Will the Council actually approve an investigation, chaired by Mel Rapozo, into the vacation rental sham-scam flimflam?
The drama builds. A 10-minute recess is called. Happy dogs. Quick romp outside. Back to the tiny screen. Tempers spark.
Mel, frustrated, lays it on the line. “You're afraid that I'm gonna go nuts, and we've set it up so I can't go nuts. If it's a trust issue, state it.”
Councilman Gary Hooser offers more reassurance. “The full Council will have full control, total oversight over the conduct here.”
Still, the Council waffles. Amendments are introduced, motions are made.
Chair Jay Furfaro detonates a little mine planted by the Administration's disinformation campaign: We'd better not do an investigation because that would “freeze” all the planning department's records. To which Mel replies (though not in these words), WTH? That's crap. Who told you that?
Who else but County Attorney Al Castillo? And as he mealy-mouths around, muddling, muddying, deflecting, derailing, the thought occurs to me: Shay was right about this guy all along. Truly, he should be reported to whoever it is that slaps lawyer's hands when they're totally conflicted.
Councilman Ross Kagawa shares the anguish of sleepless nights, agonizing over how to vote on this, his biggest decision so far. Oh, gawd, should I please my pal Mel, or HGEA, which gave me that big endorsement? EZ. HGEA all da way.
Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura throws up one roadblock after another. I flash on how she thanked me profusely for doing all these investigations, but now is refusing to do one of her own. Oh, wait, I get it. She won't be in charge. Mel will. No way is she going for that. Or maybe she doesn't want to admit how badly she blew it when drafting the 2008 TVR bill.
Whatever her motivations, she's pushing the mayor's party line. “We already got them to move,” she says of planning. “Yeah,” replies Mel scornfully, “they made a power point.”
And don't forget the promises, promises, vague, vague promises.
Councilman Tim Bynum is like, hey you guys, this is a public safety issue — words also uttered by Mel, in a rare meeting of those two minds. We've got people sleeping in the flood zone and one guy already died, remember? “We need fresh, independent, thoughtful, talented eyes to look at this situation.”
Which fully explains why planning has re-hired ye good olde boy Mike Laureta, this time as Supervisory Vacation Rental and Special Management Area Planner.
Mel says he's over it, he's tired of it. If the vote fails, come Friday, he'll be making a formal request to have the FBI come in.
Gary gives it another go, reminding his colleagues about all the dirt uncovered in the Abuse Chronicles – findings the Administration has never refuted, though repeatedly asked to say it ain't so. Notes Tim: “All we get are blank stares.”
It's about equity, Gary says, it's about trust. “We've given a huge economic benefit to people who might have committed fraud.” Don't you want to know how this happened, he asks his colleagues, or why? Don't you want to curb creeping cynicism, “restore people's faith in the county?”
Nope, say Ross, JoAnn, Nadine, and Jay, who casts the deciding vote to defer the matter until Oct. 9, to give the Administration time, always more time. It seems they actually believe the Administration's promise, as trustingly echoed by Councilwoman Nadine Nakamura: “By Sept. 25, we'll have a total picture of where we're at.”
Just to be sure, Jay's gonna send a letter over to the Planning Commission, an official one, from the Council chair, to “let them know the failures here.”
Of course, when the Planning Commission gets it they'll be like, uh, duh, Mike tell us how we should feel about this.
And Mike Dahilig will whisper, like Ian Jung to the Council, Shhhh, we got it covered. Go back to sleep.
To be continued. And continued and continued....