Sunday, October 10, 2010

Musings: Question of Ethics

Last night’s spectacle of a crescent moon nuzzling up to Venus in a soft blue and pink sky as light rays shot out from the cloud-cloaked summit of Waialeale was still on my mind when Koko and I set out walking this morning in the golden glow of dawn.

Makaleha was clear and green, and Waialeale was strategically adorned with apricot-colored puffs that gave her flat top the appearance of jagged peaks. As we headed on to the mountain trail, wind sighing through the trees, we passed a vacation rental on ag land that has been operating unabated for years now, even though it wasn’t until July 28 that the Council approved an ordinance that creates a process for making them legal.

So the Council rewarded the scofflaws, and not long after the vote, the scofflaws apparently rewarded the three incumbent Councilmen — Dickie Chang, Jay Furfaro and Tim Bynum — who were instrumental in getting the measure passed.

In the first two weeks of September, a group known as Kauai Alternative Vacation Accommodation Association (KAVA), which has been pressing to legalize vacation rentals (TVRs), gave $1,000 each to Jay, Dickie and Tim, who also got $100 from Mike Hough, who runs KAVA.

Derek Kawakami, who voted against the bill, received no contribution from KAVA, nor did anyone else running for Council. Kaipo Asing also opposed the bill, but does not accept campaign donations.

These contributions are significant in races where most donations come in under $100. In addition to the KAVA donation, Jay received just five donations of $1,000 each this year. Tim received three other donations of $1,000 or more, and one was from a family member. As for Dickie, he received just one other contribution of that size in 2010.

Such contributions are legal, but are they ethical? According to Section 20.02 of the County Charter:

No officer or employee of the county shall:

A. Solicit, accept or receive, directly or indirectly, any gift, whether in the form of money, service, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, thing or promise or in any other form, under circumstances in which it can reasonably be inferred that the gift is intended to influence him in the performance of his official duties or is intended as a reward for any official action on his part.

So what do you think? Should Tim, Dickie and Jay have accepted those campaign contributions from KAVA?

In another question of ethics, Keith Kamita, chief of the narcotics enforcement division for the state Department of Public Safety, released statistics on medical marijuana users to the media, then went on to publicly question the legitimacy of some of the prescriptions and a doctor who has written many of them:

Today, more than 8,000 people statewide hold medical marijuana licenses, he said. Of those, just 2 percent suffer from cancer, AIDS, Crohn's disease and other debilitating ailments for which the legislation was intended to target, he said.

"The Big Island is our overachiever," he said about the island's 4,665 registered patients. There are 1,751 medical marijuana license holders on Oahu, he said.

Of those Big Island patients, 2,957 received their medical marijuana license from one doctor in Hawi, Kamita said.

"We're not saying he's not treating them, but, I don't know of any doctor able to handle that many patients," Kamita said.

Kamita then went on to belittle some of those had been given a prescription for medical marijuana:

The drug [sic] is also being prescribed to patients complaining of headaches, pain from wearing high heels, dry skin, insomnia and other ailments, he said.

"It's the physicians relaxing and authorizing patients and the law doesn't authorize us to do as much as we can do (enforcement-wise) with other controlled substances," Kamita said, noting officers have no authority to check on a licensed patient [oh, and they do have authority to check on, say, an oxy patient?] unless they come upon plants or other evidence while investigating a separate incident.

So WTF is Kamita doing releasing ANY details about these patients’ medical conditions to the press, much less ridiculing them? And what right does he have to start second-guessing the doctors? He’s a law enforcement officer, not a health care provider. His job is not to critique doctor's prescriptions, but fulfill the mandate of the Legislature, which is to provide people with an access to treatment through the use of cannabis at their doctor's discretion.

One also has to wonder if Kamita is similarly scrutinizing other patients who are given pain relief prescriptions, or singling out medical marijuana patients for public disparagement. Kamita should be reprimanded for his discriminatory remarks, which make it clear that his department is trying to undermine the law, rather than uphold it. Kamita's bad behavior provides yet more evidence of why the medical marijuana program should be moved out of the Department of Public Safety and into the Department of Health.


Anonymous said...

Nice mention of Tim, Dickie, and Jay getting high on KAVA moneys while lounging on somebody's vacation rental on ag land.

Anybody in the public can file a complaint about this under Section 20.05D(1) with the County Board of Ethics.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the KAVA money, it was given after the councilman's decision. Unless there is proof that an "arrangement was made" prior to the vote, it cannot be proven that such contributions represent influence-peddling gifts. No prior conspiracy.

It's just the way it works. It may look like a duck and quack like a duck, but without the "legal DNA" of prior conspiracy, it cannot be proven that is is a duck.

Regarding the BI MJ scripts, there's rough homemade hand-painted signs nailed to various electric poles in HOVE that say, in effect, "for MJ scripts, call ..." and it gives a number.

Looks like Elvis's own "Dr. Nick" is alive and practicing here.

Anonymous said...

BTW, Dickie, Jay, Nadine and Mel still have not reported their sizeable contributions from A&B vis-a-vis Kukui'ula. In the case of Jay it was a $1,000 still unreported by the candidate. In the case of Dickie it was the one back in June never reported. Nadine and Mel haven't filed the next report that it should show up in. They all got a total of a $1,000 each for their good work on behalf of A&B. Anybody up to filing the Section 20.05D(1) complaint at least on the current Council members with the County Board of Ethics?

Anonymous said...

Nadine and Mel are not on the council at nthe moment, and do not and did not have a vote in Kukui'ula. of couse companies like A&B give donations, its the voting part, whether right after or before,that is unethical.
"it is under circumstances in which it can reasonably be inferred that the gift is intended to influence him in the performance of his official duties or is intended as a reward for any official action on his part." Simply put, the &1000 to Dickie, Tim and Jay certainly seem like a reward. They should have returned the money if it wasn't.
Those guys don't get my vote this time

Anonymous said...

They are who we thought they were.

Anonymous said...

intended to influence.

sounds like future tense to me.

was the "gift" given before the supposed influenced vote? no.

was a promise to "gift" a voter used as an "influence" prior to the vote?
can't be proven.

so, you're left with...nothing. conjecture. "reasonably inferred"..."seems like"..

not proof.

Anonymous said...

If it looks like a crook, smells like a crook, walks like a crook, guess what?

Anonymous said...

Just like it seemed, they benefited by the decision. Vote em out

Anonymous said...

And certainly if dickie hadn't changed his mind after 3 county attorneys visited him(aka county beerfest) , he would have got squat, so it is in fact a reward.

Anonymous said...

No vote for Jay, Tim or Dickie. Kaipo has to be respected for running a low budget no donations campaign. Win or loose it will be on his terms. Gotta admire him for that.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of that Phoenix Coach blowup.

Re: Anonymous said...

"They are who we thought they were!"

October 10, 2010 4:05 PM

Anonymous said...

BTW, Joan, your link for Tim does not go to his $1,000 contribution received from KAVA.

The readers should know that at the Council level $1,000 contributions as from KAVA and A&B are rare. They stand out. They are in expectation of or reward for something.

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks for the heads-up; the link is fixed.

Anonymous said...

Another one that stands out is Jeff Stone, he was making $500 and now $1,000 contributions. He's gonna want something from Council or the Planning Commission soon, no doubt.

Anonymous said...

You would expect someone like Jeff Stone to donate lots of money, but KAVA? Are the AG TVR's in a league to compete with Princeville now? After all, who would want to stay in princeville if all the AG lands can be resort? So much BS came out of the curent council. Certaintly they destroyed any zoning parameters we once had.

Anonymous said...

Kaipo has to be respected for running a low budget no donations campaign.
Yes, Vote for Kaipo, don't believe a word of the crap (psychological warfare) that Tim has tryed so hard to paint. Kaipo has always had such high standards that he does not take any money, owes no one favors and his votes are almost always for the people. In contrast, Bynman ,(dowecheatemandhow)been doing the bidding of the administration and gutting our ordinances to the benefit of those he takes money from
This lays the cards on the table. Tim and Dickie and Jay took money from KAVA and didn't care if it looked like a payoff. Know what guys, it does look like a payoff for your vote.
I'll vote for Kaipo

Anonymous said...

Did Tim ever answer the question about his planning violation on his property? I don't recall that he did. I am told that he was cited for having an illegal unit on his ag property. Joan, can you check on this and report back to us? I know the Garden Island will never do it. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Kamita's comments are totally out of line. Is he keeping stats on why people are getting Rx for oxy, or just singling out med mj patients for harassment and public disparagement?

Anonymous said...

Well duh! When I donate money to politicians it's to politicians who do things I approve of and who vote for things I like. That's how I decide who to donate to. It's neither illegal nor immoral for them to take my money. In fact, unless I'm a Nazi or a child molester, they would be stupid to not take my money. Get over it. This is the silliest post yet.

Anonymous said...

It'll be interesting to see how this election turns out. I think some of this will make a difference. There will be at least 1 and maybe 2 of the current Council that loses in the contested election. The most likely prospects are that 1 and possibly 2 out of 3 of Kaipo, Tim, or Dickie get bumped off.