The state Attorney General has been asked to investigate whether Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. stole gasoline from Kauai County.
The County Auditor apparently found some irregularities in the fuel accounts that were allegedly traced to the mayor's improper use of a county fuel card to put gasoline into his private vehicle.
One of Carvalho's department heads allegedly instructed the mayor in how to fraudulently charge the gasoline to another use. It's unclear how many persons may be involved.
I'd been hearing about this for a few weeks, but was only recently able to confirm the reports from several sources.
“Wow,” I told a friend after learning the news. “We're looking at people who make a hundred grand a year possibly stealing fricking gas, just like the tweakers at the end of the road.”
“Except the tweakers no more one job,” he corrected me.
I asked the mayor's office for comment, but did not receive a reply. Update: I just received this comment from Beth Tokioka at 10:57 a.m.: We have participated in an audit of the County's fuel use system, which included questions about the Mayor's fuel use. The administration has cooperated fully with this audit. As explained to the auditors, the Mayor has followed fuel use practices that date back at least to the 1980's. We have not been apprised of the current status of this inquiry or its referral to another agency.
The matter came before the County Council on June 27, when County Attorney Al Castillo requested an executive session to discuss the “audit of fuel costs, consumption and management, the referral of the audit to specified external parties, and related matters,” according to the Council meeting agenda. The session was also “to consider the hire, evaluation, dismissal, or discipline, of a officer or employee or charges brought against the officer or employee....”
The Council reportedly has the authority to refer criminal allegations involving prominent officials to the Attorney General's office for investigation.
As opposed, say, to giving the mayor's arch enemies, Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho and Police Chief Darryl Perry, the satisfaction of investigating and possibly arresting their foe.
Still, that does raise the question of why allegations that Councilman Tim Bynum had committed a zoning violation weren't also forwarded to the AG's office for investigation. Is he not considered prominent enough? Or is that just another example of the many glaring inconsistencies in how the county deals with stuff?
Kauai has been keeping the AG's office pretty busy this year. Prior to seeking a probe into the Administration's fuel irregularities, the county asked the AG's office to investigate whether Shay had violated the state procurement law with her POHAKU program. Oh, as a quick aside here, I also recently learned that not everyone was required to do community service under POHAKU — even though that was touted as the key "restorative justice" aspect of the program.
The AG's office also was brought in this year to handle prosecution in three cases, including the one against Bynum, which it dismissed, after Shay had to recuse her office due to conflicts of interest.
In other news regarding the mayor's office, Tommy Contrades has been fired from the position that Carvalho created for him to manage the county's capital improvement projects. It's unclear whether Tommy was dismissed because he and the mayor weren't seeing eye-to-eye, or if the firing was political payback. Tommy's son is Deputy Police Chief Michael Contrades, who refused to obey the mayor's directive not to return Perry's gun, badge and other equipment when the Police Commission ordered the chief back to work after Carvalho suspended him.
The Commission is now seeking a court ruling on whether the mayor has the authority to suspend the chief as a disciplinary action. The Commission maintains it has sole authority over hiring, firing and disciplining the chief under the County Charter.