Friday, February 3, 2012

Musings: Bigger, Not Better

A bright light woke me at 2:28 a.m. and when I got up to look I saw it was the fat waxing moon sliding toward her resting place behind Makaleha, bathing the silent world, the dewy grass, the trees, with her silvery-white brilliance, and I watched it, awestruck, until shivering drove me back to bed.

Out again, with the dogs, before 6 a.m., the sky densely packed with stars, the air so cold — just 55 degrees — that it took my breath away, we walked, feeling our way through the blackness, three small beings alive in the vastness of something much bigger.

The story about the KPD shake-up keeps getting bigger, though only because somebody finally spilled the beans, and it wasn't our mayor, who held a press conference yesterday for the sole purpose of giving the TV cameras footage of him reading a prepared statement. He wouldn't entertain any questions — what kind of press conference is that? — but told reporters they could direct queries to his PR staff afterward.

So what, Bernard's supposedly running the entire show — “The bottom line is, I am the Chief Executive for the County of Kauai, and I am ultimately responsible for the day to day operations of ALL administrative County departments and divisions.” — but he can't be trusted to talk off the cuff?

The most detail I've seen thus far came from Hawaii News Now, which relies on an unnamed source:

[Police officer] Darla Abbatiello-Higa... registered a new hostile work environment complaint against [Assistant Chief Roy] Asher in October, then filed a second complaint against [Assistant Chief Ale] Quibilan last month.

According to the source, Perry initially wanted to work from home during the investigation involving the assistant chiefs because Abatiello-Higa also works at the headquarters, and she had accused him of favoring an assistant chief in one of her complaints. However, the source said the mayor told Perry he should remain at work. The source said Perry was then suspended for seven days for disobeying orders by not reporting to the office. After the week-long suspension, he'll be on paid leave. Carvalho insisted that he has the authority to place the police chief on leave.

Not everyone agrees, and as The Garden Island reports today, Councilman Mel Rapozo and Patrick Stack, the new chair of the Charter Review Commission, are seeking opinions from County Attorney Al Castillo. But since Castillo serves all masters, he will be in the position of justifying, rather than scrutinizing, the advice he gave to Bernard. We really need some legal checks and balances in the county.

One thing in particular jumped out at me. If Darla filed a complaint with the Police Commission in October and another one “last month,” then the Commission certainly has had an opportunity to review and discuss those complaints. Doesn't it seem that they would have directed Chief Darryl Perry to place the two assistant chiefs on leave if they felt it was needed? And if they did, why did the mayor have to get involved? [Update: The complaints apparently weren't made to the Commission, but to the chief.]

And if the Chief felt he should work at home to maintain the integrity of the investigation, why would Bernard order him back to work — and then just end up putting him on leave anyway? Unless he wanted to make the chief look bad and execute a power grab. Because if you read Bernard's statement, he wasn't working cooperatively with the Police Commission on this, he was telling them what he'd done:

Over the past few days, I have been in communication with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Police Commission, and they have been fully informed of the steps that have been taken to insure the integrity of the disposition of the complaint.

As Mel notes:

County boards and commissions in general are appointed to take the politics out of the daily operations of departments such as police, fire, planning and personnel, he said.

“It would defeat this purpose if the administration is allowed to place commission-appointed department heads on administrative leave, whether paid or not,” Rapozo said.

But of course, Bernard already got away with usurping the power of a commission when he yanked Ian Costa and Imai Aiu out of planning and appointed former Deputy County Attorney Mike Dahilig as planning director. And though the Charter clearly states the Planning Commission names the director, the Commission went meekly along with Bernard.

Unfortunately, it looks like the Police Commission is also rolling over. As TGI reported:

The Garden Island attempted to gain clarification on the charter’s rules from commissioners on Thursday morning. A commissioner and a commission staff member said they had just received a directive from the mayor’s executive assistant Beth Tokioka to defer all inquiries to her office.

In other news, I just had to point out the irony in two news stories I spotted today. First, we have Jim Dooley's report:

The Abercrombie administration is proposing changes to the state ethics code that would allow state officials, including legislators, to accept unlimited numbers of invitations to charitable fundraising events, even if the purpose of the gifts is to influence votes or other official actions.

And then we have the Hawaii Public Radio report:

State lawmakers are advancing a bill this session to change Hawai’i’s medical marijuana law to reign-in alleged abuses and questionable practices.

In other words, it's totally OK for the politicians to be corrupt and do whatevah at the bidding of the lobbyists but you sure as hell don't want anybody sneaking in under the wire to smoke weed.


Anonymous said...

The chief executive should have the power and authority to put someone on leave since he is ultimately responsible. So in this case, I think Carvalho is right and Rapozo is wrong. In any case, the Charter should be amended to make it clear.

But what about this cop who constantly makes complaints? She got a $980,000 settlement and wants more? Can we say problem child?

Anonymous said...

"Can we say problem child?"

why assume she's the problem instead of the system?

Anonymous said...

Darla is part of the solution, not part of the systemic racism and sexism. Get a clue.

Thank goodness someone stands up and speaks the truth about the real problem of the good old boys club.

Anonymous said...

Bernard is the number one member of the GOB club!

Anonymous said...

Nothing in the complaint says she wants more money, maybe she is whistleblowing so that women and minorities feel safe in there work environment.

Joan Conrow said...

I think Darla is incredibly brave. It's not easy to buck that system and keep working there. She deserves our support and should not be criticized for filing complaints, which she has every right to do.

Anonymous said...

Darla Higa I support you and your efforts to identify problems and let your superiors find solutions that meet the policies of County, State, and Federal regulations.

If your superiors are derelict of their duties or abuses their position of power to retaliate against you then your superiors should not be given a free pass.

Your personal courage is commendable. I would vote for you as KPD Chief of police. You have the experience to clean kpd of its corruption.

I support you in your efforts and may god bless you and show no mercy upon your evil doers.

Anonymous said...

Darla is one of the few wisps of fresh air in the stale confines of KPD. I remember hearing one vet officer remarking a couple of years ago in a conversation that they had a new batch of recruits, and he was happy because they were all, "good 'ol local boys."

The Mayor does NOT have the authority to pull the Chief. The Charter clearly states so. The operative phrase is, "except as otherwise may be provided for" which, in anyone's interpretation, means except in those instances in which a commission is already charged with that authority. The entire purpose of that small phrase is to remove the Chief of Police (or KFD) from under the thumb of a politician.

This is going to blow up in someone's face, but I hope it isn't Chief Perry's. He's a good cop and a good man who took on a (perhaps) impossible task...almost gave up on it, and then decided to give it another chance...and perhaps made a mistake in how he handled Darla's complaint initially.

We will only know the truth when the dust settles.

In the meantime, Darla deserves the basic respect due for a woman who is willing to take on the "bad boys in blue."

Anonymous said...

Perry needs to take lessons from Darla, especially in courage.
Darla is commendable.
We support you, Darla, in everything you do. You are the epitome of a model law enforcement officer.
I honestly canʻt imagine how bad it could be here if you were not on the force.
Please continue in your efforts and be safe.
You are Kauaiʻs Top Cop and hope that doesnʻt add fule to the fire of jealous little men in uniforms...but itʻs true.
If you need to sue - go for it. You deserve any compensation you get and your success is a benefit to us all.
Darla is impeccable and thereʻs not a chance in hell anyone could impugn her reputation. Just ask any kid on this island who they would turn to for help.

Anonymous said...

Together We Can.Good ol boyz n Galz no how we do it hea on Kauai.
No madder what u transplants say Together We Can get away with our style.
It'z our way, da Tokioka, Shaylene, Heu, Nakamura, Asing, Rapozo, Pasion, Bernard, Costa, Isobe, Kusaka, Phluger, Baptiste, and the rest of the cronies way. We Rule and We need to stay together. Together we commit crimes against our taxpayers and laugh all the way to da bank.
We are the PIMPS of Kauai and the citizens is our prostitutes. Together We Can

Anonymous said...

A lot on Kauai(and this blog and TGI) complain and ridicule about the corruption.
When someone that is directly in the midst of it stands up against it, instead of supporting her, the identifiable amoebic critics start moving in with their contamination.

Iʻd guess that most of the negative comments against Darla are from
1. Cops,
2. Garden variety males (jealous that sheʻs got more than them).

My husband is Hawaiian. He is better equipped to take on extremes of land, sea and air than most SEALS (before I get the crapflack, my brother is a SEAL). He is more intelligent and literate than 99% of the men on this island. And he stands behind Darla>completely.

Anonymous said...

Real men are not sexist pigs. Thank god for Darla!

Just because it is the only way they know,doesn't make it right. Catch up to the 21st century.

Anonymous said...

The reality is that this cop is hyper sensitive to routine commands. Chief Perry is an honest cop. I trust the Chief. Let the investigation bring out the truth.

Anonymous said...

TO: February 4, 2012 2:39 AM

Could you elaborate on the ʻcommandsʻ you refer to?
Or are you just shootin your mouth off via a keyboard?

Anonymous said...

I think itʻs a disgusting set of circumstances that Darla is the ONLY police officer that ever comes forward. And the ONLY police officer with the courage and integrity to do so.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the only police officer, but NOT the only county employee to file lawsuit for same, ongoing, problem.

Anonymous said...

This is the perfect time to create a citizens activists group on Kauai for the victims of our corrupt Island.

It's been long overdued, we need a bridge to federal authorities when we identify the crimes commiitted against citizens by our law enforcement, county, and state empployees.

This crapp has been going on for far too long.

Enough is Enough already, sick and tired of the same crap happpening and we turn a blind eye to these infidels.

Remember the Unsolved murdered victims and their families

Anonymous said...

I know of one male police officer that was severely beaten (with permanent hearing loss) and wife threatened because he reported cops selling confiscated pakalolo.

Fo'a reel brah!

Anonymous said...

Mark Begley Deputy Chief was the cop that got beaten up so bad that he lost hearing in one ear.

Read KPD Blue and you will edumucate yoself.

Get plenty Syndicate KPD officers, one is acting Chief right now.

Oh yeah u thought he was good ppl but u don't know. Now u no

Anonymous said...

Was that when Freitas was chief?