The air was chilly and mist clung thickly to the pastures when Koko and I went out walking this fine morning, the garbage truck wheezing and clanking behind us. The stars gradually disappeared as the day brightened, revealing a wispy cloud adorning Waialeale's flat summit and a mist lake in the hollows between the cinder cones. But Venus, shining first yellow, then white, was undeterred, even as the sun announced its arrival with a splashy scarlet-orange light show in the east.
After much splashy reporting about how the County Clerk makes more than the mayor, The Garden Island finally got around to reporting today that the Prosecutor and County Auditor do, too, and that the deputy county attorneys and deputy clerk also received raises in 2009, when the mayor and his department heads were foregoing theirs. It does not, however, mention that the Administration’s raises will be going into effect on July 1, 2011, at which time the mayor will be making more than everyone.
And just as an aside, why should the mayor necessarily be making more than either the Clerk or the prosecutor, both of whom are better educated and have more actual government experience than Bernard Carvalho?
But what really irked me were the comments that Councilman Tim Bynum — if correctly reported — made in the paper’s lead article about the ongoing controversy over the process followed in giving County Clerk Peter Nakamura that raise. (Curiously, nothing has been said about the process followed in granting raises to the deputy clerk, auditor and prosecutor. Is this just a witch hunt against Peter?)
In short, Tim came out looking not only like a weakling, but to anyone familiar with the issue, disingenuous. Take this, for example:
In a “media statement” last week, [Council Chair Jay] Furfaro said Bynum voted in favor of measures concerning Nakamura’s pay raise twice, once when receiving the commission’s communication and again when approving the FY11 budget.
As shown in the minutes of the council’s Sept. 23, 2009, meeting, Bynum seconded the motion made by Chang to receive the communication regarding the commission’s resolution.
“Seconding is meaningless to me,” said Bynum, adding that he didn’t recall doing so.
But as I previously reported, Tim not only seconded the motion, he and the other Councilmembers voted unanimously to accept the Salary Commission’s recommendation, which clearly set forth raises for the Clerk and his deputy, the County Auditor, the County Prosecutor and her deputies, and the Council.
As I also reported, based on a review of the Sept. 23, 2009 minutes, County Attorney Al Castillo specified that if the Council received the Salary Commission’s resolution that day, “it’s approved” and could then only be amended by the Commission. So how can Tim then claim he never approved the raise? Was he napping during Al's comments?
Tim then goes on to say:
“Receiving a communication is not endorsing all of its content,” Bynum said. “Voting for a budget is not a ‘recommendation from the appointing authority.’ Council members accept provisions all the time that have elements or portions they are not in agreement with.”
That’s another crock. Al clearly told the Council that it had the power to accept or reject any part of the Salary Commission’s resolution, which means Tim could have made a motion to turn down any one or all of the raises. Instead, he did nothing, which brings us to the weakling part:
“I didn’t make that motion because it would’ve been argumentative,” said Bynum, noting that he had been having other differences with Asing. “If I go on the floor and make motions that I know are going to be defeated over and over again, that means I’m going to be more an outsider.”
Bynum said he could have — and maybe should have — spoken up about the pay raise when it was before the council, but was concerned about being seen by his colleagues as grand-standing.
Oh, please, Tim. First, what kind of an elected official are you if you’re too afraid to speak up? And second, so wat, now you’re not worried about being argumentative or grandstanding as you take your case to the newspaper?
Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, who began beating this drum after she and Tim lost the vote to hire an executive search team to find a new Clerk, backs him up by saying, “it’s hard to think of everything in the moment. Sometimes you still should make motions, even if you don’t have support.”
Yes, especially if you’re later going to be bitching to the paper way after the fact about how the process wasn’t followed and you didn’t support the raises. Tim also tries to make himself look good by claiming he didn’t want the pay raise he voted to give himself:
“I tried to give it back,” he said, adding that the charter forbid it.
Well, guess what, Tim. Peter is similarly forbidden to give back his raise.
And then there was all this hoohaw about Peter’s evaluation, when it appears that Peter’s biggest shortcoming is working too hard and too much. I also found it quite interesting that Tim alleged that Peter’s personnel file contained no evaluation. Is it legal or ethical for Tim to be publicly discussing the contents of Peter’s personnel file, a private matter that the state sunshine law specifically allows to be taken up in a closed session?
Meanwhile, apparently unsatisfied with the front page stories she's been garnering, JoAnn also pled her case today in a lenthy letter to the editor, where she she says she "I will certainly apologize publcily if I am wrong." Oh, how big of you. Do you think that will undo the damage that's already been done to Peter's repuation, JoAnn?
On another note, Council Chairman Jay Furfaro told me that he’s going to be moving toward getting more Council documents on line. But it isn’t something that can happen overnight, he said, because the Council has to invest in the right scanners and other equipment, train staff and also set policy guidelines for posting and removing documents to reflect the changes that bills go through as they move through the process.
Jay also promised all Councilmembers access to the agenda, which should soothe one of Tim’s ongoing complaints. “I don’t see myself kicking anything off the agenda,” Jay said. “Better to discuss it and get it out for a thorough review.”
Maybe now with Jay running the show Tim won’t be afraid to make motions and he can more effectively serve the people who elected him, as well as those who didn’t.
Anyway, it’s like Councilman Mel Rapozo told me the other day: JoAnn and Tim lost the vote on Peter and now they need to move forward with the will of the majority.
If there was any procedural mistake, it likely was committed by former Chair Kaipo Asing, who is no longer on the Council and can’t be punished, anyway. So how much time and energy is the Council going to spend on this issue, which is over a year old, when it has so many more pressing issues before it?