A resolution of Councilman Tim Bynum's civil rights lawsuit against the county has hit a snag, with defeated Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri refusing to settle.
In September 2012, Tim sued Shay and planning inspector Sheila Miyake in both their professional and personal capacities, as well as the county, claiming false and malicious prosecution of zoning violations.
After burning through $500,000 in legal fees, the county reached its insurance deductible and the carrier took over, which means it assumed full control of the case in all its aspects. Though several motions are pending, including a request for summary judgment to dismiss the case, the insurance carrier moved to immediately settle. Everyone agreed — except Shay in her personal capacity.
Instead, her personal attorney, Rich Wilson, told a federal judge that Shay's career as a prosecutor was ruined by Bynum's “frivolous” lawsuit, and she must be allowed to go to court to vindicate her reputation. The judge has set a meeting for next week.
Curiously, Wilson is simultaneously arguing, on behalf of another client, that the mayor must resign and never run for another office because he violated state law by “pleading the fifth” during an auditor's inquiry into use of a county fuel card. However, Shay also pled the fifth while in office, refusing to answer the County Council's questions about procurement irregularities related to her POHAKU program.
So if you follow Wilson's line of reasoning, it appears Shay's career as a prosecutor and politician would be over in any case.
But neither that, nor the fact that the County Council no longer has any say in the case, prevented Shay and Wilson from appearing at yesterday's televised Council meeting to bash County Attorney Al Castillo.
Council Chair Jay Furfaro displayed his usual gutlessness in dealing with Shay, allowing her to go well beyond her allotted six minutes of testimony and present, unchallenged, a power point titled “county attorney's insurance scam.” Each slide bore a heading that asserted Al had “violated his fiduciary duties to COK and our people by acting against the county's best interests.”
Shay and Wilson claimed Al had “overspent” on legal fees to get the case to the insurance company and asked the Council to conduct an investigation. Wilson said the county invited more litigation by settling actions it “could win.” It's like “painting a big bullseye on the back of the county,” he said. Wilson, however, has apparently managed to hit that “big bullseye” only once, though he's sued the county numerous times.
Both Shay and Wilson contended that Al had compromised the process by being in cahoots with Tim's attorneys. They referenced a Sept. 19, 2012 press release in which Tim's attorney, Margery Bronster, claimed:
I have spoken with Kauai County Attorney, Al Castillo, and he seems to understand the gravity of the situation.
I remember getting that press release, which included Al's phone number and a sentence about how he was open to media calls, which is highly unusual. But when I immediately contacted Al, he was obviously stunned by Margery's assertion. As I previously reported, Al said he had not read the complaint and had no comment.
Wilson ended his pitch to the
TV cameras Council by saying, “Isn't the
truth worth any expense?”
It's important to note that “the truth” they're seeking is not a determination of whether Shay engaged in political retribution, but rather if she had immunity, as prosecutor, from being sued.
Since Wilson is so keen to have the county spend more of the taxpayers' money to get at “the truth” about his client, perhaps we should start by ferreting out the facts as they pertain to POHAKU, her prosecutorial procurement practices and her alleged improper use of both a county vehicle and county gas.
While we're on the topic of truly sucky politics, it's so disappointing to learn that Gov. Abercrombie apparently plans to give PUC Chair Mina Morita the heave-ho. Mina, who has repeatedly demonstrated her integrity and concern for the public as both a legislator and a policy-maker, has properly scrutinized biofuel projects that advance the governor's “renewable energy” initiative but don't make economic sense.
The only good thing that could come from her leaving the PUC would be her possible return to Kauai politics, where she would be welcomed, and a shoo-in for either Council or the state House.
Abercrombie has repeatedly shown himself to be a foe of the environmental community, though he makes fake "concessions," like nominating Circuit Judge Mike Wilson — former director of the Board of Land and Natural Resources — to the Hawaii Supreme Court.
With that nomination, the guv is essentially saying to conservationists, “If you can get your complaints to the high court, you'll probably prevail. But since that's expensive, time-consuming and very hard to do, I've got years to screw over the environment in the meantime.”