Wednesday, August 31, 2011


PERMITS? WE DON'T NEED NO STINKIN' PERMITS: It's hard to know what goes on between those "world class" ears of Councilmember Dickie Chang sometimes but his attempt last Wednesday to defend the administration's vision of Lydgate Park didn't do much to help matters.

At last week's committee meeting council watchdog Ken Taylor delivered a scathing attack on the Department of Parks and Recreation's (P&R) contention that the camping facility described in Bill 2149 would be "world class" despite the lack of bathrooms and other facilities along with insufficient training, supervision and equipment- not to mention numbers of park maintenance workers- to keep it clean and safe.

Without mentioning P&R's head, Lenny Rapozo, or his deputy Ian Costa, Taylor made the mistake of saying that "where I come from" or anywhere else in the world for that matter, the department's leadership would be fired for the present conditions in the area even before camping is offered to visitors as a "first class" camping experience.

Chang's "rebuttal" was jaw-dropping, telling Taylor that "local people are not that hard to please," continuing with an implied and thinly-disguised racially-charged rant telling Taylor how local people don't want to hear "where I come from."

We can only surmise that in Chang's mind "local people" apparently enjoy bathrooms with perennially stuffed up toilets and sewage-tainted standing water, along with overflowing trash cans.

T'ank you massah fo' any small kindness. Just give us an ocean and a fishing pole and we's as happy as pigs in s**t, eh Dickie?

Well at least one "local" was more than offended.

In a letter to the editor in today's local newspaper our friend Camellia Ditch-Crosby of Lawa`i wrote directly to "Mr. Chang" saying:

We don’t know what locals you are talking to that say they are not hard to please regarding the parks’ condition because most of our `ohana and friends are not pleased at all.

It’s the worst condition it’s been in the 65+ years we’ve lived here. We are seven generations on Kaua`i. Yes, the lawn has been cut short and raked, but the bathrooms are filthy. The Kapa`a restroom, next to the police substation is a good example. The Po`ipu, Salt Pond and Nawiliwili restrooms too.

Some of my ‘ohana said the volunteers are now taking charge of cleaning and painting the pavilions and restrooms. Why? Please don’t generalize and say locals are not hard to please; that’s not true. We want to know where our tax dollars are being spent. Or are we going backwards and eventually the county will be using “out houses” the way we grew up.

The fact is that "local people" don't need an official "campground" to spend a couple of days at the beach. But we're all damn tired of disgusting bathrooms and the lack of enough toilets that's resulted from the county's creation of "beach parks" and then promoting them to visitors.

We as a community have to decide whether we want to keep creating "parks" and installing facilities at formerly "wild" places, making what used to be "local" spots suddenly attractive to visitors. Because then we not only essentially lose the ability to just pick up and camp there without permits but, as taxpayers, we have to pay for the resulting need to keep the places clean.

The "south Lydgate" area where the proposed campground sits is just such an place. If it weren't for Councilmember Kipukai Kuali`i demanding an amendment to define the campground area so that theoretically beach "fishing" could still take place, we'd have lost it entirely... although it's a crap shoot as to what will happen when the park ranger comes across a family that has just shown up, sans permit, and set up for a night of fishing on the beach- just outside the "official" campgrounds where tourists are paying $25 a night.

The schizophrenic vision of the "world class" facility with, according to Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura, design flaws that cause the ponding in the showers and bathrooms is not just a product of the usually muddled thinking Chang exhibits. The rest of the councilmembers present also voted to move the bill to the full council while Kuali`i and Councilmember Mel Rapozo- who have tried to hold Lenny Rapozo's and Costa's feet to the fire on the bill- were away on council business.

Despite the fact that nothing has changed since the bill was shelved years ago it will certainly pass next Wednesday. And then we'll have lost another beach due to the actions of the "park" developers- aka, the "world class" imbeciles in elective county office.

Monday, August 29, 2011


GENIUS AT WORK: It's never easy when the Kaua`i County Council seeks information from the administration, especially when they want data that the administration either doesn't have or is unwilling to part with.

That is, of course, if the council really wants the info to begin with or is willing to settle for much less.

We've described the administration tactics like "the fog"- the soft-spoken lulling to sleep of councilmembers, as perfected by perennial appointee Ian Costa.

Then there's "the runaround," where the department head on the hot seat conveniently lacks the knowledge sought by the council and suggests that a subordinate has it but he's out of town today. After a two week deferral the subordinate shows up and suggests another subordinate has the answers but he's "got meetings today." When the second one shows up two weeks later, well he's "new here" and doesn't know how the whole mess got started but it was his predecessor’s fault and he promises that things will be better in the future now that he's on the job.

This usually goes on ad nausium until the council simply forgets about the matter or simply gives up.

But how did the county perfect this system of obfuscation and disinformation?

The credit must go to a man whose time in his office spans three administrations and whose expertise was on display at last Wednesday's council committee confab.

Managing Director (formerly called the Administrative Assistant) Gary Heu started in the job back during the Maryanne Kusaka administration and despite some missteps that would cause lesser heads to roll has managed to continue in the job through Mayor Bryan Baptiste’s term and now into that of Mayor Bernard Carvalho due to precisely the skills he exhibited Wednesday. The council wanted Heu to explain why, despite having three people on the job- and a fourth one coming- they have only addressed three out of the 40 energy-saving strategy recommendations from the cost control commission, as a recent county audit showed.

Speaking softly and with his characteristic long, ponderous pauses before responding to questions, Heu parried the council's criticisms with a mish-mosh of sensible non-sequitors before actually trying to turn the tables by suggesting that taking all this time to answer all these questions from the auditor and now the council- and complying with them after the recommendations- was what was stopping the administration from action.

Heu is the master of the "I'm not here" style of testimony, having the ability to come up with 700 ways of saying the same thing. But when you actually write it down and read back his words they're completely meaningless. He does this by seeming to accept some blame but actually shifting it, followed by a "we're fixing it as of last Tuesday" explanation.

So it didn't seem to matter when Council Chair Jay Furfaro started waving around a consultant-prepared energy plan that dated back to 1994 from the administration of then Mayor, now Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura which, even though is almost two decades old, contained many of the same recommendation from the cost control commission and county auditor.

One particularly absurd discussion occurred when Energy Coordinator Glen Sato sat by Heu's side for a "PowerPoint presentation"- to the usual ooo's and ahhh's of the council- which included a slide of what he called a "dashboard" that showed the precise energy usage and amount being generated by the new photovoltaic system on the roof of the Pi`ikoi Building. That was impressive until councilmembers asked whether the people who worked there had access to the part that showed how much they were actually using so they could practice conservation- the core of all energy strategies... which of course they didn't.

But "fear not" said Heu. The brand new "sustainability manager" position created by the council in this year’s budget, will be hired "next week" and then we'll really be able to start in on energy savings.

By then the council chambers resembled San Francisco at 4 in the afternoon after the fog rolls in. So seemingly satisfied with the non-progress on a matter that had caused so much consternation only an hour before, Heu disappeared into the mist to reappear again the next time the administration's buffoon-of-the-month fails at the runaround and "the fixer" is called to perform his the unique magic that has kept him on the job lo these many years.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


PARKYAKARKUS: It was only a matter of time and everyone knew it.

So when the land gluttons Grove Farm announced they were putting up a gate and no trespassing signs at Kipu Falls after countless deaths over the decades- deaths of both locals and tourists, press reports notwithstanding- it wasn't unexpected.

But what was, if not surprising at least gut-grabbing, was the fact that they had offered to turn the area over to the county for a park and the county turned them down due to "liability" according to at least half a dozen press reports.

What- or more to the point "who"- the words "the county" refers to isn't stated but one can only assume it was the administration of Mayor Bernard Carvalho who, without letting anyone know, gave up the chance to obtain an incredible asset for the people of Kaua`i.

What's more it really isn't the administration's decision to make. The county charter makes it plain that the acquisition of property comes under the purview of the county council which apparently was not even asked since any communication would have had to have been placed on the council's agenda for any discussion to have taken place.

Instead, as is typical of Carvalho's administration, the decision was made behind closed doors with no input from the public.

"Liability" has been the cry of past administrations in rejecting donations of property. The second access to Kaupea (Secret) beach was turned down by the Kusaka administration citing liability, although rumor has it that Carvalho has told people that he's working on getting it "donated" to the county. That's fifteen years of no access to the second beach there which often becomes inaccessible from the current county access during the winter.

Liability can and should be able to be minimized and even eliminated, if we assume we actually have people with half a brain in the Parks and Recreation Department who can properly determine signage and other safety measures. Liability is related not to the inherent, natural dangers of an area but to the degree of negligence of the owner in the unique situation that is cited in a lawsuit.

The recent determination that the state was libel for the deaths of the tourist who fell off Wailua falls was not simply because the area is state property but because the signage was so poorly designed and placed that it apparently directed the woman off the cliff.

What Carvalho is essentially saying is that there's no one in his administration competent enough to minimize the liability inherent in owning Kipu Falls.

It's hard to say which is worse; the county turning down the potential gift of one of the most beautiful and popular spots on the island and one that attracts thousands of tourists every year or that they did it secretly without even asking the body that actually has the power to make that determination... much less asking the taxpayers and citizens who would have to bear any burden of any potential liability.

It's not too late for this outrage to be overturned. If you're as pissed off as we are, contact your council at and tell them that you want them to at least look into if not accept Grove Farms offer to turn Kipu Falls over to the county.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


OXYMORONICALLY SPEAKING: Little kids and we old futs have something in common- we both refuse to fall for BS conundrums.

While sophomoric angst-ridden teens may obsess over questions like "if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does make a sound " any wise-ass seven year old will suggest using a tape recorder to show it does and the crotchety crowd will just say "of course it does- what are you an idiot?".

But today that very question- or an approximation thereof- presents itself by asking "if a newspaper that has a 'paywall' sues the the governor's for his refusal to release the list of judicial nominees, does anyone hear about it?".

The answer is only if you find out through "'Civil Beath'" which, though similarly paywalled, offers as many free one-month subscriptions as you have email addresses.

That's a long way to go to say that the news itself is certainly welcome in that the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (S-A) is dipping into it's monopolistically-engorged pockets to do what they should have done the first time Governor Neil Abercrombie decided to flout tradition- and an Office of Information Practices (OIP) opinion- by refusing to release the list (after state senate approval).

The suit itself- provided in copy-protected form by Civil Beat which has come under fire for copy-protecting other public documents- attempts to refute the governor's claim that to release the list would, as the law says, "frustrate a legitimate government function"- that of appointing judges from a list provided by a judicial selection committee.

But strangely enough the suit fails to try to refute Abercrombie's contention other than essentially saying "no it doesn't."

Are we to assume the hearing will feature ten year old attorneys alternately screaming "yes it does... no it doesn't... yes it does... no it doesn't." until one grabs the others hair and the other bites the first one on the leg?

Abercrombie claims is that attorneys will be less willing to submit their names to the selection committee because they risk the ire of their employers, partners or even clients- both current and future- by letting them know they might be leaving.

But the S-A suit simply ignores the argument itself by refusing to address either of the two issues- first, whether a public announcement will in fact cause problems for the applicant and two, if that's true- whether it rise to the level of "frustration of a legitimate government function."

Now we're normally an unqualified supporter of the preamble to the Sunshine Law which presumes that government documents are to be made public unless they are specifically exempted by law- and that the law should be "liberally applied."

But we've got to admit that, after talking about this with five different attorneys over the past few months, we have come around to the governor's thinking. All five said that the fact that their names would become public has colored their decisions as to whether or not to apply for a judgeship.

The five include lawyers, who both work with partners and without, are in the government's employ and in private practice and do both criminal and civil law. And all said that the release of their names is a consideration and some said that indeed it has influenced their decision not to apply.

That means that- our admittedly small sample notwithstanding- the only question is whether, assuming the "fact" that what Abercrombie claims is true, does it actually "frustrate a legitimate government function?".

Whenever we've seen these kinds of determinations the "function" is stated. In this case it would be "the appointment of judges by the governor."

But the problem for the governor is that the law does not state that his job is to appoint judges from the widest possible pool, just that he pick from a list provided by the selection committee.

Attorneys will make the decision as to whether to seek a judgeship for any number of reasons. Certainly the usual drop in pay is a consideration so should the law require the state to make up the difference to widen the pool? Suppose the appointment requires a move from a neighbor island to Honolulu and the attorney has children who are in an excellent public school? Should he or she be compensated for having to put them in a private school if there is no comparable public school available?

Of course not. The legitimate government function is to provide a list, not to insure that the list includes every attorney in the state who otherwise would consider a judicial appointment.

The governor's claim regarding the release of the names of attorneys who aren't selected may be true. But it is for all intent and purpose it is irrelevant because unless the attorney general comes up with a heretofore unspoken rationale to say that this actually frustrates a legitimate government function Abercrombie's claim doesn't really stand up to scrutiny.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


A HOLE IS TO DIG: If we ever have cause to need a really good pick and shovel- aw heck, make that a backhoe- we know just where to turn.

We'd just call the worst reporter at the worst newspaper in the state- arguably in the country although we haven’t read them all- because it would take heavy equipment to bury the lede the way our little buddy does it in our local Kaua`i newspaper.

Today, while sifting through the recent thin gruel of council activity, he decided to preview tomorrow's "special" council meeting to name yet another "sister city" in Japan- a program designed to increase tourism, presumably both ways.

The first clue that Kaua`i denizens might think twice about taking a trip to Iwaki was the location- the Fukushima Prefecture. But it takes until the sixth paragraph, over 200 words into the story before we find out for certain that Iwaki "is less than 30 miles away from Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, badly damaged in the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11."

That "clue" assumes you're going to make the connection between Iwaki and the massive radiation still permeating Fukushima Prefecture. The final words of the article come closer, saying

Because of the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami, Iwaki’s government closed the city’s swimming beaches for the entire year.

Iwaki government has also said that it doesn’t expect many visitors to the city’s beaches due to the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Nowhere in the article does the word "radiation" appear.

But, as the saying goes, "you knew darn well I was a snake before you let me in."

You'd expect better from the former editor of the Rocky Mountain News and current editor of the on-line Civil Beat news outlet.

John Temple's opinion piece today echoed some of our concerns about the spate of police harassment of local reporters for taking photographs of police in action, saying that the rest of the public should also be protected when taking photos of police.

Good point. But in setting up the piece he writes of "two recent incidents, one involving the publisher of a Maui weekly newspaper and the other involving a Big Island blogger."

And this is how he describes them.

The first incident came on Maui this spring, when an officer hit Maui Times publisher Tommy Russo's camera when he was filming from a public place. The officer is heard telling Russo: "I don't want to be filmed, and if I don't want to be filmed, I don't have to be filmed....

"The other Hawaii incident came on the Big Island, where earlier this month blogger Damon Tucker was arrested while he was taking photos and videos of police arresting people from a public sidewalk. He says police confiscated his iPhone and camera and he now faces misdemeanor charges of obstructing government operations."

And, although he links to Tucker's posts he fails to let readers know that Tucker alleges he was severely beaten by police in making the arrest.

And that makes exactly zero coverage of that fact in the mainstream, statewide Hawai`i "print" media, although Channel 9 did have one feature on the event the next day.

The "lede" of a story is generally what the the reporter determines is most important and "newsworthy" thing in the story. In the "inverted triangle" of newswriting it is contained in the opening words of the story.

Good reporters take a breath when sitting down at the keyboard and try to come up with the core information that makes the news news.

They don't "save it" for later in the story or even "forget" to mention it.

It's understandable when, for the umpteenth time our local paper bungles it. But when the pros do it it's gotta make you wonder what they're thinking.

Monday, August 22, 2011


NEGATIVE CONTAGION: All's quiet on the southwestern front where Damon Tucker- the Big Island blogger-reporter who was apparently beaten by cops for taking video of a police action, breaking up a fight in Pahoa- has hired an attorney to sue the Hawai`i (Island) Police Department (HIPD) saying that "all future media inquires should be sent to him."

But on the mainland the fight to simply take photos in public places continues, this time in Long Beach California where a reporter for the Long Beach Post has taken up the cause after a couple of incidents of harassment of photographers by local police.

Seems that according to reporter Greggory Moore on June 2 he had stepped out of his house across the street from the courthouse and was trying to take photos of people "texting while driving" for a piece on Distracted Driving Month when no less than eight police officers descended on him.

But of course in the background was the courthouse and so, according to Moore, after fifteen minutes of questioning and threats:

To leave the scene, I was required to provide my name, address, phone number, driver's license number, the name of the publication for which I was writing and the publisher's name and contact information. To get my camera back, I was required to show one of the officers its contents.

Then, even though Moore had complained and was trying to get an explanation from the Long Beach Police, the department hadn't gotten the message that photography in public places is not a crime.

In July he wrote that:

June 30 was a beautiful summer Thursday. Just the kind of day that might tempt a photographer out to a refinery to capture some snaps of well illuminated rust and metal corrosion, colors that don't quite exist in the natural world.

But in Long Beach lately, it seems this is just the kind of action that will result in police detention.

For at least the second time in a month, police in Long Beach have detained a resident for the mere fact of taking pictures that are perfectly legal to take.

At a little before 10 a.m. on June 30, Sander Roscoe Wolff says he was on the south side of Artesia Boulevard taking photographs of the Edgington Oil Company when Officer Asif Kahn rolled up in a Long Beach Police Department patrol unit.

Wolff said that Kahn stated he had received a call that Wolff was taking pictures of the refinery. Wolff explained to Kahn that he was photographing the refinery for artistic reasons.

"I guess he had [been] observing me for at least a few minutes," recounts Wolff, "because he said, 'I saw you take a picture of [some nearby flora.] I saw you take a picture across the street.'"

Because he found Kahn's demeanor to be low-key and even friendly, Wolff was surprised when Kahn asked for Wolff's driver's license. "I asked him if I had to show him my driver's license," says Wolff. "He said 'yes.' And at that point I did feel detained. Because if he was demanding that I identify myself, then I couldn't just walk away."

Wolff says Kahn apparently ran a check on Wolff's driver's license, then came back and said that everything was okay. "He said because of Homeland Security and new laws, [the police] have the authority to ask for my driver's license and run it when they feel that there's cause."

While there was no police brutality in the Long Beach incident Moore, after talked to the National Press Photographer's Association, they wrote to Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell expressing concern "about the misplaced beliefs that photography is in and of itself a suspicious activity."

But McDonnell tried to defend his officers and seemed to offer little sympathy or remorse. Not only that but they had some kind of cockamamie policy of what one can and can't take photos of, based on the content.

In a followup piece Moore wrote:

Police Chief Jim McDonnell has confirmed that detaining photographers for taking pictures "with no apparent esthetic value" is within Long Beach Police Department policy.

McDonnell spoke for a follow-up story on a June 30 incident in which Sander Roscoe Wolff, a Long Beach resident and regular contributor to Long Beach Post, was detained by Officer Asif Kahn for taking pictures of a North Long Beach Refinery.

"If an officer sees someone taking pictures of something like a refinery," says McDonnell, "it is incumbent upon the officer to make contact with the individual." McDonnell went on to say that whether said contact becomes detainment depends on the circumstances the officer encounters...

This policy apparently falls under the rubric of compiling Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) as outlined in the Los Angeles Police Department's Special Order No. 11, a March 2008 statement of the LAPD's "policy … to make every effort to accurately and appropriately gather, record and analyze information, of a criminal or non-criminal nature, that could indicate activity or intentions related to either foreign or domestic terrorism."

While some may have an "all's well that ends well" take on the incidents it is apparently only a matter of time before someone who knows, and is intent on defending, his or her rights refuses to stop taking pictures or show them to police when they make an illegal request based on "security," especially when the claim- and in the first case here the overreaction- is patently absurd.

Like Tucker's run-in with ill-informed cops on the Big Island these kinds of incidents show how they come about when police aren't trained in the rights of people with cameras.

And although the Long Beach and Hawai`i Island incidents have led to the increased awareness of their respective police chiefs until there is national pressure put on local police to acknowledge those rights, incidents Tucker's and those Moore described will remain all too common.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


DO YOU SMELL THAT?: They say that justice delayed is justice denied but what about news? Well, they also ask, who needs yesterday's papers?

While it's widely acknowledged that our local newspaper is, um, shall we say, "content challenged," perhaps their worst feature is the lack of timely reporting of government doings unless it's a spoon-fed and regurgitated press release from the county's public information officer.

This "when we get around to it" style of journalism is not just an affront to those who have a need to be informed but makes it particularly difficult to get involved in government when, say, there's an article on Tuesday about a bill that passed out of a council committee at the previous Wednesday's meeting and is due for final approval the following day- leaving less than 24 hours to arrange to be there to give testimony.

But while today's Kaua`i newspaper is devoid of coverage of yesterday's meeting, real journalism is happening- not just the next day but item by item in real time- not far away.

And wouldn’t you know it? It's none other than our old friend Micheal Levine, late of the Kaua`i press corps who has taken up residence at Honolulu Hale and is using 21st century technology to do his reporting for "Civil Beat".

A look at his daily "Inside Honolulu" column shows no less than 9 blurbs in covering and posting the actions of the Honolulu City Council at various times throughout the day, with the headings:

10:36 a.m. The 'Million-Dollar Baby Toe'
10:51 a.m. Godbey Confirmed As Corp Counsel
11:19 Council Sends Ag Property Tax Bill To Mayor
12:26 p.m. Council To Defer Laie Hotel Vote
12:49 p.m. 'You Got Shafted, I Got Shafted'
3:06 p.m. Laie Hotel Deferred One Month
3:54 p.m. Mililani Senior Development Gets OK
4:22 p.m. $1 Million Settlement Approved
5:38 Council Advances Campaign Sign Rules

Why even the lowly Hawai`i (Island) Tribune Herald has an article today about a controversial bill taken up at their council's Wednesday meeting.

But it’s a rare occurrence when we get coverage of Wednesday's meeting by Friday with the usual routine being a Saturday or Sunday entry... usually a muddled attempt by a certain story-telling-challenged individual- whose name rhymes with Slazumbuja- apparently trying to make sense of what he saw.

It gets worse by the day. For today's news of a $215,000 settlement of a sexual harassment suit filed by PMRF firefighters against ITT one had to turn to the pay-walled Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

And for news of the scandalous allegations of misconduct on the part of the "old" Kaua`i Independent Foodbank- made by the "new" Hawai`i Foodbank- you had to turn to Bob Jones' last two columns in "Midweek." Or you could check out Joan Conrow's "heads up" on the story where the news that the reason for the non-coverage may just be that the publisher of the local paper sits on the "old" foodbank's board of directors.

All we got today was a confusing account of some plea agreement- from who knows how long ago- in what appeared to be a dispute between Kilauea neighbors that resulted in threats.

At least the local paper does serve one constituency- the fishing community is happy to have something in which to wrap their catch. Either way, if you leave your catch lying around for a few days the fact that it stinks is bound to be evident.


Note: While the local newspaper remains silent on their naming of victims of crime as we discussed on Monday, we did receive the following comment purported to be from Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri Carvalho:

I have no idea how the paper's new police beat reporter Tom LaVenture got the list, although I suspect it was from the indictment, which by law, is public record.

As you correctly noted, the victims' names did not appear on any official county press release page or the prosecuting attorney's page at the county web site. It is for those very reasons that you state below:

"It's bad enough to list the victim of a burglary, letting potential crooks know who might might be making themselves a good target for another burglary. But to list the name of an abuse victim and potentially subject the person to the unwarranted taunts, ridicule and shame that many times unfortunately accompany such situations, is just plain professional misconduct"

that the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney(OPA) has NEVER released victims' names to be published.

Thank you for addressing this issue, as the OPA strongly seeks to protect against the revictimization of victims.


Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho

Kauai Prosecuting Attorney

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


GET BACK JACK: More than two years ago in May and June of 2009 PNN posted a series of six articles detailing the alleged illegal diversion of Moloa`a stream which, it appears, at least contributed to the Ka Loko Dam break if not actually being the proximate causal event.

The diversion- allegedly done by landowner Jimmy Pflueger- caused Moloa`a stream to be diverted into the reservoir according to documents provided by Hope Kallai, a Moloa`a farmer who says she has been denied water to her property.

As we wrote in compiling the articles on our left rail:

It’s not Chinatown Jake, but it’s close.

About 10 years ago “someone” dammed up Moloa`a stream and re-built the long-defunct and dilapidated Moloa`a Ditch, diverting almost all the water that serves Moloa`a Valley through three tunnels that lead to Ka Loko Ditch.

From there the water flows into a system of underground pipes that serves Jimmy Pflueger’s properties in the Pila`a/Waiakalua/Wailapa area and with the excess dumped into the Ka Loko Reservoir which gave way killing seven people in 2006.

And despite two years of begging the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to at least inspect the apparently still active diversion, no action has been taken.

But Kallai hasn't given up and today we present her latest appeal to new DLNR chief William Aila- which she plans to present at the DLNR "listening sessions" scheduled for later this month- detailing her thus far futile efforts to regain what she calls her "stolen" water.


17 Aug 2011

Hope Kallai
Malama Moloa`a
POB 655
Kilauea, HI 97654

Chairperson William J. Aila, Jr.
Department of Land and Natural Resources
Kalanimoku Building
1151 Punchbowl Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Re: Topic For Listening Session 2011 Kauai
Remove the Moloa`a/Kalua`a Stream Diversion
Moloa`a Forest Reserve, Kauai

Aloha e Chairperson Aila:

Mahalo for taking the time to come to Kauai again and especially taking the time to listen to us.  I have written   ridiculous amount of correspondence to DLNR without response.  Mahalo for changing this pattern.

Moloa`a Stream was a perennial stream; it always had flowing water - enough to support several hundred people.  About a decade ago, the flow in Moloa`a Stream changed.  The stream would not rise during heavy precipitation events; sometimes it rose when it was not raining mauka.  There were unexplained dirty water events both brown water and grey water.   There were no flushing flows to clear out the sand berm at Moloa`a Stream mouth.  Moloa`a Stream began being seriously diverted about 2001, continuing today.

The kumuwai of Moloa`a is in the Moloa`a State Forest Reserve, mauka of Ka Loko Reservoir.  The Moloa`a system is fed by perennial tributaries of Kalua`a Stream, including Kanalohewahewa, stemming from a perennial bog.  The ahupua`a of Moloa`a has no community water system, either potable or irrigation.  Recently, our family’s water well went dry.  After 10 years of an un-permitted stream diversion removing our groundwater aquifer, we had to dig 150’ deeper (at $55/ft) to find water to be able to live and farm on our 5 acres.. 

Two different individuals complained to CWRM before our ahupua`a-based community group did in 2001(Godbey Exhibits: DLNR 1285 to DLNR 1296, EPA 001-033),  about the diversion of upper Moloa`a Stream.  A formal Stream Resolution Complaint No. 01-12 was filed Oct 3, 2001 by Daniel Garner, complete with maps and photos but Mr. Pflueger’s attorney responded that water does not run upgrade and that the diversion would originate mauka in the State Forest Reserve (DLNR 1297-1303).  An offer was made to escort state representatives to the alleged “landlocked” State Forest Reserve.  As Mr. Garner told CWRM in 2001, “growing taro with no water is difficult, if not impossible” and he abandoned his lo`i kalo on Moloa`a.  When is CWRM going to act on the 3 Moloa`a Stream diversion complaints?

The newly released KalokoPhase II Dam  Report documents exactly where in the forest the ditch originates, by GPS measurement.  The 2009 Kilauea Irrigation Company Report (Draft April 2009, Final October 2009) maps and documents when the diversion was constructed (about 2001).  It further documents how this un-permitted, un-engineered, illegal 7’ ditch terminates into an 8” underground irrigation system on Mary Lucas Trust lands,  goes through a 90 degree angle, then is reduced from 8” to 6”.  The KICO report maps how the ditch has overflown into Kaloko Reservoir, causing “Overflow Erosion Channels”.  The construction of a new, additional inflow into Kaloko is an alteration of appurtenant dam works.  This is illegal and needs to be removed immediately.  Moloa`a needs it’s water.  KICO has been dumping excess diverted (stolen) water into the ocean in the area of 4170 North Waiakalua for years, all to the detriment of the Moloa`a ahupua`a.  When are the alterations to the Kaloko system going to be removed?

We have filed a Stream Resolution Complaint - the 3rd on Moloa`a .  We have asked for Flow Standards to be established for Kalua`a and Moloa`a Streams.  We filed a Complaint Dispute Resolution Response request on 14 March 2011.  We have gotten no resolution yet to our steam diversion complaints.  We have gotten no responses.  What are we doing wrong?  How can CWRM keep permitting groundwater well withdrawals without understanding the water budget of Moloa`a?

We cannot wait another decade for our stream flow to be restored.  What can we do to remove this illegal diversion from taking and selling stolen Public Trust water from the State Forest Reserve (designated for watershed protection)?  The KICO inflow/infiltration study documents how the turn of one valve returns the stolen water into the Moloa`a ahupua`a, but the entire ½ mile ditch and new headwaters impoundment, in trespass in the forest, must be removed. Moloa`a Stream and Kalua`a bog, (one of the last low elevation bogs in Hawaii) need to be restored.

The BLNR voted to revoke Revocable Water Use Permit S-6240 to Kilauea Irrigation System in September, 2007 but left the termination date to be decided by DLNR staff (.  I previously requested the termination of Revocable Permit S-6240 (2009 June 3 Termination of Revocable Permit S 6240), but have not received an answer yet. Can you please tell me the status of this permit?  Does KICO have insurance?  According to the Phase II report, KICO is  failing to maintain the Kaloko Ditch from Pu`ukaele Stream.  Are they relieved of this maintenance kuleana?  Has the hazard rating of Kaloko been determined?  Is there an Emergency Action Plan yet?

We have written many letters about the diversion of the upper Moloa`a Stream system, but have gotten no responses.  We warned people about these un-permitted diversions mauka of Kaloko before the Kaloko dam breach (EPA 000034- .  Dam Safety inspectors were not sent out in response to a flood that destroyed a bridge (2009 Jan 26 State Ended Safety Inspections Before Hawaii Dam Collapsed).  1 week before 8 people died, the EPA and DOH were sent to Kaloko (EPA 000064-000105).  DOH Environmental Health Specialists and the Enforcement Section Supervisor didn’t notice the lack of a spillway -they checked silt fences.  Nobody checked the stream diversions mauka of Kaloko (-the ditch goes underground on Mary Lucas Trust land) which had been reported to the state for 5 years by then.  They were more interested in “closing the loop” (EPA 000045, EPA 000050) and checking Pila`a Consent Decree mitigation remediation actions.

We’ve been told:
“You cannot go up there - it’s private land.”
“You’re crazy - Moloa`a and Kaloko are not connected,”
“Don’t worry,  If Kaloko blows, it’ll take out Kilauea side, not Moloa`a.:
“It’s Pflueger’s land, he won’t let the state go there.”  
‘Moloa`a Ditch never went into Kaloko - only into Kaloko ditch above the flume.”
“Moloa`a Ditch went pau in the 1960’s.  Only carried water during high rain storms.  Kilauea Sugar quit maintaining it before plantation went pau.”
“Moloa`a ditch doesn‘t exist anymore.  It is functionally obsolete.”
“We have no record of this ditch.  We cannot talk about it.}
“We are not interested in pursuing another Clean Water Act violation against Jimmy Pflueger.”
“We have to get Jimmy Pflueger’s permission to inspect the breached dam..”
“Kaloko never had a spillway.”
“The dam is not a dam anymore.  Too small.  No more state jurisdiction.””
“Water does not flow upstream.”
“I’ll perform my own Phase II investigation, but the it will be private.”
“We’re looking into it.”
“We cannot discuss this - it’s under litigation.”

On December 22, 2006, Attorney General Wynoff wrote Jimmy Pflueger about Kaloko:
Third, we are informed of a second source of water to the reservoir, of unknown origin.  Please provide all available information as to this source, including date of installation, plans and specifications for its construction, origin of the water, any documentation as to authorization for use or diversion of the water, and your plans (if any) to cease and desist receiving water from this second source.

There’s plenty information about this un-permitted ditch now.  There is no authorization for the use of this water.  Why does Jimmy Pflueger get to decide when (if ever) he plans to cease and desist receiving and selling stolen water?  When is the State going to remove this illegal, un-permitted, un-engineered ditch system and restore  the flow of Moloa`a/Kalua`a Streams back into the Moloa`a ahupua`a?  Our downstream neighbor had to water the o`opu in what used to be Moloa`a Stream with a garden hose from his well to keep them alive.  The o`opu need their water.  We need our water back now.  We cannot wait for water pending litigation against Jimmy Pflueger.  Nobody downstream is safe until these un-engineered ditches are removed.  Ua hewa i ka wai.  Nobody has been listening.

I realize this has gone on for a decade under the previous administrations, before being presented to you, but I hope you can realize how the piracy of public trust resources cannot be allowed to continue.  Mahalo for taking quick action and putting an end to this decade of deception and denial. We all live downstream.

Hope Kallai

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES: It's hard to know which is worse lately- Wednesday's befuddled and buffoonish rerun of the previous council Public Works Committee meeting on the Lydgate camping bill or the ill-informed and equally befuddled and buffoonish coverage and editorial of it in the local Kaua'i newspaper.

Two weeks ago we wrote:

The bill was snatched from the jaws of passage out to the full council at last Wednesday's Public Works Committee meeting by Councilperson Mel Rapozo's request for a deferral for two weeks after the rest of the council didn't seem to care about the myriad lies and coverups from Parks and Recreation Department Director Lenny Rapozo.

And the only thing that changed this time was that Rapozo, after promising answers in two weeks, had taken an extremely convenient and unannounced "vacation." And in his stead he sent the island's own roving flack-catcher, Ian "Waldo" Costa.

Like the striped shirted traveler, Costa seems to show up everywhere. Despite being canned from many county positions over the years- ranging from a stint as deputy county engineer during the "Developers Gone Wild" days when he looked the other way at Jimmy Pflueger's grading and grubbing violations, to his recent stint as Planning Director which ended with an FBI investigation and his resignation under fire- Costa is back, this time taking shrapnel for Rapozo over the seemingly inept attempt to get the camping operations going.

Costa is the champion of what council-watchers have called "the fog" which entails speaking in an almost whisper and lulling questioners to sleep with frustratingly vague answers. When pinned, he conveniently is unable to answer but promises that the person who can answer will come by in two weeks... at which time they send a different person who says only Costa or someone else can answer that.

So the most bizarre moment of the meeting had to be a seemingly out of the blue statement from Councilperson Nadine Nakamura who greeted Costa by noting he "happens to be a very good dodge ball player."

Sometimes the set-ups don't even need punchlines.

The meeting itself progressed, as expected, with the same staffing questions we described two weeks ago being the predominant topic of discussion. Despite the fact that the council and administration agree that they want to build a "world class" facility, with the current staffing levels- not to mention the lack of toilets- we're more libel to get third-world class campgrounds.

One new and revealing fact came out at the meeting and that is that the current staffing levels- which were increased when the plans for the campground were first floated in 2005- were based on a consultant’s report that estimated the maximum number of campers at 92- not the 300 the county plans on allowing initially - much less the 700 that could potentially be camping when all 31 campsites are in use.

Add that to the new soccer fields, the bike path and other expansions that weren't accounted for at the time and, according to the union, the current staff can barely keep up with the current usage. The toilets age constantly clogged, according to one councilmember and the trash cans overflow right now- without camping.

Not to mention the caretakers' daily, morning doggie doo pickup since the council decided to allow dogs on that portion of the bike path.

But of course Costa knew nothing about that except that Rapozo was seeming standing pat on the number of workers, despite concerns of the union that making the place "like a hotel" was going to take a lot more people to staff, especially with talk of "concierge service".

Apparently those concierges will be showing the guests to the port-a-potties that, the administration says, are going to have to suffice until new facilities are planned, paid for and constructed.

But even though all these problems were left unaddressed most councilmembers were ready to approve the bill.

What actually caused the deferment- although you wouldn't know from the newspaper coverage or editorial- was a comment from Councilmember Kipukai Kuali`i.

He simply asked Costa about what was going to happen to the slews of local fishers and their families who have frequented the area for decades, if not centuries. Are they now going to be ticketed and fined $100 for bringing their families and setting up their campsite for a night of fishing?

With that the council went bonkers and even though just moments before they seemed poised to pass the bill out of committee it was now back to the drawing board at least to define the boundaries of where the campground actually was- and wasn't- and what to do about the fishing families.

Despite all this we were greeted with an editorial from the newspaper demanding that camping begin "yesterday."

It was bad enough that they claimed that there was now going to be a two month delay when the bill was actually deferred for two weeks. But they apparently are demanding that all 31 campsites be opened immediately- something even the administration knows can't be done with facilitates and staffing at their current levels.

But ignoring those two issues they pooh-poohed any "enforcement" problems, quite possibly because whomever wrote the editorial only read the newspaper's story on the meeting which failed to mention the fishing situation. Or perhaps more likely, because the cultural malahini at the paper have no idea how important fishing- especially at that spot- is to local culture and tradition.

"Ready, fire, aim" has been the Kaua`i governmental mantra that drives real watchdogs crazy. But when the lapdog local paper decides that planning should be a victim of expediency how can we expect any more from our local officials?

Monday, August 15, 2011


ENOUGH TO GO AROUND: It's been a "when it rains it pours" weekend regarding the office of Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri- Carvalho with an inundation of "tips" regarding supposed wrongdoing on her part.

We haven't been able to develop any of them even far enough to offer a "blind item" but we can only wonder whether it's dear Shay's office or another inept institution that prompted our local newspaper to start publishing the names of victims of crime today.

In an article regarding "recent indictments"- or, as the lede referred to, "recent arraignments," which is a totally different animal- we learned that:

Ki Anthony Banquel, 30, `Ele`ele, is charged with felony abuse of family or household members, and second degree terroristic threatening.

On June 15, 2011, Banquel allegedly physically abused (name withheld by PNN) a family or household member, by choking, and also allegedly threatened, by word or conduct to cause bodily injury to (name).


Joshua Kaimana Godfrey, 27, Waimea, is charged with first degree burglary and second degree theft.

On June 22, 2011, Godfrey allegedly entering the Lihu`e residence of (name) unlawfully, with the intent to commit a crime with recklessly disregard, and committed first degree burglary of (name) property, a computer, camera, speakers, video camera, iPad, and a backpack to exceed $300.

It's bad enough to list the victim of a burglary, letting potential crooks know who might might be making themselves a good target for another burglary. But to list the name of an abuse victim and potentially subject the person to the unwarranted taunts, ridicule and shame that many times unfortunately accompany such situations, is just plain professional misconduct.

We have no idea how the paper's new police beat reporter Tom LaVenture got the list since it appears neither on the official county press release page or the prosecuting attorney's page at the county web site.

But we do know that there's more than enough blame to go around, leaving us all shaking our heads at the utter incompetence of two of our important institutions.

Saturday, August 13, 2011



(PNN) -- Aug 12 -- Former Kaua`i Senator Gary Hooser is considering a run for the US congressional 2nd district seat being vacated by Maize Hirono.

According to an email sent Friday to core friends and supporter Hooser said "I know in my heart that at some point, serving in public office is where I need to be. While the timing may be uncertain, my commitment is not. The 2nd Congressional District in the United States Congress is a path many have encouraged me to explore and one which I am seriously considering. I live in the District, have established networks on all islands and understand the unique challenges faced by rural communities."

Hooser is currently serving in the Abercrombie administration as Director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control.

He is expected to post his announcement on Facebook today and to the general public on Sunday.

Hooser, who started his political career as a councilmember on Kaua`i, rose to Senate Majority Leader before giving up his seat to unsuccessfully enter the lieutenant governor's race last year.

As to the reasons he has decided to test the waters and re-enter elective politics, Hooser wrote:

I can no longer merely watch from the sidelines as the “politics as usual” in Washington threatens the very fabric of our lives and the security of our democracy slips further and further every day.

As the financial debacle unfolds now in Washington and through-out the world, it is clear that Social Security, Medicare, education and the environment will soon be thrown beneath the bus under the guise of “fiscal responsibility”.Yes, we need to get our nation’s fiscal house in order, but that effort must be a balanced approach and include an end to the Bush tax cuts for the top 5%, a dramatic reduction in corporate entitlements, and an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hooser's decision may rest on the support, especially financial, he receives. In the email he said:

I am committed to re-entering the political process and helping to lead our community forward. But to do so, I must have your help and your financial support. Whether it’s $25, $50, $100 or more – To begin anew down the path toward elective office, I must have your help today. Our campaign must raise $12,500 this month for existing obligations and an additional $25,000 to fund other expenses necessary to maintain an ongoing strong and credible campaign presence. Contributions can be sent to Friends of Gary Hooser, P.O. Box 4094, Honolulu HI 96812.

My final decision and future path depends in large part on your response to this letter. If you want me to run for public office and serve you again in that capacity, I need to know.

The field for the congressional seat thus far is thin with the only two announced candidates for the Democratic nomination being Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard and Esther Kiaaina, former aide to ex-Congressman Ed Case and Senator Dan Akaka, although former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann's name has been mentioned as has former Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona on the Republican side.

Hirono has announced she will run for the senate seat being vacated by the retiring Akaka

That would make Hooser the only progressive in the race so far for what is characterized by some as the most progressive district in the country. Hawai`i was recently named the most Democratic state in the country in a Gallup poll.

Hooser ran for the 2nd congressional district seat- which includes rural O`ahu and the neighbor islands- once before, losing to Hirono in a special election to replace Ed Case who resigned his seat to run against Akaka in 2006.

Hooser can be reached at 808-652-4279 or by emailing .

Thursday, August 11, 2011


COULD YOU REPEAT THAT FOR THE WEST COAST?: We'd sure would have liked to be a fly on the wall at Hawai`i Island Police Department (HIPD) headquarters when officer James Waiamau got his chewing out, most likely not for what appears to be the actual beating and arrest of Damon Tucker- yeah, we're making a week of it and you'll see why- but for being so stupid as to pick a guy who has a fair-sized megaphone... a guy you'd think Waiamau would or should have known (although many think he and they knew exactly whom they were harassing).

Presumably, with the state-wide publicity and the official HIPD release saying it "recognizes the media and the public have every right to photograph police activity in a public place from a safe distance," you'd pretty much think that the cost of defending, much less settling, Tucker's probable lawsuit would have everyone on their best behavior, especially if a "photographing in public" incident comes up again.

Moreover you'd think that when they found out that they had a problem with the report number on Tucker's "Obstructing a Government Operation" summons that he received upon leaving the cell block, the officer they sent to give him the corrected paperwork would have some semblance of an idea of what to do and not to do if someone was there with a video camera.

But there it is- a video, shot by Big Island Video News' (BIVN) David Corrigan in which Officer K. Veincent orders Tucker to tell Corrigan to stop video taping.

Tucker was there for an interview with BIVN and apparently had agreed to meet up with Veincent there too... at the "scene of the crime." About five minutes into the piece a red late model Dodge Charger with a blue roof light pulls up and Tucker leans into the passenger window.

He then turns around, looks into the camera and says "He doesn't want you video taping- he doesn't see the reason why."

The first part is insane enough- police are presumed to have the "persuasive power" so an illegal request comes under harassment and misconduct. But the fact that Veincent presumes that the videographer has to have a reason to continue makes you wonder who the heck is in charge down at HIPD headquarters.

As to the rest of the interview- which was attended by Barbara Lively the legislative assistant to Hawai`i County Councilman Fred Blas- Tucker, visibly shaken during and after the meeting with Veincent, shows clearly where the beating and arrest took place as he goes through a "walking tour" of the chronology of the incident.

Then at the end of the piece, he can be seen fighting back tears and saying "as you can see I'm clearly across the street... The fight happened right over here (pointing) so I'm way far away from where the fighting was."

Judging by the official statement, somebody at HIPD clearly recognizes, if not what the right thing to do when an officer comes across someone taping their activities from a "safe distance" is, then at least what it's going to cost the county.

But Veincent quote possibly just put another "zero" at the right of the figure that Tucker will ultimately receive by continuing the harassment and intimidation.

We've been pretty critical of our own Kaua`i Police Department and some of the clearly knuckle-headed, bad policy and bad publicity actions over the years. But they've got a ways to go in the goon department to catch up with their brethren at the other end of the state.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


THE BEAT AND THE BEATEN: The "alleged" beating of Damon Tucker "allegedly" by a Hawai`i Island Police (HIPD) officer- the quotation marks because neither of those two "facts" seem to be in much dispute now- began to seep into the mainstream corporate media yesterday and today with the two articles taking two decidedly different views of the incident.>

The headlines alone presaged the coverage with Hawai`i News Now (HNN)- the name for the combined TV news programs on KGMB, KHNL and KFVE- reporting "Big Island blogger claims police brutality" and the Big Island's much reviled Hawai`i Tribune-Herald merely noting that "Man alleges police assault."

While the HNN coverage stresses that Tucker's blog "inform(s) Big Island residents and promotes Hawaii" and that he was taking photographs while covering an event, the HTH piece gets 634 words into the piece to merely note that Tucker "operates an Internet blog about the Big Island" and makes no connection between his presence at the scene and his work.

The HTH piece does identify the arresting officer- whom Tucker identified as the officer who allegedly beat him- as James Waiamau.

Both stories include a statement from Hawaii County Assistant Police Chief Henry Tavares refusing to make any "additional statement" other than to note that Tucker was arrested for obstructing government operations and, more importantly, that "(t)he Hawaii Police Department recognizes that the media and the public have every right to photograph police activity in a public place from a safe distance."

Tucker, by the way, claims he was across the street from the police action at the time he was taking the pictures.

While it should be noted that anyone can take photos of police from a safe distance in a public place, the issue that seems to have captivated the blogs is the twofold question of whether Tucker, in covering an event is, in fact a "reporter" and does it matter if he is when it comes to his right to photograph the police from a "safe distance"?

And, are bloggers who report on things as reporters... and, assuming the answer is yes, does than make the blogger who reports a journalist?

While there are professional journalist organizations no serious journalists suggest that there should be any official credentialing restriction of who is and isn't a journalist. Not only is it a question of what the requirements would be and who would set them but the first amendment pretty much guarantees the freedom from government interference in reporting.

The fact is that the act of reporting makes a reporter- something that more and more reporters' "shield laws" recognize, including ours in Hawai`i. And while some may quibble over whether someone who simply sits in their underwear and pontificates is reporting anything, Tucker, by going to an event, taking photos and writing it up for public consumption is certainly a reporter, even though he himself had at times seemed torn as to whether to call himself one.

Professional journalist Tiffany Edwards Hunt at her Big Island Chronicle site says it isn't as much whether Tucker was reporting as it was whether he was acting as a reporter should in a situation like that. She wrote that:

Damon’s greatest mistake in this story is not identifying himself as soon as the police officer told him to stop taking pictures.

At that point he should have said, “my name is Damon Tucker and I maintain a blog. Where can I stand to continue taking photographs?” (He didn’t identify himself until after he was hand-cuffed.)

Damon will likely monetarily gain from this, and hopefully us media professionals can asset some kind of protocol for journalists and residents who act like journalists. But it is definitely time for police and prosecutors to get more sophisticated about dealing with the public.

Slamming people to the ground when you don’t want them taking photographs?! Come on. The County of Hawaii will have to pay dearly for that sort of heavy handedness.

And Damon are you ready to refer to yourself as a media professional yet?

Hunt's queries may get to the crux of the matter- that one can be a reporter without being a journalist, especially in an age of the "new media" where "citizen journalists" abound.

The fact is that while many professional journalists point to the "responsibilities" that go with the "rights" conferred on journalists it's a matter of debate what those responsibilities are and whether in fact there are any at all.

Surely Julian Assange of Wikileaks would argue there are few if any responsibilities. That's why many professionals argue he is not a journalist.

But in the case of Tucker and others who engage in the act of reporting the question is what kind of responsibilities do they have if they are denied the special privileges that journalists are afforded by government officials, especially police.

Hunt argues that Tucker should have identified himself. But would that have made a difference? She also noted that:

I too agree that we the public have a right to take photographs. But we also need to speak up and assert that right when an officer tries to fell us to stop taking photos. We are to ask where police want us to stand in order to not hinder their operations.

If police were sophisticated they would have their officers trained on dealing with the media or media posers who post footage on their blogs, Facebook or YouTube. Next time the police officer will detect the photographer / picture taker to the “staging area” and call in the PIO… That’s how it is done elsewhere.

Well, maybe, in a perfect world but the problem is that there is a history of disrespect for "bloggers" and even reporters and journalists who aren't employed by the "right" media on the Big Island. Apparently, as on Kaua`i, the HIPD does not even issue "press passes" any more which, as we noted yesterday, are- or were- used to allow reporters behind police lines.

And if they did they probably wouldn't issue one to Tucker.

In addition, if "news" happens to "break out" unexpectedly and a reporter engaged in covering another event is standing there with a camera- as apparently happened Friday- should they have to stop and chance missing "the shot" to ask where to go to take a picture of it, especially if they are a safe distance from the disturbance?

The fact is that we would not capitulate to the protocol that Hunt described due to the potential for abuse on the part of the police. Because it is the police who are requesting a privilege in asking that someone voluntarily suspend their right to take photographs of police (in a public place from a safe distance). With the history of abuse of that privilege, both here and across the mainland, it makes that request one that can't be ethically granted by a journalist, reporter or anyone else.

It appears this story has legs. And, as Larry Geller at Disappeared News wrote Sunday, related stories are being repeated across the county with increasing frequency lately.

One more note- among the comments on Hunt's stories is a discussion of the fact that there are video cameras all over the town of Pahoa- where the incident took place- due to the police's "weed and seed" program there.

Unless and until the rights of not just reporters but all citizens are respected by authorities, credentialing journalists and burdening them with rules of engagement will have to wait for a mutual respect that, we predict, will be a long time coming.

Monday, August 8, 2011


(PNN) -- Aug 8 -- Damon Tucker, the reporter/blogger who says he was severely beaten by Hawai`i Island police Friday night. says he was across the street taking picture of an altercation between two women when he was "blindsided and taken down" and then arrested by a Hawai`i Police Department (HPD) officer.

In an email response to PNN inquiries Tucker said that "I was taking pictures of folks leaving a concert a fight broke out (sic)... people were breaking things up... cops moved in and I was across the street taking pictures of it all.

Tucker says that he had left the venue where he was covering a "Red Eye Blind" concert in Pahoa when "(o)ne cop came over to tell me to put the camera down... so I complied... he left... 15-20 seconds later I started filming again and I got blindsided and taken down."

He said it was a younger officer who originally asked him to stop filming and a much bigger and veteran one who "roughed me up"- the latter being the same officer who arrested, booked and processed him at the police station,

Tucker, who is well known in Pahoa, says he was wearing a shirt with his name on it in the form of his twitter address and tried to identify himself to the officer whom he says accosted and arrested him.

"I tried to tell the officer who I was... he would have none of it" Tucker said in the email. "(W)hen we were at the station he asked if I had an official 'Reporters Badge' or something to that effect and I said no... I run local blogs and I'm a well known blogger throughout all of Hawaii."

There is no state or national "certification" for who is or isn't a reporter or journalist although some local police departments do issue "press passes," usually solely in order to allow reporters inside police lines, but not to confer any first amendment "freedom of the press" rights, which are federally protected and not "conferred" by police.

Tucker says he started filming because a fight had broken out outside the club.

"Two girls were fighting," he wrote, and "from what I have now heard... one girl got hit with a bottle. I was leaving the club and heard the commotion and turned around and started to film from my iPhone, at least one of the girls I saw at the station."

Apparently Tucker was not in close proximity to the police action and was within his constitutional rights to film from a public sidewalk whether he was a "reporter" or not.

He described what happened after he was beaten.

"I was in cuffs outside the club for about 30 minutes while the cops continued to diffuse the more dangerous situation. After that situation was diffused they brought me down to the police station... where the younger officer had to look in a book to find something to charge me with. At about 45 minutes into the booking... I asked if I could use the bathroom... officer said sure... empty your pockets... and then through(sic) me into a jail cell with no cot or anything for nearly 45 minutes. I was then released on my own PR (sic) given the summons I posted on my blog and left with the assistance of an officer on duty who dropped me off close enough to my house so that I could have a cigarette on the way home and not startle everyone in the neighborhood or shame folks by me being brought home by a police officer at 2:00 in the morning."

In addition to the gruesome picture that Tucker posted on his blog, Reporter Tiffany Edward Hunt also took pictures of Tucker and posted them at her "Big Island Chronicle." site.

She also posted an "Open letter to Police Chief Harry Kubojiri" on Saturday asking for "a statement regarding Damon Tucker’s account of police brutality for taking photos in Pahoa last night," which she says was emailed to the chief, a spokeswoman for the police department and the mayor’s office.

On Sunday Tucker posted pictures of what he said were the bloody, dirt-caked clothing he was wearing during the incident.

The email to PNN was also sent to a national clearinghouse web site called "Photography Isn't A Crime," which documents incidents of harassment by police and others of both reporters and citizens for legally taking picture in public places. The web site says its purpose is to "educate everyone about the rights and responsibilities of photographers."

This is not Tucker's first run-in with police while covering news and taking photos. On Christmas Eve, 2008 Tucker was investigating complaints of violations of the American with Disabilities Act at Pahoa Post Office when a HPD officer threatened him and forced him to delete pictures Tucker had taken of the parking lot and the officer.

Tucker has said he will be seeking legal counsel today and filing a lawsuit.

Sunday, August 7, 2011



(PNN) -- Aug 7 -- Big Island reporter and blogger Damon Tucker was severely beaten by police and arrested for "hindering a government operation" Friday night while taking pictures from a public sidewalk outside a concert he was covering in Pahoa.

According to a post on his popular Damon Tucker's Blog "the police have now confiscated my camera and cell phone as well as roughing me up and locking me up in a police detention holding cell for taking video and pictures of them in action from the sidewalk in front of Pahoa Village Cafe."

Seven pictures posted yesterday, taken by Tucker's wife upon his return from the emergency room, show apparent multiple deep abrasions scraps and bruises on all of his extremities and torso.Tucker says his right shoulder is damaged, he is limping on his left leg and is in severe pain.

He says that he took the pictures on his cell phone which was confiscated by police as "evidence," as was his camera which he was not using.

Tucker wrote that he will "be filing a lawsuit against the Hawaii County Police department soon for a few things."

In his Friday night post Tucker wrote that:

People are allowed to take pictures and videos of police officers w/out getting roughed up. I’m battered, bruised and bloody from an officer slamming on the sidewalk… Thankfully I have eyewitnesses that will come forward to say what happened.

My wife took pictures shortly after I was released from jail tonight…

I just want my cell phone back and camera back…. I was rolling video when the officer took me down and they took my cell phone and camera from me for “Evidence”.

This is not Tucker's first run-in with police while covering news and taking photos. On Christmas Eve, 2008 Tucker was investigating complaints of violations of the American with Disabilities Act at Pahoa Post Office when a HPD officer threatened him and forced him to delete pictures Tucker had taken of the parking lot and the officer.

Tucker declined further comment for now saying he is weighing his options and will post again about the incident on his blog. He is due to appear in court on September 8.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


BUDDING GENIUSES: We don't often follow trials, especially in Honolulu, mainly because the news outlets there don't do so either except for those that bleed profusely.

But because of the extensive coverage and rare live bogging by "Civil Beat" of the human trafficking trial of the Sou brothers of Aloun Farms, today we turned first to Sara Lin's blog only to discover that the prosecution apparently bungled the case so badly they were forced to permanently drop all charges today.

But what's even more shocking is that it appears that the reason is that they actually did not even know what the law said at the time the alleged crimes took place.

Piecing together the events this morning from various accounts- Ken Kobayashi of the Star Advertiser being the only one to note that the charges were dropped "permanently"- it appears that the lead attorney flown in from Washington D.C., Susan French, only figured out last Friday that the law had been changed in 2008 or 2009 (depending on the news source) and, in fact, that she had even misled the grand jury in obtaining the indictment.

Though no one will admit it, according to Hawaii Reporter, Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Cushman told U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway this morning that "the dismissal was caused 'by the discovery of new evidence Friday,'” which was the day that French apparently discovered her blunder.

It's rare that we're at a loss for words but the level of incompetence here- especially given how many lives have been effected including the Sous and the dozens of Thai workers involved- is unfathomable.

While the brothers weren't actually charged with a violation of the law that changed- making it now illegal to pay for the transportation of foreign contract labor- it was apparently a major part of the case against them.

What kind of utter malpractice rules not just our local U.S. attorneys' office but the U.S. Justice Department itself, that no one among the slew of lawyers discovered the error?

It kind of makes you wonder what they are busy with... maybe harassing Roger Christie, the head of the Hawaii Cannabis Ministry in Hilo who has been held without bail in federal detention for over a year now for his marijuana church activities. Or could it be threatening state legislators that if they pass a law to allow "compassion centers" to legally distribute medical marijuana they might just arrest the government officials that would administrate the program?

The Hawaii U.S. Attorney's office has been an out-of-control joke for a long time now with justice being determined by U.S. administration policies as evidenced by the Bush appointment scandal a few years back.

We've watched as they use high handed tactics as well as threats and detentions based on thread-bare evidence to force plea deals when their cases are weak for way too long now but this insanity takes the cake.

We'll leave the details of that for another day. Today we simply await the impending justice of seeing the rolling heads that are sure to come from this case.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


THERE''S NO BUSINESS LIKE NEWS BUSINESS: It's not as bad as we expected it to be to skip the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (S-A) when their paywall went up today because we realize now how little information we actually got from our morning perusals.

But that reality has spurred the realization that the one thing that the "newspaper of record" accomplished is to lose that status and throw itself into an all-out "NewsWar" with the nascent on-line news provider Civil Beat (CB).

Presumably the S-A started charging for their on-line version in an attempt to capitalize on what they thought was the fact that they are the 'real' newspaper. But, with the addition of their own "breaking news" section linked to the neighbor island papers and the AP feed, Civil Beat has positioned itself to go head to head with the S-A.

And, it's no contest. The group of young eager journos at CB actually like where they work and it shows in their work. But the old line "survivors" that populate the news desks at the S-A have all been to hell and back recently after the so-called "merger" made jobs in reporting scarce. They all no doubt resent the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads- the unspoken fact that "you can be replaced chickie-baby."

It shows in their work. It's rote and formulaic. There's very little depth and there's nary a link to any additional information. The S-A's coverage hit only the surface of the news like a flat stone skimmed across the water.

While over at CB the writing is lively and inventive and the reporters seem to have the attitude that even coverage of daily events should be treated as "enterprise" journalism that digs into the subject and provides the kind of full perspective that comes from writing for on-line consumption.

For CB reporters, space is unlimited and not just the result of a "news hole"- a term used for what is left over for content when the advertising is laid out in a print newspaper.

But the S-A isn't taking things lying down if yesterday's "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better"- or at least do too- moment during the Sou trial in any indication,"

CB reporter Sara Lin, in the Annie Oakley role, had unsurprisingly taken the initiative weeks ago in making the enterprising move of asking Chief U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway if she could "live blog" from the human trafficking trial of Aloun Farms owners Mike and Alec Sou.

Mollway okayed the request after a much published discussion and said that Lin could do it but would be the only one and had to share her information with the rest of the press in a "press pool" arrangement.

Then S-A courts reporter Ken Kobayashi in the Frank Butler role decided that, a week into the trial, he wanted "in" on the action in a seemingly day late and dollar short decision that reeks of a distinct "what exactly are we" through process from the S-A publisher, sent a letter to Mollway asking to join Lin in live blogging.

Mollway told Kobayashi that essentially that boat had sailed and that she would have to think about a fair way to do it again in the future should she or others in the federal court decide to do it at all.

That came with a caveat on Mollway's part as to whom she would consider in the future for such blogging, noting that requests would have to come from "authorized" or "credentialed" press because she didn't want, for instance, the defendant's "spouse (to) set up a blog to advocate the party's case."

She also noted that a "one blogger only" policy would likely be imposed so that the U.S. marshals could keep track to make sure that there were no recordings or pictures, which are forbidden by federal law.

That of course brings up the matter of who would be considered for this pool assignment.

Because while Lin and Kobayashi might think they are the only marksmen in town, "I'm just a blogger" Larry Geller of Disappeared News might just stake a claim as the new gun in town.

Apparently Geller has also been attending the trial and giving his account after he gets home every day. We're sure he would like to be considered to be part of that "pool"- if not THE live blogger.

But although Lin said that CB has emailed each blurb to various news outlets before she hit the "post" button we seriously doubt any bloggers were included.

The fact is that while the winner in the S-A's decision to charge for the on-line news is undoubtedly Civil Beat- which is now a direct competitor whereas yesterday they weren't- it also opens up the field for other news providers, even if they are "just bloggers."

When Blogger Geller comes to Chief Sitting Bull Mollway and says "I'm An Indian too," in light of today's leveling of the table, he's as entitled as anybody to be "Doin' What Come Naturally."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


EXTRA, EXTRA- DON'T READ ALL ABOUT IT: The mutual admiration society known collectively as the Kaua`i County Council and the administration has evolved in the face of a dedicated group of, if not delusional at least, disillusioned voters.

Their "if only we could elect an honest mayor or four honest councilmembers..." mantra presumes that half a government is better than no govern at all.

But if the the town Gould, Arkansas is any example it's going to take a lot more than merely getting a foot in the door.

Seems that, according to the NY Times, when the ad-hoc Gould Citizens Advisory Council- "a nonpartisan group that educates voters and raises money for public causes"- recruited the town's Mayor Earnest Nash Jr. to their ranks the city council simply passed an ordinance banning the formation of any group without their permission and "made it illegal for the mayor to meet with any organization in any location' either 'inside or outside Gould city limits' without the Council’s permission."

Of course Kaua`i is in no danger of a similar law, not because the council would never do it but because the fact is that the combination of the lack of transparency and the manipulation of public input has effectively made any group that might form, ineffective before they ever meet.

That and the fact that the local newspaper is dedicated to making sure that the county gets free access to its pages through the papers' pre-spun regurgitated press releases and news by photo-op.

Even when meetings are "covered" by reporters, the reporters are unable to discern when they're being led around through the chamber-of-commerce-installed rings through their noses. They are so hopped up on the power that being the single news source in town confers upon them that, even if they knew how to do it, they wouldn't dare present the causes of dissident groups in any coherent manner.

In the last month, the paper allowed its top advertiser, Kaua`i Island Utilities Co-op, (KIUC) to have free reign of their pages, even going so far as to simply quote a KIUC release on the state's opposition to the federal "FERC" process rather than actually talking to the state official that was quoted.

Then the administration of Mayor Bernard Carvalho held a series of meaningless meetings, supposedly about the location of the proposed teen drug rehab facility in Lihu`e, presenting it- as the administration claimed in their press releases- as a chance to give input on the location.

But when the last meeting suddenly turned into an announcement that the site had been selected they failed to note that as irrefutable evidence that the whole thing was a sham to begin with, as many of those opposing the location maintained.

The question is whether if the Kaua`i County Council tried to surgically remove the basic constitutional rights of its citizens anyone would notice since the only stories that appear behind the dual paywalls of the Honolulu print and on-line news outlets are ones generated by our local paper. Neither publication seems to think that anything we do here is of interest to anyone at all, if the lack of Kaua`i news bureaus is any indication.

There's more to a functioning democracy that three branches of government- that's the reason why a free press is enshrined in the constitution. But the press is only as free as the flow of information and without some attention from the outside we're headed for the kind of corruption that is limited only by the imagination of those who make the laws.

Monday, August 1, 2011


YOU GOTTA BELIEVE- YOU JUST GOTTA: Kaua`i Council Chair Jay Furfaro probably regrets saying many things but none more than his indictment of the county's various administrations- their oft-cited penchant "ready, fire, aim" management.

It's looking like another fiasco is in the making as the council once again considers an eight-year-old bill to re-establish camping at the popular Lydgate Park despite the fact that nothing has really changed- at least for the better- since the bill was shelved back in 2005.

Back in the 70's Lydgate was thought by haoles to actually be spelled "Lid-gate" where mainlanders could easily purchase a "lid" of pakalolo from one of the locals' back-yard "money trees," leading to a wild-west milieu and eventually a murder that ended camping there.

The bill was snatched from the jaws of passage out to the full council at last Wednesday's Public Works Committee meeting by Councilperson Mel Rapozo's request for a deferral for two weeks after the rest of the council didn't seem to care about the myriad lies and coverups from Parks and Recreation Department Director Lenny Rapozo.

Lenny Rapozo was aided and abetted by Furfaro who, as usual, put public testimony up front before Rapozo was questioned by the council, making sure that no one but the council itself could point out the naked nature of the emperor.

The biggest dirty little secret of the whole camping at Lydgate venture- other than that virtually no one thinks it's a good idea- is that there is one, count 'em' one, regular men's toilet for the whole campgrounds.

When camping is in full swing it is expected to accommodate up to 400 campers and that doesn't include those using the nearby three soccer fields who are also expected to use the same facilities.

Oh, and by the way, that toilet is broken.

But when council watcher and "nitpicker" Glenn Mickens asked Furfaro about the fact that the number of toilets didn't come anywhere near the state Department of Health (DOH) standards for people-per-potty, Furfaro tried to go into one of his classic misdirectional spiels about how the bathrooms were now American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.

When Mickens tried to clarify what he was asking Furfaro threw one of his puffy-chested hissy-fits chiding Mickens for interrupting his non-responsive answer and refusing to not answer further until later in the meeting when no one was there to stop him from not answering.

The obfuscation didn't really get going until Rapozo took the hot seat, but first the United Public Workers union rep told the council that the three workers that were agreed to back in 2003 were no longer sufficient. With the additional soccer fields and the 150% increase in usage of the park now, even without camping they could barely keep the park clean, especially after picking up dog poop from the dog path first thing every morning.

Even worse were their concerns about workers' security and enforcement issues with overnight drinking permitted in county parks, not to mention the location of the park- snuggled between resorts in the middle of the visitor destination area, directly adjacent to the town of Wailua- and the lack of park rangers after 10 p.m.

The bottom line is apparently that Lenny Rapozo won't budge on the number of maintenance workers- an obstacle which councilmembers also tried to play down so the bill could be passed and the increase in cost for running the campgrounds could be dealt with later, no doubt as a "surprise" to the council.

One of the great moments came when Furfaro was finally free to do his "chronology" without Mickens there. First he told the union rep about the ADA compliance of the bathrooms- failing to mention how the whole campground had to be ripped out and rebuilt in '04 under then "Community Assistance" Director, current Mayor Bernard Carvalho.

Carvalho had authorized putting in the ADA campsites without any clearance or even consultation with either the state disabilities board or the mayor's ADA coordinator, whose office was just down the hall from Carvalho's.

The way they were constructed, people would have had to get out of their wheelchairs and crawl on their bellies to get onto the camping platforms, according to testimony at the time.

Furfaro was describing how the now-almost-rebuilt pavilion in the campground had burned down. The union rep asked "when was that?"

Furfaro responded "at night."

Anyway Rapozo was questioned by Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura whose first question was whether the ADA requirements were done and whether they "satisfied (and were) approved" by the DOH.

Rapozo answered that the "retrofits" were "done."

"Done?" asked Yukimura, seeming perhaps to have differing information.

"Well, in process," said Rapozo, who now admitted that they are still doing the "modifications" and, in answer to when they would be done told the assembled that the pavilion would be done "next week" and finally, after further prodding, that the ADA retrofits would be done "soon thereafter."

Following that little tooth-extraction Yukimura continued asking about the DOH requirements to which Rapozo responded that the bathrooms were indeed "clean."

When Yukimura finally asked specifically about the number of toilets per user and whether the DOH had signed off on that, she was confronted by what now has become a classic "Rapozoism."

"I'm gonna say yes," said Rapozo, "because I've gotta believe that when this concept first came," somebody must have checked with DOH and it was "done right."

Finally he admitted, under more questioning, that "the site hasn’t been changed since its inception."

But apparently no one bothered to go back and look at the minutes of the meetings in 2003 when the original bill was passed allowing camping and 2005 when the current bill revising the first one was introduced.

Because the fact that there weren't enough bathrooms was the reason why then Council Chair Kaipo Asing lit his hair on fire, finally "permanently" deferring the bill until that and a bunch of other matters were addressed by the administration of then-Mayor Bryan Baptiste and his "parks" guy, Carvalho.

Another indication of just how clueless Rapozo is came up when they were discussing the state-mandated administrative or "ad" rules that would have to be "promulgated" once the bill was passed under HRS Chapter 91.

During a discussion of whether the three workers currently employed for the park's maintenance were enough, Rapozo once again told the council that "I gotta believe that" the then-administration thought that there were enough for camping.

Then when Yukimura mentioned that the ad rules would require a public hearing, Rapozo actually responded by saying "not these."

Well Kaua`i does have its own way of doing things and in Lenny Rapozoland perhaps HIS ad rules don't require hearings. But in the state of Hawai`i they do.

Finally, as it looked like the bill just might be sent to the full council with the committee's approval Mel Rapozo- no relation- told the council that "there's one toilet and it's broken," calling for a deferral until they asked the DOH to provide, in writing, what the requirements actually were.

That, Mel Rapozo said, is because he remembered back in both '03 and '05 when one of Asing's famous PowerPoint presentations showed DOH documents stating that the bathrooms did not in fact meet the DOH requirements... they didn't even come close.

And that was just for the campgrounds- without the soccer fields or the pavilion which where not included in the original plans.

"That park is not ready for camping" said Mel before asking for and getting a deferral after embarrassing the rest of the councilmembers who previously had been poised to look the other way at all the same problems that had caused the bill to sit in committee for six years.

On Kaua`i if you want to be "made" in county government and be assured that no matter what kind of scandal you’re involved in- even if you're fired from one job for anything from incompetence to malfeasance- you'll always have an appointed job somewhere, you need to show all that you can sit there an lie to the council with "that's my story and I'm sticking to it" aplomb.

Lenny Rapozo's bonefides for appointment were apparently solely that he was Carvalho's campaign manager. But his ready, fire, aim hall of fame performance last Wednesday, has apparently assured us that we'll have him around to entertain us for years to come.