The moon, four days past full, but still blazing, woke me early this morning and accompanied Koko and me down the street, past two mailboxes that had been knocked down in the night, to a place where we could look upon Waialeale and listen to the world waking up.
I heard the steady buzzing of bees tending a clump of vervain, the cluck-cluck-clucking of hens and incessant cheeping of their chicks in the bushes, the chirps and trills of various birds, the faint clattering of coco palms touched by the barest breeze.
And then Koko’s whining, which intensified as my neighbor Andy approached. She greeted him with an enthusiastic high 10, which prompted him to say he thought he would miss Koko more than me when we move to a new neighborhood this weekend. No doubt. She has a far sweeter nature.
We watched Waialeale, which looked flat-faced in the flat light of pre-dawn, gain depth, dimension and color under the influence of sunrise and shadow until its bowl and many ridges could all be clearly seen. It looks different every day, Andy said, and we talked about how I’ll be gazing at Makaleha once I move, and that view ain’t too shabby.
Our conversation shifted into the glacial pace of the legal system, with Andy contrasting it to accounts of arrests and convictions reported in issues of The Garden Island from the 1930s, which he’s been reading as part of a research project.
Seems that back then, a person — who would be identified by race, as well as name, unless they were Caucasian, and even if they were a kid — could be arrested and convicted for a pretty serious crime within a couple weeks’ time. Unless, of course, they had a good attorney, in which case the proceedings took considerably longer. That part of the process hasn’t changed in all these years.
Speaking of good attorneys, Kauai’s Dan Hempey has teamed up with former state attorney general Margery Bronster in filing a sexual discrimination and harassment suit against Kauai County on behalf of Kristan Hirakawa.
The complaint alleges that Kristan was an employee with the Liquor Commission until the relentless harassment and discrimination escalated “to the point of disabling her with severe emotional distress.”
Her case is particularly interesting because she previously was employed as a police dispatcher, where she was sexually harassed by a co-worker and filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Under the settlement of that case, the county agreed to find her another county job, and she ended up at the Liquor Commission.
The suit alleges that the county, “obviously aware of her previous case and emotional condition, placed her in a workplace with a known sexual harasser as a co-worker and a supervisor with no prior training in sexual harassment law.”
The complaint also alleges that Kristan’s supervisor, Dexter Shimatsu, complained to her that he had to remove posters of scantily clad women from the workplace “because the county made me hire you” and subjected her to ridicule, sexual innuendo, sexual emails and insults, including calling her names like "shibai" and “tonta,” which means slow, dumb or stupid, and sending her an email with the words “You Wish” and a photo of a woman dressed in a tiny, diamond-studded bikini.
Now what’s even more intriguing about her case is that it alleges the county broke its own sexual harassment policy in responding to Kristan’s complaint. And the deputy county attorney who was in charge of the matter was none other than Margaret Sueoka, who recently filed her own EEOC complaint against the county after she was fired by the new county attorney, Al Castillo.
I haven't seen that complaint, so don't know if Margaret is claiming sexism or racism or what.
Anyway, the EEOC determined last November in Kristan’s case “that there is reasonable cause to believe that Charging Party was subjected to sexual harassment because of her sex, female” and issued her a right to sue letter this past March.
Interesting how the county is so worried about being sued by developers that it bends over backwards to please them, yet spends a tidy sum defending itself against lawsuits filed by its own personnel.