There was a time this morning, a brief time, when a half-moon was shining through strands and wisps of white, when the Big Dipper was scooping up stars over Makaleha, when a scarlet-orange smear appeared in the eastern horizon, tinting the mountains rose, the trees gold. And then the cloud cover dropped down and everything went gray.
A similar process occurred yesterday at the Kauai Police Department, where Monday's stilted bonhomie between Chief Darryl Perry, Mayor Bernard Carvalho and the police commission disintegrated into the gloom of heated phone calls, tense meetings, squabbles and unabated power struggles. More on that in a minute.
Meanwhile, I've learned that an employee in the county Prosecutor's office recently filed multiple workplace complaints against Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho and other staff in that office, creating a situation very similar to the one involving Officer Darla Abatiell-Higa and KPD.
But in this most recent case, the County Attorney's office directed the Prosecutor's office to place the employee on leave pending an investigation, rather than suspend those named in the complaint.
This raises troubling questions about why the mayor chose to get personally involved in the KPD case, to the point of defaming, humiliating and suspending the chief, who was ordered to put Assistant Chiefs Roy Asher and Ale Quibilan, who were named in the complaint, on leave pending an investigation. Yet a completely different tact was taken with Shay and her office.
It's also interesting to note that when a planning department employee filed a workplace complaint, she was placed on leave pending an investigation, not the staff implicated in the complaint.
Why did the mayor force a very public upheaval at KPD, but not in these other county departments? Do you suppose politics and power plays could have anything to do with it?
It seems the mayor's declaration upon returning the chief to work Monday — “through discussion with the [police] commission we have reached a place of consensus on how the department should be managed beginning today” — meant essentially Bernard planned to be in charge.
So he wasn't too pleased to discover the chief had brought Quibilan and Asher back to work yesterday.
With Deputy Chief Mike Contrades still off-island and Assistant Chief Mark Begley missing in action since the chief returned, it seems Perry felt he needed more help running the department than the mayor's designees — County Attorney Al Castillo and Managing Director Gary Heu — could provide.
But the mayor managed to re-assert his authority by requiring the chief to get approval from Castillo in order to have the county's IT guys return computer hard drives to Asher and Quibilan and restore their access. Ho boy....
And the public is left wondering how, and when, is this dysfunctional mess going to be resolved? Who is going to hire the outside counsel that will help clarify to the mayor and chief exactly who is empowered to do what?
The Charter Review Commission is set on Monday to take up the issue of whether the charter needs to be revised to clarify the powers, duties and functions of the mayor's office in regard to KPD. Councilman Mel Rapozo submitted testimony in opposition, saying:
It is my belief that the Hawaii Revised Statutes clearly set up the police commissions to isolate the police departments from the political powers of local governments. Can you imagine if any of the Mayors retained the powers to control their respective police departments? This could be a very dangerous concept.
Yes, it could, and as we're seeing it play out here on Kauai, it is.