Monday, December 15, 2014

Musings: Mulligan Stew

The Kauai County Council is going to “take a mulligan” on several key issues this Wednesday, including administrative salaries, trash collection fees and a new real property tax classification for seed companies.

First up will be a vote on overriding the mayor's veto of the “agronomics” Bill 2546, which would place seeds and any experimental crops into a separate category so they can be taxed higher than other agriculture. The bill narrowly passed in the last meeting of the old Council, only to be nixed by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. But now that the Council composition has shifted, it appears doubtful the veto can be overturned.

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura is requesting the release of three legal opinions related to 2546, and new County Attorney Mauna Kea Trask is starting off on a transparent note by saying he has no objections to their release.

Councilman Arryl Kaneshiro, whose employer, Grove Farm, would be affected by the bill, is taking the high road, advising his colleagues that “out of an abundance of caution,” he intends to recuse himself from any discussion on the bill while awaiting an advisory opinion from the Board of Ethics on whether it's proper for him to discuss or vote on the issue.

Meanwhile, Ken Taylor testified last week that Arryl also should refrain from voting on Allan Parachini's appointment to the charter commission because Allan “spoke out favorably for the biotech industry,” which leases some land from Grove Farm.

Huh? Under that sketchy reasoning, Councilmen Gary Hooser and Mason Chock also should be prohibited from voting on Allan's appointment because they spoke out against the biotech industry.

Failed Council candidate/anti-GMO leader Felicia Cowden took the hypocrisy cake when she testified that Allan should be barred from the commission because “he has mostly been involved in areas of controversy” and “it's important also to be involved in areas of constructive community building.”

Mmm, isn't volunteering for a county commission an example of constructive community building? And serving on the Citizens Emergency Response Team? As opposed to, say, spewing divisive misinformation on KKCR talk shows.

And though Felicia said she felt many persons were better qualified, at the time Allan was appointed, there were no other applicants. Even now, there are only two others, and two seats are vacant.

Allan made it clear that while he has “taken a position at odds with a small number of people on this island,” he has no association, secret or otherwise, with the seed companies. That prompted Council Chair Mel Rapozo to note that he, too, had “been accused of being in the back pocket of the seed companies, which is entirely untrue.”

Funny how no one, including The Garden Island, has said a peep about Steven Long being re-appointed to the Kauai Historic Preservation Review Committee, even though he was behind so many of those bogus "unsubstantial improvement" renovations in the flood zone and numerous TVR applications that lacked proper documentation. 

The new Council also will be revisiting the residential refuse collection fees that were approved by a 5-1 vote of the old Council, and due to take effect July 1. Councilman Ross Kagawa, who was absent when the “pay as you throw” concept was approved last October, has introduced a bill that would scale back the fees.

Under Ross' proposed draft Bill 2568, the monthly cost for collecting three 32-gallon cans or one 96-gallon cart would be halved from $12 to $6, while the fee for picking up one 64-gallon cart or two 32-gallon cans would drop from $4 to $3. All property owners would still be assessed a $6 monthly fee to use transfer stations or the landfill.

While JoAnn and Gary supported the initial bill as an incentive to recycling, Mel said “pay as you throw” is a component of curbside recycling, and without that, it simply amounts to higher trash fees.

And the Council will take up administrative pay raises that were first proposed by the Salary Commission back in 2009, but never approved. That same salary schedule was endorsed again by a unanimous vote of the new Commission this past November.

JoAnn spoke against the increases at the commission's Nov. 10 meeting, saying the raises would strain the county's budget.

But Commission Vice Chair Randy Finlay noted the panel recommends pay for fewer than 50 persons “and if the County budget is under a strain from salaries, it is from the far larger number of employees, which are completely out of the Commission’s jurisdiction. Giving raises to this group of people will not affect the County budget."

Commissioner Charlie King also pointed out that administrative salaries have been effectively frozen for five years.

According to the meeting minutes:

The Commissioners made special note that they were not giving department heads and deputies a 7% salary increase, but rather only setting maximum salary caps. Discussion ensued as to whether the 7% should be done in a two-step process whereby most Commissioners felt after five years that 7% was reasonable. This 7% should not be looked at as an increase, but rather as a restoration of salaries.

JoAnn also again made the allegation, which I disproved back in December 2010, that the late Peter Nakamura had received an “illegal” pay raise while working as County Clerk. Geez, JoAnn, Peter passed away a year ago. Give it up already and show a little respect for his amazing record of public service.

The proposed pay scale is:

Mayor $122,504; Managing Director $117,911; County Engineer $114,848; Deputy County Engineer $105,660; Director of Finance $114,848; Deputy Director of Finance $105,660; County Attorney $114,848; First Deputy County Attorney $105,660; Deputy County Attorney $101,066; Prosecuting Attorney $114,848; First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney $105,660; Deputy Prosecuting Attorney $101,066; Director of Human Resources $114,848; Chief of Police $114,848; Deputy Chief of Police $105,660; Planning Director $114,848; Deputy Planning Director $105,660; Manager and Chief Engineer, Department of Water $114,848.

This link will show you the existing salaries, and how they've changed since 2007.

Ironically, the Council is also set to discuss a settlement of auditor Ernie Pasion's questionable lawsuit against the county. And therein lies the real drag on the county budget: big salaries — Ernie is paid $114,848, even though he's not a CPA  and can't actually conduct any audits — for people who not qualified for their positions and settlements approved for shibai complaints.


Anonymous said...

Leave it to Joann to take shots at someone who can't defend himself. Chickenshit politicking at its worst.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Joan for this thorough analysis.

Anonymous said...

Peter Nakamura was an incredible man, talented, hard working, smart, he is greatly missed.

Anonymous said...

Fisties have moved over to attacking the dairy with unsubstantiated allegations requiring state resources to be diverted and costing tax payers who lose vital services.
Home grown terrorism.

Anonymous said...

Waiting for the day you and Felicia have an inspirational chat together on public radio. What a treat that would be!

Anonymous said...

No it wouldn't. Experienced TV/Radio hosts have an incredible advantage in their own venue!
The advantage grows inversely to how much you think you will show them up!
Pete Antonson

Anonymous said...

9:35 Joan is inspirational. Felicia, well she is another story, but inspirational is not high on the list....more like, you already know what she is going to say before she says it.
Inspiration and creativity are part of Ms Joan's sphere....Felicia's recycling old worn out Sandoz meandering (or Blue Flats, Purple Barrels, Orange Sunshine or Mickey Moise blotter) haggard hipster residuals is neither creative or inspiring. It is constrictive and tiring. Enough of Felicia already, she burned bright for a magnetic micro-minute and now should hopefully, retreat to the papaya patch.

Anonymous said...

The talk show host has the advantage sure if you are talking in general and philosophically. Talk show hosts successes are usually based on manufactured controversies. But once you start talking facts they are at a disadvantage. Talk show hosts are most likely not fact based and cannot debate facts.

Anonymous said...

Felicia is a an east coast boardwalk babe. Selling living the off sales of tourist crap along the Hanalei Boardwalk. Laughing all the way to the bank along with Carlos.

Anonymous said...

How many business in Hanalei does Felicia's family own?

Anonymous said...

The experienced talk show host knows how and when to interrupt you, how to put you on the defensive, take advantage of your nervousness and unfamiliararity with the venue and equipement and when to throw you into an unprepared funk by making something up. This is why they don't nred facts and don't take yhe time to get them!
Pete Antonson

Anonymous said...

And, how many times have you been interviewed on the radio, Mr. Antonson?

You seem to know so much about it, like you seem to know so much about every single subject matter kn own to man.

Dawson said...

The experienced talk show host knows how and when to interrupt you, how to put you on the defensive, take advantage of your nervousness and unfamiliararity with the venue and equipement and when to throw you into an unprepared funk by making something up. This is why they don't nred facts and don't take yhe time to get them!
Pete Antonson

That's a spot-on description of the techniques of a radio talk show host who uses his or her show to advance a political or personal agenda.

Anonymous said...

@2:42 my point exactly,
The only time a talk show host is successful is when they use lies and coercion.

The key is if you are not a fact based professional individual you shouldn't debate a professinal talk show host like Rush!,

But Cowden is a light weight.

Anonymous said...

Just like talk show hosts all comments on this blog are screened for a reason.