Sunday, May 19, 2013

Musings: Abuse Backstory 1

It occurred to me, while reading the article “TVR probe stalls” in today's edition of The Garden Island, that we need another series to run concurrently with the Abuse Chronicles. This new series will include the backstory that helps people understand how and why this vacation rental mess came to be.

Let's start with County Attorney Al Castillo. As TGI reports, Al raised concerns about costs, legalities and jurisdiction in his attempt to derail the Council's proposed investigation into the abysmal failure of the 2010 TVR law. 

So where was Al when the Council passed the 2010 TVR law? You know, Ordinance 904 — the law that cemented all the problems created by the 2008 TVR law, dug the county's legal hole that much deeper?

Al didn't pinpoint the failings in 904 because he was too busy lobbying for it. Remember when the bill was up for a vote, in July 2010, and former Councilman Dickie Chang was on the fence? And Al and Deputy County Attorneys Ian Jung and Mike Dahilig (who is now the planning director)  visited Dickie at home and plied him with beer to secure his vote on the TVR bill? Yeah, that's the kind of lobbying I'm talking about.

Maybe "beer gate" wasn't technically illegal, but it sure seems unethical – especially since the County Attorney's office is supposed to represent the Council, the Administration and the county as a whole, which presumably includes the poor taxpayers who are footing the bill for all these missteps.

And it certainly raises the ethical and practical question of whether Al, after actively pushing the bill, should now be advising the Council on how to deal with it's utter failture. A failure has been documented in 16 Abuse Chronicles that cover 24 separate TVR certificates, and that's barely scratching the surface.

Al and his office are so badly conflicted on this issue that ethically, he should have recused himself at the last Council meeting and suggested they hire special counsel. Instead, with Council Chair Jay Furfaro's complicity, he bought a 30-day delay — time that he and Mayor Bernard Carvalho (who hired him, let's not forget) can use to head off any investigation into these wrong doings.

You know, the same way a proposed Council investigation into Public Works was sidelined – an investigation that might have prevented some of the Building and Engineering transgressions uncovered by the Abuse Chronicles. Things like allowing tiny houses to be remodeled into mini-resorts without meeting flood or septic requirements.

If Bernard, Al, Ian and Mike had actually checked into how the planning department was implementing the 2008 law, they would have found that it was in total shambles. Instead, they pushed the Council to amend the law in 2010, which compounded the problems from 2008 while eliminating inspections, proof of tax payments, proof of prior TVR use and all the other teeth.

With the passage of Ordinance 904 in 2010, they threw open the door to pretty much anybody who could put a pencil on paper. And for those who couldn't, well, remember how Bruce Fehring admitted to the Planning Commission that planner Mike Laureta had actually written his TVR application for him?

Al also claimed the mere presence of HGEA union rep Gerald Ako at the Council meeting “raised a red flag” that should be heeded. If Al had been paying attention he would have known that Ako actually raised a red herring. Ako later admitted to the Council that no matter who did investigation, employees would still have union representation and all the protection it entails.

The red flag I saw was Ako arguing for the Administration, rather than the Council, to conduct the investigation. He obviously knows, like the rest of us, that if it's left to the Administration, absolutely nothing will happen.

Finally, I've got to say something about Council Chair Jay Furfaro. I'm talking about his feigned shock and indignation that the Council resolution hadn't been sent to the County Attorney's office for review. 

Curious how Jay, a supposed stickler for process, has never implemented a procedure for what goes to the County Attorney's office for review, and when.  That's right. It's totally ad hoc, hit and miss, whatevahs. Seems awfully inefficient. But oh so convenient when you want to stall something while pretending that you're moving it along.


Anonymous said...

So how many other permits did Laureta write?

Just how unethical is that? I mean it's not like he will lose his retirement or anything right.

There is no law against it, is there?

Is the permitting department still contracting him to cover up his application writing?

Do the applicants pay him separately or just donate food or alcohol to him or the department?

How bad is that? If everyone is doing it, then it must be OK.

Anonymous said...

Good thing you helped get Al's boy kollar installed at the OPA. You helped assure that no enforcement would come from that department either. Nice job. The mayor is very happy with you for your service.

Joan Conrow said...

Get off it. Justin was the best choice for Prosecutor and he showed his independence by seeking funding for an enforcement position.

As for zoning enforcement, Shay only went after Tim. I'm sure Justin can and will do better than that.

Anonymous said...

Hold Al's, and the others feet to the fire, Joan. Might save lives. Shaddy Offer these, shameless characters. Offer these criminals a beer after the race is over.

Just Wednesday I was at a friend's house. The house was built in 1935, and has occasional plumbing problems.

I heard the man who owns the plumbing company to look at the plumbing problems, and give a bid, say to my friend, "I know the inspectors."

I know the inspectors...

Anonymous said...

May 19, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Shayme on you.

Justin actually does prosecute criminals instead of inventing crimes where none occurred and ignoring actual criminals because they were related.

Is Laureta a criminal or because his relative is in the OPA he won't be prosecuted if he is guilty of fraud?

Anonymous said...

YOu get off it. Shay was attempting to go after TVR violators. Planning refused to provide the OPA with files. Why don't you report that? Remember that as a counsel member shay was outspoken in her opposition to Bynum's bills to allow ag TVRs. Why don't you report that? That's another point you like to ignore: Your boy Bynum is the one behind this mess. Why don't you report that?

Joan Conrow said...

Shay could've subpoenaed the files if she was serious. I recall her first deputy Jake telling me he had filed over 40 zoning violations, yet when he was being deposed, he couldn't recall any. All shibai.

As for Tim, I reported extensively and critically on his support for the ag TVR bill when it was being considered. Shay's opposition to it was irrelevant since she wasn't even on the council when 904 was passed.

Anonymous said...

I read that article too and I kept thinking: "Who's fighting for our beaches? Who's fighting for the public? Who's fighting for the environment? For saving the lives of tourists in flood zone rooms?"

Al Castillo and Gary Heu have been there longer than most but they seem to be "do nothings". If they're not fighting for the public, they're in the way and on the side of the big money FRAUDsters.

Anonymous said...

Al Castillo represented clients with zoning violations so he had administrative law experience before he became the County Attorney. He represents all of the administrative agencies in the County, including the Planning Commission, and has probably dealt with numerous administrative law issues during his tenure as County Attorey. I'm sure he knows his job.

Anonymous said...

You have done such a good job reporting about the TVR applicants who applied and who should have been denied.

There are also people who had good, law-abiding TVR applications who got denied for BS reasons. The whole thing is corrupt - not just inefficient.

If Mr. Bambi didn't like you, no permit for you.

Anonymous said...

What would an investigation add to what has already been documented on this blog? Just send copies of the blog to the cops or the AG.

Anonymous said...

Now don't you go dumping on the Deer One. Don't you know he's studying to be a DEACON?

Anonymous said...

He has to deal with the representatives/agents/leeches/lawyers/gofers/asskissers/ballsuckers of the rich, powerful and don't give a fuck about anybody else, so cut him some slack.

Anonymous said...

Oh poor thing he has do his job, the one we pay him for like the rest of the leeches sucking on the flesh of the taxpayers in both of those departments.

"I know the inspectors" that makes me sick to know that you have to hire a contractor that has a friend (relative or otherwise) on the inside.

How about those who draw the plans who work for the county - another cause of nausea among the public.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the back story...its almost if not as disgusting as the front story. Looks like everyone is too busy trying to stonewall and cover their asses. I didn't remember that Al was one of the trio that visited Dickie. Yes he should be recusing himself but when does anyone in the County do the ethical thing. And we do know that it is Bernard behind the scenes directing all his minions so the question is who and what is he protecting? That's what I'd really like to know. County politics just makes me want to barf! No one wonder voters have such apathy...sadly that is what keeps these idiots in office. The same old fools vote in the same old fools while the rest are too fed up to give a shit. Politicians count on public indifference in order to push through their agendas and that my friends is the only reason to get involved. Jay who is normally a stickler about "process" could've easily sent the resolution for review by the CA. Conveniently he feigns surprise that it wasn't and defers. He's another one covering his okole because all of the councilmembers that voted for the tvr bill in 2008 and 2010 look pretty damn stupid right now. Make shame!!!

Anonymous said...

Remember folks Kauai is the only County even trying to regulate TVR's

Anonymous said...

Maui regulates them:

Here's their law:

Anonymous said...

If you watch the 5/14/13 Planning Commission meeting on commercializing Ag land at Common Ground, you can see Mike say "I will check with my client" (Chris Jabe) for acceptable conditions. I guess the the moonlighting continues.

Anonymous said...

Excellent evidence of his confusion between being a civil servant and being hired as a consultant to represent his client - probably because of his extensive experience before becoming the one who actually signs off on all of the major deception oh, development here in the county.

Great, another winner thanks Bernard!

Anonymous said...

Illegal Vacation rentals are a problem on Oahu.

Anonymous said...

Bernard controls Al so requiring review would give Bernard veto power before a vote.

Anonymous said...

There are no ethics in the permitting department. This entire administration has no ethics, half of them can't even spell it.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

This whole mess is due to Bernard being in over his head. I mean he has no idea how to run the county. Hired his friends, great, make them friggin do their job, otherwise, Bernard should go.

Anonymous said...

Bernard, He's in deep with all the $$$$$ come his way.

Anonymous said...

Mel for Mayor and Shay for County Attorney.

Anonymous said...

Kaipo and Dickie are out. Now, we have to get Bernard "Sing Me Another Song" out. He is not only aware of what's going on he's complicit by not doing anything about it. This stinks of corruption. It's beyond incompetence which is rampant within the county ranks. Al C. is a lackie and is likely proteting his butt as well as the mayor's. Jay can't have it both ways. He's trying to be liked by both sides (corrupt vs. above-the-table). Keep at it, Joan. I hope you continue with more of the DPW. I'd like to hear from Ernie on that. My guess is the administration (Bernard, Gary, Beth) are doing their best to shut him down. Of course, the union is doing their best to hide the abuse and corruption. "Just keep paying your dues, boys. We 'got your back."

Bruce Fehring said...

Hi Joan. This is Bruce Fehring. With all due respect, You have made an error. In your blog, you claim that I "admitted to the Planning Commission that planner Mike Laureta had actually written is (my) TVR application for him (me)". Please take the time to review the tape of that meeting. I said no such thing. In my innocence, what I said, and what happened, was that Mike had provided me and others, to my understanding, with a template of a typical application. It was my understanding that part of a planners job description was to assist those who were preparing an application, especially those who were hard-pressed to afford the services of an expensive attorney. Professionals like attorneys and Realtors use templates every day in their work, inserting the appropriate specific information which differs on a case-to-case basis. Mike Laureta did NOT write my application. I did, utilizing a template provided by Mike, and inserting all the appropriate specific information, photos, etc. which were pertinent to only my application.

For the record, I like Mike Laureta very much as as person, and have respect for his work ethic, but I have never bought him a beer or provided him with any other incentive to do me any special favors.

Thank you for allowing the opportunity to correct the record.

Anonymous said...

It is not typical that a planner provide a template for use for an application.

That is unethical.

Anonymous said...

You could also check with the American Planning Association

Or review an actual copy of the county planner job description - it's not in the job description.

It's unethical.

Anonymous said...

was this template for a use permit application published and provided to each and every applicant on the county's website or just to selected individuals?

Anonymous said...

When I had to apply for a special use permit, I was assigned a planner from the Planning Department who provided a list of the information which should be included in my application. I believe it common practice that other applicants are afforded similar lists depending upon the exact use they are applying for.

Some applicants use the lists themselves to work up an application, while others hire an attorney to do that. Certainly the hired attorney is made aware of what must be in the application, and doesn't just "wing it".

Regardless, after the application is submitted and during a hearing, the Planning Department makes a recommendation to the Planning Commission as to whether they recommend the application being accepted or rejected, and for what reasons. Then the Planning Commission makes its decision independently. Sometimes they agree with the Planning Department's recommendation, and sometimes they do not.

Nothing about this seems unethical to me.

Anonymous said...

as long as the exact same information was provided to each TVR applicant - then no problem - so the question is was this 'template' provided to each applicant?

Joan Conrow said...

Bruce, you may well have used a template in your application, but I stand by what I wrote. I linked to my original post on this topic, where I reported, after watching the webcast of the meeting:

[C]ounty planner Mike Laureta prepared Bruce Fehring’s TVR application. This came up quite by accident, when Commissioner Caven Raco was asking Bruce about his unsubstantiated assertion that getting approval for his Hale Kai Kalani TVR, which rents for an average of $1,300 per week, would not significantly increase his property values. Bruce was clueless, prompting Caven to ask, “Did you write this application?”

Uh, no. Bruce then outed Mike, who was stumbling through an explanation — “certain sections have to be refined to meet your certain situations” and “there are custom sections here that he wrote” — when planning director Michael Dahilig smoothly intervened: “The department assisted Mr. Fehring in writing this application.”

Anonymous said...

Wait a second...I'm calling a foul here.

You seriously stand by what you wrote??- "Bruce Fehring admitted to the Planning Commission that planner Mike Laureta had actually written his TVR application for him"???

Here is a link to the webcast meeting

Fast forward to 04:38:00. The Planning commission is asking Mike about the section of his application that stated the TVR will not significantly affect the property value. Fehring seems confused and asks whether the commissioner is reading from a section that he (Fehring) wrote. Fehring NEVER says that Laureta wrote the application for him. Rather, its Laureta and Dahilig that state that they assist applicants with completing the paperwork.

Quite frankly, it's clear that Fehring doesn't remember that section of the application. That doesn't mean he "admitted that planner Mike Laureta had actually written his TVR application for him". That, Ms. Conrow, is simply a lie - a review of the public record reveals that Fehring made no such admission.

Why lie anyway Joan? If you're mad about the planning department helping people with their TVR applications, then just say that. Why target Mr. Fehring specifically and make such a false and defamatory statement? Especially when, after viewing the meeting, Fehring seems like a nice guy that doesn't even come close to exhibiting the entitlementmentality that you so despise in TVR owners and their attorneys. He was trying his best to answer the commissioners' questions and comply with the process that was in place.

Anonymous said...

unless EACH applicant was afforded the SAME assistance in preparing their application - it is FRAUD.


Joan Conrow said...

He said "that wording was not mine, that wording was put together by the planning department." He also said, "I didn't write the application."

So yes, I should have phrased it, "Remember when Bruce Fehring admitted he didn't write his application and Mike Laureta admitted he had?"

Btw, thanks for finding that spot again on the tape. Looking at it reminded me again of what a sham this whole thing is, and how Mr. Fehring is a part of it.

Anonymous said...

I remember that and I thought to myself why the hell was mike writing his app when Ian and Imai just got booted. Mr Fehring was lost and confused like he got caught cheating and didn't know what was written on his app.

Then I remembered that mike is a son of a retired Kauai Judge so I realized then what was really going on.

The Syndicates (GOBAG families) on Kauai know that there is no oversight watching them so they can do as they please but they don't know that big brother is keeping tabs on them.

Anonymous said...

Did the permitting department put together all of the applicant's applications? Then write a separate report to the planning commission advising them to grant irrevocable TVR permits?

What the hell is going on in there - this all sounds highly unethical.