Wednesday, April 4, 2012


NEWS DIRECT FROM THE MAGIC KINGDOM: We've done a lot of kvetching over the years regarding what passes for news reporting in our local Kaua`i newspaper. Although the depth of the newspaper's recent reporting has been particularly abysmal, it positively glows when compared to what the Honolulu press collectively thinks is going on over here.

The contraction of both the print and TV press in the "city and county" hasn't helped. Not only did the Honolulu Star-Bulletin somehow "buy out" it's mammoth competitor the Advertiser, even before they became the pay-walled "Star-Advertiser (S-A)" they had eliminated their permanent news bureaus on the neighbor island.

That, along with a decision to forgo even "stringers," has left their coverage of all things Kaua`i to either non-datelined blurbs containing city-desk-generated, re-written press releases or synopses of articles from our local Kaua`i newspaper.

When there is a byline on a "news" article about Kaua`i, the lack of a dateline (the name of the place the reporter is physically reporting from), noted at the start of an article indicates the closest anyone came to Kaua`i was their travel section.

TV is even worse. With the "merger" of KHNL and KGMB there is one less local news program- not that the Honolulu-centric nature of any of the Honolulu TV news outlets has ever really served Kaua`i.

Case in point has been the recent coverage of the Kaua`i Charter Review Commission's (CRC) so-called "hearings" on the recent kerfuffle between Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and Chief of Police Darryl Perry.

At issue, as those who haven't been on Jupiter for the last couple of months have heard, is whether Carvalho overstepped his authority in "suspending" the chief over, well, no one will really say over what, but there sure has been a lot of speculation.

The problem with the way the Honolulu press covers Kaua`i might be summed-up by looking more closely at a blurb from the "Newswatch" column- a daily series of news briefs- in today's S-A.

It repeats a notion that has crept into reports on the matter from all the Honolulu news outlet for weeks now. Their "lede" says:

The Kauai County Charter Review Commission has yet to rule on whether the mayor has the authority to suspend the police chief.

We're not sure where they got the idea that our CRC has any power whatsoever to "rule" on the subject but if any of them had bothered to peruse the Kaua`i County Charter they would have found that ruling on interpretations of the charter is not one of the CRC's enumerated powers.

Section 24.03 of the Kaua`i charter, "Charter Review," says that the seven members of the CRC are to be appointed by the mayor and "serve in accordance with Section 23.02C of this Charter."

The only power enumerated is that:

In the event the commission deems changes are necessary or desirable, the commission may propose amendments to the existing charter or draft a new charter...

Then it explains how any such change is submitted to and voted upon by the electorate.

But there is, if anything, a prohibition on any "ruling." The aforementioned Section 23.02, "Boards and Commissions," enumerates 14 general provisions regarding boards and commission. And the 13th, section M, says that:

Except for purposes of inquiry, no board or commission, nor its members, shall interfere in any way with the routine administrative affairs of its department normally administered by the department head.

We don't know from which orifice this "fact" about waiting for a "ruling" was originally pulled. Perhaps the Honolulu Charter gives their CRC- assuming they have one- a similar power. But it's the very presumption itself- that neighbor islands are "just like Honolulu, only smaller" that represents the uselessness of the S-A to those on Kaua`i, if not Maui and Hawai`i Island.

It took us all of 10 minutes, tops, to look this up. Yet this business of some forthcoming "ruling" from CRC has been repeated over and over by all three Honolulu TV news outlets and the local newspaper. Not only is it "statewide news" regarding the Perry-Carvalho dust-up, it is the ONLY statewide news recently regarding the subject.

Due to the nature of this column, we're sort of forced to pay the fee to read the S-A, which actually is pretty cheap- around $20 for the year for neighbor islanders.

Apparently you get what you pay for.

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