Thursday, June 30, 2011


FOLLOWING THE MONEY: In addition to our wholesale advocacy of a "no" vote on this FERCin' mess KIUC has gotten us into with their capitulation to Free Flow Partners' (FFP) extortion, we've been doing quite a bit of retail, taking a slew of phone calls from people for whom computers are anathema- all essentially asking "WTF?".

Many just want an answer as to whether to vote "no" or "yes." But far more have read both the newspaper articles and the ballot itself along with KIUC's unbelievably slanted voters' guide.

Under "your no vote means" the guide makes the claim that:

The contracts with FFP will be terminated, and all preliminary permits will revert back to FFP. This will make progress on hydro in the near term very difficult and more expensive, and more than $325,000 in contractual obligations will be due to FFP.

Even those that have read both our coverage and Joan Conrow's awesome Honolulu Weekly article and meticulously researched and presented Gold Diggers (parts 1 and 2) blog posts have asked an important question.

Basically they ask "well, yes- the whole deal stinks and we should never have entered into any deal with FFP. But now that we have we stand to lose $325,000 (some reports claim it's as high as $400,000) which will inevitably show up on our bill. And we will have paid that money and not be any closer to hydroelectric power project development. Shouldn't I vote 'yes?'"

The answer to the first part is that while yes, it will cost hundreds of thousands to cancel the deal with FFP, many have not heard or glossed over a quote from Conrow's Honolulu Weekly piece which says that:

Bissell said no specific price was placed on the applications, which were purchased as part of a larger consulting contract. The utility has refused to disclose the full value of the contract, which includes an incentive for delivering completed projects, but KIUC attorney David Proudfoot said FFP will be paid “several million dollars if none go past the first stage."

Given the opposition to FERC and the likelihood that, with the state's long-standing opposition and threats to sue, we will never proceed to full FERC licensing. What a yes vote means is that, although we'll have to forfeit the $325K we'd potentially be throwing away a lot more.

As Conrow concluded in her second Gold Digger post:

In its permitted applications, FFP states, “The studies will be financed by the applicant.” No mention is made of KIUC. For each project, FFP estimates the cost of doing all the first-year studies — the feasibility stuff — at $100,000. The rest of the work — consultations, developing a notice of intent and pre-application document, and beginning scoping activities — is estimated to “not exceed $500,000."

So even if FFP were to take all six projects all the way up to the license application, it would cost no more than $3.6 million. KIUC won’t tell us exactly what we’re paying, but KIUC attorney David Proudfoot told us at the June 4 community meeting that FFP will be paid “several million dollars if none go past the first stage.”

Several is defined as “more than or three but not many.” So it sounds like we’re paying close to, if not more than, the full estimated price for bringing all six projects through the first stage, even though KIUC CEO David Bissell and some Board members have acknowledged that some of the projects will never get off the ground.

On top of that, FFP will get an incentive for delivering completed projects.

The second question is a bit trickier but perhaps more revealing.

The reason why KIUC says it is going through the FERC is that there is no state process for developing hydro. But we must remember a couple of things.

What many including petition initiator Adam Asquith have said, is that what we should have done- and should do- is to go to the state and say "we want to do hydroelectric projects and want to work with the state to establish a system for development and introduce and pass enabling legislation and eventually administrative rules so that we can develop environmentally and culturally sensitive and water-wise projects into the future.

And, as a matter of fact, a good place to start is the KIUC ballyhooed flow chart that FERC has already developed for public participation and alter it for our unique water laws.

Certainly we're not the only ones in the state who want to develop hydropower. HELCO has the same renewable energy portfolio requirements as KIUC for the other islands. If and when they wake up to the insanity of their "Big Wind" project and the fact that it is doomed to failure, hydroelectric is probably the next best technology in terms of cost of both development and future rates.

But whether through pure laziness, corruption or pure stupidity the KIUC board of directors and administrative staff seems hell bent on committing us to a costly and widely-opposed way of going about it- one that, even if it were to succeed, would still leave us without a simpler, less costly statewide system for the next round of hydroelectric development.

The $325-400,000 we stand to lose in a "no" vote is peanuts compared to the cost of a "yes" vote down the road. Whether as a way to say no to FERC or to, in fact, SAVE us money, a "no" vote is the best option to get us out of this mess that the board of KIUC has gotten us into.

That and remembering this fiasco during the next KIUC board of directors election.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


WHO DAT MAN?: Now that deputy county attorney in charge of Kaua`i Police Department (KPD) matters Justin Kollar has made his run for County Prosecutor official- opposing current Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho who had been thought to be mulling a run for her former county council seat but recently said she will stand for re-election- it's only fair to ask Kollar... "what are you nuckin' futz?".

While it appears that his work with KPD has Chief Darryl Perry gushing and Iseri has the community up in arms over her use of the office as a weapon of vindictiveness and race-based retribution, three year resident Kollar has about 17 strikes against him going in to the 2012 race.

Much as many would like to deny it, "running while white" still puts any candidate at a distinct disadvantage on Kaua`i even for well known long time denizens. But in a battle against Iseri- whose ethnicity-based hiring in the prosecutor's office is anything but a secret- the issue of race will inform the race more than any other.

And on Kaua`i that's still a losing proposition for any "haole."

Even though Kollar promises to "walk to every house on this island, if that’s what it takes"- and of course that, minimally, is what it would take- the long-awaited "changing demographics" on Kaua`i is still a futuristic paradigm that FOB candidates believe in at their peril.

But even if the majority of the voting populace were to be suddenly blanched, Kollar has pretty much cooked his goose with his rabid anti-marijuana activities this past legislative session when he participated in Iseri's rally to block medical marijuana reform, cutting into any possible widespread support from progressive Caucasian voter.

It harkens back to the time when local attorney William Feldhacker thought the demographics had changed enough for him to challenge them-prosecutor Ryan Jimenez a couple of eons ago. Despite the fact that many saw Jimenez as lackluster in his performance, Feldhacker- then the preeminent criminal defense attorney on the island- came up way short, after taking an "how can I possibly lose to this guy" approach to the race.

It isn't even just the medical marijuana issue as far as drugs go. Kollar seems to be a nut for interdiction in an age when there have been so many families touched by their kids' drug problems that most see the fact that scarce dollars go to a "lock 'em up and throw away the key" approach to hard drugs like methamphetamine and not to treatment, as a failure of public policy that, in many cases, has destroyed their family as much as the drug abuse itself.

The shame is that the scourge that Iseri represents begs for change at the ballot box next year. But the reality is that it's hard enough to get someone to challenge an incumbent prosecutor without having to deal with a three-way race where they'd have to split the anti-Iseri vote with Kollar.

One thing we can count on- given that Kollar was among those fired by Iseri for "practicing law while white" this race will get ugly. Which, while great for a curmudgeonly columnist, is anything but for a community that sorely needs a justice-based office of the prosecutor.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


STRIKE THREE?: What's really unfortunate about the underhanded, secretive and sleazy way Kaua`i Island Utilities Co-op (KIUC) and their partners in corruption Free Flow Partners (FFP) have gone about hydroelectric development is that it will inevitably delay- if not kill- immanent development of the cheapest, most dependable of carbon-free energy systems.

Add to that the fact that, because of the unique position of Kaua`i as the world capitol of various endangered bird species, there will never be large scale wind farms on the island and even backyard windmills may eventually be banned, once the county catches on to the fact that our "probation" with the feds- as a result of a settlement federal suit- probably requires us to severely restrict, if not ban, them too without prohibitively costly "take permits."

And with home windmills gone that leaves roof-top solar as the last, best bet to reverse the "we sell you electricity" business model KIUC seems to be hell-bent on perpetuating as if it were an investor based utility.

But today any hope for making it easy to put photovoltaic systems on people's homes took a kick in the nuts when Governor Neil Abercrombie put HB 1520 on the "Intent to Veto" list.

In April, as the bill went to conference committee, we detailed a decade long fight, first with the solar installation firms and currently with the utility companies to pass a bill requiring on-bill financing for home solar electric systems.

And even though the bill was watered down further in committee- changing the wording from directing the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to "consider implementing an on-bill financing program for residential electric utility customers" to "investigate an On-bill Financing Program (Program),"- and passed the legislature it appears on today's list.

Strangely it is one of a very few bills on the potential veto list for which a reason hasn't been given, as yet.

But a veto isn’t certain and you can call Abercrombie at 808-586-0034 or write him him using a handy-dandy form ( and urge him to get the ball rolling on home solar generation with on-bill financing.

Monday, June 27, 2011


WHILE WE'RE ON THE SUBJECT: Oh there was fear. Oh there was loathing.

But the when KIUC CEO David Bissell "debated" anti-FERC petition originator Adam Asquith at a packed Kapa`a Library conference room on Saturday there was mostly misdirection and stonewalling on Bissell's part- especially when we asked about the origins of KIUC's dealing with Free Flow Partners (FFP).

We decided to confront Bissell as to how exactly the deal came about, quoting a Honolulu Weekly article by Joan Conrow that made pretty clear that FFP had gotten the preliminary Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) permits, set up shell corporations and then held a gun to KIUC's head forcing them to either deal with FFP to get dibs on the exclusive right to develop six water runs on Kaua`i for hydroelectric or FFP would tie up the rights indefinitely.

Bissell at first denied that the permits were issued before KIUC's initial involvement (which Bissell said was last October) something documentation reveals to be a lie. But then, when we were allowed a followup question, he refused to say who exactly approached whom and how the deal was struck other than saying an unidentified intermediary brought the parties together, saying "what difference does it make?".

We approached Bissell after the meeting seeking to get some answers to that matter as well as a couple of others. But Bissell as soon as we approached him as he spoke to others, quickly scurried to his car, saying he would not answer any more questions and leaving us, note pad in hand, chasing him through the library parking lot.

So what is the truth? Well, according to Conrow's blog post today, the truth is that "FFP had already done the “poaching” by filing its applications for hydro projects on Kauai waterways prior to entering into a contract with KIUC."

Not only does she clarify and reiterate what we suspected she was saying on Friday but she details how "it appears the circumstances that led to their union were more akin to a shotgun wedding than a love match. What’s more, it seems that “grab 'em with both hands” is FFP’s standard MO."

Seems that, although FFP hasn't developed a single project as opponents have reiterated, they have scooped up hundreds of these "preliminary permits" across the country including "141 project sites covering all but a few miles of (an) 850-mile reach of the (Mississippi) river" causing FREC "to decline to issue additional permits on this stretch of river, and instead allow potential developers to advance their projects through the commission's licensing process."

Another part of their scam seems to be to find existing dams without any hydro projects and get permits for exploring exclusive development.

While we suggest you read Conrow's post today for all the gory details of that and other FFP mainland scams, what remains is yet another reason to distrust Bissell himself and everything that comes out of his mouth.

The other questions we didn't get answered included one as to why the "members" of the co-op aren't entitled to examine full Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between KIUC and FFP which, as far as we have been able to determine by asking board members, is "confidential" for no particular reason other than it's confidential.

One thing that Bissell refused to say was whether KIUC would commit to abandon the seeking of full FERC licensing, in light of the contention of late that KIUC/FFP has only obtained "preliminary permits" to look into hydroelectric projects on Kaua`i and not full "FERC licensing"- the latter of which is opposed by the state DLNR's water division chief and attorney general's office.

It's particularity irksome that Bissell has claimed that, because there is no state process for hydro development, we need to follow the "FERC process" contained in a flow chart that was waved about at the dais. But he avoided commenting on why that process couldn’t be followed without FERC.

Could it be that the reason why KIUC never approached the state to set up a state-based process for developing hydro was because FFP had already gotten the preliminary permits and was holding a gun to KIUC's head saying that they would hold up any hydro development indefinitely unless KIUC signed on the dotted line?

That would sure explain a lot of things such as why all of a sudden without any advance notice KIUC was suddenly gung ho for hydroelectric development. It would also explain why they signed an MOA that "purchases" the permits and shell corporations but allows both to revert to FFP should KIUC change its mind, as will happen should the ballots be returned with more "no" than "yes" votes.

We had prepared a question for Bissell on the off-chance that we would get a second round at the meeting along the lines of "given that almost everyone- including some board members- agrees that your communications with the public have so far been severely bungled with a lack of transparency, the 'no FERC, no hydro' threat and the refusal to release the MOA, is there anything you'd personally do differently if you had it to do over?".

But after the a couple of hours of misinformation, threats, misdirection and, when necessary, stonewalling in reiterating all the past bunk we've been fed, the question seemed to have answered itself.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


ASK ALICE: It didn't take long for our phone to start ringing yesterday and, as is usual when we describe someone- in this case people with Kaua`i Island Utilities Co-op (KIUC) - grasping at straws, trying to overcome past stupid foibles by spewing additional half-truths and outright lies, as things get clearer and clearer they also get curiouser and curiouser.

KIUC's latest "claim,"- as we called it yesterday even though we know how charged that word is as opposed to simply "said" that essentially KIUC has only thus far received "preliminary permits" through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) process and that the state doesn't oppose that, has a few people confused.

Because for it to mean anything at all it would mean that those urging a "no" vote on the ballot question co-op members are currently being asked to decide, have won and KIUC is stopping the FERC "process" with these "preliminary permits."

The question that we came away from those calls with is "so what." Because unless KIUC has decided to reverse course and end their involvement with Free Flow Partners (FFP) and abandon the actual development of the hydroelectric projects, it's an absolutely meaningless red herring.

Because, although we can't be sure what in the heck KIUC has agreed to in their super-secret Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with FFP because they won't let anyone see it. It's quite obvious that the "FERC process" they speak of includes the actual development of the projects and the granting of full FREC "licenses" to do so.

That bit of obfuscation and some other things were made a bit clearer with the on-line availability of Joan Conrow's Honolulu Weekly article on the subject.

But one thing, if we're reading it right, just adds another layer to the original sins of KIUC in secretly signing up with FFP.

Joan writes that:

The utility actually followed the lead of Free Flow Power (FFP), a Massachusetts-based consortium of consultants and investors that filed the permit applications that created a community uproar. The utility became embroiled when it bought Free Flow’s permits and hired the firm (emphasis added) to guide it through a hydro development process administered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Washington, DC...

To stake its own claim, KIUC purchased the shell companies that FFP formed to file six applications on waterways (emphasis added) from Hanalei to Kekaha. FERC has already approved three, giving KIUC preliminary permits that carry the exclusive right to study hydroelectric development for three years.

Now those following the the issue down the rabbit hole will remember the original claim by KIUC CEO David Bissell and their attorney David Proudfoot was that the reason they went to FFP and engaged in the FREC process was so that they could make sure that someone else didn't apply for a permit, which grants the exclusive rights to a three-year period to consider development.

But if we're reading Conrow's contention right it sounds like that "someone else" might just have been... drum roll... FFP.

That would certainly explain why, as opponents have said, KIUC chose a company with no hydroelectric track record that sounds more like a venture capital firm- with shady connections- than an energy developer.

While as KIUC has indicated there may have been others who they were afraid of it makes you wonder who is extorting whom.

As we said in our "editorial" Monday- and as Conrow makes abundantly clear- "nothing but a pack of cards" KIUC has created a situation where anyone who didn't, as they say, think that "a sign that they're lying is that their lips are moving" before this episode, is certainly convinced of it now.

Yet unbelievably, Bissell is quoted as bizarrely having said:

“I encourage everyone to have trust in KIUC, have trust in your elected board, have trust in me and, most importantly, have trust in yourself. The only way these projects will go forward is through overwhelming community support.”

All we can say to that is "eat me."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


JUST FERCIN' WITH YA: Although our editorial Monday concentrated on the incredible arrogance and stupidity regarding the way Kaua`i Island Utilities Co-op (KIUC)- notably via CEO David Bissell and attorney David Proudfoot- has acted in the whole Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) hydroelectric project debacle, we did mention at least two glaring issues that have underlined efforts to reverse the board's decision to engage with Free Flow Partners (FFP) to go through the FERC process- issues that KIUC has refused to respond to, choosing instead to obfuscate the issues and overwhelm us with costly PR.

The first was the state's opposition to the project, specifically through statements by William Tam, deputy director for water at DLNR. The second was regarding the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) case California vs FERC in which the court rules that FERC rules preempt state laws and regulations regarding water use.

But although KIUC has generally ignored the real issues and has attempted subterfuge and extortion in trying to win the ballot vote to reverse the decision, they are finally fighting back in the person of board members (and, full disclosure, our long time friend) Jan TenBruggencate, with whom we spoke on Monday.

Apparently TenBruggencate has also been speaking to the local newspaper and today they published an article in which TenBruggencate essentially claims that KIUC has only received "preliminary permits" and that the state only opposes actual final FERC permits.

They also said they couldn't reach Tam for the article but state that TenBruggencate met with Tam last week.

However in a piece by Joan Conrow in her Kaua`i Eclectic blog today she says that

I was able to get some clarification from Tam for my Honolulu Weekly article, which comes out today...

I asked Tam, who previously told me he’d taken no stand on the FERC permits, if that was a correct statement of his position and got this email in response:

"Hypothetical situations have been considered under certain assumptions, but no resolution has been reached."

And I can’t help but wonder, if the state supposedly doesn't oppose the use of preliminary permits to scope hydro projects, why have two state agencies — the Agribusiness Development Corp. and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands — already filed formal motions to intervene?

Clearly, they're alarmed about something.


But TenBruggencate's other contention- one made earlier to attorney-blogger Charley Foster- was that another SCOTUS case could mean that, as Foster headlined "FERC supremacy over Kauai water regs overstated?"

Seems a case called Jefferson County Et Al. V. Washington Department Of Ecology Et Al. (1994), which came after the 1990 California case, apparently held that some state regs could actually trump federal law as TenBruggencate claimed to us on Monday

Foster said in a comment on our Monday editorial:

It's an interesting situation before the Supreme Court. While California v. FERC said the Federal Power Act supersedes state law under all but certain enumerated circumstances, the Court later ruled in PUD No. 1 of Jefferson County v. Washington Dept. of Ecology, 511 U.S. 700, that the Clean Water supersedes the Federal Power Act and gives the power back to the states to set licensing requirements. In pointing out the seemingly schizophrenic decisions, the dissent in the later case pointed out that California would have prevailed in the earlier case had it asserted its requirements through the Clean Water Act rather than through the Federal Power Act.

In any case, I wouldn't want to be the attorney having to navigate through that legal mine field.

But in reading the two opinions, while California is a wide ranging and broad reaffirmation of a previous case called First Iowa Hydro-Electric Cooperative v. FPC, which held for federal supremacy in all water issues, Jefferson County v. Washington Dept. of Ecology, deals narrowly and specifically with the Clean Water Act and water quality, although it does say one cannot separate water flow from water quality.

It doesn't even mention First Iowa or California and only touches obliquely on California at the end by saying

In addition, the Court is unwilling to read implied limitations into § 401 based on petitioners' claim that a conflict exists between the condition's imposition and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's authority to license hydroelectric projects under the Federal Power Act, since FERC has not yet acted on petitioners' license application and since § 401's certification requirement also applies to other statutes and regulatory schemes.

Which means that the case didn't even touch on any FERC supremacy issues because, at the time of the decision, there was no FERC involvement yet.

Which is exactly what opponents of the FERC process are saying- that if and only if FERC isn't involved in hydroelectric development, state laws and regulations would be enforceable- otherwise, all bets are off.

While it's nice that someone with some integrity from KIUC is finally, after all this BS, at least trying to address the specifics of why members are trying to reverse the board's decision, TenBruggencate is apparently shooting blanks- blanks most likely provided by Bissell and Proudfoot.

Monday, June 20, 2011



Please vote "no" to the ballot measure that recently arrived in your mailbox and send KIUC a message that subterfuge, laziness and a lack of due diligence is not acceptable.

The issue is not hydro-electric power development as they would have you believe but Kaua`i Island Utilities Co-op's (KIUC) ill-considered decision to engage in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) process despite the state Department of Land and Natural Resources' (DLNR) opposition to the use of FERC in Hawai`i- opposition which dates back to a previous attempt to use FERC in the 1990's.

Not only did the KIUC board of directors either ignore or fail to discover the state's opposition but they were apparently unaware of a US Supreme Court case, California vs. FERC, which would give FERC the power to override the unique water use laws of Hawai`i.

The FERC process is so odious that Senator Daniel Akaka (D- HI) introduced legislation to remove Hawai`i from FREC control.

The KIUC board of directors was sold a bill of goods by new KIUC CEO David Bissell apparently, whether by malpractice or malfeasance, without discovering these factors and now has used lies and an overwhelming expenditure of co-op funds for a PR campaign to try to make people believe that they must vote "yes" in order to ever develop hydroelectric facilities on Kaua`i.

Nothing could be further from the truth. But the board has continued to try to make up for the lack of attention to their true fiduciary responsibilities- to serve the members of the co-op- and instead protect themselves from being accused of blowing, by some reports, up to $400,000 which has already been spent.

If KIUC members don't stop the process here it could cost KIUC members even more in defending a planned intervention by the state attorney general’s office as well as planned lawsuits by opponents federal control of Hawai`i water resources.

According to a Pacific Business News interview with William Tam, deputy director for water at DLNR, Tam threatened the intervention saying that

"the state does not want Hawai‘i’s in-stream flow standards to be decided by a federal agency in Washington D.C. that does not have any experience with or understand Hawai‘i’s streams. Hawai‘i stream-flow standards should not be decided 5,000 miles away where it’s very hard for the people of Hawai‘i to effectively participate.”

In the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) case the justices ruled that FERC's rules trump state regulations if the two conflict, despite assurances from Bissell and KIUC attorney David Proudfoot that all state regulations will be followed.

The fact is that Bissell, Proudfoot and the board have refused to directly engage with opponents on the specifics of the FERC process raised by Tam, Akaka and the SCOTUS ruling, rather taking a paternalistic "trust us" tact.

But trust is difficult if not impossible given KIUC's track record and the surreptitiousness of the vote to engage Free Flow Partners- the company applying for the FERC permits with which KIUC has a so far secret "memorandum of agreement."

Though they promise to engage "stakeholders" from now on, not only is the damage to any trust already done but they have made it clear that on the key issue of FERC involvement they will not budge no matter what future discussions with the community yield.

As a matter of fact Bissell and Proudfoot have admitted using the fact that they controlled the "voters' guide" that came with the ballot to misrepresent opponents' views.

An article in the local Kaua`i newspaper states that:

KIUC legal counsel David Proudfoot acknowledged the petition was ultimately about FERC issues, but indicated the co-op was not required to state the position of the opposition.

“There is a difference between the ballot, which needs to be neutral, and which is neutral, and the position of KIUC and its board,” Proudfoot said. “KIUC and its board, who were elected by its members, they obviously believe in the process they are using and they’re entitled to support it. They are not required to help someone else support their decision, that they don’t like, with the members’ money.”

(Opponent Pat) Gegen asked, “And that’s a democratic process?”

“Yes, it is,” Proudfood said. “Of the 250 members that signed the petition, if they want to be able to PR their case, they can do it as much as they want, but it’s not up to KIUC, who doesn’t believe in their position, to pay their money for it. It’s no different than any political democratic process. If you’re a republican, you don’t pay the democrats for their publicity. They pay their own and that’s why the Voters Guide is very carefully labeled as the KIUC Voters Guide.”

It's apparent that the extortionate efforts by KIUC to misrepresent the issue by threatening Kaua`i with a "vote yes or you will never have hydro" lie are, in and of themselves, a reason for continued mistrust.

In fact, an effort to recall all board members and fire Bissell and Proudfoot is being discussed by opponents of the decision to engage with FERC.

Don't knuckle under to KIUC's threats to deny us hydroelectric projects or believe the prevarications, misrepresentations and efforts to overwhelm us with false PR statements by voting "no" on the KIUC FERC "hydro" ballot measure.

Friday, June 17, 2011


THE AGE OF NEFARIOUS: Sometimes watching a Kaua`i County Council meeting is like reading a redacted document that leaves in only the articles, conjunctions and punctuation. You know something must be going on but damn if you know what... or more to the point, why.

Often it seems like well orchestrated kabuki where you missed an act or two, especially when they're all on the same page of the script but only they have seen it.

Why it's as if they all discussed what was going to happen before the cameras rolled. But that would be an illegal violation of the state Sunshine Law and they'd never do that, would they?

Well not only would they, this council has actually written violations into their rules by assuring that members who want to introduce bills share them with both Chair Jay Furfaro- who insisted on the procedure- and the chair of the appropriate committee where the bill will be sent.

Only two members of a board are permitted to discuss anything not on an agenda and even they they can't commit to a vote.

But while Furfaro is infamous for not "getting" the prohibition on "serial one-on-one communications" and doesn't seem to care who knows it, there's a bit more sophistication to similar violations over in Honolulu.

Civil Beat's Mike Levine- who cut his Hawai`i teeth busting the Kaua`i Council's inability to follow simple open meeting laws- smelled a rat yesterday and wrote:

Hours before soon-to-be-former Honolulu City Council Chair Nestor Garcia announced his plan to step down, numerous council members seemed to be well aware of the impending change.

How did those members learn about the plan if the Hawaii Sunshine Law requires six days of advance notice before any public meeting with more than two members of the City Council?

But unlike on Kaua`i where councilmembers have a "so what" attitude toward sunshine violation, their Honolulu brethren have not only pre-decided the matter but apparently pre-decided how to cover up their pre-decision.

Levine first describes a similar Honolulu council reorganization case six years ago when the Office of Information Practices (OIP) first banned those serial one-on-one communications and then describes what happened when he started asking questions.

The opinion was sent to (then-City Council Chair-and current Hawaii senator-Donovan) Dela Cruz, but the eight other council members were copied. One of them was Garcia. Just two others remain on the council today: Ann Kobayashi and Romy Cachola.

Kobayashi and Cachola each expressed support for a reorganization Wednesday morning, telling Civil Beat they'd likely vote in favor of installing Ernie Martin as council chair. But both were careful to avoid revealing how they'd come to be aware of the coup.

"That's always the question, and it's part of why a lot of us say we don't know exactly what's going on," Kobayashi told Civil Beat. "We do it by circulating a resolution, and if you don't support it, you don't sign onto it. It's not like over at the Legislature where those guys can go into a closed room and have a meeting."

Unless someone steps forward to volunteer that they violated the Sunshine Law — or unless there's a paper trail of a series of written or electronic one-on-one communications — it'll be hard to prove a violation of the Sunshine Law took place.

Garcia's insistence that the shake-up was his idea and his idea alone gives his colleagues a cover story.

Despite the attempts to be careful not to violate the Sunshine Law, the question remains whether a violation took place.

Ikaika Anderson, who would become council vice chair if the resolution is approved as written, told Civil Beat Wednesday he had a conversation with Garcia about the reorganization.

"He's comfortable with moving forward," Anderson said. "Nestor Garcia has told me that he's committed to seeing the council move forward in the best interest of the taxpayers of Honolulu."

At his press conference, Garcia in turn said he'd had a conversation with Martin about 30 minutes earlier.

Those two discussions alone could constitute a violation of the law — oddly enough, by the man who's being ousted and not any of the possible conspirators.

It's hard to believe that would be enough to put the proposal in jeopardy if the majority of the council is ready for a change in leadership, but it might mean the public isn't going to get any further explanation for the ouster from members at the council's next public meeting, where the vote will be held to install new leadership.

The "circulation" of a bill or resolution before it's on the agenda is a favorite trick on Kaua`i as we saw when Furfaro spent almost a year battling with OIP over a letter and proposed bill addressed to all the other councilmembers which, he claims, was never actually sent, although it was posted on-line.

While OIP cleared Furfaro of the charges because they couldn't show he actually sent the letter and bill, they didn't comment on the fact that it appeared on-line where other councilmembers could presumably see it.

The problem is that in the age of the internet, anyone can post anything on-line- even do it anonymously- even a bill or resolution, avoiding any possibility of a paper trial to prove a Sunshine law violation.

The OIP has proposed that the legislature take a new look at the Sunshine Law in the age of the internet and while some loopholes like this need closing it's anyone's guess what the lege will do once they open the law for review.

But whatever happens you can bet that the Kaua`i Council won't be letting the sunshine in anytime soon... and won't really care who knows it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


HAVING A BLAST: It isn't without consternation that we avoid national politics like the proverbial plague. While we chose to concentrate on local politics it's not because the scourge that is American foreign policy isn't a genocidal blight on the world but simply because practically no one else is holding our local buffoonery's feet to the fire.

But it's been hard to ignore the dispatches from we've been receiving from former Georgia Congresswoman and 2008 Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney, if for no other reason than that they are so divergent from the jingoistic party-line crap we see on American TV and read in the sycophantic "print" press that it's apparent someone is bullsh*tting the American public.

The "humanitarian mission" bombing "military targets" story is the one that's shibai in case you haven't figured it out.

How out of touch is the US press? The headline of a Reuters story today proclaimed "Libyan rebels make fresh gains, NATO drops leaflets"


As McKinney writes today

I'm still waiting to find evidence somewhere in the world that bombing poor civilian populations of the Third World from the air is good for their voting rights, democracy, medical care, education, welfare, national debt, and enhancing personal income and wealth distribution. It seems clear to me that complex life issues require more complex intervention than a Cruise Missile could ever deliver.

Her dispatch describing the bombing of Al Fateh University is so disturbing that we felt compelled to turn this space over to McKinney today.

(Full disclosure: Andy Parx is an adviser to the US Green Party Media Committee and former member of the Green National Committee)


More NATO "Humanitarian Intervention:" The Bombing of Al Fateh University, Campus B

by Cynthia McKinney

June 14, 2011 -- Since coming to Tripoli to see first hand the consequences of the NATO military operations, it has become clear to me that despite the ongoing silence of the international press on the ground here in Libya, there is clear evidence that civilian targets have been hit and Libyan civilians injured and killed.

This Tuesday morning I was taken from my hotel across the city through its bustling traffic to the Al Fateh University.

On 9 June, Dean Ali Mansur was outside in the parking lot. The sky was blue like Carolina blue. The clouds were white--no chemtrails in sight. Puffy and white. Dean Mansur was visibly upset. It seems that some of the young men at Al Fateh University, Campus B were fighting over girls. He explained to me that Libyans are hot blooded. With a gleam in his eye, he whispered to me that girls are important to young men.

Yes, that was clearly evident today as I approached the campus of Al Fateh University, Campus B, formerly known as Nasser University. Under the trees, throughout the lawn as we approached the campus gates, I could see young men and women talking to each other, talking on cell phones, walking to and fro, assembled, probably talking about the latest campus news--whatever that might be. Today, on the Al Fateh campus, life was teeming. Student life seemed vibrant. This feel and ambiance of this university was not unlike the hundreds of other universities that I have visited in the US and around the world.

Libyan boys and girls are like ours. My son would easily fit into the life of this university.

The campus seemed vibrant, too. Cranes everywhere indicated a healthy building program, adding new buildings to enhance the student learning environment. Despite the students' fracas, Dean Mansur had everything to be happy about as he saw his university becoming bigger, better, and stronger. He told me that they had even signed an agreement with a British university to begin programs in the English language. Not English studies, Dean Mansur emphasized, but an entire curriculum of study taught in the English language! Of course, he entoned, that's all disappointingly ended now.

Al Fateh University, Campus B consists of about 10,000 undergraduates, 800 masters degree candidates, and 18 Ph.D. students; 220 staff, 150 ad hoc professors, 120 employees. It has eight auditoriums, 19 classrooms, 4 extra large classrooms. It also has a rural campus at Al Azizia where 700 students are taught and are a part of the university system. Dean Mansur compares himself to a mayor because he has so many responsibilities presiding over a large community of students engaging in a rich and vibrant academic life.

Dean Mansur told me that life at the university and, for him personally, changed forever on the afternoon of Thursday 9 June, 2011.

He recalled that the university opened as usual around 8:00 am and was to close later that evening at about 8:00 pm.

Thursday, 9 June, he thought, was going to be just like any other day, except for the fracas over the girls that had cleared the campus of many of the students who didn't want to have any part in the fighting. So, outside in the campus parking lot, Dr. Mansur told me he was preoccupied thinking how he would deal with the disciplinary issue before him.

Then, out of nowhere and all of a sudden, he heard something loud up in the sky.

He said it began out of no where, a loud roar. Then a frightful high pitched the hissing sound. He said he looked up into the sky and couldn't hardly believe his eyes: something shiny up in the sky appeared dancing in front of him. He said it moved about like an atari game or something. It danced and zig-zagged all over the sky. He said he was transfixed on the object for what seemed like minutes but in truth must have only been seconds.

Up and down and sideways it raced in the sky and then, without warning, it just came crashing down into the ground nearby. It was a NATO missile.

Tragically it had found its target: Al Fateh University, Campus B.

Dean Mansur said he saw one missile, lots of fire, lots of different colors all around it, and then a huge plume of smoke. He saw one missile, but heard what seemed like many explosions. He said he now can't honestly say how many.

Dr. Mansur said the force and shock of the blast held him frozen in his place. He said his heart stopped for a moment. He wasn't afraid, just frozen. He didn't run away; he didn't cower; he said he just stood stupefied.

The force of the blast cracked thickened concrete wells, shattered hundreds of windows and brought numerous ceilings down in lecture halls.

Whether it was a wayward Tomahawk Cruise Missile or a misdirected laser guided bomb, no one knows.

His immediate thoughts were for the thousands of his students in the university and for his own three children who study there.

After about 30 minutes, the Libyan press came to see what had happened. the University President and other officials of the school all came. But to Dr. Mansur's surprise not the international press.

And what did they see?

The media saw the widespread structural damage to many of the buildings, all of the windows blown out in every one of the eight auditoriums. Doors blown off their hinges. Library in a shambles. Books and debris everywhere. The campus mosque was damaged. Glass heaped up in piles. Some efforts at cleaning up had begun.

Dr Mansur says that they have kept the university, wherever practicable, in much the same condition as it was on the day of the attack. Except that the main classroom area that students work in has been cleaned and will be renamed the Seif Al-Arab auditorium complex in memory of Muammar Qaddafi's son murdered on April 30, 2011 in his home by NATO bombs.

On Thursday, NATO missiles. Friday and Saturday are considered the weekend here. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, the students are back to school undaunted by the bombing. In many of the classrooms I saw today, students were taking final exams amid the debris. As I walked around the campus, one male voice shouted out and spoke to me in Arabic: "Where's Obama?"

Good question I thought.

I've always wondered if the politicians who regularly send our young men and women away to war and who regularly bomb the poor peoples of the world have ever, themselves, been on the receiving end of a Cruise Missile attack or placed themselves and their family at the mercy of a laser guided depleted uranium bomb. Maybe, just maybe I thought, that if they had experienced first hand the horror of a NATO attack on a civilian target they might just stop and question for a minute the need to dispatch our armed forces to attack the people of Libya.

I didn't want to disturb the students taking exams so I found some students standing outside not taking exams to talk to. I asked them if they had anything to say to President Obama. One professor, a woman, spoke up readily and said, "We are working under fire: physical and psychological." One student spoke up and said that President Obama should "Free Palestine and leave Libya alone." He continued, "We are one family."

More on that later, but briefly, every Libyan is a member of a tribe and every tribe governs itself and selects its leaders; those leaders from all of the tribes then select their leaders, and so on until there is only one leader of all of the tribes of Libya. I met that one tribal leader yesterday in another part of Tripoli and I am told he is the real leader of this country. He presides over the Tribal Council which constitutes Libya's real policymakers. So when the young man said "We are one family," that is actually the truth.

Dr. Mansur, trained in the United States and spoke fondly of his time in the US and the many friends he made there. He is proud of his students and the richness of his university's community life. He was just like any University Dean in the United States.

In my view God intervened on Thursday 9 June, 2011.

On the day that the missile struck, not one student was killed. It could so easily have been different. It could have been a catastrophe taking the lives of hundreds of teenagers.

I am told that in the surrounding area immediately outside the university others were not so fortunate.

Reports are that there were deaths in the nearby houses.

It's a funny thing about war. Those who cause war become oblivious and removed from its consequences; they seem happy to inflict harm on others and become numb to its ill effects while war's victims find a way to normalize the abnormal and live with the constant threat of death and destruction.

After visiting Tripoli, I remain as opposed to war as ever before.

The students at Al Fateh University continue their studies despite the siege that their country is under.

And oh, that second group of students that I randomly spoke to? I asked them how much they pay for tuition. They looked at me with puzzled faces even after the translation. I asked them how much they pay for their books. Again, the same puzzled face. Tuition at Al Fateh University is 16 dinars per year--about $9. And due to the NATO embargo on gasoline imports, the school now has started 10 free bus lines to its surrounding areas in order to make sure that the students can get to school, free of charge.

I told them that I was about to enter a Ph.D. program in the US myself and that I needed tuition and book money costing tens of thousands of dollars. I continued that my cousin is in debt $100,000 because she went to the schools of her choice and received a Master's degree.

They said to me, "We thank Muammar Qaddafi. Because of Muammar Qaddafi we have free education. Allah, Muammar, Libya obes!"

Well as for NATO, they still cling to the chimera that their strikes are against military targets only and that theirs is a "humanitarian intervention."

I'm still waiting to find evidence somewhere in the world that bombing poor civilian populations of the Third World from the air is good for their voting rights, democracy, medical care, education, welfare, national debt, and enhancing personal income and wealth distribution. It seems clear to me that complex life issues require more complex intervention than a Cruise Missile could ever deliver.

Here is video of Michel Collon about western wars and the media lies that accompany them (thanks to Rosemary Tylka for sending this to me for forwarding):

Monday, June 13, 2011


ACCESS SCHMACCESS: For a moment it looked like the story of the new apparently illegal fence at Lepeuli (Larsen’s) Beach had hit the big time.

After seeing the headline and subhead in this morning's Honolulu paper stating that "Development blocks traditional access; Landowners on three isles prevent people from using trails crossing their land" and seeing the story began with the name of Linda Sproat- one of those who has been most aggrieved and active in preserving the Alaloa that is now blocked by the fence- what else could it be?

But although the article is an all too familiar story of Kaua`i Planning Department bungling in preserving an access to Kauapea (Secret) Beach, nothing on the blocking of the ancient traditional access by Paradise Ranch's Bruce Laymon.

And there's nothing new on our story of Jesse Reynolds' allegation that Laymon tried to kill him last month although County Public Information Officer Mary Daubert says that "(a)ccording to KPD, the case is under investigation pending further developments, therefore, we cannot comment."

But there is news from Hope Kallai of Malama Moloa`a who has filed a complaint with the Land Use Commission asking how the heck they can ignore the fence which was apparently constructed in a conservation district (CD) without a conservation district use permit (CDUP) after Laymon withdrew his permit when the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) decided to take a second look at it.

Kallai presents documentation noting that in 2009 the DLNR had already determined the fenced in area to be in the CD when they cited Laymon for unpermitted work and essentially asks for action.

She then presents the whole sordid history of Laymon's action in the area- a story which deserves a concise presentation.

Which is why today we present her letter in full.


1 June 2011

Hope Kallai
Malama Moloa`a

Fred Talon
Land Use Commission
Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism
State of Hawaii
P.O. Box 2359
Honolulu, Hawaii 96804-2359
(808) 587-3822 Fax: (808) 587-3827

Re: Prioritization of Conservation District Boundary Interpretation Request TMK (4) 5-1-3:003
Waioli Corporation (owner), Paradise Ranch (lessee)
Lepeuli, Kauai,

Aloha e Mr. Talon:

I would like to request prioritization of the Conservation District Boundary Interpretation on Waioli Corporation lands in Lepeuli, Kauai, that we previously spoke about on the phone (Feb., 2011 and April 2011). This request was also made by the Kauai Chapter of the Sierra Club (attached Feb. 10, 2011 letter). I understand that your office is understaffed and that your work load is heavy, but there is a need for this boundary determination interpretation to be expedited. Fencing has been recently constructed by lessee, Paradise Ranch LLC, in what appears to be this Conservation District.

May 2011 Fencing in Lepeuli

In 2009, Paradise Ranch was cited for performing work in the Conservation District. Paradise Ranch applied for a SMA Minor permit from the county of Kauai for fencing and this fencing map were submitted then.

2009 Lepeuli Map with County Engineer’s notes

An After-The-Fact CDUP was applied for work in this Lepeuli Conservation District, CDUP KA-3525, (attached), with fencing proposed at 110‘ from the shoreline. This permit was awarded, appealed by community groups, then later surrendered by the applicant, stating they had decided to move operations out of the Conservation District. After community members requested that stamped surveyors maps be presented as per the County Engineer’s original 2009 request (attached), Paradise Ranch LLC recently presented a stamped map (below) with a proposed fenceline in very close proximity to applicant’s interpretation of the CD location. This map states “minimum distance to be 110’ from shoreline” for the proposed fenceline.

2011 map with fenceline next to CD Boundary (as interpreted by Paradise Ranch)

Attached Conservation District maps and articles show the Conservation District to be 300’ from a certified shoreline in this area.

A entirely new fence was recently constructed by Paradise Ranch LLC in Lepeuli. We believe this fence is in the Conservation District and blocks the lateral coastal Alaloa. This project is federally funded through NRCS EQIP program. The pasture created by this new makai fence configuration will enable cattle to graze on a site where Hawaii State Department of Historic Preservation relocated human skeletal remains from 3 individuals. This is illegal as well as socially unconscionable.

Paradise Ranch has continued to manage the coastal vegetation in the Conservation with heavy equipment, brushhogs and chainsaws. The fenceline has been constructed in the apparent Conservation District, blocking an ancient lateral trail.

Steps need to be taken to determine the location of the boundary between the Conservation District and the Agricultural District in Lepeuli, as soon as possible. The Conservation District boundary presented on the maps by Paradise Ranch LLC is erroneous and and the fencing negatively impacts public access, human remains and archaeological sites.

This makai Conservation District is a primary monk seal pupping and rearing area. Two pups are being reared at Ka`aka`aniu reef right now. Impacts must be considered to endangered species by the restriction of public access on the ancient Alaloa trail. This forces all lateral transit on to the beach.

There are significant impacts to this fencing project. The Conservation District Boundary needs to be interpreted and determined by the state as soon as possible. What can we do to expedite this?  Mahalo for your help.

Hope Kallai

Sierra Club Land Use Request
CDUA 3525
2011 map
CD maps
CD Boundary article
Engineers notes

Thursday, June 9, 2011


FERC YOU: Anyone surprised at the FERC KIUC debacle wave your electricity bill in the air.

Okay- you can go back to sleep now. Because unless you were under the proverbial rock for the past decade you must have been fast asleep to be shocked at anything "this co-op" does.

Since day one when barnacle-on-the-butt-of-Kaua`i Gregg Gardiner convinced a group of good old boys and girls and Democratic Party bosses to pay way too much for the liability that was Citizen’s Electric- and stick the resultant debt on the backs of the island working people- the hew and cry of warnings has been a loud if ineffective undercurrent of stomach churning rage from rate payers.

"We're all for a co-op- just not THIS co-op" was the slogan of the original "nitpickers" whose moniker was proudly taken from former Mayor Marianne Kusaka's attempt to denigrate the effort that saved members $50 million and should have brought the price down by another hundred million.

But the makeup of the board was a who's who of the then, two factions of the Democratic Party- the old guard represented by aging, "442nd" party boss Turk Tokita vs the new guard of then-former Mayor and then-out-of-politics progressive JoAnn Yukimura.

And when the bylaws and rules were forced down the throats of members in an all-or-nothing vote- removing the promised precepts of the Sunshine law and giving all power to the board- the course was set for today's dictatorial decision-making by a handful of the power elite.

With today's news from Pacific Business News (via the local newspaper) that William Tam, deputy director for water at DLNR said that "the state does not want Hawai‘i's (sic) in-stream flow standards to be decided by a federal agency in Washington D.C. that does not have any experience with or understand Hawai‘i’s streams" and the announcement of an effort from anti-FREC forces leader Adam Asquith to get signatures to a full page ad fully explaining all that's insanely stupid about going through the feds, the tide seems to be turning- that despite the "that's my story and I'm stickin' to it" stance of the stumble-bums on the KIUC board.

And that includes the original three opponents- Carol Bain, Ben Sullivan and Jan TenBruggencate who were elected to be the voice of reason but who now, reportedly, have switched sides.

What the board seems to have forgotten are the lessons of another recent debacle- the ill-conceived and supremely bungled Superferry and the resultant battle.

The reason why, shockingly, the people of Kaua`i seemed to oppose the big bad boat was not the boat itself but for the way it usurped the processes that, although usually ineffective, are at least supposedly there to protect us from deregulatory invasion from Washington D.C. and Honolulu.

Just as the feds and state conspired to remove the environmental assessment and impact statement process for the Superferry, once again a bunch of power mongers have decided to allow a federal process to negate the unique water rights and management laws that have been carefully developed over decades in Hawai`i.

Then when challenged the powerful wielded their power to lie and deceive in such a blatant way that nobody failed to get the "sit down and shut up" message that General Linda Lingle and her unified command threw in the faces of those who usually, unless riled up by a lack of respect, act like sheeple.

And now though few understand the ins and outs of water usage, citizens feel the same kind of "like it or lump it" missive coming from elected officials who fail to get the message that their arrogance, not the project, is the becoming the issue.

Though it's too early to tell the rising tide of indignation over the attempted FERC KIUC sleight-of-hand indicates that the same kind of outrage that swept the island over the Superferry fiasco might just be at hand.

Because, as "this co-op" circles the wagons, the natives are getting restless.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


THE CUL-DE-SAC OF THE GOLDEN ROAD TO UNLIMITED DEACCELERATION: Glenn Mickens thought after 17 1/2 years he finally had 'um.

Silly coach.

For almost two decades the former Brooklyn Dodger pitcher and UCLA coach pitched the council a scandal of major proportion, occasionally bringing the mountain to Mohammad by hauling in pieces of asphalt and dumping them on the council's table to show that, not only our our potholed roads in terrible shape but someone was skimming said asphalt off the top resulting in the county getting less coverage per ton than the standard- as we described in detail a couple of years ago.

But that was only the beginning. Mickens suggested that- gasp- politics might be determining the way the roads made the yearly county repaving list after Hale `Ilio Road, where both Mayors Marianne Kusaka and Bryan Baptiste lived, made the list over and over during their years in office while his own Waipouli Road remained on the Tire Warehouse Enrichment and Preservation list.

Over the years, each time the yearly road resurfacing list came up for council approval Glenn tried to corral at least one councilmember into championing his cause and to get to the bottom of the apparent corruption- all to no avail.

Until, it seemed, this year.

For the last few years Coach had been unusually silent on his pet peeve. The reason? The list was never on the agenda. And the reason for that was that, while the council dutifully appropriated money for resurfacing no one in Public Works even bothered to make a list much less spend the money.

So now there was a cool $8 million accumulated in the fund. And that got someone's attention.

After hounding Chair Jay Furfaro for months to find out why on February 23 Mickens tenaciousness was rewarded with an item on the council's agenda saying

C 2011-76 Communication (02/16/2011) from Council Chair Furfaro, requesting the Administration's presence to provide the Council with an update on the County's Islandwide Road Resurfacing Program.

But as we reported on March 16 and again on March 22 new County Engineer Larry Dill didn't seem to be coming up with answers to satisfy anyone so Furfaro kept deferring the matter on March 9, March 23, April 6, April 20, and Dill kept coming up with excuses for why he couldn't answer the questions fully.

So Furfaro finally put them in writing and came up with a list of 8 questions based on Mickens' evolving 17 1/2-year-old list of queries.

And, as county engineers have done for decades, Dill kept stalling whether by just not showing up or pulling the old shuffle saying someone else had to answer the question but that person was (check one) in `O`ahu, on vacation, busy in an important meeting or some other lame excuse in the official County Engineers' Big Book of Bullsh*t Answers.

On May 3 Furfaro gave Dill two weeks so of course on May 18 Dill himself was off island.

And finally, last Wednesday, when the agenda item was called by the clerk (not in advance) the sheet with answers to the eight questions was distributed to councilmembers... all SIX of them.

Seems that June 1 was the day that, as everyone in the county knew- including of course Dill- Furfaro was in San Francisco negotiating a lower rate on the county's bonds.

The answers themselves were absurdly brief and non-responsive such as #2 which read

Q- Who is responsible for compiling and maintaining the data regarding paving and repaving

County roads?

A- The Roads Maintenance Division of the Department of Public Works.

The answer to Question #7 was quite revelatory regarding how the roads were chosen for repaving

Q- How does the Department of Public Works determine which roads should be resurfaced?

How are these roads prioritized and what type of criteria is followed?

A- A list of roads to be considered for resurfacing is maintained by the Roads Maintenance

Division. Roads are added to this last due to input from Roads Maintenance personnel or the

public. The Division Head inspects all the roads and prioritizes the roads for resurfacing,


* Pavement condition

• Volume of traffic

• Potential liability if deferred

• Grouping of roads

In other words using a totally subjective method leaving out "the ones the Mayor wants done".

The rest were a combination of double-talk and non-answers.

You'd think the six remaining councilmembers, having sat through all the crap of the past few months would be champing at the bit to tear Dill a new one. But this being Kaua`i, you'd be thinking wrong.

With Furfaro gone, a quick "Thank you Mr. Dill. Any questions? Hearing none we'll take a vote on the motion to receive this matter. All in favor say aye Motion carried" from Acting Chair Yukimura which brought an end to Mickens' hope that this year- his 80th- might be the one that yields answers and, god forbid, better roads.

Meanwhile back in his labyrinth, the Minotaur turned over, munched a few bones and went back to sleep thinking "life is good"

Monday, June 6, 2011


JUST DO IT: You'd think we were too old for hope to spring eternal. And we shoulda known better with a council like this.

But when we saw that the issue of the Pono Kai seawall was slated for diccussion at last week's council meeting we idiotically looked forward to a few of the fireworks that went off the last time the issue came before them.

It never ceases to amaze us how short memories are, especially when it comes to the people who are trying to ensure we forget. So when we awoke Thursday morning- before we'd had a chance to see the council's grilling of the county's always incompetent Public Works department- and took a gander at the local newspaper's coverage we wern't surprised to see that the "old concerns" referred to in the kicker to the headline was the placement of the bike path just a few feet from the decrepit crumbling ocean-blocking structure.

Apparently the project to "fix" the seawall is a go despite the fact that seawalls are generally frowned upon these days, as UH experts told the council in testimony in 2008. But the fact is that this didn't even come up wasn't even the coverup.

We strongly suspect the reason was because, as we described in detail at the time, it was discovered that the Pono Kai seawall was illegally constructed, without any permits, right after Hurricane `Iniki, despite warnings from the Army Corps of Engineers to the county- in writing- essentially saying "don't you freakin' dare."

But the county, thinking that in the post-hurricane confusion and shuffle it could get away with building the seawall without permits, decided to do just that, as pre and post hurricane aerial pictures presented in 2008 showed.

Although the laws regarding seawalls allow for maintenance and even sometimes a major fix to those legally constructed- or those "grandfathered in"- it does not allow repairs of illegal ones to go forward unless they're treated a new project.

What we did learn last week was that the current go-ahead still lacks state and, more to the point, federal permits which means that the administration is apparently going to try to bluff their way through the ACofE review and hope no one remembers what happened back when they were emphatically told not to build it in the first place.

It's even more bizarre that this issue didn't even come up last Wednesday since four current councilmembers- Tim Bynum, JoAnn Yukimura, Mel Rapozo and current and then-acting Chair Jay Furfaro were on the council at the time and at the meeting and so were- and are- very aware of the issue.

Ordinarily we'd excerpt a snippet of our prior coverage but the story of then-Councilmember Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho's prosecutorial treatment of county administrative personnel was so outrageous we're going to re-post it in full today.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DOGGED PERSISTENCE: In an absurdist little drama last Wednesday the Kaua`i County Council finally got County Engineer Donald Fujimoto to admit what everyone has known for a long time- the Pono Kai seawall was illegally constructed and there never have been any permits or exemptions for it.

And he came close to acknowledging his Department of Public Works (DPW) attempts to cover it up by refusing to answer questions about it and asking any investigation be done in secret executive session (ES).

Fujimoto wouldn’t even admit it all until grilled for 15 minutes in a prosecutorial manner by prosecutor-to-be Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho who finally broke him down and forced the admissions.

The revelation of the illegal construction goes back a couple of years to a council session discussing shoreline certifications for the bike path during which experts told the council of the problems with the seawall and during subsequent meetings where the lack of any permits was revealed.

The seawall was constructed after the Hurricane `Iniki which itself took the council weeks to ascertain due to stonewalling and sketchy answers from Fujimoto and other DPW personal who conveniently couldn’t remember how long it had been there.

Finally pre and post hurricane pictures were shown to the council on a slide projector to clear up the 1993 construction date.

Apparently the story is that DPW engineers decided that in all the post hurricane confusion and “emergency permitting” they could construct a seawall to “protect” Pono Kai with no approval whatsoever.

This was done, according to testimony a couple of years ago, despite a 1993 letter from the Army Corps of engineers warning them that it was highly illegal to build the wall.

Fujimoto was not the county engineer at the time of the construction and did not come to that position until the Baptiste administration.

Yet Fujimoto clung to the story saying that it “may have been intentional or unintentional- I’d like to think it was unintentional”, although how the county engineer who routinely processes permits could have unintentionally constructed an illegal sea wall wasn’t clear.

What is clear is that Pono Kai resort had always been worried about it’s proximity to the ocean and wanted the wall, going back years before the hurricane when it tried and failed to build one but especially so after the hurricane battered the place and severely eroded the shoreline.

Fujimoto’s attempt to put the genie back in the bottle continued with him trying to cover-up the information even as the meeting began.

He started by refusing to talk about it at all in open session- after his request last month for an ES was turned down by Public Works Committee Chair Mel Rapozo- by saying he want to “wait for the EA (environmental assessment) to discuss it”.

An EA is currently being conducted by DPW to determine what the environmental impacts of any action on the sea wall would be

Previously Fujimoto tried to blow smoke and cast the usual fog machine the PWD has been famous for since well before his tenure.

He has claimed that the wall was legal under various erroneous propositions and obfuscations, first saying there were permits then when asked to produce them saying he had an exemption due to the governor’s emergency declaration after the hurricane, neither of which was true.

After badgering he finally admitted that at some point he spoke to Sam Lemmo at the State DLNR who told him it was possible someone had thought there might have been an exemption at the time.

Still Fujimoto refused at first to admit the sea wall was illegally constructed in hopes that it would be able to be repaired.

Under the federal law, as well as a “zero tolerance” for un-permitted construction by the state and county, the sea wall would have to be removed although there could be an exemption federally if the damage of removing it would be greater than leaving it in place.

The sea wall is currently a public nuisance and in horribly dilapidated condition and according to what UH experts Dolan Ebersole and Chip Fletcher told the council is making a mess of the whole Kapa`a shoreline.

Both told the council and Fujimoto two years ago that reconstructing an illegal sea wall was not legal under any circumstances. Yet Fujimoto continues to conduct an EA to fix the wall.

Whether the best scientific path is to remove it, rebuild it or leave it alone is a question no one so far has been able to determine.

Fujimoto adamantly maintained that the EA would answer all the legal questions even though everyone knew it was illegal, at first saying “I can’t say if it was legal or illegal”

But despite repeats of this lies Iseri persisted and finally got the truth out of Fujimoto.

She reviewed Fujimoto’s actions and words in claiming there was a permit and then that they didn’t need one and then that they were going to get an “after the fact” one, before she finally asked “You have no evidence to show this wall is legal?”

Fujimoto finally said “That’s correct.” though still maintaining the EA will address that.

Then Iseri focused in on the EA-legalities claim asking “So the EA will look into all the illegalities?”

Fujimoto said “Yes- it will address the impacts”.

After a lot of back and forth finally, after maintaining more than a half a dozen times in direct answers to direct questions that the EA would look a legal questions Fujimoto admitted it wouldn’t and that the County Attorney will address those.

“I stand corrected” he finally said.

What was astonishing was that a couple of months or so ago when being questioned on the sea wall Fujimoto refused to answer the questions in open session asking the council to place the matter on the their executive session agenda.

“Speaking to the County Engineer about DPW’s illegal actions” is not on the list of Sunshine Law exemptions to the open meeting requirements.

This was despite the fact that about two years ago it was widely discussed by the council and they learned in public session of not just the illegal nature of the wall but of the warning letters from the Army Corps of Engineers saying basically “don’t you dare”.

Councilman Ron Kochi was somewhat bemused by Fujimoto shaking his head and saying “you can’t unring the bell” and headscratchingly pondering what Fujimoto thought he was trying to do.

Finally Chair Rapozo summed it up -somewhat haltingly- by saying “It’s no secret that the wall is illegal. I shouldn’t say illegal- it’s un-permitted”, drawing derisive laughter from those gathered.

Believe it or not the council committee concluded it’s session by making plans to take the public knowledge of the illegal wall into executive session to figure out if Kaua`i County will have to repay the state and possibly the feds who financed the project on Kaua`i County’s assurance that they had the permits or an exemption.

Iseri repeated several times that we needed to “come clean” and maybe they’d let us off the financial hook.

No plans were made to investigate the Public Works Department to uncover what most suspect was collusion by Pono Kai and some in the DPW to pull a fast one after the hurricane by building an illegal sea wall.

It only took 15 years to figure out what happened. We’ll be lucky if after 15 years more we catch the culprits because, as has happened dozes of times before- most notably after the Pflueger-McCloskey “Developers Gone Wild” sessions- the Council refuses to investigate the DPW, arguably the most corrupt county department in the state.

Thursday, June 2, 2011



(PNN) -- A North Shore farm workers says rancher Bruce Laymon beat and tried to kill him as he was walking down the "new" trail to Lepeuli Beach on the night of May 23.

Jesse Reynolds of Anini Beach told police on May 25 that Laymon jumped out of the bushes at about 9 p.m. and beat him on the head and lower back and then dragged him by his hair and attempted to throw him over the cliff as Reynolds was going down to the beach.

"He tried to kill me" Reynolds can be heard saying on a digital audio file obtained by PNN, which was recorded by a North Shore farmer- who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions- as Reynolds gave his statement to the police.

The incident occurred the same day that Laymon and his workers had erected a fence blocking the traditional "Ala Loa", a gently sloping ancient trail, that was apparently constructed without a required conservation district use permit (CDUP) from the state.

"Bruce Laymon's the one who did this to me" said Reynolds apparently as he showed police marks and bruises on his back and head, saying he had still had pain in his kidneys.

According to the audio recording Reynolds can be heard telling police that "Bruce Laymon came up and started hitting me for no reason."

He continued, saying that Laymon jumped out of the bushes as Reynolds was going down to the beach, saying that Laymon was accompanied by one of his workers, known to Reynolds as "BJ," and another man whom Reynolds said he could not identify.

Reynolds says he got away and briefly hid on the beach before making his way to Kilauea where he called police from a pay phone around midnight. He says he then decided not to report the alleged beating to the police at that time for fear that they might blame him due to Laymon's position in the community. In addition he said he didn't want to have to pay for an ambulance after the dispatcher asked him if she should send one so he decided to terminate the call.

Two days later, at the urging of many- including the farmer who made the audio recording- Reynolds finally did file a complaint with police, accompanied by the farmer who verified to PNN that the audio file was indeed recorded by him and that the persons on the recording were he, Reynolds and the two policemen who took the complaint.

According to the farmer, Reynolds is trying to obtain the police report and find out what the status of the case is and whether Laymon has been questions and/or arrested.