Flashes of lightning came in the night, and just one small rumble of thunder, though it was enough to unnerve poor Koko. But she's not the only one feeling edgy. As I described it to a friend, who agreed, life this week has seemed slightly akimbo.
I imagine that's especially true for Police Chief Darryl Perry, caught in the Kafkaesque scenario of being back on the job, without the badge, gun and uniform that spell cop. Worse, one of his officers refused his direct order to issue him the equipment. How, really, does a chief regain authority and respect from the rank and file when he has been thus humiliated?
Meanwhile, the humiliator, Mayor Bernard Carvalho, has had a rather easier time of it, seeing as how he was in LA partying last night with author Kaui Hart Hemmings, musician Cyril Pahinui and other Hawaii folks involved in the production of “The Descendents.” He's there with Sue Kanoho, director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, who organized the “media event” to capitalize on the hoopla surrounding that movie.
So who, really, is in power on Kauai? Are we living in a police state, where a centralized figure — in this case, the mayor, or more accurately, County Attorney Al Castillo, who is advising him — controls who gets the guns?
I think the County Charter really intended for the Police Commission to provide some check on the mayor's authority, and at least some Commissioners are aware they've been usurped. As Police Commissioner Charles Iona told the Garden Island :
“He’s there,” Iona said about Perry being back at work. “But certain actions were taken that somebody is calling the shots not to return his badge, his gun and all that, just like they took the power away from the commission.”
Of course, power grabs are nothing new. More interesting is what, if anything, the Police Commission can and will do about it.
The mayor has claimed that he or his designee, Managing Director Gary Heu, must meet with Perry to develop “a shared understanding of the terms under which the Chief could return to work while the complaint is being investigated.”
But is that truly necessary when the Police Commission, which is privy to all the same confidential info as the mayor, and advised by attorneys from the same office, voted unanimously that he could return to work?
And has the mayor, in his zeal to address a hostile work environment complaint, has created precisely such an environment for the chief? Sure seems pretty hostile when your computer has been seized, you're locked out of your office and your subordinates have been directed to be insubordinate.
I'm also wondering whether the family of Dickie Louis, contemplating a lawsuit against the county over the way cops shot him down from a roof, though no weapon was apparently found, will be able to bolster its claim by citing the disarray within the department at the time of the killing.
In the meantime, the Charter Commission plans to take up the issue of the mayor's power over the chief at its meeting on Monday. The Charter obviously is missing some key language, so it's refreshing that Commissioners are stepping up to deal with it, especially since they're now considering measures that should be placed before the voters this fall.
It seems the dominoes are poised to keep falling.