Here’s a follow up to the inaugural post I published on my new site PIKO. It seems that just about the same time Southern California developer Nicky Michaels was cleverly skirting flood zone requirements by dramatically upgrading North Shore vacation rentals under building permits issued for “unsubstantial improvements,” he and others were also being sued by the State of California for scamming senior citizens:
[California] Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi today [Feb. 10, 2005] filed a $110 million-plus lawsuit against a living trust mill that tricked senior citizens into using their retirement investments to buy annuities that often made less financial sense for the elderly victims but earned the con artists substantial commissions and other income.
The case was later settled for $7.2 million — with no party admitting any wrongdoing. Whatta a guy. Why is it that Kauai attracts so many high-rolling scammers?
Speaking of high-rollers, I’ve been increasingly curious about Bill Porter, the man who is developing the mini golf course/amphitheater in Kilauea. And what I’m wondering is why people who already have a gazillion bucks feel like they must make more, more, more — supposedly under the guise of “helping the community.” For instance, Porter bought 473 acres of land off Kuawa Road and two days after the sale CPR'd it into 43-lots — or in other words, gentleman’s estates. And you know they ain’t gonna be cheap — at least, not cheap enough to make actual sense for real farming.
So how exactly does that fit into his self-professed plans for promoting agriculture and sustainability in Kilauea? Sounds more like the same old ag land profiteering that we’ve seen carried out ad nauseum here on the Garden Island.
Along that same vein, the other day I heard some folks on the radio talking about how the amphitheater and mini golf course are desirable because there’s “nothing to do” on the North Shore. Well, then move into town. Why do people buy land in the country and then beg for urban amenities — on ag land, no less — that undermine the rural nature of the place they originally found so desirable?
Returning to high rollers, I was interested to learn that Kauai Coffee workers were forced to take mandatory drug tests last week after coffee mogul Massimo Zanetti purchased the company. As the person who told me the news noted, in reference to the human trafficking scandal in which Kauai Coffee was implicated:
I think the irony is that it is ok to stuff ten Thai workers in a shack, but not ok to free their mind from it.
I found further irony in Mayor Carvalho’s remarks about the sale, as reported by The Garden Island:
“We look forward with great optimism that Kaua‘i Coffee will continue to flourish on Kaua‘i and make valuable contributions to our community as a model employer, a sustainable agricultural operation and generous supporter of worthy causes under the leadership of Massimo Zanetti. We unite to move forward.”
Apparently Carvalho is unaware of the 17 worker discrimination complaints filed against the "model employer" since 2006.
Finally, after reading today’s newspaper account of veteran County Councilmembers failing to understand that when they vote down a bill in committee, it doesn’t proceed to the full Council, is it any wonder that Derek Kawakami wants to escape to the state House?
Seems only County Attorney Al Castillo and Councilman Mel Rapozo understood the process, with Tim Bynum proclaiming:
“I’m dismayed, I’ve been here five years,” Bynum said. “I didn’t think any bill could get fully approved or killed in committee.”
Kinda makes you wonder what else these guys aren't getting. Which may answer my earlier question: why is it that Kauai attracts so many high-rolling scam artists?