But since she's a political junkie, I filled her in on everything that's been happening with Shay as I made dinner and waited to hear the debate on the radio. She responded with wide eyes, small gasps and exclamations of “what?” and “you're kidding!” before ending with, “On what possible leg could this woman stand other than she's a local?”
Shay apparently agrees that's her biggest selling point, too, because when the debate came on the radio, Shay started with, “I was born here.” Justin, on the other hand, led with, “I'll repair damaged relationships.”
As the debate progressed, I really had to wonder who came up with some of the questions, like the one about perjury, and another on what's your stand on public intoxication? Ahem.....
Then there was the question about violations of the county charter — you know, like the ones the Office of Prosecuting Attorney is being investigated for — with Justin saying it could be a misdemeanor in some instances. Shay, on the other hand, came out swinging, saying she'd gotten a complaint about the $1 million that is reportedly missing from the budget and vowed, “We will do a full and fair investigation.” No doubt. Anything to get the spotlight off her own misdeeds and jab her enemy the mayor at the same time.
Speaking of misdeeds, Justin mentioned a couple of times how Shay's management style has cost the county “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in settlements to former employees she has “mistreated, maltreated and abused.” He said there have been “an unprecedented number of claims against the prosecutor” — I know of four that were settled — and that would not be the case under his administration.
Justin also dropped a bombshell about how this was likely the first time ever that federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigators have come in and made findings about racial harassment in the OPA. Oh, really? Can't wait to learn more about that.
Justin kept hammering home the point that turnover in the OPA is running 150 percent — four times higher than any other county in the state, and a rate previously unheard of on Kauai. He said turnover is hampering OPA's ability to do its job. As an example, it has pretty much abandoned prosecuting drunk drivers and instead plea bargains those cases. Shay responded by saying those were “low-level cases” and she was busy with capital cases, as in murders.
“Do you have a lot of capital cases?” my sister asked. “No, I replied, “because the cops so rarely can solve them or make an arrest.”
Justin made the point that “we've never seen another term of office that's been so riddled with conflicts [of interest] or had more recusals.” Shay, however, claimed her office hadn't been forced off the Lara Butler Brady horse abuse case. Yeah, that's technically true, but the OPA only withdrew because it knew it otherwise would be yanked off.
If I'd been there, I might've had to yell out, or least mutter, “bullshit,” when I heard Shay's response to a question about prosecuting illegal transient vacation rentals. She claimed that these issues had to be referred from planning and said, “It's quite unfortunate that since we prosecuted a Councilman we have received almost no referrals from planning... and zero vacation rental violations.” As I've reported previously, based on conversations with Planning Director Mike Dahilig, OPA can go after any zoning issue it wants. It does not have to wait for a referral from planning.
Heck, she went after Councilman Tim Bynum, and his zoning case was never referred from planning. Instead, Shay nosed around after seeing a police report filed by someone staying at his house. Plus I recall First Deputy Jake Delaplane telling me the OPA was going after TVR owners on ag lands, and had filed zoning violation charges against numerous other landowners when Tim was charged. But even though Jake promised he'd get more details, he never did.
Shay also bragged that she's been working to narrow the definition of who is eligible for medical marijuana, claiming “97 percent of medical marijuana users do not suffer a debilitating condition.” Justin's reply was, “I'm uncomfortable putting the state between a patient and his physician.”
They both agreed it should be a crime to block a public access, with Justin pointing out Shay had gotten contributions from the big landowners, but he was beholden to no one.
Shay threw out a lot of swell-sounding statistics, but Justin countered that statistics “don't do anything to keep a community safe.” He said that three-quarters of all cases are settled through plea bargains, but Shay still counts them as convictions. “I don't think people in the community feel like we're getting 99 percent of the bad guys off the street.”
My sister and I agreed both candidates sounded confident. She thought Shay sounded defensive, but Justin had a less-pleasing voice. I thought Justin got some good points in, and Shay held her own well.
Still, as I listened to Shay talk about the need to prevent bullying and harassment, I couldn't help but think of the employees who successfully settled harassment claims against her. When she talked about hate crimes, I wondered, so what, other than hate, motivated you to go after Tim? And when she said the “hate and mistruths” started by her opponent should stop, I flashed on her supporters calling me a bitch and evil and wishing I'd get a bleeding ulcer as they all the while madly spun their version of the truth.
But when she said, “You need someone who can stand up strong and be pono,” I had to agree. That's exactly what we need. And maybe one of these days we'll get him or her.
Oh, Shay, and since you're so into “honesty, openness and transparency” – could you please give me those public records I asked for, the ones that Office of Information Practices directed you to turn over no later than this past Monday, the ones that would tell us how you paid for all the POHAKU paraphernalia?