Friday, October 24, 2014


As you might expect, the three Kaua`i County Charter Amendments on the ballot November 4 are meant to consolidate power in the hands of the mayor and reduce transparency by asking "trick" questions that don't really tell voters what the real intent- much less content- might be.

So let's play "Who do you trust?"

Ballot Question #1:
Shall the Department of Personnel Services be changed to the Department of Human Resources, with additional human resources functions?

This first one may look like the long-awaited change to get rid of our Department of Personnel and replace it with a modern day Department of Human Resources. But like the fake change a few years back from having an "Administrative Assistant" to a "Managing Director," it is merely a change in title.

It does do one more thing- it takes a whole list of powers away from the Civil Service Commission and give them to the newly renamed Director of Human Resources who is appointed by and answers to (drum poll please)... the mayor.

The Department of Personnel has been the seat of the infamous Kaua`i patronage system for decades and rather than ending that this amendment would finally put practice in print by giving the mayor even more control over who gets "merit-based" civil service positions.

How? Well, it removes the phrase "All positions in the county, except those exempted by law, shall be under civil service" and adds "The director of human resources shall be responsible for the execution of the human resources management program which shall include" followed by a list of general functions that used to be, in theory, under the perusal of the Civil Service Commission.

But at the bottom of the list it adds (hides?) the phrase "other related duties as may be determined by the Mayor"... presumably, now officially, including the appointment of hizzonah's cousin-guys to that new opening in public works.

This one stinks like Mount Kekaha. Vote "No" and tell them you want a real Human Resources Department.


Then we have "Hide the Salami for 1000 Alex"

Ballot Question #2
Should the county be allowed to publish summaries of charter amendments or a new charter in a newspaper of general circulation and the entire text on the official website of the County of Kauai?

This one simply allows them to stop publishing the full text of charter amendments in the newspaper and do that only at the cumbersome, unsearchable county web site- although you'd never know that to look at the question. It makes it sound like this is a wonderful, new additional service we don't have now. By failing to use the words "instead of" it doesn't arouse suspicion... or for that matter communicate the true intent.

Although there aren't any statistics for how many people aren't on-line on Kaua`i , there are probably a lot considering the local newspaper is free on the internet yet it still has the print circulation to survive.

The real question should be "Should the county be allowed to publish only summaries of charter amendments or a new charter in a newspaper of general circulation instead of the currently required entire text, and publish the entire text only on the official web site of County of Kaua`i?"

But why confuse the already bamboozled, eh?

If this is the kind of flim-flam "summary" that we'll be getting in the newspaper from now on it will assure that it's even more of a supreme hassle to look for what they are really planning to do... and that less people will bother to do it.


Okay twice-divorced "Dating Game" contestants - is it "the third one is the charm" or "if you agree to it you'll be a three time loser."

Ballot Question #3
"Shall Charter section 27.07 regarding recall ballots be amended to comply with State law and to meet voting system requirements?"

Whatever those "state requirements" may be if they even exist since the state elections bureau is notorious for not having administrative rules.

This is yet another of our favorite type of "trick" question, used in the past to dupe voters into removing the county charter's open meeting law- which was permissibly stricter than the state's Sunshine Law- by asking us if the charter should "comply" with the state law.

Although the question on the ballot says nothing about the actual change to the charter it would change the sentence (* added to denote the change) "Immediately *to the right* of the proposition there shall be designated spaces in which to mark the ballot FOR or AGAINST the recall" to "Immediately *next to* the proposition there shall be designated spaces in which to mark the ballot FOR or AGAINST the recall," changing the words "to the right of" to "next to."

We've tried to figure out the no doubt sinister motive behind this to no avail. That and the fact that the question has nothing to do with the actual change in wording makes us even more suspicious.

But as usual the things that really need change are not on the menu.

Just about everybody agrees that the perennially broken charter section regarding "The Office of the County Attorney" could use some changes, perhaps making it an elective office or at least noting that he or she should serve the public. It has also been proposed that it should, at a minimum, be changed to a "Corporation Counsel" system as all the other counties use... although they would probably just propose changing the name without changing the current arrangement that was seemingly intentionally designed to cause a natural conflict-of-interest in serving both the council and the administration.

Or maybe a change to elect the police and/or planning commissions.

Or an amendment to create a Department of Environmental Protection like Maui has.

Or allowing for council confirmation of department heads. Not requiring any of them (except for the county attorney) to have to be confirmed by the council when being appointed by the mayor explains in a large way why we are said to have a "strong mayor system." Which also explains the pervasive administrative corruption since department heads are not required to even show up if the council wants to have a little chat. You'll notice how council agendas "request the presence" of say, the county engineer or planning director.

It's something that would be much more effective in terms of administration accountability than having some meaningless "county manager system" since any change in how we select the administrative chief is meaningless compared to having the right person in the job.

Yeah- those'll all happen. We've only been working on them for 35 years.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


In any compendium of incompetence our local Kaua`i newspaper has it's own volume. But the current editor has  brought drivel and illiteracy to previously unparalleled heights and depths, respectively .  

With "Yes," "No" and "Maybe" choices, today's "poll" asks:

"Do you think James Pflueger, 88, received the appropriate sentence (seven months in jail, 5 years probation) for his role in the the (sic) Ka Loko dam failure on March 14, 2006 that killed seven people?"

Leaving aside the question of why on earth a person go to the trouble of answering an opinion poll question with a "maybe,"  exactly what information does a "no" convey? 

It certainly doesn't indicate whether you think it's too little... or for that matter, too much. It's enough to befuddle Goldilocks.

Garbage in, garbage out- how appropriate for the The Garbage Island.

Next week's question: If you're flying in a canoe and your ears fall off, how many elephants can you fit in a dog house? Hint: Ice cream has no bones.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


We now know who bought the Bowman's Lepe`uli property that include the ancient Alaloa and beach access trials- Mark Zuckerberg who owns Facebook, according to Pacific Business News.

According to testimony before the Kaua`i County Council the then-unknown buyer intended to withdraw the previously approved subdivision of the property where 80 "gentlemen farms" were planned. Testimony indicated that it could have been many more lots if it had been "CPRed." But just as important as scratching the subdivision it self, the development would have forced the county to take a difficult rocky beach access rather than the gently sloping existing ancient trail down to "Larson's" (Lepe`uli) beach.

And, it was said by the attorneys, the new owner said he would not develop it.

Previously after a "full court press" by the administration and the county attorney's office, the council was poised to approve that access for months but rather deferred action over and over due to objections from the public, especially from Kanaka Maoli (native Hawaiians).

Councilmembers Tim Bynum and Gary Hooser were instrumental in delaying the action until the property was eventually sold, despite having been told there was nothing they could do to stop it by Deputy County Attorney Maunakea Trask.

If true, Zuckerberg has apparently given a true gift to the people of Kaua`i however for now the future of the Alaloa has yet to be determined.

UPDATE: Here's an article from Forbes on Mark Zuckerberg's Pila`a and Waipake purchase. It seems to have different information that the Pacific Business News article.