The County Council yesterday approved spending up to $10,000 on special counsel to represent Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. in the lawsuit with the Police Commission over whether he was authorized to suspend Chief Darryl Perry.
County Attorney Al Castillo said he has been in ongoing dialog with the Office of Disciplinary Council (ODC), which advised conflicting out his office. So the mayor wouldn't have any representation on this issue unless he got special counsel. One of these days I'm going to tally up how much the county has spent on special counsel in the last year. But then, why add to your despair?
Speaking of which, as I've noted previously in this blog, obtaining public records from the Kauai Office of the Prosecuting Attorney (OPA) is like pulling impacted wisdom teeth. But then, I can understand the reticence of Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho and First Deputy Jake Delaplane to give up records they know will make them look bad.
Case in point: a batch of emails I requested from January, when Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura asked Shay to come talk to the Council about the effectiveness of the Victim Witness Program. At that point, Erin Wilson, who was brought over from Colorado to work in the program, had been terminated with just two weeks' notice after only 78 days on the job — supposedly for lack of work. She had outlined some of her concerns about Shay's mismanagement in a letter to the Council that was also covered by The Garden Island.
I knew, when I made the request, that Jake had been soliciting former OPA employee Cyndie Johnson to submit testimony in support of the OPA. But when I received the emails, quite a bit of information on that topic had been redacted. Additionally, seven emails were not turned over because they would supposedly “frustrate a legitimate government function, namely the deliberative process privilege...chill applications to positions...and constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
Here are the requested emails, which include Erin's letter. If you scroll through, you will find a number of other goodies, including Shay's infamous letter defaming Councilman Tim Bynum, and several emails where she's bitching about not having time to get info for JoAnn.
There's also an email from Jake telling everyone in OPA that if they want to attend the Council meeting — you know, in a show of support for their fearless leader — they can get paid for it. And a number of OPA employees did just that, spending the entire afternoon in the meeting on the taxpayer's dime. According to the county's leave policy: Departments who have the need to issue administrative leave are expected to utilize it in an efficient and economical manner, and should be able to explain their reasons for using this type of leave as opposed to other types of leave. Ahem....
And you'll see some schmoozing between Shay and “your pal” Glenn Mickens, with Councilman Mel Rapozo plugging for Shay's re-election. Fortunately for Mel, a subsequent records request showed that he did not do that campaigning on the county's computers.
Then there are the emails between Cyndie and Jake, where she says sure, she's leaving for the mainland the very next evening, but she'd be glad to write a letter pumping up the OPA and countering Erin's allegations. Except she has no access to a computer. Then there's a lot of redacting in an exchange that ends with Cyndie writing, “I will come in first thing in the morning.”
But someone felt that redacted information should see the light of day, so it was leaked. And lo and behold, what does it show? Cyndie asking if OPA has a “spare computer” she can use to write her testimony and Jake replying: “We can set you up with a computer to use here anytime tomorrow.”
Sure enough, she came in and used the computer and drafted a letter, which Shay and Jake then further doctored before it was sent over to the Council.
Now we all know that county facilities and equipment are not be used by people who do not work for the county. And Jake and Shay must know it, too, or else they would not have redacted those incriminating statements.
Another email that was withheld was also leaked. In it, Shay, despite complaining in other emails she did not have time to respond to JoAnn's requests for information, sends a lengthy email to a reporter for The Garden Island in which she trashes Erin and says Erin's testimony “is thinly veiled political attack, fueled by a jilted employee.” Shay then refused the reporter's request to release the response to Erin.
As I understand it, Erin has successfully settled an EEOC claim against Shay, so I guess her complaints about the OPA had some validity.
I asked the Office of Information Practices whether it was legitimate for OPA to redact that stuff about Jake letting Cyndie use county property. The OIP launched an investigation, but Jake did not respond to the agency's request for documentation justifying his position.