Sunday, February 19, 2012

Musings: From Stinky to Putrid

It's so delightful sitting here on my screen porch, watching the clouds drift over the summit of Makaleha, hearing the drips and patter of rain showers that already deposited half-an-inch in the night and continue to bring more, much to the joy of the plants, the soil and me.

Not so joyous was my reaction when, upon preparing to toss the most recent issue of MidWeek in the recycling bin, I spotted in its pages a smiling picture of our top cop, and beneath it the caption, Suspended Chief Darryl Perry.

It jumped out at me because it so clearly illustrates the damage that has been needlessly — shall I say intentionally? — done to the chief's otherwise stellar reputation by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., whose photo appears next to Perry's.

The photos accompanied an obtuse piece written by Pastor Tom Iannucchi, a former police commissioner, in which he used a resort metaphor to outline the power play going down between the chief and the mayor. He then went on to throw his full support behind both men, as well as Assistant Chiefs Ale Quibilan and Roy Asher, who are also on leave, and ended by putting his faith in God to right the wrongs.

After reading Tom's bizarre rendition, I really felt like some additional light needed to be shed on this topic. So here's what I've learned:

It all started when Officer Darla Abbatiello-Higa reportedly rebuffed Quibilan's sexual advances, and he allegedly retaliated by making mean, sexually-oriented cracks to and about her in front of others, including the kids she works with in the Kauai Police Explorers program. She complained to Asher, who reportedly did nothing to separate the two — as is required under a rule in the county handbook — or chastise Quibilan, whose alleged harassment then reportedly worsened.

She next took her concerns to the chief, who allegedly twice tried to dissuade her from pursuing a formal EEOC complaint and allegedly expressed resistance at placing Asher and Quibilan on leave. Instead, he reportedly urged her to try to work things out internally.

Dissatisfied with his response, Officer Darla then took the matter to the mayor, who reportedly directed Perry to put Asher and Quibilan on leave while the complaint was investigated, which Perry did. Now here's where politics rears its ugly head.

The chief then reportedly said that since the complaint involved him, he also should stay away from the cop shop, and would instead work at home.

But the mayor disagreed and told Perry to come into the office. The two, who have long been at odds, reportedly argued, and Perry stood firm by his decision and stayed home. The mayor then suspended Perry without pay for seven days for insubordination, after which he was placed on paid leave with Asher and Quibilan, pending an investigation of Officer Darla's complaint.

So why, you might wonder, did the mayor insist that Perry come in when he didn't want to, and when staying away from Officer Darla might very well have been considered a reasonable and prudent decision? Why would the mayor order Perry to come in, only to end up putting him on paid leave, anyway?

Well, if Perry had been allowed to work at home, as he desired and requested, the mayor wouldn't have been able to humiliate the chief and tarnish his reputation by suspending him — an action that garnered extensive statewide media coverage.

And if Perry was working from home, he would have kept his position as chief, which would have prevented Michael Contrades from being installed as acting chief. Or as a reader noted in comments the other day:

I'm much more concerned about Mayor Carvalho's apparent attempt to usurp Chief Perry so he (the Mayor) can shoe-horn in the son of his longtime and deep pockets supporter.

That was a reference to Tommy Contrades, whom the mayor already generously rewarded by creating especially for him the new, highly-paid position of managing the county's capital improvement projects.

Iannucchi, using a “hypothetical” resort management scenario that portrays KPD as the food-and-beverage department, described the action thusly, (emphasis added):

The general manager is new and has no operational skills or experience in food and beverage whatsoever. He is a rising star in the company, and everyone knows he is only there for four years and then on to another hotel. The food-and-beverage department has worked hard over the last four years under a great manager who has built the hotel’s restaurants and room service into great amenities that bring customers to the hotel and attract top chefs to work there. The GM, however, doesn’t care about that, but rather that the food-and-beverage manager didn’t support him when he was applying for the position. There was, however, a room-service employee who did support him. Now that he holds this position of authority, he wants to replace the food-and-beverage manager with this room-service employee who will do whatever he says. The fact that it will ruin everything, hurt morale and they will have to start all over again in another four years doesn’t matter to him at all. He just does what he wants because he has the power, and there is no check valve like a commission to deter him.

Though Iannucchi tried to backtrack a bit by saying he didn't think we were at that extreme, there's no denying the same end result: the “room service employee” — Michael Contrades, who was promoted from lieutenant to captain to deputy chief and now acting chief in just over a year — is running the department.

Of course, as Iannucchi and the rest of us know, there is a commission to serve as “check valve” on the general manager — aka the mayor — but it was not consulted prior to the mayor taking steps to discipline the chief. I agree, as blogger Andy Parx has advanced, that it was appropriate for Carvalho to take some immediate action when Officer Darla came directly to him. Not only was it appropriate, it was mandatory, from a staunch-the-bleeding legal standpoint.

But it was Carvalho's responsibility only to ensure that Officer Darla's complaint was appropriately handled once it came to his attention. It's really a stretch to say that his kuleana also included getting into a power struggle with his political enemy, the police chief, and ultimately suspending him.

Surely, once the chief placed Asher and Quibilan on leave, as he is authorized to do, he could have been allowed to take vacation, comp or personal leave until the police commission could be convened to sort out the issues that specifically involved him.

Instead, Carvalho took the opportunity to thuggishly grab power and mete out some political pay back against Perry. Unfortunately, by taking that particular approach he threw the police department and community into a tizzy, caused Officer Darla to be dragged into the spotlight by those seeking to make sense of the turmoil, possibly exposed the county to litigation by Perry, created a lot of ill will and made our island once again the subject of statewide derision.

Before anyone starts screaming, let me clarify: I am not to trying to exonerate any of the higher ups in KPD. Instead, I am trying to outline how an already stinky situation became putrid under Carvalho's politically charged "leadership."

This whole mess might well have been avoided if our mayor had exercised some of the absolute authority and power he claims to hold by creating a bona fide human resources department that is tasked with handling workplace complaints. Instead, the county continues to stumble and bungle along in these matters, guided by a handbook and a deputy county attorney of questionable expertise.

Yet it's obvious from Iannucchi's article that he and the county still don't “get it,” because after lavishly praising Carvalho, and asserting that Perry, Quibilan and Asher have been “wrongly accused,” he goes on to write, in classic “blame the victim” fashion:

And a wrong may have truly occurred, but to what degree the whip should extend and whom it should consume comes into question, and the motives behind it. This is on the lower levels of the issue I speak, at its inception, but what we are viewing publically [sic] is the end results at the top. But in a very litigious society, one with often very liberal interpretations of the law, when certain offenses occur people run for cover.


Anonymous said...

Wow......great reporting Joan!

Not sure what I can do with this information, except tell my self and my visitor friends.."we live in a "Banana Republic" and positive change is difficult with the current system in place.

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
---Lord Acton, Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

"and a deputy county attorney of questionable expertise."

nice one, however obvious

Anonymous said...

Curious, how Contrades was promoted over Begley, when Begley was there longer.

Anonymous said...

I have no faith in our Mayor, suspended Chief of Police or acting Chief of Police but in the scenarios that played out, I believe the Mayor did the right thing.

Chief Perry has been known to cover up wrong doings by his subordinates. When you have a sexual harassment complaint and the complainant was retaliated by two superior officers then a hostile workplace eventuallly will arise between all parties involved. It clearly jeopardized the morale of KPD, for officers will talk and take sides, thus creating a mutiny within the department which endangers all.

Why didn't Chief Perry seperate all parties or put someone on leave while an outside investigator hired to do a thorough investigation. It shows that the Chief lacks the knowledge or ethical conduct to do so.

I view this as a typical alpha male power struggle between Neanderthals for total power and control of a Beautiful Island turned Ugly by yours trully the Good OL Boyz and Gals of the Garden Island of Corruption.

Anonymous said...

Yeah how come a LT can rise to acting Chief of Police in a yrs time, bypassing all ranking officials above him. That's four qualified positions he long jumped, Contrades should go to the Olympics. Very suspicious, what's the deal with that?

Oh brah I forgot this is Kauai and this is KPD. Superficial wounds, last person to see deceased victim is not a suspect. Go figure that one out, when the neighbors that called KPD finest reported that she saw male beating women. Witness then threatened by KPD and fleas island.

Gosh darn it, this book is getting more and more interesting.

Wonder why so many unsolved murders on Kauai

Anonymous said...

Did the chief tell the Mayor he wanted to take a few days of vacation time or comp-time, or did he want a paid vacation under the auspice of "administrative leave"? It makes a big difference, because if the latter, he was AWOL and deserves to be fired.

Anonymous said...

Holy shit! It just never ends.

Anonymous said...

You know it.

Anonymous said...

I think Perry was trying to salvage a nearly impossible situation from the beginning. He once planned to leave to go back to O'ahu, but then changed his mind and stayed on. That tells me he's interested in the long haul, not just day-to-day. He tried damage control, but made a bad choice of method...and the Mayor used that error in judgement to nail him to the wall.

The Mayor, on the other hand, clearly overstepped his authority under the Charter and could care less. That screams of political maneuvering and cronyism from someone who believes he is bulletproof.

What...or next? I don't know, but the likely scenarios scare the shibai out of me.

Anonymous said...

I think the Mayor did the right thing in handling those three.
Obviously Perry put Darlaʻs concerns on a back burner to the men.
We donʻt know what eventually caused Mayor to take tough stand on him. I can only guess thereʻs another side to Perry that ʻainʻt hardly so niceʻ and he puts on a smiley face for the public.
He should have taken great care when Darla came to him. Sheʻs no the rest of them.
BTW, I am not a Carvalho fan.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when Kauai voters elect a mayor based on popularity, instead of education/experience.

Anonymous said...

You gotta be crazy to harass a woman who already has one big settlement from the county. Is that a defense?

Anonymous said...

This is the SECOND time this has happened to the County. There was another instance, the dispatcher who was harassed, sued, won a large award, and was transferred to a job in Alcoholic Beverage Control to get her out of the Department. What happened? Her supervisor at ABC began sexually harassing her, she sued, and won almost half a million...again. The supervisor was allowed to quietly retire with full benefits.

This whole mess is way beyond putrid. The Mayor did NOT do the right thing. He should have put it right in the laps of the Police Commission, locked them in a room and told them to not come out until they had all the facts...the REAL facts.

Anonymous said...

Perry's Jeykle and Hyde persona coming out in the open for all to see. What a tragic story of a man that where no robes. Let us not forget of the many complaints that have been filed against kpd officers, staff and internal complaints that surely Perry was aware of and did nothing.

In every fiber and bone in my body believes now that we have seen the Eye of the Storm, we must vote to have a qualified county manager. We can still have a puppet mayor but we need someone who can actually run this dog and pony show.

County counsel is guilty as well, have anyone seen these clowns on tv? A complete disaster, I am embarass for them and they have a secretary for each and everyone of these overpaid public nuances. Are these bubble gum chewing smiling airheads qualified to turn the printer on? what the f is going on?

I'm moving to Hanamaulu beach, where i hope it's safer there. Does anyone know where can I get a bullet roof vest just in case I need to save my own life from a trigger happy SOB in kpd.

Anonymous said...

Locals have finally met their true problem....the consequences of their local style. Decades of electing people by pure popularity....good were warned.

Anonymous said...

You people believe that the problems solely exists in our county government. The truth is we have cartels here, local style mafia families and militias that hide under a cloak of secrecy.

The Locals know the hazardous waste on kauai is the good ol boyz and gals club. Another problem is that the community is too busy working multiple jobs to do anything about it and the rest is either getting paid off by getting county and state jobs or even threaten or killed.

Modern day slavery exisits on Kauai to help control the populace. Evil is alive and living well here on kauai. The scary part is now that the mainland criminal onlookers have arrived, peace on our beautiful island is extinct.

Anonymous said...

The mayor is the foe of the chief, who's the foe of the prosecutor, who's a foe of the mayor. So much for the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Anonymous said...

All this is distracting us from the even worse situation at the Prosecutors office.

Anonymous said...

Nailed it! Prosecutors, public works, planning, and police. Sounds like a poli-royal flush.

All corrupt.

Anonymous said...

FBI GID Is definitely a corrupt piece in the puzzle but these people are going continue to elected their family/friends because they either don't believe it could be true or they know it is true because they have a piece of the action.

How many houses have been drawn by men actually working for the department in permitted them?

Who cares because the ethics board said it was ok, as long as they don't permit them too? Read the minutes, all there.

Anonymous said...

Personnel, you forgot one.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe everyone thinks that Darla is telling the truth. Do you all REALLY think that she has such animal magnetism that competent, professional men, in stable relationships will jeopardize their careers to proposition her? Darla has a history of alleging sexual harassment every time an attempt is made to discipline her, or deny her an appointment she desires. Shame on the County for not making resignation a condition of her first settlement.

Anonymous said...

The over reaching was done by the Mayor in this one. He simply should have never stuck his nose into a situation that he really never had no legal boundary to do so.

The Police Commission is the Boss of the Police Chief, simple as that.

If the Mayor asked Darla, "What did Chief Perry say to do?" Darla responds, "try to work it out internally?"


Crazy I tell you...

But no, she went bark up the tree again. She is a big bag of pilikia and everyone on the Garden Island should stay away from her. I believe the Mayor should immediately step down for his over reaching of his "delutional power." Hopefully one day he wakes up and smells the Kauai Coffee.