More than one bombshell was dropped about Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho's POHAKU program during yesterday's County Council executive session, parts of which were inadvertently broadcast live.
“We have a report now, and the report has the advantage of the investigator talking to the prosecutor,” County Attorney Al Castillo told the Council. “The investigator says there are other concerns. The packaging of this right now, I think it makes sense to send this to [the County Board of] Ethics.”
Castillo was referencing a report that showed the findings to date of an investigation into the POHAKU “restorative justice” program that Iseri-Carvalho implemented last year. He had earlier informed the Council that the state Attorney General's office is conducting its own investigation, as I reported yesterday, in addition to the county Finance Department.
Castillo went on to say that he didn't think the Council needed to give the Board of Ethics too much direction on how to proceed.
“To me, it's clear what the concerns are,” he said. “You've got three attorneys on there [Board of Ethics] and one of them is a judge. I have complete faith we can send them this report and let them pick up on what needs to be picked up on.”
At that point, a woman came into the room and apparently advised the Council the proceedings were again being broadcast, because the audio abruptly ceased.
Of related interest, Iseri-Carvalho lists Strategic Justice Partners as one of her employers on her Facebook page. The mainland company offers the POHAKU program, and questions have been raised about whether she violated state procurement laws in securing its services. Employment with a company that provides services to her office would appear to be an ethics violation, along with Delaplane being listed as the company's agent in Hawaii business registration documents.
Yesterday's executive session was called to again discuss Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura's request that the county Board of Ethics conduct an investigation into whether violations of the Code of Ethics have occurred in connection with Iseri-Carvalho's creation and operation of the POHAKU program.
The issue had previously been twice deferred — first because it reportedly had not been placed on the agenda with proper notice, and the second time because a Council majority opted to wait until Castillo was able to present more information in the form of a report.
Though Castillo apparently initially felt comfortable advising the Council to move ahead in referring the matter to Ethics, things fell apart as Iseri-Carvalho and her first deputy, Jake Delaplane, were preparing a lengthy power point presentation on the POHAKU program.
Castillo said he had just called the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which advised that all matters related to the POHAKU program be deferred until Iseri-Carvalho is given special counsel. Castillo said he is in the process of finalizing a contract with Oahu attorney Gary Slovin.
Iseri-Carvalho told the Council she was ready to proceed with the presentation, anyway, but would be unable to complete it within the six minutes allocated, so she was willing to come back.
Only Yukimura voted against the motion to again defer a decision on referring the issue to the Board of Ethics.
Meanwhile, The Garden Island has not reported one word of this months-old issue. Instead, today's edition includes a lengthy account of the property that the Prosecutor's office has seized through the asset forfeiture program. Though it is a press release from the Prosecutor's office, it is not identified as such.
Curious, how press releases from the OPA always seem to hit the paper when POHAKU is on the Council agenda.
And curious how Iseri-Carvalho can rant that the County Attorney's office has dragged its feet in securing her special counsel — claiming there have been “numerous communications that have gone unresponded [sic] to” — when I had to seek the assistance of the Office of Information Practices because her own office failed to provide public records as required by law.