Last night’s spectacle of a crescent moon nuzzling up to Venus in a soft blue and pink sky as light rays shot out from the cloud-cloaked summit of Waialeale was still on my mind when Koko and I set out walking this morning in the golden glow of dawn.
Makaleha was clear and green, and Waialeale was strategically adorned with apricot-colored puffs that gave her flat top the appearance of jagged peaks. As we headed on to the mountain trail, wind sighing through the trees, we passed a vacation rental on ag land that has been operating unabated for years now, even though it wasn’t until July 28 that the Council approved an ordinance that creates a process for making them legal.
So the Council rewarded the scofflaws, and not long after the vote, the scofflaws apparently rewarded the three incumbent Councilmen — Dickie Chang, Jay Furfaro and Tim Bynum — who were instrumental in getting the measure passed.
In the first two weeks of September, a group known as Kauai Alternative Vacation Accommodation Association (KAVA), which has been pressing to legalize vacation rentals (TVRs), gave $1,000 each to Jay, Dickie and Tim, who also got $100 from Mike Hough, who runs KAVA.
Derek Kawakami, who voted against the bill, received no contribution from KAVA, nor did anyone else running for Council. Kaipo Asing also opposed the bill, but does not accept campaign donations.
These contributions are significant in races where most donations come in under $100. In addition to the KAVA donation, Jay received just five donations of $1,000 each this year. Tim received three other donations of $1,000 or more, and one was from a family member. As for Dickie, he received just one other contribution of that size in 2010.
Such contributions are legal, but are they ethical? According to Section 20.02 of the County Charter:
No officer or employee of the county shall:
A. Solicit, accept or receive, directly or indirectly, any gift, whether in the form of money, service, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, thing or promise or in any other form, under circumstances in which it can reasonably be inferred that the gift is intended to influence him in the performance of his official duties or is intended as a reward for any official action on his part.
So what do you think? Should Tim, Dickie and Jay have accepted those campaign contributions from KAVA?
In another question of ethics, Keith Kamita, chief of the narcotics enforcement division for the state Department of Public Safety, released statistics on medical marijuana users to the media, then went on to publicly question the legitimacy of some of the prescriptions and a doctor who has written many of them:
Today, more than 8,000 people statewide hold medical marijuana licenses, he said. Of those, just 2 percent suffer from cancer, AIDS, Crohn's disease and other debilitating ailments for which the legislation was intended to target, he said.
"The Big Island is our overachiever," he said about the island's 4,665 registered patients. There are 1,751 medical marijuana license holders on Oahu, he said.
Of those Big Island patients, 2,957 received their medical marijuana license from one doctor in Hawi, Kamita said.
"We're not saying he's not treating them, but, I don't know of any doctor able to handle that many patients," Kamita said.
Kamita then went on to belittle some of those had been given a prescription for medical marijuana:
The drug [sic] is also being prescribed to patients complaining of headaches, pain from wearing high heels, dry skin, insomnia and other ailments, he said.
"It's the physicians relaxing and authorizing patients and the law doesn't authorize us to do as much as we can do (enforcement-wise) with other controlled substances," Kamita said, noting officers have no authority to check on a licensed patient [oh, and they do have authority to check on, say, an oxy patient?] unless they come upon plants or other evidence while investigating a separate incident.
So WTF is Kamita doing releasing ANY details about these patients’ medical conditions to the press, much less ridiculing them? And what right does he have to start second-guessing the doctors? He’s a law enforcement officer, not a health care provider. His job is not to critique doctor's prescriptions, but fulfill the mandate of the Legislature, which is to provide people with an access to treatment through the use of cannabis at their doctor's discretion.
One also has to wonder if Kamita is similarly scrutinizing other patients who are given pain relief prescriptions, or singling out medical marijuana patients for public disparagement. Kamita should be reprimanded for his discriminatory remarks, which make it clear that his department is trying to undermine the law, rather than uphold it. Kamita's bad behavior provides yet more evidence of why the medical marijuana program should be moved out of the Department of Public Safety and into the Department of Health.