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.

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