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?

1 comment:

KimoRosen said...

Andy, Cosider a run for council!