Who woulda thunk Judge Randal Valenciano was such a softie?
Hapless addicts, downtrodden kanaka, repentant repeat offenders — none of them faze him. But let “Diamond” Eddie Ben-Dor come a-cryin' and a-whinin' about how the big bad county was nailing him with civil and criminal penalties for his illegal vacation rental and the tiny tyrant got all a-tremble with indignation.
Why it's “an injustice” to ding poor Eddie twice, the judge sniffed. It's “extortion” to demand criminal and civil fines for a misdemeanor zoning violation stemming from Eddie's illegal TVR on Weke Road in Hanalei.
Oh, my, such a dreadful hardship for a diamond merchant/developer who was renting his place for $5,800 per week in the low season.
But since Eddie pled no contest, the judge had to do something. So yesterday morning he ordered Eddie to pay $1,055 in criminal fines and court fees, then turned around and ordered the county to return the $2,000 civil fine that Eddie had already paid.
WTF? The county finally grows a pair and with the help of Prosecutor Justin Kollar starts taking a tough stance on serious scofflaws who never even bothered to get a TVR permit. But rather than support them — or better yet, set a strong example by sending Eddie's ass to jail — Valenciano hangs the county and OPA out to dry.
And then later that day, the judge rescinded his order to make the county repay the civil fine it had collected. He offered no explanation for his reversal. So Eddie was fined a total of $3,055 for operating illegally for years.
Eddie, who conveniently was living under a rock during the years that the TVR permitting process was under way, claimed he thought his TVR was permitted. He also claimed he pulled his website and stopped operating once he got the planning department's cease and desist. But as I previously reported, his TVR was still listed on Flipkey last August 14 — after he had been charged with the misdemeanor offense — and booked right through the Christmas holidays.
What's more the four-bedroom, three-bath, sleeps-12 TVR was billed as having two full kitchens and two living rooms, and offered as a multi-family rental, which is also illegal. As its ad stated:
“The house can also be broken into smaller private suites to fit parties of all sizes.” The full house rents for $5,800/week during the low season, while the Plumeria, Gardenia and Hibiscus suites average $2,000 per week.
Now Eddie's trying to get that illegal multi-family TVR approved as a B&B instead. The county properly turned him down, but he appealed to the planning commission. I'll report on that after I have a chance to watch yesterday's commission hearing.
Meanwhile, Charter Commission nominee Allan Parachini was raked over the coals in The Garden Island today by "reporter" Chris D'Angelo. Splashy top of the fold coverage, no less.
And why? Because failed Council candidate Felicia Cowden, who praised Chris on Facebook for covering Bill 2491 in a style favorable to the anti-GMO red-shirts, doesn't like Allan.
Mmmm, who gives a rip what Felicia thinks? Is that worthy of a story that claims "some say" when only one disgruntled person does? Especially since she wrote her own nasty letter to the editor, which is printed today under a headline that inexplicably describes him as a "recent arrival," even though her letter makes no reference to that.
When was the last time you saw any TGI coverage of commission nominees, much less 30 inches worth?
Felicia dug up some old, discredited dirt, which Chris rehashed, in a pathetic attempt to tarnish Allan's character.
She then moved on to his true sins: He — gasp — criticized her Council campaign and the anti-GMO movement. And in the lock-step world of the red-shirts, anyone who is not 100% with them is obviously in the employ of the seed companies, if not the Devil.
Except Allan isn't.
Felicia claimed Allan's “alignment with Kauai’s chemical seed industry has been clear with his championing the industry while disparaging the concerned citizens with false presumptive statements — as fact — in our newspaper.“ You know. Like what she just did to him.
In the article, Felicia is quoted as saying Allan has “shown strong alignment with the companies seeking to suppress public participation in the democratic process.”
Once again, this underscores the myopic thinking of the “red shirts,” who believe that successfully suing to challenge a flawed law is somehow undermining the democratic process.
No. It's called following the rule of law, which is part and parcel of the democratic process.
Here's the real reason why Felicia doesn't want Allan: She knows she doesn't have a prayer of getting elected unless the Charter Commission approves Council districts, and she can't count on Allan to make that happen.
So she went crying to Chris, who obliged her with a hatchet job on poor Allan, who dares to be an independent thinker on an island of red-shirted sheeple.
Now aren't you glad you didn't vote Felicia onto the Council?
But watch Councilman Gary Hooser pick up her rallying cry.
Because stunted minds think alike.