malahini can't get over how we seem to give our congress-critters (we stole that from somewhere) a lifetime appointment when we first vote them into office.

It's not just the usual American democracy-phobic system whereby incumbents use their power to accumulate daunting war chests, discouraging challenges, but a culturally driven respect for the kupuna paradigm that gives them an edge.

So on the rare occasion when one seat "opens up" it's a free for all with all the rats and vermin deserting whatever ship they're inhabiting to line-up for the move-up.

It just so happens that this year, when the music starts playing there will be at least two if not three extra chairs and everyone and their grandmother seems to be considering circling them.

Our now-open 2nd congressional district seat has, since the death of Patsy Mink, been a place where an also-ran for the senate or 1st CD can land, even despite the fact that they don't live in the district.

But since at least Dan Akaka's senate seat- and, if she decides to join the fray Coleen Hanabusa's 1st CD seat- is empty, the climbers all have their sights set on the grand prize leaving us an opportunity to send someone who actually lives in the district to D.C.

And because of all that-- and more- our own Kaua`i ex-senator Gary Hooser apparently has the inside track should he decide to grab for the brass ring.

The progressive's progressive Hooser's two previous runs for higher office- for US house after Mink's death and for lt. governor last year- were unsuccessful for many reasons.

First was the competition, all of whom are now either running for the senate, like current 2nd CD incumbent Maize Hirono and Ed Case, already in congress, like Hanabusa or otherwise occupied on another track like Lt. Governor Brian Schatz.

It was Schatz who was Hooser's main bugaboo the last two time as they split the progressive vote with Schatz pulling in more votes each time. This time there isn't another real progressive on the horizon giving Hooser the full share of that vote in what has been said to be arguably the most progressive district in the country.

The question is, if not Gary then who?

The other day Adrienne LaFrance of Civil Beat asked that question of a long list of primarily state legislators and Honolulu city councilpersons as well as, of course Hooser.

Hooser seemed interested saying:

"For me, you know my first priority is to serve the governor in the position he's appointed me to (as director of the State Department of Health's Office of Environmental Quality Control). That's really where my attention is right now. The office needs revitalizing and rebuilding and I'm committed to doing that. It's too early and there are too many factors for me to sort out.

"I have gotten calls and emails from a variety of friends and supporters, people who have supported me in the past, encouraging me to consider entering. Many would say that I'm a natural because I ran before. I actually live in the district. Serving in Congress would obviously be a great honor. But, for now, my focus is on rebuilding and revitalizing the OEQC... Definitely not ruling it out, but whether it's right for me and for the state at this time, I don't know yet."

The others are not exactly household names on the neighbor islands except for former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann who might stay out of the senate race if he thinks his wounds from the governor's race are too severe. But those same wounds might make him appear to be damaged goods to 2nd CD voters who were supposed to put him over the top last year but shied away after one too many blunders and a sort of "fed up with Mufi and his dirty politics" attitude reared it's head.

In addition to Hooser's "last man standing" tag- all those who beat him in the other two races being elsewhere occupied- Hooser also has the advantage of a ready made organization on each neighbor island and on the North Shore of O`ahu and, with Schatz out, he can pick up not just votes but progressive political operatives who said they liked Gary but were already committed to Brian.

Then there's the unique nature of the "ending in 2" election of 2012.

Many of those ready to "move up" come from the state senate where they reach the legislative ceiling. And usually when a congressional election comes in the middle year of their four-year term they can run for congress without activating the Hawai`i "resign to run" law, which is inapplicable in federal elections.

But this is reapportionment year. After the census, lines are redrawn and the senate is divided into two year terms and four year terms to maintain staggering and everyone must run meaning no one can run for congress and, if they lose, return to the senate.

Although as LaFrance points out reapportionment might force two members of the legislature into one district making congress tempting, it would take someone who was already predisposed to a congressional run to take advantage of the "crisis equals opportunity" situation.

As far as county pols there are a few high profile Honolulu councilmembers like Chairman Nestor Garcia but he LaFrance quotes him as saying "I'm not considering it now."

And certainly none of the three neighbor island mayors- much less councilmembers- even have the name recognition much less the organization... much less the motivation.

On the other hand Hooser's most successful activity in the lt. governor's race was his "Who Is Gary Hooser" campaign where, reportedly, he spent most of his capital- both political and monetary- last fall.

Another question to ask of potential candidates is whether they have school age kids. A job in Washington may be off the table for many- or at least those who want to keep their marriages intact.

The one big question for Hooser is whether he will give up his job as head of the State Department of Health's Office of Environmental Quality Control to run. He has seemed excited at the prospect of working in the area of his passion as the top environmental enforcer in the state.

But you don't get politics out of your blood that easily and Gary, if he has anything, has the fire in the belly to run again someday.

Is this that someday? Knowing that this kind of opportunity where all things seem to line up in his favor come around once in a lifetime it may just be an opportunity Hooser can't ignore.

Monday, May 23, 2011


GIMME LAND LOTSA LAND: As we age time compresses so although it was nearly a decade ago- 2002 to be exact- it seems like only a few years since the biggest issue in the election that year was the disappearing access to mauka and makai.

It was finally dawning on local people that we have gone to one too many places only to find one too many "no trespassing" signs and worse, fences where once we roamed.

And another thing that happens as we age- those accesses that are left seem to get steeper and more dangerous every time we go. Photographer and teacher David Boynton found that out only too late when he slipped and fell to his death on a trail he had hiked for decades.

That's why it so distressing to read our friend Joan Conrow not just excusing but actually celebrating the news she reported Sunday that hate-monger Bruce Laymon has finally erected his fence at Lepeuli (Larsen's) Beach closing off the prescriptive rights to that section the Ala Loa- an ancient trail that leads gently down to the beach- in favor of a steep, rocky trail that has been designated by the county as the "new" access.

Although she says "I don’t like fences, especially near the beach" she goes on to say:

Still, I totally understand why he did it. Keeping cattle in is only part of it. Quite frankly, it’s the only thing that would keep me, and everyone else who has ever used that path, out.

Besides, let’s not forget that there is, after all, another perfectly good access right there, and it had been freshly weed-whacked to make its presence quite clear.

Then bafflingly she includes a picture that shows a zig-zagging, steep, rocky, narrow trail- one that looks more like it was sprayed with roundup than cut- that disappears into the woods.

She goes on to recount the reaction from a "friend" whose age and agility isn't noted.

“That’s it?” said my friend. “From what I’d heard, I thought you had to scale rocks, risk life and limb. It doesn’t look bad at all.”

“It's not,” I replied. “That’s been totally overblown. Most anyone could go down it.”

Most anyone? One other thing about aging is that the ground seems to get farther and farther away each year and ankles seem to twist a lot more when navigating rocky, steep, uneven accesses.

We can't imagine that what came next wasn't a joke but she wrote that when she got home she received an email from Lepeuli activists describing how a woman whose husband had drowned at the beach was now unable to go there due to a subsequent brain injury.

I wonder, did those who heard her story suggest she call Bruce? Because I’m pretty sure he would have been happy to drive her. And did her husband drown because the lateral trail made it oh so very easy to access the dangerous waters of that beautiful beach?

Is that what we need to do to get access these days? Call a total turd like Laymon to arrange a ride around his fence- which may or may not have been legally constructed after he withdrew his request for a state permit to construct the fence after it became apparent it was about to be pulled.

And, knowing Laymon's predilections I'm sure if it was a group of naked, gay "hippies" he would have dropped everything to welcome them to "his" beach.

Aside from the fact that Laymon has a history of racist, homophobic rants and threats against beach users that would make anyone think a lot more than twice about calling him- assuming they had his number- what kind of precedent does that set when an access that has been used for centuries is suddenly cut off and you have to call the owner and ask for ask to go there as a "favor?"

At the risk of over-simplifying someone else's mana`o, Joan is among those who think that it's okay to restrict access- or make places harder to get to- to preserve "special" places. And there is something to be said about that.

But this is not one of those cases.

When she says that she's "very interested in the question of whether the trail it blocks is a traditional ala loa — an issue that will be decided by the courts, and not Bruce Laymon’s fence," she points to the problem here and in other places because what tends to happen is that it becomes the community's responsibility to hire an attorney at great expense to fight a rich landowner in a state where land equals power and money speaks in the courts.

In this case, even though the state is currently essentially on "our" side it appears that they are way too cash strapped to initiate any legal action against Laymon after he withdrew his permit so as to take an immediate and potentially binding decision out of their hands and make it harder still to enforce conservation district laws and regulations.

And as for the county, despite pleas from the public to withhold action the council recently pushed through a "deal" with property owner Waioli Corporation right before Laymon pulled his fast one by abandoning any claim to the Ala Loa, in favor of the the "new" access. That further complicated the state's case because they had a stipulation in place that required that the county "work out" access issues with Waioli giving them leverage on the Ala Loa.

One thing is clear. Anything that some court might do, some day, would be at the end of years and years of litigation during which time the public- or at least na kupuna- is shut out from the access they've enjoyed since time immemorial. And if that goes on long enough- like say 20 years as it has in other instances- any prescriptive rights go out the window too.

It's hard enough to deal with our disappearing recreational opportunities with greedy landowners scooping up accesses and closing them off. But when those that enjoy them the most start sleeping with the enemy it only make it that much harder to protect them.

That's getting old too.

Friday, May 20, 2011


THE WALKIN' MAN WALKS: The news that "Big Save" has been sold and the Lihu`e store will be closing is cause to shed tears for some on the island in one of the oddities of Kaua`i life that, despite decades of cultural indoctrination, we'll probably never get used to... and no, it has nothing about the pidgin-ish name.

We remember when Safeway had its "soft" opening we happened to be out dancing at "Gilligan's" that night and, since we had heard they were scheduled to open their doors at midnight, we skipped taking the left up to the homesteads and figures we quickly zip on over and check it out.

But by the time we hit the Coconut Marketplace we ran full square into a then-unheard-of-during-the-day, much less at midnight, traffic jam in then-traffic-light-free Kapa`a.

When we finally crawled into the packed parking lot and into the store the place was a madhouse with lines wending their way from every cashier lane all the way to the back of the store.... and they were starting to double back down the aisles.

The manager- one experienced at opening Safeways on the mainland- was simply standing there at the front of the store shaking his head. We asked why and he said the only time he had ever seen this many people at a Safeway opening it was for a protest demonstration.

The rub is that the local tradition of crying over closings has its roots in the days when mom and pop having their rice bowl broken actually was a true tragedy but it has evolved into a 21st century tendency to agonize when one large corporation is eaten up by another, even larger corporation.

The demise of the Lihu`e store- set to shut down entirely because the buyer, Times Supermarkets, already has a store in Lihu`e after their recent buy-out of Star Market- may actually be one of those crisis/opportunity moments for Kaua`i taxpayers.

The dilemma is in figuring out which one it actually is.

For the past bazillion years- or at least it seems that way- ever since the county purchased the old shopping center where the Big Save sits for the county's main offices, a string of councils and administrations have been promoting something called the Lihu`e Town Core Plan.

The county has already spent beaucoup bucks on consultants to design many different versions of the plan- some including an unaffordable-in-perpetuity underground parking garage- yet almost all call for creating a park like atmosphere, accomplished by closing the big wide street between Big Save and the state and historic county buildings, eliminating the parking spaces and putting in grass, trees and picnic tables.

They’ve also spent oodles of cash on trying to come up with a viable traffic circulation plan (they've done at least three over the years) since the road set for closing is the main access route for going across from Rice St. to Hardy St. without having to go all the way down to the convention hall to go the one block to get across town.

People who don't live in Lihu`e have called the plan the stupidest thing since the Edsel, asking "who the heck goes to hang out in the middle of town on an island where the beach and more-rural parks are always a stone's throw away?"

Ask anyone and they'll tell you that a trip to Lihu`e involves getting in and getting out as quickly as possible, booty in hand, without choking on exhaust- not picnicking in the middle of it.

But of course the councils and administrations and all the we-bes- the ones who will ultimately decide what to do- all think it's a wonderful amenity because they actually DO hang out there all day and a nice place to eat lunch would be swell.

The conflicting dilemmas though are multitudinous, not the least of which is the parking. The plan has called for county workers to park all the way down at the convention hall or even as far away as the stadium because there are events in the day time at the convention hall, and taking shuttle buses to work at the county complex a mile away.

So of course there's the hair-brained nature of not only expecting people to drive into Lihu`e to hang out but expecting them to take a shuttle bus to do so.

The biggest bugaboo has always been what to do about Big Save which is a valuable- and pretty high rent paying- tenant that contributes essential big buckskE to county coffers and was always envisioned as a money maker for the county even when it was FoodLand.

That's was the positive, at least as far as the bean counters were concerned. The negative was that the plan called for taking away all of Big Save's parking and actually shuttling shoppers from the Stadium, somehow assuming customers wouldn't mind an extra half hour in town to pick up a chicken for dinner.

If indeed the county decides to take over the location for office space and to facilitate (read: pay for) the Town Core Plan and just blow off the rent money that would mean that the last supermarket- as a matter of fact the last anykind food store- in Lihu`e Town will disappear since all the others have moved to Kuku`i Grove... certainly not within walking distance.

That of course would mean that the whole stated purpose of the plan- to get those who live in town out of their cars and make it into a "walking town"- would be defeated because those who live there would have to get in their cars to pick up cans of Vienna Sausage.

It's hard to shed a tear for Big Save, especially for those of us who paid the exorbitant prices for mainland goods in the pre-Safeway- and now of course Costco- era.

But for the county it's more about opening cans of worms than purchasing cans of Spam.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


THIMK: Not much happens news-wise on Kaua`i that isn't fairly predictable. But sometimes the level of incompetence and downright stupidity in county offices is so outrageous as to force its way into the headlines.

Their latest hair-brained action was to remove the congratulatory banners for high school graduates that hang on the fences at the ball parks this time of year, spurred by an alleged "complaint" supposedly based on the county's sign ordinance.

Of course the mindless Greek Chorus - with 40 comments and counting at press time- complained about the "exemption" to the ordinance for political signs, even though the allowance for them is derivative of a court ruling...

But not-so-oddly enough, if the Department of Public Works, (DPW- the seat of all things lunatic in administrative governance on the island) had bothered to ask the county attorney they might have discovered that the the same first amendment free speech rights that protect political signs apply to other non-commercial expressions of speech.

First of all the county's sign ordinance is isn't operative here since it doesn’t apply to temporary signs. That's why many of those ugly banners in Kapa`a are allowed to exist as long as they are not fixed to the ground.

The real controlling legislation comes from the state where even temporary signs are banned on state-funded roads like Kuhio Hwy and Olohena Rd where the Kapa`a signs were located.

While political speech receives the highest free-speech-rights protection other non-commercial speech is also given protection as we found out when, back in the 80's, the country- and the island- was visually polluted by the famous "yellow ribbons" during the Iran Hostage Crisis and Ronnie Ray-Guns feel-good mini-wars.

As a young anti-war journalist activist we checked out the state law, called the state Department of Transportation (DOT) and got a statement from them that the yellow ribbons did indeed violate state law and would have to be removed. However when we plastered the news on the front page of the Kaua`i Community College newspaper it wasn't long before the attorney general stepped in to say that expressions of free speech were exempt from the state law on signs on state-funded highways.

Had the peabrains at the DPW bothered to stop and think for a minute- or better stopped to check with anyone- they might have saved the administration another black eye.

But then what would we do for something to kvetch about on an otherwise newsless Thursday?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


FOURTH AND FORTY: The Office of Information Practices (OIP) has been taking it on the chin lately over what has been described ad nausium as their decision to "punt" to the courts on this issue of whether Governor Neil Abercrombie had to reveal the full list of his judicial nominees after he made the appointment.

For those who haven't been following the story Abercrombie's predecessors routinely released the list but he claims that doing so would result in attorneys' reluctance to apply, should their law firms or clients find out.

The story has been reported and analyzed in the mainstream and alternative press as well as blogs- both mainstream and alternative- culminating with a Honolulu Star Advertiser editorial today and all have one thing in common- they routinely miss the point in criticizing the OIP for not opining on the matter since, they say, the law appears to require them to do so.

Typical of the criticisms is today's post by S-A columnist/blogger Dave Shapiro who, in telling the saga thus far, writes:

The saga of Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s secrecy on the names of judicial candidates has taken a troubling new turn with his hand-picked director of the Office of Information Practices, Cheryl Kakazu Park, refusing to issue an opinion on whether state law allows the governor to keep secret the nominees given him by the Judicial Selection Commission.

Park said it’s a waste of time for OIP to become further involved because Abercrombie has said he’ll ignore any OIP opinion against him unless a court tells him he must abide.

Park’s “punt,” as one news story described it, isn’t surprising; her predecessor, Cathy Takase, was fired after ruling against Abercrombie with a letter reiterating a 2003 OIP ruling that the names must be released.

The troubling part is that the governor now has not only shut the public out of the process of selecting judges who wield great power over our lives, but has politicized the OIP in an unprecedented way that diminishes its credibility and relevance.

And the law seems to be clear as is set out in this passage from blogger Ian Lind's post on the subject:

In Section 92F-42, which sets out the powers and responsibilities of OIP, this is right there at the top of the list. Responsibility #1.

The director of the office of information practices: (1) Shall, upon request, review and rule on an agency denial of access to information or records, or an agency’s granting of access;

I added the bold type on the word “shall.” OIP shall rule on an agency’s denial of access. It doesn’t use the word “may,” which would have given OIP discretion on whether to issue a ruling. It doesn’t say that OIP shall rule except when it looks futile because an agency stubbornly insists that it has the right to do whatever it wants. It says, simply, OIP shall do this job. It’s #1 responsibility. Top of the list, top line priority.

Someone needs to go back to OIP and ask what legal authority they have to “punt” in this case, given what appears to be clear statutory language (emphasis Ian's).

The problem is that each and every one who has written on the subject has either failed to read or comprehend the operative sentence in the letter from Park:

Toward the end of her memo she simply writes that:

since the Hawaii Supreme Court's (ruling) in County of Kaua`i vs Office of Information Practices OIP has been issuing advisory opinions rather than determinations.

For those for whom the case doesn't ring a bell it revolves around the infamous Kaua`i County

Council executive session- ES 177- the tentacles of which not only chimed over and over in Kaua`i Police Deportment politics for years but was one of the major highlights of the tale told in the book KPD Blue (see right rail).

At the secret conclave, then and now-again Councilmember Mel Rapozo, who was present at the infamous lap dance party at KPD headquarters and lost his cop job because of it- went off on KPD personnel blasting Chief KC Lum and others in the department according to an OIP memo observed but not copied by PNN at the time.

After an "on camera" examination the OIP ordered the minutes of the meeting to be released but the county, in the person of County Clerk Peter Nakamura, acting on the orders of then Council Chair Kaipo Asing, refused and decided to sue in circuit court.

The problem, as far as the OIP was concerned, was that the OIP was set up, in part, just to avoid these kinds of inter-agency lawsuits and then Director Les Kondo fought the case tooth and nail to avoid having the OIP become a "toothless tiger".

He argued that the provision allowing parties aggrieved by the OIP to sue in circuit court was to provide due process to individuals who were denied access to records, not for agencies told to "give 'em up" to sue the OIP. And he presented not just the specific wording of the law but the legislative committee reports- which clearly stated stated as much- as evidence.

But, to perhaps over simplify, the Supreme Court (SC) didn't listen or didn't care what Kondo foresaw happening to the OIP.

They essentially ruled that the county was entitled to access to the courts if due process was to be served. They also ruled, somewhat bizarrely, that although the request was for the minutes of ES-177- a "record request" over which the law clearly gave OIP authority in HRS 92F- it was actually a suit regarding a meeting, which falls the Sunshine Law (HRS 92) where the OIP did not have the "final bite of the apple" authority.

That essentially meant ithat Kondo's argument was deemed irrelevant.

And now the chickens have come home to roost.

In dealing with the ruling the OIP has simply stopped handing down binding opinions as the law calls for and now simply issues "advisory opinions", all of which can be appealed to the circuit court by anyone, as the SC precedent said.

Kondo was almost apoplectic over what he saw as the end of the OIP and of course he was right. But the Hawai`i press still doesn’t get it.

The SC opinion is not entirely clear as to whether the case was decided on the minutes vs open meeting matter or the lack of due process, the latter seeming to be just to get around Kondo's argument and get to what they- and the C of K- saw as the meat of the issue at hand... the release of the ES-177 minutes.

The County may have won the case but people who value open government and records rue the day that the decision came down. And until our punditry class cuts through the clutter of the politics of the judicial appointment list case and recognize the roots of the OIP's action, we'll continue to be kept in the dark about the state of affairs in the OIP.

Monday, May 16, 2011


A GORY BUSINESS: While some might say it's practically oxymoronic we've been been on a quest lately with a holy grail of being nicer and kinder to others.

But yesterday's letter to the editor from that slime ball masquerading as a human being, Ron Agor, was so insulting that all bets are off today.

Agor's defense of apparently-fired Kauai District Archaeologist and SHPD Deputy Director Nancy McMahon on the heels of an onslaught of Kanaka Maoli activists who successfully testified against her appointment to the county's Historic Preservation Commission, was to call the Native Hawaiians "savages" in practically every other paragraph.

Real sensitive to the host culture, Ron- especially from a member of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources. What, heathen and pagan weren't strong enough?

But his screed defending McMahon seems kind of appropriate for these two-peas-in-a-pod, since for the past few years every time some kind of outrageous treatment of`iwi kupuna (bones) burials occurred, the names Agor and McMahon seemed to come up every time.

Agor's rant begins by praising McMahon for her actions as state archeologist in trying to:

compromise with private property owners where the burials are respected and the private property owners have reasonable use of their properties.

Nancy McMahon during her tenure as the qualified state’s archaeologist always did her job in making sure the above mentioned compromise came to fruition on every project subjected to this process.

And compromise the `iwi she did.

In actuality McMahon's cavalier attitude has led to blatant abuse of her position to favor developers, ignoring the wishes of the Kaua`i Burial Council to the point where, during the court battle over the Brescia property cemetery debacle, she was singled out for blame in the fiasco by 5th Circuit Court judge Kathleen Watenabe for, among other things, ordering the `iwi be permanently encased in concrete.

That's what made this statement from Agor all the more removed from reality

It is interesting to know that recently the courts have recognized the practices and procedures of DLNR as reasonable and have often rendered decisions in favor of private property owners when they followed their permit conditions imposed by the State.

Here's what a letter from a group called Kānaka Maoli Scholars Against Desecration- signed by a list of notable scholars as long as your arm- said about McMahon's actions in the Brescia case

The SHPD’s own rules empower the island Burial Council to determine the disposition of previously known burials. The island Burial Council’s decision on this issue is supposed to be binding. Yet, SHPD deputy administrator Nancy McMahon sanctioned the use of vertical buffers and concrete caps on the burials to make way for installing the footings of Brescia’s house. Her authorization for such an intrusive "preservation" measure is a fundamental repudiation of the power allocated to all of the island Burial Councils.

By ignoring the decision of the island Burial Council, her actions undermine both the very concept of historic preservation and the reason for the founding of the island Burial Councils. Tragically, before a court could intervene, and based on McMahon’s unauthorized agreements, Brescia’s team managed to install massive house foundations on a portion of the cemetery.

In another incident almost exactly a year ago on May 12, 2010 the headline of a PNN news story pretty much summed up what happened in saying:

Three Burials Unearthed By Cows At Lepeuli Unceremoniously Reburied By SHPD's McMahon Without Burial Council Notification.

You might want to read the article and followups- it's actually even worse than that with McMahon attempting to cover up the discovery of a Hawaiian house site by another local archeologist.

So how did McMahon get away with this stuff for so long- stuff including many unproven accusations from burial protectors of taking home `iwi and even stealing artifacts from sites and offering them for sale?

Well. many times it was Agor's position on the all powerful BLNR that made it possible.

Agor has been a Republican Party mainstay for many years and so when Republican Governor Linda Lingle took over she appointed him as the lone Kaua`i representative.

Now you'd think that with all the other BLNR members one single rep wouldn't be able to insure things go the way he wants. But the "tradition" on the board is to defer to the single neighbor island reps on matters on their island.

For instance when Lepeuli rancher Bruce Lymon tried to lie his way into a conservation district use permit (CDUP) it was Agor who convinced the board to grant it without examining the facts- a decision that was reversed later after the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, OHA and others set the record straight and the permit was rescinded.

As for Agor his tenure has been marked by deceit and misrepresentation to members of the community, often telling people he would assure the BLNR would vote a certain way only to do exactly the opposite according to the minutes of the meeting, as he did with the Koke`e leaseholders and other cases during his tenure.

One thing became clear to us today in reviewing our coverage of the Agor and McMahon- they deserve each other. Their actions go way beyond the usual racism and promotion of monied American interests to, not just being active participants in the continuing genocide of na kanaka, but being leaders in the theft of the land and culture.

And there's nothing nice or kind about that.

We now return you to the "trying very hard not to be mean anymore" Parx.

Friday, May 13, 2011


SLACKIN': We were already to post a piece that would have blow this town wide open but instead we pissed away the whole day reading one of the world's most side-splitting web sites- one that Ian Lind pointed to today called "Shit My Students Write."

Actually, on first glace we thought it was actually "Shit!," My Student Wrote.

Many are simple malaprops and there are some doozies derivative of filling the usual "1000 words or more" requirement and the titles are almost as good as the content.

So as long as we're simply referring readers for their weekend reading pleasure, check out the back and forth at Tiffany Edwards Hunt's blog at the Big Island Chronicle’s web site between Senator Josh Green- the moron we wrote about a couple of weeks ago who killed off the medical marijuana dispensaries bill- and the rest of the community, including one of the doctors "recommending" pot for simple pain and to people under 30, all spurred by a nurse's letter to Green.

The central issue is, of course, the reefer madness mentality perpetuated by addled law enforcement people like the Department of Public Safety's drug enforcement honcho Keith Kamita resulting in the presumption that marijuana should only be used for super-debilitating or terminal cases like cancer and AIDS.

As we wrote among the comments

The problem here is Dr. Green’s- and others’- fallacious presumption that MJ should only be used under the most severe of medical circumstances and not be recommended for less serious maladies. The “reefer madness” mentality of the law enforcement community has permeated the debate and allowed proponents who are not medical professionals- much less have a grasp of the relative harmlessness and effectiveness of adult use of MJ- to make contentions that are based on hysteria, not science.

MJ has a wide variety of uses including for conditions that are not life threatening or even chronically debilitating. Until we separate the mania- mania which Dr. Green is perpetuating despite his use of other medications for relatively minor conditions- we will continue to deprive patients of medicine they need and for which they have a right- under state law (see Pain Patients Bill of Rights) to have access.

We're pretty sure it won't make a difference since Green will still be chairing the Senate Heath committee where any medical marijuana bills will have to go again next year and... of course, under our perpetually broken legislative system one poorly positioned pol can perpetuate anachronistic ideas for years on end.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


LIFERS: The expression "it's not what you know, it's who you know" goes double in small towns. But on Kaua`i it's exponentially so since government and private enterprise connections double back on themselves like a game of "Pong" with an infinite number of balls bouncing back on themselves when they reach the shoreline.

So when we read that former Prosecuting Attorney Mike Soong and Horner Bailbonds owner Darrell Horner got the contract to operate their new Jailhouse Pub & Grill at the old 19th hole of the county owned and run Wailua Golf Course- right across from the local pokey- it raised a few red flags as to how they got the contract and why they thought they could make it work when all others had gone broke... especially given that the county has been pouring taxpayer cash into the supposedly self-sustaining golf course, in large part because, according to Parks and Rec leaders and councilmembers, they're not getting what they should be out of the post-play-property.

But it didn't take long to find at least some of the answers to those questions when a local newspaper article revealed that:

After taking over the space, which needed a lot of work, Soong said inmates from the correctional center’s work furlough program came on three Saturdays and helped clean the place up.

“By the time they left, everything was sparkling,” Soong said at the pub on Monday.

The operators also are interested in hiring inmates with kitchen experience once they’ve been released.

Huh? It's been no secret and a thorn in the side of many a vocal taxpayer that apparently inmates have been forbidden from working as road crews or working on other county and state facilities.

But seemingly Soong and Horner know whose you-know-what to you-know-what to get free labor.

The question of how other entrepreneurs can get the same kind of deal from the hoosegow honcho Warden Neal Wagatsuma aside, is there anyone who doesn't think they traded on their criminal justice insider status to get to him loosen up the chains enough to help a couple of long time associates?

It would be nice to think that maybe the county might now be able to stop pouring millions a year into the golf course's "enterprise fund" and stop subsidizing a "nice to have", but don't "need to have" recreational facility which by law is supposed to pay for itself.

That assumes that somehow the new management will be a whole lot more successful than the old one. But trading on their insider status for free labor sounds a little to comfy... for anywhere but Kaua`i.

As they say, we ain't saying- we're just sayin'....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BAMBOOZLEE: After they teach new councilmembers the secret handshake and turn over one of the seven keys to the little politician’s room, someone- probably legislative analyst Ricky Watenabe who, in case you haven't heard, is the one who really runs the whole shebang- schools the newbies in the unique etiquette of council-being on Kaua`i.

No, we're not talking Emily Post politeness although there's that element too. We're talking the sickeningly sycophantic, Alphonse and Gaston (no not that kind gutter-brain), "I won't step on your political toes if you stay the hell off mine," hide-your-roaches, back-room bamboozling demagoguery that anyone who watches four-and-a-half seconds of a meeting knows all too well.

But the dynamic of this council has suddenly thrown all that to the proverbial tradewinds of late due to a rift that threatens to bring some fireworks to the normally tedious snoozefest to which we've all become inured.

Apparently no one but us noticed the first milestone- or millstone as the case may be- which occurred with the defeat of Councilmember Mel Rapozo's thinly disguised attempt to reverse the plastic bag "ban," purportedly due to food safety concerns but actually to appeal to the piggies who can’t imagine taking home their bacon without despoiling every tree and roadside with "white kites".

The issue had been decided before the bill was introduced with Councilmembers Tim Bynum and JoAnn Yukimura- who have become thorns in the side of Rapozo and vice-versa- voting "aye" on "first reading" for the stated reason that any bill introduced deserves the "common courtesy" of a public hearing and debate... although the obvious political reason was they thought that there was enough community support for the ban to make Rapozo look like an idiot for weeks on end in trying to end the prohibition.

But that kind of smile-as-you-kill backbiting is the hallmark of Watenabian counciling. What wasn't was the final act on the bill where something occurred for the first time in our decades of council-watching.

Oh there have been bills that were defeated before. But the method for that was always to "receive" the bill "for the record," by voice vote. No one caught on the record no one having their bill actually defeated, no one embarrassed.

But Rapozo's bill was actually defeated by a roll call vote or "ayes" and "nays" putting Rapozo on the record on the losing end of a 5-1 vote (then-Councilmember Derek "Mr. Big Save" Kawakami had recused himself).

So what? Well that was just the beginning.

Normally the teeth-clenching ultra-graciousness has resulted in an unflinching yet unwritten rule that when a bill is in committee any member of the committee may request a deferral for a couple of weeks- sometime much more- in order to purportedly do "due diligence," although the real reason may be to do a little arm twisting or to gather a cadre of community members to overwhelm the others with on-camera testimony, given to quell and even reverse a building tide that's going against them.

But lately the Rapozo-Bynum/Yukimura feud has resulted in a couple of instances where that "courtesy" was denied, most recently with the defeat of the nomination of Nancy McMahon to the Historic Preservation Committee- a story that went national today when the Associated Press picked up the local newspaper story on the matter.

Chair Jay Furfaro had requested a 60 day deferral supposedly so he could check up on many of the charges made against McMahon by a slew of members of the public. But the nomination had been deferred a few times already and Rapozo said he had enough information to act right then and there.

Now Bynum has made a point of always voting for first readings and deferrals after having had a few bills defeated on first reading during the last council, due to his feud with then Chair Kaipo Asing and the Minotaur’s henchmen.

So he supported the deferral even though he made a point of saying he'd also heard enough to vote and was doing so as a "courtesy" to Furfaro.

But when the vote came for deferral it was actually a 5-2 vote against after the usually Furfaro-allied Dickie Chang voted no and Yukimura, voting last and knowing the vote was already 4-2 against, saying she was ready to "accelerate my decision making process" (we just loved that one) doing the same.

So what does all this mean? It's hard to say but the obvious indication is that Chair Furfaro is increasingly becoming more and more unable to herd his councilcats as his predecessors did.

And, speaking of sickeningly polite, "that's a good thing" Martha.

Monday, May 9, 2011


WALAGAIN: One of the problems with the "new" charter provision- passed in 2008- requiring recusals by councilmembers from matters that cause conflicts-of-interest, is that unless the councilmember acknowledges that conflict there is apparently nothing anyone can do about it.

Of course the council could pass an ordinance detailing a process by which someone- anyone- might challenge a councilmember if he or she fails to acknowledge it but for now the only process that might be used would be to go the the notoriously "Wenokea" Board of Ethics (BOE) and ask.

Of course by the time they act the council very well may have dealt with the matter.

As we reported last Monday Dickie Chang's involvement with the Kaua`i Marathon prompted his recusal from involvement with controversial Bill # 2404 which would appropriate another $150,000 for the Kauai Marathon.

But while Chang apparently sent the BOE a copy of his communication to the council stating that he would be recusing himself, it was not accompanied with a request for a ruling as to whether he indeed has a conflict.

That, according to the Code of Ethics, would set a precedent and cause Chang to look carefully at his other business relationships to all the other entities that do business with the county, likely to come before the council.

So when the marathon money bill came up for a public hearing last Wednesday although Chang indeed left the room for it, he also left a slew of questions as to whether the bill legitimately came to have a public hearing held in the first place.

When the bill came up for "first reading"- the introductory vote that starts any bill on it's way to becoming an ordinance- Chang was predictably one of the "aye" votes.

What was unusual in that vote was that, whereas first readings are generally perfunctory actions done in order to get matters before the council, Councilperson Mel Rapozo actually voted "no" saying the county is too broke to be continuing to support the event, now planning it's third race.

Other councilmembers said that, although they were inclined not to support the bill they would vote "yes" only because all bills deserve "yes" votes on first reading so that people can provide testimony and the council can give the measure "due consideration"... a "tradition" that is often ignored when it's convenient for individual councilmembers.

But Chang's vote remains an illegality- a vote for the charter-required "first reading" of a bill from which he has recused himself.

Was the vote valid? Does the council have to re-introduce the bill and have it go through its first reading without Chang?

Apparently so but no one on the council seemed concerned in the least.

And that's not all.

It was noted by a member of the public at the bill's public hearing that, in addition to the $150,000, the Kaua`i Marathon has a line item in the county's FY2011-12 budget- currently under consideration- for another $120,000.

But when the public hearing for the budget came up Wednesday there was Chang at the table despite the fact that the additional marathon money was, in part, at issue.

We tell the story just to show how positively clueless Chang is when it comes to conflicts between his close relationships with the tourism industry, his promotional "Wala`au" TV program, and his job as councilmember.

Last week we asked

does Chang truly get it?

Apparently not judging by his fast and free treatment of the line between his day job and his job as one who appropriates all monies the county spends.

Take for example one of the presumably paid advertisements that regularly appears on Wala`au from Garden Isle Disposal (GID) advertising the "Kaua`i Recycles" program, which provides those bins across the island where people can recycle their glass, plastic and newspapers.

GID doesn't just collect recyclables because out of concern for the planet or out of the goodness of their hearts- the county appropriates money to pay them for their services every year via the annual budget.

And part of the contract requires that GID provide publicity and education to let people know how, where and what to recycle.

As a graphic in the commercial notes:

The Kaua`i Recycles program is a project of the County of Kaua`i... operated by Garden Isle Disposal.

That means that, as you've probably figured out, Chang first voted to appropriate the money for the commercials and then pocketed a good chunk of it as sole proprietor of Wala`au.

Sweet deal, Dickie.

First of all, of course Chang didn't bat an eye regarding GID when the budget came up, presumably with this year's appropriation to GID's for the "Kaua`i Recycles" program.

But we were positively floored when, at the end of the meeting there was Chang listening to County Attorney Al Castillo come up to the hot seat and read off the following request for an executive session:

ES-486 Pursuant to Haw. Rev. Stat. sections 92-4 and 92-5(a)(4), and Kaua'i County Charter section 3.07(E), the purpose of this executive session is to provide Council with a briefing and request for authority to settle claim filed against the County by Garden Isle Disposal on February 23, 2011, and related matters.

So let's get this straight Dickie. Your sponsor- whose payments provide your livelihood in an amount set by you- is suing the county and you see nothing wrong with voting on whether to settle a suit that they've filed with the county.

We're not quite sure what the claim is about but it may well be connected to GID's biggest- perhaps only- involvement with the county, the contract for the Kaua`i Recycles program.

Chang's action in acknowledging the marathon conflict has apparently opened a door that he wishes would have remained closed. The question though is where are the other councilmembers?

You'd think that one of them would have said something- either to Chang privately or, if that failed, by bringing it up when the agenda item is called. That of course is in lieu of introducing some effectuating legislation giving teeth to the charter provision passed over two years ago.

Yeah right- that's gonna happen. In a town where businesses - both for and not for profit- are as corruptly intertwined and insularly governed as this one, any urge to rock the gravy boat is stifled by the incredible mess it would make on the council's dinner table.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


POISON `IWI: We're still cussin' like a sailor every time we try to use the county's newfangled webcast site but since Ho`ike is, as usual, woefully inept at getting the meetings on the "air"- much less the schedule of council meetings posted on-line- we tuned to the MP3 audio today to get an aural gander at the section on Nancy McMahon's application to serve on the county's Kauai Historic Preservation Review Commission.

And never- we repeat never- in over 35 years, have we seen a steadier stream of people come to the hot seat to talk stink about a nominee.

McMahon, as Joan Conrow wrote last month,

was the former Kauai district archaeologist and SHPD deputy director who approved the burial treatment plan that allowed Joe Brescia to build on top of iwi kupuna. Pua Aiu signed off on the plan after it was rejected by the Kauai Niihau Island Burial Council, thus setting the precedent that capping iwi in concrete and building over them is compatible with a determination to “preserve in place.”

As a matter of fact it was McMahon's actions that were singled out for the wrath of Judge Kathleen Watenabe in the matter as Conrow reported earlier saying

But that irritation was tempered by the good news that Nancy McMahon, the state archaeologist whose misdeeds created the Bresica boondoggle – to quote Judge Watanabe: “The heart of this case is the failure of the state to follow procedures put in place to protect cultural practitioners, the general public and the rights of landowners.” — has been placed on indefinite administrative leave without pay. Her suspension followed a National Park Services inquiry into and state legislative hearings on the screwed up mess that is the State Historic Preservation Division.

It seems like every time there was some kind of pilikila regarding burials McMahon was in the forefront.

Our headline and lede last May said it all:


PNN) -- Three burials that were disinterred by Bruce Laymon's cattle operation on Waioli Corporation property at Lepeuli (Larsen’s Beach) and were unceremoniously moved and reinterred by State Historical Preservation Division (SHPD) Archeologist Nancy McMahon, according to a letter from McMahon to Hope Kallai of Malama Moloa`a.

McMahon's nomination despite the outrageous conflict of interest in serving on a commission that essentially would review her work, was one of those "council only" appointments where the mayor picks three, the council picks three and the body picks the last one. But the problem has been getting people to serve so the commission hasn't met in ages because they don't have a quorum.

So when McMahon put her name forward she was somewhat of an automatic nominee, according to councilmembers.

The only question really for council members was whether to reject McMahon outright yesterday as the oodles of outraged onlookers had demanded or take 60 days, as Chair Jay Furfaro requested, to "investigate" some of the charges.

After much wrangling, somewhat surprisingly since it had appeared there were only going to be three votes to kill the resolution during discussion, the council voted to kill it right then and there.

As a side note, the main thing the council apparently wanted to look into was one charges that many made, as we heard in an email earlier this week.

Apparently McMahon's educational background had been thrown into question because when her opponents checked with University of Hawai`i-Manoa they discovered her degree was "in anthropology, not archeology."

Seemingly they weren't the only ones who didn't know that archeology is more properly called "physical anthropology," as opposed to cultural anthropology. No one gets an undergraduate degree in "archeology" but rather studies both branches of anthropology and is awarded the appropriate degree.

We don't know what's wrong with this woman- she's apparently a glutton for rejection. First she ran and finished last in the 2008 election for council. Then a steady stream of charges- including one by a Kaua`i massage therapist that she was "filthy dirty" (ouch) - were telecast with such vile tossed in her direction that would bring a normal person to tears.

It's hard to say anyone deserves that but in McMahon’s case she's practically begged for it.

And, with twisted aloha, the community has once again granted her request.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


IT'S OVER WELL BEFORE IT'S OVER: For those of us on the neighbor islands, the state legislature- which will mercifully cease to function after tomorrow's "Sine Die"- might as well be on Jupiter.

So it used to be that, for us personally, it was like going to a really long movie and falling asleep during the credits while telling our companion to wake us when it's over and tell us what happened.

After many years of local political wrangling it became apparent about 20 years ago that there are some wacky things that go on at the county level that can be traced right back to the lege and if we wanted to effect any change it would take a change of venue.

Now after two decades of long-distance code-deciphering it's become painfully obvious that we'd be better off- at least as far as our doctor is concerned- going back to a "wake me when it's over and show me the damage" attitude.

Even- or maybe especially- when we had two "allies" in the legislature- Mina Morita in the house and Gray Hooser in the senate- tackling individual bills has been a fool's errand. For the good bills, we had guides in both houses to maneuver them up the hills and out of the valleys.

But for the rest, nothing seems to matter and we only get our hopes up each time a bill moves out of a committee or reaches crossover or clears committee assignments on the other side or makes it to a conference committee.

We know we'll eventually be getting that old queasy feeling that it was all in vain.

We couldn't have agreed more when we opened an email from State Sierra Club E.D. Robert D. Harris yesterday and he wrote:

If I had to summarize this session in one word, it would be: disappointing.

Well actually we would have used a choice adjective or two not found in children's dictionaries, but why quibble?

Now young Mr. Harris is fairly new at this, taking over the SC helm a couple of years ago, so he can be excused for this starry-eyed assessment of how it's supposed to work.

Conference committees are supposed to be the stage at which the House and Senate resolve nagging differences between two different drafts of the same bill. While sometimes the differences are too great to resolve, the expectation is that most bills that reach conference committee can and should pass. Considerable work has already been done to get the bills to this point and open minds can usually figure out how to hammer out a final piece of legislation.

But sometime it takes a less jaded observer- and one who actually sat through this year's debacle- to cut through the crap in the newspapers, whose reporters and analysts have apparently failed to see the forest for the trees.

Harris gave this explanation- one that makes sense to us- as to why every god-damned bill we tracked this year either died or was made toothless, saying:

This year was different. House leaders desperately wanted to pass a tax on high-income pensioners. Presumably under the direction of the House leadership, the House Committee on Finance refused to sign off on a number of environmental bills (this might have been true across the board, but I can only speak on behalf of the bills I was tracking). Most observers concluded this was intended to force the Senate to agree to the pension tax.

The Senate refused to go along. And to increase the pressure, the Senate announced all bills needed to be finished before 6:00 pm on Friday, May 6th or the Senate would stop negotiating.

This type of grandstanding has occurred before. When the 6:00 pm deadline passed, most observers assumed that one side or the other, (House or Senate) would blink and a bulk of the bills in conference committee would then be passed.

To the shock of many, when the two budget committees came back at 9:30 pm they had only passed four or five revenue bills (not including the tax on pensions) and promptly declared the session over. Numerous bills that had been held up by the House leadership simply died.

This result was simply stunning. Critical bills died without so much as a whimper. Bills like the one that would have reallocated income from the barrel tax to fund clean energy programs and a bill to charge small fees to fund the Office of Environmental Quality Control, a chronically underfunded and understaffed agency. Bills like the popular proposed fee on paper/plastic bags, which would have provided a big new revenue source as well as create a big environmental benefit. Hordes of lobbyists were seen walking around the capitol in a daze.

But does it really matter HOW it happened this year? Surely they'll come up with another unbelievably corrupt- if not obscure and arcane- way to do it in 2012.

We'll probably forget about all this by the time next January rolls around again and once more ask around for some legislative packages and optimistically pull a few bills for support only to have ulcers and chest pains by the beginning of May; at least this year we probably won't have to sweat out the long list of vetoes and non-releases of authorized funding that marked the Ding-a-Lingle years... which of course includes the really bad bills that creeped though.

And when we do forget, please- hit us in the head with a frying pan and knock us out until it's over.

Pass the Prozac please.

Monday, May 2, 2011


WALA`OUCH: When we called for Councilperson Dickie Chang to recuse himself from participating in Bill #2404- which would appropriate $150,000 in support of the 3rd annual Kaua`i Marathon- two weeks ago today we had a feeling that Chang was pretty clueless regarding this and other conflicts of interest between actions as a councilperson and his "Wala`au" television program.

But, as we reported Friday, to his credit Chang did listen and recused himself from involvement with the bill meaning he will not be shepherding the bill through the council as Chair of the Economic Development & Renewable Energy Strategies (ED&RES) Committee.

As this Wednesday's agenda says:

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.

But does Chang truly get it?

Apparently not judging by his fast and free treatment of the line between his day job and his job as one who appropriates all monies the county spends.

Take for example one of the presumably paid advertisements that regularly appears on Wala`au from Garden Isle Disposal (GID) advertising the "Kaua`i Recycles" program, which provides those bins across the island where people can recycle their glass, plastic and newspapers.

GID doesn't just collect recyclables because out of concern for the planet or out of the goodness of their hearts- the county appropriates money to pay them for their services every year via the annual budget.

And part of the contract requires that GID provide publicity and education to let people know how, where and what to recycle.

As a graphic in the commercial notes:

The Kaua`i Recycles program is a project of the County of Kaua`i... operated by Garden Isle Disposal.

That means that, as you've probably figured out, Chang first voted to appropriate the money for the commercials and then pocketed a good chunk of it as sole proprietor of Wala`au.

Sweet deal, Dickie.

But this kind of little self-dealing scam- which apparently violates the "Kaua`i Code of Ethics" in providing a special benefit for himself through his actions as a government official- is nothing new for Chang.

During this past year's campaign guess who one of the biggest advertisers on Wala`au was?

Actually you needn't guess. Chang's filings with the State Campaign Spending Commissions show two expenditures- one on September 28 and another on October 5 of $1,218.74 and $1,218.74 respectively for "television advertising"- both paid to Wala`au Productions.

And why not? Chang had gotten away with it in 2008 when, on October 21 he spent $2,812.48 for "30 second TV spots- 12 weeks," also paid to Wala`au Productions.

The 2008 entry notes that the Chang's campaign, including this expenditure, was financed through "public funding."

Sleazy? Surely. But illegal? Well, apparently.

The first line of the Campaign Treasurers Manual says that "(e)xpenditures that personally benefit the candidate or candidate’s family are expressly prohibited."

Chang also has other close relationships between those who benefited from his campaign cash and who now advertise on Wala`au, including The Garden Island Newspaper- which is listed as a Wala`au "sponsor" and has received numerous checks from the Chang campaign for ads- and the Puakea Golf Course which is similarly entwined, receiving Chang campaign expenditures and is currently a Wala`au "sponsor."

As Chair of the Economic Development & Renewable Energy Strategies Committee, Chang has also guided and enthusiastically voted for appropriations for the Kaua`i Visitor's Bureau- including $2 million in controversial "emergency grants" last year- which also provides life-blood content for Wala`au.

The program also lists the Kaua`i Island Utilities Coop (KIUC) as an sponsor, bringing into question how Chang can oversee "Renewable Energy Strategies" and other KIUC-related matters without a conflict of interest that would demand recusal.

Councilmembers are often chosen for committee chairs- and committees are often structured- based on their expertise. But when that expertise crosses the line and government and campaign monies find their way into the chair's wallet it may be time to reassess that councilmember's role on the council.

Is Chang playing loosey- goosey with ethics and anti-corruption laws? Well, now that he's been goosed, like Lucy, at the very least, he has some 'splainin' to do.