Al's office has spent $631,509.13 on special counsel to date for fiscal year 2013, according to documents from the finance office. This has him handily beating his previous record of $525,478.94, set in FY 2010.
Special counsel is brought in when the county attorney lacks the skills to handle a case or has a conflict of interest. Sometimes it's due to laziness, or because his staff has other priorities, such as cursing citizen whistle-blowers and making up power points to justify their crappy legal advice on the vacation rental issue. Other times, it's because the county attorney and/or his boss — Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. — make really bad decisions that result in extensive and/or protracted litigation.
In Al Castillo's case, it's all of the above.
So where is all that money going?
To find out, I submitted a public records request to the County Attorney's office for all the special counsel funding sought from the Council since January 2013. I know the records exist in electronic form. But rather than email me PDF files, Al insisted I pay $7 to have his staff make photocopies of 18 pieces of paper, which I would then have to review at his office in Lihue.
I'm not sure whether Al was trying to pull a petty power play or throw up a roadblock or both. But I got the information for free elsewhere, and it speaks volumes about the sad state of this county.
The biggest chunk — a whopping $211,000 this year alone — is due to Al's handling of Councilman Tim Bynum's case against the county, which could have been resolved long ago. But Al is weak, and afraid to face the political fallout of a settlement. So instead he has sought $111,000 to defend former Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, $50,000 to represent planning supervisor Sheilah Miyake and $50,000 to lawyer up the county.
When you add the $211,000 for the first six months of this year to the $75,000 requested last fall — $25,000 for each defendant — the tab for special counsel in that case is now up to $286,000. Must be getting close to the county's insurance deductible.
Let's see, what else? There was $15,000 to keep fighting the sex discrimination case filed by Kathleen M. Ah Quin against the county bus back when the agency was run by the mayor's gal Janine Rapozo, who was transferred — go figger — to the human resources office.
Then there was $20,000 for the police commission to challenge the mayor's decision to suspend Police Chief Darryl Perry and Assistant Chiefs Roy Asher and Ale Quibilan — in addition to the $45,000 requested last year.
And let's not forget $25,000 to represent Officer Chris Calio, the cop who shot an unarmed man on his roof when the police department was essentially leaderless, with the top brass on mayor-ordered suspension.
Another $44,944 was sought to represent the County Council in the hostile workplace claim filed by Ron Rawls against County Auditor Ernie Pasion “and related matters.” With the $15,000 from last year, that brings us to nearly $60,000 in legal fees for that office.
Al also requested $61,000 so far this year to represent the county in Jeffery Sampoang vs. Harvey Brothers, LLC: et al.; $36,000 in Ricky L. Ball vs. Kaua'i Lagoons Resort Company, Ltd. (in addition to $25,000 last fall), and $8,920 in Wayne R. Daniel v. Kodani and Associates, Inc., et al., on top of $54,680 for that case from last fall.
Unfortunately, most if not all of these cases remain unresolved, so the meter is still running and the settlements have yet to be paid.
While digging around, I was amused to find this reference in a Dec. 1, 2010 story on the Council's 6-1 vote — with Councilman Mel Rapozo opposed — to reconfirm the mayor's appointment of Al as county attorney:
County Attorney Al Castillo will also keep his job. Castillo got the job in March 2009, and since then the County Attorney’s Office has relied less on outside counsel, a practice that can easily drain hundreds of thousands of dollars from county coffers in a single litigation, he said.