Thursday, May 9, 2013

Musings: Political Wills and Ways

Political will was the catch phrase at yesterday's Kauai County Council meeting, with members asking why Mayor Bernard Carvalho's administration hasn't enforced the transient vacation rental law, as detailed in this blog's “Abuse Chronicles” series.

Council members made it clear they do have the political will, and will soon consider a resolution authorizing a special investigation “to find out how and why this could've happened,” said Councilman Gary Hooser.

Though special investigations are permitted by the County Charter, the Council has invoked that privilege only once, in a police matter, and it was resolved before the inquiry got under way. Council Chair Jay Furfaro said an investigation is “a pretty dramatic move” but may be warranted “because we have a mess on our hands.”

I hope we set a precedent,” Councilman Mel Rapozo said. “We need to tell the mayor if you keep screwing up we will investigate your butt because I'm fed up with it already.”

I would not support anything that would be characterized as an investigation,” said Planning Director Mike Dahilig, noting the problems were “more systemic” and he hadn't seen any indication of “malfeasance.”

Rapozo said it's time for “an independent party to take a look at the process and see what the heck is going on.”

The Council had asked Dahilig and Prosecutor Justin Kollar to attend yesterday's meeting to present a plan for cracking down on the island's numerous TVR violations. But the Council quickly became irritated when Dahilig said that enforcement was hindered by an inadequate data base, poorly trained inspectors and “un-understood relationships” with other county departments and the state Health Department.

Dahilig further irked the Council when he had to leave the meeting in mid-discussion to catch a flight for another event, prompting a two-week deferral of the matter.

They [the Administration] need to understand it's a priority,” Furfaro said “There is an urgency here. We have rules. We have ordinances that I have worked on for 12 years. It's the law of the land. They need to get us to the point where the law is obeyed.”

Kollar said he's ready to go once the Council funds a deputy prosecutor position that will be assigned part-time to zoning enforcement. Still, he said, his office is part of a “multi-pronged enforcement effort” that will be ineffective "if one of those prongs isn't working right.”

Councilmembers were displeased with Dahilig's three-page enforcement handout, which essentially said the planning department will try to get its act together this year with the idea of cracking down on violations for the 2014 renewal cycle. The TVR law was passed in 2008, but the planning department failed to implement it properly, approving TVR applications that lacked the proper documentation and houses with zoning violations.

A year ago we had the same discussion,” Rapozo said, with Dahilig promising then to go after violations in the next round of renewals. “Every year we get excuses.”

Councilman Tim Bynum said he felt “a lot let down” by the department's failure to make applicants “comply with even the most basic aspects of the law.”

Dahilig, who took the job in late 2010, said that as he dug into the matter he discovered “more systemic issues that I wasn't aware of. I'll be candid about the limitations from a human resources standpoint and infrastructure. The fundamentals aren't there.”

But Councilmembers seemed to feel that Dahilig, the mayor and TVR owners had been given adequate time to assess the problem and devise a clean up plan. Some of the violations were reported to the planning department back in 2008, but the owners were issued TVR certificates, anyway. FEMA also identified shortcomings in the law's implementation in August 2009, identifying TVRs that were operating with illegal ground floor units in the flood zone.

The exposure to the county is huge,” Hooser said, questioning whether the county would have increased liability if someone were to be killed or injured in a unit that had violations the county knew about. County Attorney Al Castillo said he couldn't answer without doing “an analysis.”

Councilman Ross Kagawa said the TVRs profiled in the Abuse Chronicles “are restricting access to the beach and damaging the shoreline.” He asked Dahilig if he could use the posts as a starting point for enforcement. “It was almost like you were handed all this evidence. If we don't do anything, in time the community is going to get frustrated.”

Some Councilmembers suggested Dahilig and Kollar enforce first against the “low-hanging fruit” to send a message to other TVR owners that the county is getting serious about a crack down. Others said he should pursue one or two cases to get a handle on what it will take to work through the list.

I”m not looking for enforcement on one or two,” Furfaro said. “Why not cast a net that goes after those 16 that are the most serious?”

Councilwoman Nadine Nakamura said she believes the TVR violations outlined in the Abuse Chronicles “are only the tip of the iceberg.”

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said she'd heard Realtors are selling agricultural land under the false promise that owners can develop TVRs. She wondered whether the real estate organizations could do more to crack down on unethical members.

Former Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho also weighed in, saying her office had tried to enforce against TVRs in 2010, but the planning department refused to provide any of its investigative reports, which are public, anyway. The OPA had to file a motion to compel the department to turn over the files. 

Hooser asked Dahilig if the county had followed up on any of the abuses profiled in the blog series. Dahilig said he had looked into the first report, which found no record of building permits for the Wainiha River dock where a visitor drowned in February. Dahilig said he sent out inspectors, but “the work product was problematic.”

When asked what that meant, Dahilig said the inspectors “still require more training. We are going to be following through once we are able to ascertain the files we are referencing were correct.”

So it's still operating?” Hooser asked.

That I don't know,” Dahilig said. “We did issue a cease and desist order.”

The $2.589 million property is currently listed by Realtor Jane Abramo as “a very successful and fully permitted vacation rental. All showings subject to 48 hour notice if the home is occupied by vacation guests."


Anonymous said...

so - if the inspectors do not have enough training to do their jobs after how many years (+10 years in all cases but one) then why do they still have jobs? And whose responsibility is it to ensure that HIS employees are adequately trained?

Oh right, civil servants with no disciplinary actions, EVER.

Anonymous said...

Dahilig hadn't seen any indication of “malfeasance”? Open your eyes! How about FRAUD, filing false government paperwork, TAX Evasion, FEMA violations, putting people's lives in danger by renting space in floods zones, EPA violations of old & heavily used septic tanks, parking violations, etc. etc. This guy is incompetent.

Justin Kollar should prioritize this, not make it contingent on getting funding for another position.

Besides, with all the fines, additional tax revenue that HAVEN'T been paid, these can more than fund any enforcement positions.

Amend the law so that "bounty hunters" can collect something for busting up these illegal TVR's. Enough is enough.

Let's get it together people! They're STEALING our beaches.

Anonymous said...

Kollar is the Mayor's boy. He's not going to crack down on anyone who has bought off the mayor or planning.

Anonymous said...

why have all of the mayor's 'appointments' been completely unqualified to do the job he picked out for them? Have you tried to ride the bus here?

how many favors did he have to repay to be elected in the first place.

this guy has a trip planned that can't be avoided? when he is called upon to be at council to account for his actions or inaction?

pathetic, just pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Kollar isn't asking for an additional position, he's asking the Council to stop the admin from de-funding the position he already has that is assigned to zoning cases. There's a big difference.

Anonymous said...

why did this nincompoop sign anything as important as a permit without reviewing it first, I thought he was a lawyer...

Anonymous said...

Go Council!

Dawson said...

"Dahilig further irked the Council when he had to leave the meeting in mid-discussion to catch a flight for another event...." off-island crash course in How to Update Your Resume?

Anonymous said...

All of this Lip Service is comical. Are you people really that gullible with all that is being said? This PLAY is the same as how they covered up the identity of Kauai's Serial Killer or point the finger "NOT OUR FAULT" in the deaths from the Koloko Dam breach. Together We Can....Together We Can....Together We Can.....

Anonymous said...

Dahilig is probably flying to Honolulu for the UH Manoa commencement ceremony this weekend. He seems to spend more time working on the UH System's matters as a regent than he does for the COK.

Anonymous said...

RE: UH - don't worry - state law allows him to be paid for both...

Anonymous said...

Before throwing stones at Dahilig do your homework first. He stepped off the board in January and is no longer a regent.

Anonymous said...

yeah - that's because he interviewed for a job with UH and had to...poor ting.

and his appointment would have been over in June anyway.

Anonymous said...

And so he's flying out for what if he's not a regent? Maybe it's other county business he has to attend to? See a sick family member? Don't deflect your misstatement and try to cover up your inability to do homework before you speak.

Anonymous said...

Dahilig probably just needs a break from all you crazy bastards!

This whole situation is pretty ironic...
A bunch of transplants claiming a bunch of other transplants are "stealing" their land.

Anonymous said...

The cast of Gilligan's Island is now laughing at Kauai.

Anonymous said...

Forget transplant vs. local. This is fraud. Although I think Dahilig is part of the problem, much of the damage was done before he took office. This mayor, the former mayor, the current council (most members) and prior councils all looked the other way. I can't believe everyone's head was in the sand. This is fraud - period. Shaylene - well, I won't even go there. The current mayor and the current council better do something to clean this mess up. My guess is their pockets were lined along the way and will not push too hard. Mel Rapozo. I will vote for anyone who looks this stuff square in the eyes and tackles it head on. No singing allowed.

Anonymous said...

Dahilig wasn't qualified for the job from the get go. They should've done a serious job search for a qualified applicant and picked the best one. I thought he was bought in to clean up this mess, instead it looks like he's covering for Ian and Imai until the storm blows over. He's blaming it on a systemic problem rather than serious negligence by personnel, no accountability that way. They need to have a thorough audit of Planning and in no uncertain terms, an investigation is warranted. As for Kagawa, where have you been? The public has long been frustrated and angry by the loss of public beach and access, not only now because Joan is blowing this out of the water and airing the county's dirty laundry. And for the clown who thinks its only "transplants" complaining about it here, you are so wrong. Many kanaka are upset and have been upset for a long time about these very issues that Joan is revealing. I'm one of them. Kudos Joan. Keep on stirring the pot and making Dahilig and the Mayor squirm.

Anonymous said...

Dahilig is a transplant from Oahu for those keeping track of that nonsense.

Transplant or not he is compliant in the maladministration of the TVR ordinance - his staff isn't trained? And whose responsibility would that be?

He can't control his staff - he promotes those who have arrest records?

seriously the laughing stock of the Pacific - right here on Gillian's Island.

Anonymous said...

At least Mel is willing to dig into this scandal, unlike when Joan wa uncovering all that dirt on Shaylene and all Mel wanted to do was cover up his friend's mess.

Anonymous said...

Classic Shay as she tried to play the good cop on going after tvr's. too bad joann got her to "claify" that they were not tvr's. she already wants (needs?)the public eye. she'll be back.

Anonymous said...

“I would not support anything that would be characterized as an investigation,”

YUP when you have something to hide you definitely don't want an investigation.

he really can't hide his managerial incompetence as it is and will be displayed for all to see.

Let's hope his trip to was for a job interview.

Anonymous said...

you can't just say - Justin, give all the zoning to another attorney and they'll just have to deal with the added work load.

He is asking that a CURRENT position not be lost, which is TOTALLY different from asking for a new position. This position exists and he is asking not to lose it so that he can assign ZONING/TVR AND misc cases to this attorney.

You all seem to forget that this position is NOT ONLY for TVR... as he has had to repeat himself, its for ZONING/TVR/MISC CASES.

Even Shay said it, her office prosecuted zoning cases and Justin is simply trying to continue to engage in proactive enforcement of ZONING AND TVR issues by asking the Council NOT TO CUT FUNDING FOR AN EXISTING POSITION. An existing position Shay had, and an existing position Justin does not want to lose.

I'm sure the Council could give up the $35,000 request for a NEW SECRETARY, in addition to the $90,000 Administrator position that is in their budget that they clearly said in their presentation- we are not looking to fill that position. If you not going fill the position, why do you get to have the money in your budget???

Would the Council like to make those cuts to their budget, because as far as I can see, they are not doing their part in cutting back on their expenses as almost every department in the Mayor's administratoin has had to do. no im not a mayors good ol boy, i'm simply looking at the whole picture as a county.

pretty hyprocitical if you ask me, council points fingers at the mayor yet its okay for their department to keep asking for new positions. practice what your preach? lead by example maybe?

oh well, this whole budget thing is a circus.

it does take balls thought to start an investigation i give them that much.

ii do applaud those departments that have made the cuts even though it may effect customer service...what a shame.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
At least Mel is willing to dig into this scandal, unlike when Joan was uncovering all that dirt on Shaylene and all Mel wanted to do was cover up his friend's mess.

May 9, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Mel look things square in the eye? Forget it. A lot covered up in the Prosecutor's Office when Shaylene was around. Getting away with murder.

Mel can't be reformed. The Monica Alves days are hardly a thing of the past.

Don't buy Mel's posturing. TGOB probably get together over a beer after the County Council performance is over.

The Chief and his wife jump in, ruined credibility by supporting Shay, along with Mel.

KPD employees/officers in disbelief Iseri-Carvalo was being supported by the Chief.

He's about done with his time at KPD. Why should the cops bother to work hard when the next stepping stone was Shaylene? No need.

It never ends; same sh*t, just different faces.

Kollar should hire Tim Bynum as Deputy Prosecutor for TVR Enforcement. Tim has all the experience needed.

Anonymous said...

May 9, 2013 at 6:00 PM that was classic Shay. Say anything even if it's pure b.s. And what was she saying about the County Attorney not paying for her travel? We're already paying $75,000 for her lawyer. She was flying all over the place as prosecutor using taxpayer money and she can't even pay her own ticket to Oahu? She says the truth needs to be told but she wouldn't answer questions about all the funny stuff when she was prosecutor.

Anonymous said...

Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho: How DARE YOU complain about the County not paying for your travel back to Kauai to a attend deposition in the Bynum lawsuit! When you already cost this County HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS! Have you no shayme?!

Anonymous said...

Garden Island misses story per usual. Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

The price tag for Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho will eventually be well over a million.

Anonymous said...

9:29 pm - I agree. It's a mess. The Chief lost the respect of many by backing an arrogant, wasteful, ruthless, back-stabbing and corrupt prosecutor. What does that say about him? The mayor is definitely part of the problem with no visible displays of being part of the solution. I think it's beyond him at this point. There's a reason Mel back Shay. Ask around.

Anonymous said...

“So it's still operating?” Hooser asked.

“That I don't know,” Dahilig said. “We did issue a cease and desist order.”

Anyone miss this?

BTW, get over Shaylene already. The foam around your lips is bubbling down your chin.

Anonymous said...

what was the purpose of issuing a cease and desist order if you don't inspect it to ensure that the illegal operation ceased?

what a baffoon.

Anonymous said...

What was the purpose of issuing a cease and desist if you donʻt know if itʻs operating?

Anonymous said...

9:29 pm and May 10, 2013 at 8:11 AM, I agree, it is a mess. Why would Chief Perry cross the tracks to a location like Shaylene? Did he cross over or already there?

I wonder what Debra Morel thinks about this. She is always a reliable supporter for KPD and Perry.

Mayor Carvalho has mostly managed to run up law suits at tax payers' expense.

How much has this cost Kauaians?

Anonymous said...

If this is a KNOWN lie "Jane Abramo as “a very successful and fully permitted vacation rental" then why is this person still allowed to carry out the ethical responsibilities of a RA?

Real Estate Commission reporting? Anyone?