The mayor's office, hoping to fend off today's planned demonstration at the Kekaha landfill, has agreed to meet with westside residents this afternoon to discuss the ongoing shipment of contaminated soil from Kilauea to the dump. Per the mayor's instructions, the soil will be halted for today only. In sending out an announcement of the hastily called meeting, county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka said:
"Our apologies for the short notice, but due to rising tensions in the community as reported to us today, we felt it was important to meet with the community as quickly as possible."
In an email exchange with Kekaha community activist Jose Bulatao, who was none too pleased with the short notice and being pressed into service to spread the word, Beth added:
“We are hopeful that those who were planning to demonstrate tomorrow will instead attend this meeting and participate in healthy, meaningful dialogue.”
The opposite of healthy, meaningful dialogue is underway in California, where chemical and processed food companies have poured some $22 million into an effort to defeat Proposition 37, a bill to require labeling of genetically engineered foods. Biggest contributors? Some of our westside “neighbors:” Dupont Pioneer, Bayer Crop science and BASF Plant Science. Monsanto alone has kicked in $4.2 million. But despite the influx of cash from corporate giants like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle USA, General Mills and ConAgra, the “No on 37” group falsely bills itself as “a coalition of family farmers, grocers, small businesses, and food producers” against food labeling.
Council Chair Jay Furfaro, who has bent over backwards to accommodate County Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, finally got fed up yesterday with a falsehood that she and her first deputy, Jake Delaplane, keep parroting — namely, that an opinion written by Gary Slovin, who was hired as Special Counsel for the Office of Prosecuting Attorney, “clears” the POHAKU program.
Jay's comments came following a lengthy discussion about implementing a keiki POHAKU program, with Councilmembers expressing concerns about inconsistencies in the OPA's procurement process and financial reviews, including applying for a grant without first getting the Council's approval.
Councilman Tim Bynum said he was prepared to vote for a deferral, but wanted to note Slovin's report “wasn't an independent opinion, it wasn't a decision, it didn't clear anything, it was the opinion of the attorney hired to represent the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney.”
Jay agreed. “What Mr. Bynum just said needed to be said because Mr. Slovin is your attorney and he was hired by money from...”
Jake then began shaking his head and saying “that's incorrect” from the audience, prompting Jay to call him up for some questions.
“Did this council approve money for legal services for your office?”
“They did,” Jake said.
“Did Mr. Slovin, was he selected originally to be your counsel?”
“Not by our office and not to represent our office.”
“Your office is not solely responsible for the selection of the attorney by Charter,” Jay said. “Let's make sure we're following all the rules. Those selection processes are made by the county attorney and not by the department that got approval. And I do also want to say that Mr. Slovin gave an opinion which is his opinion as a special counsel that was hired. He didn't give an opinion as it reflected the judgment of the courts. Now if you want to write me anything more about the three things I just said, you're more than welcome.”
“I will, and I will make that public also,” Jake said.
“You make it as public as you want,” Jay said. “I wanted to clear the record. Mr. Slovin was hired with special counsel monies provided by this council for the purpose of defending your office.”
“That is incorrect and I will be submitting the correct characterization in writing," Jake said.
“Well, I know what I voted for,” Jay said, “and what I voted for was special counsel for your office.”
“What you voted for and what actually happened are two different things,” Jake countered.
“Then you speak to that in your response to me. But if you check the county records...what I voted for was for defense and legal counsel for your office. If it was different than that then you may write me and I will take it up personally with the county attorney.”
“Defense was nowhere in there,” argued Jake, who then went on to claim that because Slovin was acting as a county attorney, his opinion “is just as if the County attorney himself wrote an opinion.”
“And that is your opinion,” Jay said. “He was to give you counsel for the POHAKU program only on civil matters, not criminal. That was never a question here. Let's leave it at that.”
As I've reported previously, the contract with Slovin's firm states:
Scope of Services. Special Counsel shall provide all such professional legal services as may be necessary to represent the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney limited to civil matters related to the POHAKU program.
County Attorney Al Castillo, under questioning from Tim, also took issue with Shay's claim that his office had directed OPA to stop referring defendants to diversionary programs. “Blaming another department for the delays, I would say it's using the County attorney's office as a scapegoat. No, we didn't block anything.”
Early on in the session, Council regulars Glenn Mickens and Ken Taylor complained about the Council calling a special meeting to discuss the OPA's diversionary grant programs and scrutinizing the applications so carefully. Ken characterized it as “witch hunting.”
Ummm, I guess they didn't realize the matter was on the regular agenda last Wednesday, but Shay guys were busy with the primary election, I mean a critical “cold case.” So they asked for a deferral and Jay set up a special meeting just to accommodate OPA's supposed need for urgent action. Amazing how Shay so often gets special treatment, yet she and her supporters complain that she's treated unfairly.