Monday, April 9, 2012


GIMME THAT OLD TIME CORRUPTION: Over the years many of the political old-timers have bemoaned the lack of "colorful" characters in Kaua`i officialdom these days.

"Where's the next Tony Baptiste or "Smokey" Louie Gonzalves? What about another Billy Fernandez?" they ask.

In all rhetorical honesty we've gotta suggest that there will never be another Tony, Louie or Billy.

In the day, self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement went hand-in-hand, and people expected it from those they elected. Corruption and abuse of power aside, what they say is missing these days is the pure bombast--the chest-thumping, booming oratory along with the routine mangling of language that went way beyond simply the use of pidgin in its curious misuse, mispronunciation and, well, general misappropriation of what used to be called "10 dollah words."

And though many have demonstrated elements of the old-time grandiloquent clap-trap and kleptomaniacal cronyism, none have embraced the whole package. Until recently.

Former Council member and current Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho has at least approached the old standard, and her escapades have been well chronicled in this space. Undisputed queen of the Malaprop, she also has the inability to speak more than a couple of hundred words without throwing in a "looooodicrous" or two, which accompanies a personal-vendetta style of governance right out of a "B" gangster movie.

But this week's chapter of her blood feud with Council member Tim Bynum may have reached the hallowed heights of yesteryear when her "Rice-Cooker-Gate" case against Bynum was ripped from her office-abusing hands as Fifth Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe got fed up with Shaylene and her First Deputy Jake Deleplane and threw the case to the state attorney general for disposition.

Readers might have gotten a small sense of Iseri's misbehavior if they read the oft-confusing and momentously-lacking-in-detail account in the local newspaper.

Apparently reporter Tom LaVenture was in a parallel courtroom to the one where journalist-reporter Joan Conrow observed the action, as Conrow actually quoted Watanabe, Deleplane and Bynum's attorney Dan Hempey in quickly and clearly getting to the point:

Lucas Burns testified he was working as a deputy prosecutor when Jake asked him to contact Liberty Yokotake, who had been assaulted by another woman while living at Tim's house. He said Jake coached him to use the assault case as a guise for asking questions about the layout of Tim's house and the location of various appliances, which could be evidence of a zoning violation. And all the while, Lucas would be surreptitiously tape recording the conversation.

The plot was foiled when Lucas refused to play along. "I thought it was inappropriate to secretly tape record and try to come up with reasons why these questions were being asked when it was really to investigate Mr. Bynum," he told the court. "I thought doing this with a hidden tape recorder and without the full knowledge of the victim was inappropriate and not something the first deputy should be doing."

What followed was a description of Deleplane's bafflingly incriminating courtroom antics and defense of Iseri and her office followed by Watanabe's excoriation of the two.

We won't try to summarize it all because it has to be read to grasp the full sleaziness of Iseri and Deleplane's apparently lawless activity, the gist of which has also seemingly been forwarded to the attorney general's office.

Those who have followed the case already know how Iseri apparently lied in trying to say that the whole case was initiated by the planning department. In fact, documents show that she was the one behind the apparently illegal searches and trumped-up charges against Bynum as revenge for Bynum's challenges to the paternalistic authority of her ally, former Council Chair Kaipo Asing (who not so oddly was in court for the hearing) during the time when she, Bynum and Asing were on the council together.

Those who have followed the story as told here (look for background by clicking the links above), in Conrow's KauaiEclectic blog, and, to a lesser and more confusing degree, in the local newspaper, have been appalled to this point by the inelegant abuse of power Iseri has exhibited during her reign as Prosecuting Attorney.

Some will be satisfied in knowing that current Deputy County Attorney Justin Kollar is running against her this November.

But if she is allowed to simply do as Smokey Louis and Uncle Billy (Tony Baptiste actually went to jail while he was mayor where he ran the county from his cell) and freely walk away, we'll only be inviting future Iseri's into office.

We urge the state attorney general not just to drop the non-case against Bynum, but to start an investigation of Iseri, if necessary kicking it up to the FBI, which has reportedly been looking into corruption and abuse of office on Kaua`i going back to the Bryan Baptiste administration.

We enjoy the entertainment factor as much the the next guy. But as much as we've enjoyed the laughs, when it comes to Iseri, our sense of humor is wearing thin.

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