The Kauai prosecutor's race is so hot that even Mid-Week was jolted out of its usual sugary stupor into interviewing the candidates — incumbent Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho and challenger Justin Kollar. Unfortunately, even though their entire three-person "editorial board" did the interview, they printed Shay's shibai without challenge, much less fact-checking.
So let's take a closer look, starting with Shay comment: “I believe when people overstep or abuse their power, especially in a prosecutor’s office....I think there is a problem.”
That would've been the perfect time to say, yes, Shay, you have correctly identified the crux of the opposition against you. Do you think secretly tape recording conversations, filing bogus charges against a Councilman and then continuing to try his case in the media after the charges have been dismissed, lobbying to get a witness fired from her job at the Humane Society, telling a deputy prosecutor to lose her haole boyfriend, using staff training money for your own travel, firing a victim-witness coordinator so you can give the contract to your pals at the YWCA, etc., constitutes an abuse of power? And since you fired deputies for supposedly abusing their power, what should the voters do about you?
Then there was her statement:
Turnover in our office is not higher than average. Keith Kaneshiro (Honolulu’s current prosecutor) had 50 attorneys leave his office in his term. There have been about 13 people who have left (here) for various reasons.
Ummm, but Kaneshiro has a much bigger staff. So while that represented a 50% turnover for him, Shay has presided over a 150% turnover rate during her term. And the issue with Kaneshiro came up because such a mass exodus is very unusual — just as it is here.
And Shay, since Mid-Week obviously didn't bother, I'll take you up on your offer “to look at the files of all of the cases that have gotten dismissed” by those rogue deputies now departed “because of dishonest reasons.” (Btw, are you saying here your reasons for firing them were dishonest? 'Cause it sure reads like that.)
Let's start with the two cases you claimed Justin dismissed, since he has a very different recollection of events. Then let's move on to the others: “a sex-assault case with a confession”; “three abuse cases when they were set three months down the line for good friends”; “three abuse cases in the last two weeks of court, and they’re all good friends now, they all formed a defense bar”; “a case with a prominent person in the community who was charged with abuse”; and “a bunch of cases” dismissed by deputies after giving two weeks notice. That equals 10 and “a bunch.” When can I come in and take a look?
While you're at it, could you please provide a list of all the other people you prosecuted for zoning violations when you charged Councilman Tim Bynum? Because last December, your first deputy, Jake Delaplane, said there were "a lot" and he'd be glad to share them, but he never has, even though I've asked, really politely, several times.
Oh, and could you please tell us which defense attorneys were complaining that your deputies had dismissed charges against their clients? Because I'm sure people would like to avoid hiring attorneys who bitched that their clients got off too easy. And exactly which judge was trying to influence how cases are prosecuted? Do tell — if you're telling the truth, that is.
Then there was the whole rant against County Attorney Al Castillo regarding the four EEOC complaints, where Shay claims all but one was settled without her consultation or knowledge. As I've already reported, that's false, since in Erin Wilson's case, Jake participated in mediation. And Shay once again trotted out the claim that Al was trying to burn her by including in two of the settlement agreements the clause “that anything in this claim shall be publicly disbursed.” Again, as I've previously reported, both Shannon Weigel and Erin insisted on that provision because they wanted to go public.
Shay also makes a big deal out of Al giving money to Justin's campaign and holding sign, which is fine. Except neither she nor the Mid-Week team mentioned the pay raises granted to deputy prosecutors who supported her campaign, including the pro-Shay blogger who got a 45% pay raise after just six weeks on the job.
She then goes on to whine: I think there are always two sides to the story, (but) we are not able to present our side. Yo, Shay, what about your aforementioned personal blogger, the one who disallowed comments so only your side could be presented? Don't you regularly distribute press releases touting how great you are? Didn't you and Jake talk trash about the EEOC victims to the newspapers?
I especially liked this comment: County money needs to be looked at as your own money. [S]o it’s very serious for me to look at the budget. That's when Mid-Week should have said, then how do you justify spending $9,500 on trashy trinkets? Why does a diversionary program need promotional materials, in your campaign colors no less?
The interview was, however, unintentionally revealing. Consider these statements:
For me, being a prosecutor gives you a lot more control over the case. When you’re a public defender, you’re at the whim of the prosecutor.
I’m still very involved in the litigation aspect of the most serious types of cases.
I’m there as an experienced attorney providing advice to persons who are doing career criminals, sex assaults, robberies, whether we’re going to charge a person with an enhanced penalty or not — all of these decisions are put forth to me. When we do plea offers on every case, they come through me.
When I first started, I did everything. I did all the sex assaults, I did all the murders.
Are you starting to get the image of a control freak and micro-manager? A "my way or the highway" kind of gal? Oh, and Shay, wasn't there just one murder, Joseph Hoapili? And didn't you plead that one out? Also, how, exactly, are you able to provide all this daily oversight when you're so often out of the office, traveling on the public's dime?
Shay also outlines her cozy relationship with the cops: I received a letter, again from KPD, informing me of multiple cases that had been dismissed that they felt were supposed to have been prosecuted. We looked through those cases, we felt they were right.
And she tells of how three years of bitter acrimony between her office and KPD was miraculously healed earlier this year: It was brought on when the mayor exceeded his boundaries and took power away from the police chief without any authority to do so, and it was at that point the relationship really started to falter.
So Shay, sensing a political advantage, rushed to the chief's defense and in return got his wife to do attack ads against Justin, campaign contributions from Ale Quibilan and Roy Asher (the two assistant chiefs who had been suspended), and the SHOPO endorsement to boot. That's the backstory to her statement: “The collaboration between our offices now is unseen in any history of the KPD and the prosecuting attorney.”
And finally, there was this:
A lot of times we have witnesses in one case who are defendants in another, and defendants in one case are witnesses in another, so it becomes very complicated
Yes, but not nearly so complicated as having a deputy who wants to prosecute a case and serve as a witness in it. In fact, that was so complicated that Judge Kathleen Watanabe, shaking her head in disbelief, yanked the entire OPA off the Tim Bynum case.
It's great that Mid-Week finally decided to cover some news. It's just unfortunate that they served up the usual puff pastry, and skipped the meat, with all its juicy drippings.