Friday, December 16, 2011


ROUND AND ROUND SHE GOES: When we wrote our "how-to" instruction manual for how one breaks into the county's old boy network a week ago- using the case of former KIUC Board Member, now County Energy Coordinator, Ben Sullivan as an example- we might have made it seem like the system was an invention of current Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr.


The "flack catcher" model has been the prime modus operandi of up-and-comers for decades, with administrations going back to statehood and before, picking the best and the brightest of those willing to stick their neck out, draw a dotted line and place it on the chopping block, somehow surviving to populate many if not most of the county's appointed positions.

The only difference is that Carvalho has established the ability to "take one for the team" as the only pre-requisite for a job in his administration.

But when Joan Conrow broke the story on Tuesday about the absurd plans of Grove Farm to tear down the most affordable of all housing, the old sugar-cane-era "Koloa Camp", to build "affordable housing,"- here defined as almost half-a-million-dollar homes that people need to make around $75,000 to get a mortgage for- we realized that we touched only on those entering the county's revolving door system.

We were reminded that the spokesperson for Grove Farm is VP Mike Tresler whose rise to the plantation-era company- now owned by AOL founder Steve Case, cousin of senate candidate Ed Case- is a prime example of what one can accomplish on the back end if one is inclined to fall on swords on a regular basis.

You can read Conrow's coverage at her Kaua`i Eclectic blog and her account of last night's meeting with Koloa residents at the web site of "For Kaua`i" for all the gory details- except for this "what the 'f' was he thinking?" quote from Tresler, obtained by Vanessa Van Voorhis of the local newspaper:

“(The eviction is) a tenant-landlord issue. That’s a private issue … They’re trying to make it a public issue and we’ll push back and just say it’s nobody’s business. We’re required to give that notice, so we’re going to give them that notice. … have we applied for any permits or anything yet? No. Are we in the whole planning stages of it? Yes, we are.”

Tresler- who, perhaps because of the publication of the ill-advised quote, was not at the meeting because, Conrow says, he allegedly had a flight to Honolulu last night- didn't just stumble upon his high paying job as a Grove Farm's chief henchman.

Tresler earned it as Director of Finance for the county and his role in putting the final nail in the coffin of the police career of former Kaua`i Police Department (KPD) Chief KC Lum by, when all else had failed, canceling his contract with the county on orders from... well, let's just say from above because, although Mayor Brian Baptiste was in charge at the time, anyone paying attention knew that forces behind the effort to slander and fire Lum was former Council Chair Kaipo Asing and current Councilmember Mel Rapozo.

We've detailed the stories of both Lum and Tresler in these pages before, describing details of secret investigations and pseudo trials as well as the covering up of secret documents, including the one written by the administrative judge in Lum's hearing containing exculpatory language actually clearing Lum. When the document was leaked and a member of the public tried to submit it to the council as part of his testimony, Asing actually refused to allow council services to take possession of the report.

But none of that was legally enough to fire Lum. The only way to do that, according to the county charter, was apparently by getting the Director of Finance to cancel Lum's contract.

Tresler, a sycophant of Baptiste, whose loud rants in the county building halls attempting to intimidate those who had publicly charged Baptiste with a variety of unethical and politically unsound actions was legendary among the "nitpickers,"- the council regulars who "got" what was going on as Lum, along with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Police Commission, got the shaft.

Well, as if you couldn't guess, canceling Lum's contract was one of Tresler's last actions as Finance Director and it wasn't more than a twinkling of an eye before he landed his cushy VP job with Grove Farm.

Has Tresler gone too far getting caught in a callous sounding quote? If you think so, you haven't been paying attention. A raise and a promotion seem more like it. Or did you forget that this is Kaua`i?


Look for light posting next week- we need a break.


Joan Conrow said...

Andy, I always marvel at your memory! As for that Tresler quote, a woman who works at Grove Farm told folks at the Thursday night meeting that she sat in on the interview and "the reporter misconstrued a whole lot of information."

Residents, who had commented on how insulting the quote was, then asked, well, if it was wrong, why didn't you put out a correction? Why isn't he here to tell us what he really said.

And she had no response.

Andy Parx said...

Yeah, I suppose I should always put a bigger caveat on a quote coming from TGI. I wonder if there's a tape? But knowing Mike it's the kind of thing he would say, even in front of a reporter. He has a temper and he lets it get the best of him.

Thus my theory that you don't necessarily have to be GOOD at defending the indefensible around here to become one of the "protected," you just be willing to do it.