Thursday, August 22, 2013

Musings: Pretty Facade

As a zillion raindrops sparkle gold in the ironwood trees against a sky of dusky rose, I am reminded of the distinction between Kauai's true beauty and its pretty facade, like “Kusaka's heiau,” all flowery and lush at the airport intersection and right smack behind it, the brown stunted stubble of an unidentified chem company's crop.

The propaganda war is heating up as the Council's Sept. 9 meeting on Bill 2491 nears. Did the biotech-friendly Hawaii Crop Improvement Assn. really think they'd get any sympathy claiming Hoike deliberately lost hours of videotaped testimony that no one is going to watch, anyway? Or by attacking Councilman Gary Hooser for how he ran a meeting three weeks ago, especially when he ran it well? If that's the best their high-paid PR firm can come up with, they need new flacks. Or better yet, just give it a rest.

On the other side, a group is seeking kids for a video that captures how youth feel about 2491. In an email going around, parents are urged to familiarize their kids about the bill, “as impartially as possible” before filming. 

Apparently that's to ensure a truly objective response when they're asked how they feel about large amounts of dangerous chemicals being sprayed in Waimea and possibly more areas on Kauai” and whether they “think it's a good idea for the island of Kauai to take care of this issue, or do you think it would be better to let Honolulu and the state of Hawaii - who are very busy with all the islands - to deal with this?”

The Council put off the meeting until Sept. 9 ostensibly to get the County Attorney's opinion on the bill. Will it be released to the public, or kept secret like almost everything else?

I asked for a copy of the CA's logic- and morality-defying opinion that all the folks who gamed the system get to keep their vacation rental certificates because they were approved by former Planning Director Ian Costa, albeit improperly. 

But County Attorney Al Castillo refused to release it, citing attorney/client privilege. I'm still waiting for him to identify the client. Is it the mayor? The planning department? The Council? Though it's called the “county attorney's office,” which would seem to include the people who live here, citizens don't actually have any legal representation at the county unless we hire it ourselves.

Speaking of those improper approvals, I asked county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka, “Why does the mayor keep Ian Costa on staff in light of the planning department's own revelations about the bungling of the TVR ordinance that occurred under Ian's leadership? Is Ian going to be held in any way accountable?”

To which Beth replied:

As you know, in late 2010 the Planning Commission voted to remove Ian as Planning Director.  The Mayor appointed Ian as Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation in December 2010 because he felt he had experience and qualifications that would benefit that area of county operations.  The Mayor is pleased with Ian’s performance in that capacity, not only managing parks operations, but also utilizing his skills as a licensed architect to benefit parks capital improvement projects.   [Update: Beth said she made an error. Ian resigned as Planning Director. He was not removed.]

So in other words, it's all good with the big guy. 

To paraphrase that great line from “Apocalypse Now:” The bullshit piles up so fast on Kauai you need wings to stay above it.

Hey, I've been hearing talk about Rep. Derek Kawakami running for mayor. Now that's a candidate who could beat Bernard Carvalho Jr. He's got the political machine, business and management experience, intelligence, youth and ambition on his side. And he must be sick of schlepping over to Honolulu with the likes of Rep. Jimmy Tokioka. As mayor, Derek could stay home, make more money and gain visibility for a key race. He could even create a legacy. I mean, heck, Bryan Baptiste didn't do nuttin', and they named the busiest bridge on Kauai after him.

In other political news, the Charter Commission is pressing hard this year to get an amendment on the 2014 ballot that would establish County Council elections by district. They're looking at five geographic districts, and two at large. Now that's a step in the right direction if we want to bring in some fresh blood, because it's very hard for unknown candidates to canvass the entire island. But there's gonna be stiff opposition from the three commissioners who do Bernard's bidding – Jimmy Nishida, Carol Suzawa and Mary Lou Barela. So if you support Council districts, let the Commission know. It will be dealing with this topic at its Aug. 26 and Sept. 23 meetings, which begin at 4 p.m. in the conference room of the Moikeha Building. Or you can email

In looking at the commission's agenda, I was amused to learn the county really is getting serious about sustainability. No, not by supporting farming or reducing imports or anything like that. It's starting with small, manageable steps, like discontinuing the practice of providing commissioners with bottled water. Instead, they have been issued water bottles which they must bring in to be filled.

Like I said, there's the real, and there's the facade.


Anonymous said...

Hawaii crop improvement association should put their mouth to where the PR is. If they don't live in warmer or kekaha have them come with their families and drink the water from the pipes and eat their breakfast, lunch, and dinner right after they spray the fields.

What say you now?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Kusaka -- wish you would dive into her political history on this island, and shine a light on the corruption that reigned during her tenure (and after). That entry to the airport -- "my volunteers will maintain it; no cost to the County". Pffffft!

Anonymous said...

Only in Kauai County government can you be investigated by the feds, removed from your job because of serious allegations only to be reassigned to another cushy high-salaried county position. Oh wait, I take that back. Happens at the State level as well i.e. Pua Aiu (Imai's sister) being removed because of her performance at SHPD and given another position within the realm of DLNR. What does it take to get fired in the public sector?

Al is protecting Bernard at any cost to the county and public.

No accountability in government. Oh but wtf...shoot to kill a 21 year old because he happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Such extreme punitive actions taken against the public while white collar crime in our county government goes unpunished.

Unless you're well-connected, welcome to the new police state.

Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate that more of you could not have gotten to know Ian Costa or Mayor Kusaka, before you made your inaccurate opinions.
Ian worked with what laws he had, the TVR apps were new and you even had TVRs on AG land, a complete huli-huli of State law. Ian is honest and even if there were mistakes in his department, Ian has integrity, values and has always put Kauai first.
Mayor Kusaka is another good person. She kept the budget down and the old boy network (at that time) was demolished. She gets bashed by haters. I was close enough to know that neither Kusaka or Costa took money.............all you have to do is follow who has what and when they got it. Kusaka got blasted on Ko Loko because some Illegal dwellings were built without permits in the middle of flood zone, then a 100 year rain hits an illegally modified spillway breaks and you all blame Kusaka..what a joke. Cast blame if you have facts, if you have facts show facts.....there are none. On another note, if Kauai is so bad, so corrupt and the officials are so stupid, maybe you haters should move on. Kauai's people will still be here long after you have grown tired of this little island and left.

Anonymous said...

Guess 3:11 doesn't know about Kusaka and the brown paper bag with $9,000 that Jimmy Pflueger put on her desk.

Anonymous said...

Gee whiz- a whole $9000?
9000 is nutin'. When a developer comes in to do a project and a couple of years of permitting can be removed by having good guidance, it is worth 10 to 20 percent of project value. If Kusaka had her hand out she could have received millions over the years, did not happen. She has clean hands. She is a real lady.

Anonymous said...

The root of these personnel issues/problems lies in our still illegal personnel operation. Lacking a legal Human Resource function, we are sued repeatedly. Our only defense is an "indefensible defense", given the egregious civil rights and labor law violations that are still institutionalized in our personnel function.
This can be demonstrated by asking Ms. Tokioka for a copy of the objective performance criteria for various department heads and assistants. Which County management positions require - under current personnel policy - either or both - a relevant educational degree and prior successful related employment in a relevant field?
The failure to have objective performance review in favor of subjective personal approval of personnel is the root of all the corruption. With no official performance criteria, the mayor can ignore performance and reward political and personal loyalty.

Anonymous said...

That is why we need a county manager. Vote for Gary Hooser or Rolf Bieber for Mayor and let the people vote fr or against a county manager. The problem has been identified multiple times at every lawsuit at every position. Kauai has to fix what is broken and prioritize what are luxury items and items that are necessities. At random secret drug tests are desperately needed and the supervisors should never be told when it is because they always tell their loyal servants.

Anonymous said...

When a complaint was made about Jimmy Pflueger and County inspectors went to check it out, it was Kusaka who called the dogs off. Her County Engineer's daughters' company contracted with Pflueger to do the illegal work. Just because she was given immunity, her hands aren't clean of the Ka Loko Dam incident in anyway. As far as Ian is concerned, he was grossly negligent in his handling of the tvr fiasco. In the private sector, his ass would've been fired long ago. As Director of Planning, the buck stops there, no excuses. Being a nice guy is not justification enough for the mess he and Imai left behind.

Dawson said...

"On another note, if Kauai is so bad, so corrupt and the officials are so stupid, maybe you haters should move on."

In other words, "Kauai -- love it or leave it."

Looks like I'll need to reconsider my disbelief in life after death. That poster is clearly channeling the soul of Spiro Agnew.

Anonymous said...

Imai is hopping on that plane and running away like Kauai's only known serial killer.

Once the Feds got a tab on you then you might as well run and hide in another state.

He got his dough and now he and Amand Gregg have to live a life in shame far far away from Kauai.

Kids must be proud of their parents, oh wait they're too young to understand what is right and what is wrong.

Only hope their kids DNA is not saturated with greed.

Anonymous said...

Now wait a minute. Didn't ian have a vacation rental or two? He was doing something illegal that had to do with taking advantage of illegal zoning and lack of enforcement.
Had he built something on conservation land or did he build something and get it accepted as bed and breakfast. He was playing fast and loose withzoning so stop trying to characterize him as a saint.
He could have accomplished lots of good things but he was too focused on coming his hair and looking good politically.

Anonymous said...

11:04 PM

Your imagination is quite vivid...

Anonymous said...

Maybe Kawakami thinking about running for Mayor cause he and papa bear realize he doesnʻt have the mental acumen to be senator material.


Anonymous said...

Kawakami for Mayor?? What a frickin Joke, it's like voting Kouchi or Tokioka for senate. These well connected clowns ain't nothing but GOB puppets. Can't Kauai come up with half way descent candidates and we're not talking about any bozos.

Anonymous said...

4:26 PM

Wholeheartedly AGREE!

Anonymous said...

2:47 -- Intelligence has nothing to do with being a senator. Look at Mazie Hirono.

4:26 -- get real. if you aren't well connected you aren't going to be elected mayor

Anonymous said...

Pflueger must have been lying when he told the reporter that he paid Kusaka 9 grand to take care of his grading violation at Ka Loko. And the inspector must have been lying when he put that memo in the file describing the meeting when Kusaka told him to leave Pflueger alone. And Kusaka didn't feel guilty when she hid her face on national television when confronted by the reporter who asked her about Pflueger's "donation". She was just being shy.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Some people should just keep their mouth shut.

Anonymous said...

Actually no, he didn't have a vacation rental or two. If you don't have facts, please keep your mouth shut!

Anonymous said...

Why would you bring Mayor Bryan Baptiste into this article? First off, he's don't more for this island than you could ever imagine. Secondly, he's done it all while having to put up with negativity from people who don't know the ins and outs and what it takes to get things done. Everything is easier said then done. If you're so unhappy with it, change it or stop complaining!