Let's see, what's on tap for today?
Those concerned about pesticide use may want to check out a short piece I wrote for Honolulu Weekly about a lawsuit against an Oahu golf course filed by attorneys Kyle Smith and Gerard Jervis. They're the same guys who filed suit on behalf of 150 Kauai residents living near Pioneer Hi-Bred International's genetically modified seed corn fields at Waimea.
What I find interesting is that they're taking a new approach to challenging pesticide use by filing lawsuits based primarily on how the chemicals affect property rights, as opposed to human health. It makes sense, because let's face it, American courts are a lot more sympathetic to someone's property being damaged than their health or the environment. It's easier to prove, too.
In the meantime, I just can't understand why someone would actually pay a premium to live next to a golf course, when links are regularly dosed with some really toxic stuff. And what about the poor albatross that nest there, and the nene that graze on the grass?
Following up on yesterday's post about the administration's disparate handling of complaints filed by employees in the prosecutor's office and police and planning departments, I asked county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka for a comment:
I'm sure this response is not a surprise to you, but we can't comment on the manner in which complaints are handled. Each one has to be considered based on the circumstances involved and how a timely and thorough investigation can be conducted. There is no "cookie cutter" response to an employee complaint. What works for one scenario may be completely inappropriate for another.
No, that answer is not a surprise.
Nor was it a surprise, though it is disheartening, to learn that yet another of Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho's deputies has bit the dust. Tracy Murakami, the last of the deputies sworn in with Shay back in 2008, resigned her position yesterday. And then there were none....
Oddly, Shay reportedly advised her deputies yesterday that they would be receiving pay cuts, supposedly because the mayor had reduced their budget. How can that be, when Shay has been unable to keep all her positions filled and so regularly has significant unspent funds? And will the cuts be across the board, or only given to those who didn't buy the $100 tickets to her recent fundraiser at Kauai Beach Resort?
I was a little surprised when I happened to tune in to the Council's webcast yesterday for the Koloa Camp resolution — it passed, not that it's likely to make a difference — and caught the exchange between two arch enemies: Shay and Councilman Tim Bynum.
A lot has been said about Shay on this blog in recent weeks, so if you want to see her in action, it's worth going to the webcast and forwarding to the 4:47:53 point. That's where she tries to claim that Tim can't speak about her request to hire a law clerk because she's prosecuting him on a criminal case, and so they can't converse without permission of his attorney.
When Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura says that rule doesn't apply in this situation, at about the 4:56:04 point, Shay looks like she's about to fly out of her chair and take her on. Tim, his voice shaking, said he'd been precluded from asking questions about the victim-witness program for almost three years. After he was prevented from talking to Shay the last time she was before the Council, he'd gone to the Board of Ethics, which said there was no conflict in him speaking with her and voting on matters concerning Council business.
Still Shay wouldn't budge, saying the BOE had nothing to do with it. At that point, Jay called a recess and the county attorney's office brought in reinforcements, reading aloud the pertinent law, which made it clear Tim could talk to Shay about the agenda item. But Shay again came back swinging, saying Tim wanted to talk about the victim-witness program, which would violate the sunshine law, as the agenda item only addressed a law clerk position.
Council Chairman Jay Furfaro, looking like he was suffering from indigestion, had been bending over backwards to smooth the waters and placate Shay throughout the entire exchange. He finally asked the Council to continue the item for another week, to a special meeting at which only that one issue would be addressed, in hopes the delay would “maybe settle some temperment that might exist here.”
But even then Shay made a big deal about having to consult her busy schedule before telling the Council she could squeeze them in at 8 a.m. next Wednesday. JoAnn voted against the delay, as did one Councilman, although I couldn't tell who it was.
Through it all, I was amazed at the power Shay was wielding, even though she was coming to the Council for approval to spend money, and so was at its mercy. It's really quite remarkable to watch Shay hold sway, and it explains both why she has enemies, and how she got to where she is.
Still, I couldn't help but feel a little sickened by it all, especially since the Council had delayed giving a certificate to a victorious Kauai High School girls' sports team so that it could accommodate Shay. For half an hour they had to sit there and watch that tense, unpleasant exchange, and all I could think was, study hard, kiddies, or you could end up here.