Friday, April 20, 2012

Musings: Strange But True

I went  to the County Council meeting today, seeking clues about why the prosecutor's problematic POHAKU program just can't be discussed in public.  In the process, I witnessed a surreal drama. And no, I'm not making this stuff up.

Cast of characters: Councilmembers Mel Rapozo, JoAnn Yukimura, Tim Bynum, KipuKai Kualii, Nadine Nakamura and Dickie Chang; Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho; County Attorney Al Castillo

Staging: Handsomely remodeled Council chambers in historic county building

Setting: Council Chair Jay Furfaro is absent, leaving Mel in charge. Shay's first deputy, Jake Delaplane is wrapping up a one-hour re-election promo for his boss, cleverly disguised as a power point budget presentation. He has more, but even Mel, a solid Shay supporter, is prodding him to move along so there's time for questions. Jake speaks enthusiastically about the POHAKU program, Shay's shining star, with no mention of the ominous cloud that now hangs over it.

The power point flashes to a new slide, and Shay takes over the narration, accusing the County Attorney's office of continually working against the interests of her office, repeated conflicts of interest and “constant attacks.” Shay's message to the Council is clear: she wants money to hire special counsel for her office.

The air is crackling with tension. The time for questions has arrived. Jake rubs the perpetual five o'clock shadow on his chin. Shay straightens the carnation lei that matches her pink jacket. JoAnn, the one person certain to question Shay about POHAKU, has her hand up. Mel clears his throat.

Mel: I've been informed the county attorney is conflicting out on the POHAKU program. Until special counsel can be appointed, we won't talk about it.

JoAnn: POHAKU is in the budget. I have a right to ask about it. I don't understand the basis of the ruling.

Mel: It's not my rule. It's the county attorney's opinion.

Al: Mumbo jumbo, mumbo jumbo, prudent for CA's office to declare conflict, mumbo jumbo.

JoAnn: I want to ask some questions based on public information. I don't see how my rights can be curtailed on that.

Mel: I know people think I usually don't agree with the county attorney's advice, but this time I do. But just so everybody knows, I didn't request that advice. It was given to me.

Al: I don't want to go any further in potentially violating my client's rights.

JoAnn: Who is your client?

Al: I represent the whole county. 

Mel: He advises me and I control the discussion on the floor.

Tim: If we would've had those executive sessions on POHAKU that we keep putting off, would we be in this situation?

Mel: I'm gonna be the judge here. That's speculation. Nobody can answer that. If Al can answer that, I'm gonna take him to Vegas with me.

Al: The answer is no.

Tim: Is this all because of the conflict issue that Shay just raised in her power point?


Tim: How dare what happen?

Mel: Al, take your client outside and answer his question.

Tim and Al exit to the hallway.  A recess is called. The Council breaks up. JoAnn and Mel engage in a spat over fairness before JoAnn exits and Mel approaches Shay, who is fuming.

Shay: This is ridiculous. This is a waste of my time. You need to get your Council rules in order. I see a lot of violators of the rules and it's not being called. She's smarter than the County Attorney, apparently. This is such a waste of my time. 

I seek out JoAnn and ask, what were the questions you were going to ask about POHAKU? 

                            ACT II

It's after lunch and everyone is reassembled. I've gone home and am watching on line, via the county's webcast. Jay is back at the helm. Everyone except Nadine is clearly scratchy after being cooped up together for two long weeks of budget hearings. JoAnn has just finished questioning Shay about the 300 percent increase in her travel budget and is moving on to other topics.

JoAnn: Do you try cases?

Shay: I try a lot of cases.

JoAnn: I thought you said you didn't.

Shay: No, I said I'm the only prosecutor in the whole state who tries cases. 

JoAnn: Oh, I was only aware of you trying one case, the Tim Bynum zoning misdemeanor.

Shay: Sputter, sputter, hissssss. I'm trying the Hilario murder case.

JoAnn:  I thought John Murphy was trying that.

Jay: Ladies, ladies.

At JoAnn's request, Al takes the stand.

JoAnn: How come Shay got to talk about POHAKU but we don't? How can we do our due diligence on her budget if we can't ask about POHAKU? I want to schedule another meeting where we can question her about POHAKU.

Tim: I have a whole list of questions I'd like to ask.

Shay:  Can I leave? I've got a 4 o clock and it's 3:45.

Jay: Sure. We'll send the rest of the questions over by email. Try to get them back by next Tuesday, just do the best you can. 

JoAnn: It's inconceivable to me that a department head giving testimony on a budget would need a county attorney or any other attorney to advise her, and that not having one would prevent us from asking questions. 

Al: In any situation where there is some exposure to the county or county personnel they would have an attorney present advising them on whether to answer questions. But rather than risk getting into that situation with the Prosecutor, I decided to avoid it entirely. I have to protect my client. But regardless of what I thought, I wasn't the chair when the decision was made to stop you from asking about POHAKU. 

JoAnn: Who is the client you have to protect?

Al: It would be two right now: the county, the county council and the prosecutor. I'm protecting her rights, Jake's rights.

JoAnn: Their personal rights?

Al: Their personal rights,  their rights related to their work for the county. If you want to go into a special executive session, I can tell you more about why you can't ask questions about POHAKU.  The session's not on the agenda, but it's allowed under unexpected circumstances.

Tim: I think extraordinary things have happened In the past few weeks that seem intended to prevent the public from getting some information about POHAKU, and I have no faith that we will ever go into executive session on these issues. You guys are just trying to run out the clock. I'm ready to call for an emergency executive session right now to talk about this. It's time to quit playing games and serve the public.

KipuKai: It's not useful to say things like quit playing games and try to say who is and isn't serving openness to the public. It's not an emergency. We're going to be having a meeting on POHAKU anyway in a week or so. 

Mel: This whole controversy of POHAKU was generated from a inquiry from the Council. It was on the advice of Deputy County Attorney Jennifer Winn that we decided to defer the executive session the other day. It's not a stall tactic. And I'm not voting for an emergency executive session.

Jay: Jennifer Winn came here on the behalf of the prosecutor, asking for a deferral, and I extended Shay the same courtesy I would any other department head and granted her a delay. I want to make it clear there was no preferential treatment.  Now let's have a roll call vote on going into an emergency executive session.

Mel, KipuKai, Dickie:  No 

Jay, JoAnn, Tim: Yes 

(Nadine has been sent to represent Jay at a police department event.)

Jay: That's it then. It has to be a super majority, 4 of 6. The motion fails.

But though the official discussion of POHAKU stalled out, my investigation has not.  Be sure to tune in for the next installment, when the pieces of the POHAKU puzzle start falling into place.


Anonymous said...

Prosecutor wants a lawyer and no one allowed to question her due to her "personal rights". Is it personal rights like the right to remain silent? Please tell me this does not involve Columbian prostitutes, cigars or rice cookers.

Anonymous said...

300% increase?

Anonymous said...

So on Wednesday its JoAnn Tim and Nadine who want to deal with the issue and Mel, KipuKai, Jay and Dickie to keep it in the dark. Now on Friday Jay can switch because Nadine is gone and the outcome is still keep it in the dark.

Anonymous said...

who's on first?

Anonymous said...

stranger than fiction

Anonymous said...

this is lewd- a- crish!

Anonymous said...

Mel is such a hypocrite. What is his involvement in Pohaku? He does not want the people to know what naughty thing his girlfriend did. It must be bad.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Joan for the excellent recount of this dysfunctional scene at the County Council meeting. It is time to clean house, this Fall! Or do we have to wait another year?

Anonymous said...

Did you see where she's asking for her own attorney. She can't make the right decision on her own. "should I threaten the humane society? Should I have my deputy secretly tape a victim to get the dirt on someone else? Should I gut the victim witness program? Should I use Pohaku to campaign for reelection? Should I use the county car for my personal use? Should I drink to the point that I reek the next day? Shoul I be so such a horrible boss that the turnover in my office is 180%?"

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Circus! Circus!

Looks like Shay is the Ring Leader and she has her "boys" Mel, Dickie, Kipu and Jay....WHIPPED!

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

Should I hire a green 1st deputy that is not eligible to take my place when I have to leave office? Should i accuse everybody and their brother of crimes to cover my own? Should I manipulate my statistics to look like I'm perfect? Should I scream at Council meetings when someone wants me to answer for my own behavior?

Anonymous said...

Shay is a disgrace to this County. And so un-pono.


Anonymous said...

Check out the video from the Council Budget Session on 4/20 and fast forward to 1:38:25.

The hilarity around Shay ensues. Someone should make you tube clips of, "The Best of Shay."

Anonymous said...

For years I found Shay's antics to be very entertaining. Now I am beyond that and I am mad about the damage she is doing to this county. She uses "pono" in her campaign stuff. She has no pono.

Anonymous said...

Time to vote a new prosecutor into office. In all my years as a voting citizen, I have never seen such unprofessionalism surround the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney. What a shame and waste of the taxpayers' money.

Anonymous said...

And get rid of her employees on the Council, Melfeasance Rapozo and Kipukai Coverup Kualii.

Anonymous said...

Better than the sunday comics.

Anonymous said...

Al Castillo protects Shay even though she accuses him of going after her to help Justin Kollar. He should let Joann and Tim ask Shay questions about her budget without restriction. Which is it Shay, is Al out to get you or is he covering your okole? And now you're asking for money to have your own lawyer. You must have really screwed up this time.

Anonymous said...

Shay's email: If this wasn’t personal, wouldn’t the County Attorney obtain ALL the facts before releasing a premature opinion based on limited facts?

Must not apply to Council decisions about her budget.

Anonymous said...

It's not a crime if the Prosecutor does it.
Sounds like Nixon.

Anonymous said...

Did Kipukai really say it's not an emergency? Always best to wait for the crisis before you find out what's going on. No fun if you know what's going to happen.

Anonymous said...

Wait, we getting all excited for nothing. Shay had already tell us what Pohaku is about how many times now? You must be stupid if you still have questions.

Anonymous said...

LOl. That was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

And NO itʻs NOT an emergency.
If this is what you call an emergency, you are twisted or have an amazingly cushy life.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, wait for the emergency or two weeks, whichever comes first. You must have a cushy life if you can cruise through it without thinking about what you're doing or why you're doing it.