A bright light woke me at 2:28 a.m. and when I got up to look I saw it was the fat waxing moon sliding toward her resting place behind Makaleha, bathing the silent world, the dewy grass, the trees, with her silvery-white brilliance, and I watched it, awestruck, until shivering drove me back to bed.
Out again, with the dogs, before 6 a.m., the sky densely packed with stars, the air so cold — just 55 degrees — that it took my breath away, we walked, feeling our way through the blackness, three small beings alive in the vastness of something much bigger.
The story about the KPD shake-up keeps getting bigger, though only because somebody finally spilled the beans, and it wasn't our mayor, who held a press conference yesterday for the sole purpose of giving the TV cameras footage of him reading a prepared statement. He wouldn't entertain any questions — what kind of press conference is that? — but told reporters they could direct queries to his PR staff afterward.
So what, Bernard's supposedly running the entire show — “The bottom line is, I am the Chief Executive for the County of Kauai, and I am ultimately responsible for the day to day operations of ALL administrative County departments and divisions.” — but he can't be trusted to talk off the cuff?
The most detail I've seen thus far came from Hawaii News Now, which relies on an unnamed source:
[Police officer] Darla Abbatiello-Higa... registered a new hostile work environment complaint against [Assistant Chief Roy] Asher in October, then filed a second complaint against [Assistant Chief Ale] Quibilan last month.
According to the source, Perry initially wanted to work from home during the investigation involving the assistant chiefs because Abatiello-Higa also works at the headquarters, and she had accused him of favoring an assistant chief in one of her complaints. However, the source said the mayor told Perry he should remain at work. The source said Perry was then suspended for seven days for disobeying orders by not reporting to the office. After the week-long suspension, he'll be on paid leave. Carvalho insisted that he has the authority to place the police chief on leave.
Not everyone agrees, and as The Garden Island reports today, Councilman Mel Rapozo and Patrick Stack, the new chair of the Charter Review Commission, are seeking opinions from County Attorney Al Castillo. But since Castillo serves all masters, he will be in the position of justifying, rather than scrutinizing, the advice he gave to Bernard. We really need some legal checks and balances in the county.
One thing in particular jumped out at me. If Darla filed a complaint with the Police Commission in October and another one “last month,” then the Commission certainly has had an opportunity to review and discuss those complaints. Doesn't it seem that they would have directed Chief Darryl Perry to place the two assistant chiefs on leave if they felt it was needed? And if they did, why did the mayor have to get involved? [Update: The complaints apparently weren't made to the Commission, but to the chief.]
And if the Chief felt he should work at home to maintain the integrity of the investigation, why would Bernard order him back to work — and then just end up putting him on leave anyway? Unless he wanted to make the chief look bad and execute a power grab. Because if you read Bernard's statement, he wasn't working cooperatively with the Police Commission on this, he was telling them what he'd done:
Over the past few days, I have been in communication with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Police Commission, and they have been fully informed of the steps that have been taken to insure the integrity of the disposition of the complaint.
As Mel notes:
County boards and commissions in general are appointed to take the politics out of the daily operations of departments such as police, fire, planning and personnel, he said.
“It would defeat this purpose if the administration is allowed to place commission-appointed department heads on administrative leave, whether paid or not,” Rapozo said.
But of course, Bernard already got away with usurping the power of a commission when he yanked Ian Costa and Imai Aiu out of planning and appointed former Deputy County Attorney Mike Dahilig as planning director. And though the Charter clearly states the Planning Commission names the director, the Commission went meekly along with Bernard.
Unfortunately, it looks like the Police Commission is also rolling over. As TGI reported:
The Garden Island attempted to gain clarification on the charter’s rules from commissioners on Thursday morning. A commissioner and a commission staff member said they had just received a directive from the mayor’s executive assistant Beth Tokioka to defer all inquiries to her office.
In other news, I just had to point out the irony in two news stories I spotted today. First, we have Jim Dooley's report:
The Abercrombie administration is proposing changes to the state ethics code that would allow state officials, including legislators, to accept unlimited numbers of invitations to charitable fundraising events, even if the purpose of the gifts is to influence votes or other official actions.
And then we have the Hawaii Public Radio report:
State lawmakers are advancing a bill this session to change Hawai’i’s medical marijuana law to reign-in alleged abuses and questionable practices.
In other words, it's totally OK for the politicians to be corrupt and do whatevah at the bidding of the lobbyists but you sure as hell don't want anybody sneaking in under the wire to smoke weed.