Later, I scan The Garden Island, where the Office of Prosecuting Attorney is again in the news, this time because the County Council has given it permission to apply for $220,000 in federal grants.
And I couldn't help but wonder why, when the Council has seen repeated evidence of Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho's abysmal managerial skills — as in extreme staff turnover, four EEOC complaints, questionable staff pay raises, questionable spending and procurement, excessive personal travel, minimal staff training and two civil suits — it keeps allowing her to expand her empire.
I mean, yeah, it's federal money, but don't you think $145,000 is an awful lot to spend to bring 25 sex offenders into compliance? Or $75,000 on a drug program that sounds like it essentially bypasses a person's right to due process and legal representation?
Aren't they a little bit concerned about giving her the green light to start new programs when they just kicked down another $20,000 — on top of the $15,000 already allocated — to buy her office special counsel in the POHAKU debacle? Do they think they got their money's worth from special counsel Gary Slovin, who claimed no funds had been spent on POHAKU, when Shay had in fact bought $9,500 worth of tote bags, whistles and other gewgaws?
Don't they have any questions about how she spent some of the kala she's already gotten, like the aforementioned gewgaws, which are a total waste of taxpayer money, even if they aren't being used to promote her campaign?
I imagine all this waste must be irking the hell out of Councilman Mel Rapozo, in light of the comment he reportedly made at a recent Council candidate forum:
Rapozo said it’s not his job to agree with the mayor, but to make sure the county spends taxpayers’ money properly.
“If we disagree, so be it,” said Rapozo, whose biggest concern was with the administration’s “reckless spending.”
And before they allow Shay to keep growing the OPA, don't they think they should wait and see what happens in the two pending lawsuits? I mean, tomorrow they'll be asked to pungle up $125,000 for special counsel to represent the county, Shay and planning inspector Sheila Miyake in cases brought by Councilman Tim Bynum and deputy prosecutor Rebecca Vogt. That ain't chump change, and it's just the beginning.
Since I'm asking questions, here are a few more: If Slovin supposedly “cleared” Shay and the OPA of wrongdoing related to POHAKU, why is another $20,000 needed for special counsel?
If Shay actually believed — and supposedly has “evidence” — that deputy county attorneys told Sheila to hold off on an enforcement action against Tim Bynum because they needed his vote on the TVR bill, why didn't she prosecute them? After all, it's a misdemeanor for someone in the legislative branch to influence someone in the enforcement branch. Come to think of it, why didn't she charge former Council Chair Kaipo Asing, since Sheila said on tape, “Kaipo was asking, Kaipo wants to know?”
At the very least, why didn't Shay bust out that two-year-old secret tape last March, when the charges were dismissed against Tim? Seems that would have been the time to tell the world that Tim was supposedly getting special treatment.
If Tim wasn't singled out for prosecution, what happened to all those other people the OPA supposedly charged with zoning violations at the same time? And why, oh why, didn't Shay prosecute any of the TVR violations, of which they are many?
I've had a number of people ask me, why hasn't Shay resigned? Isn't there anyone who can encourage her to step aside, since her actions are costing taxpayers a lot of money, creating a diversion from the important work at the OPA and turning Kauai into the laughing stock of the statewide legal community?
Which brings me to my main question: why is the Council unwilling, or unable, to hold Shay accountable? I mean, I know she can scream and throw a fit and act really scary, but she needs the Council, because they provide the money.
Much has been said about the mayor trying to gain control of the police department, and the check that is placed on his power by the police commission. But where is the check on the county Prosecutor, who has the power to throw people in jail, deprive them of their liberty?
The check, literally and figuratively, lies with the County Council. It's understandable that Mel and KipuKai Kualii, who have their own personal conflicts of interest with Shay and the OPA, have been loathe to pull on the reins. Tim has his own ax to grind, since he's suing Shay. JoAnn Yukimura has been doing her part by publicly asking questions. Jay Furfaro, Dickie Chang and Nadine Nakamura have kept pretty quiet.
It's a rather sad state of affairs. Meanwhile, the county checkbook remains open, paying for attorneys, gewgaws, settlements.
Oh, and one last thing, I'm really tired of hearing people, including Mel, bitch about how the county attorney has been settling all these suits instead of taking them to court. It's my understanding that the County Council unanimously approved all these settlements. So don't be passing the blame — or the buck.