Thursday, February 4, 2016

Musings: Get Real

As the Kauai County Council ponders adopting a county manger form of government, it might do well to consider the case of Darnell Earley.

If the name doesn't ring a bell, he was the emergency city manager when Flint, Mich., switched from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Karegnondi Water Authority — a move that prompted them to pump lead-contaminated drinking water from the Flint River in the interim.

But Earley is accepting no responsibility — and no blame — for the decision to use the Flint River as a temporary drinking water source. He claims the mayor and city council approved the action, though there is no record of a resolution or vote to that effect.

Earley initially refused to testify before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. That prompted Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz to call for U.S. Marshalls “to hunt him down and give him that subpoena.” His attorney has since said Earley will accept a second subpoena if issued.

In other words, a city manager is not necessarily infallible, more accountable, a cronyism-buster or a white knight. A city manager is simply a person who is as prone to incompetence, irresponsibility and self-serving actions as anyone else.

The position is not, in and of itself, the answer to Kauai's nepotism, cronyism, parochialism or any other ism.

Just a little something to think about as the County Council prepares to waste an entire day kicking around the concept of a county manager — a move that would require voter approval and substantial changes to the County Charter.

Come on, guys. Instead of trying to wrest power from the mayor — the Council would hire and oversee the manager, with the mayor relegated to a more ceremonial position — why not use the power you've got to actually do something?

Councilman Mel Rapozo has been chair of the Council for over a year now, with a majority voting bloc at his disposal. Yet so far, the Council has achieved nothing of significance, despite the many pressing issues facing Kauai.

So I'll offer a few words of unsolicited advice to the Council:

Put this idea on a shelf. Let one of the bigger, smarter counties try it first.

Prove to us that you can hire a qualified, effective county auditor — one who isn't a political crony; one who actually does the job; one who can be fired without it costing the taxpayers a pile of dough in a lawsuit. 

Pass some meaningful bills that address real problems, like affordable housing, substance abuse, traffic gridlock, climate change.

Conduct a meeting, and engage in respectful dialogue with one other, without it degenerating into a pissing match.

And then, once you've shown voters you can actually do the job you're elected to do, it might be time to begin considering whether Kauai would benefit from a total revamping of its administrative system to give the Council and its manager more power.


Anonymous said...

You are totally right...I was against that "county manager" idea from the very beginning. and yes we have bigger and better things to do

Anonymous said...

Good comment today, Joan. What's really sickening is that this monumental time-waste is being done simply to turn off the broken record that is Glenn Mickens. Write enough letters to TGI and you too can see your pet obsessions take precedence over real issues.

Anonymous said...

How about Bell California? That was a costly enterprise. this is all we need. More unaccountable County employees and empire building. This entire manager scheme is an attempt by the North Shore people to wrest control of the County from long time residents and put it in the hands of our elite betters.

Anonymous said...

there you go again, Joan. slamming everyone w/a broad stroke of your pen. what a crank, you are! run for council if you're so smart and brilliant; no need to insult good folks trying to improve on the current situation.

Anonymous said...

I usually detest and loathe what is written here but today's post actuality has me jumping for joy. Never thought myself and Joan Conrow would be on the same page but this must be the day hell froze over. Standing ovation Joan well done I am in complete agreement.

Anonymous said...

"Let one of the bigger, smarter counties try it first."

Smarter like Maui? You want Kauai to be like Maui? Whole Foods and Ferraris? Smarter like the Big Island with their criminal joke of a Mayor and all those drunk driving crashes? You want Kauai to be like Oahu? Oahu is a mess! Maybe you should move to Oahu, Maui, or the Big Island if you think they're so much "smarter." At the end of the day, I think Kauai is the best.

Robin said...

@11 am; How about Detroit? But I do agree that it a waste of time debating the county manager system on Kauai although for a different reason.

I lived in a city with a manager for many years (Palo Alto, California, same population as Kauai) and it was a very effective system, which is perhaps why so many cities use it. The mayor-led council deals with the "political" stuff and the manager runs the multi-million dollar) business of the city government. The manager was never from Palo Alto, and was selected from experienced candidates found by a search group. Actually quite straightforward and logical.

I don't foresee the manager system ever being adopted here for two main reasons: One- people on Kauai would not accept an outsider (from "America" or another island)no matter how qualified and two: there are too many entitled county employees, and associated relatives, who would fear the business acumen and negotiating power of a manager. For example, in Palo Alto the manager stood up to the powerful firemen union and stopped the "overtime in the last year to boost my already huge pension" fraud. I think that got the attention on the other unions come contract negotiation time.

Either system can work if the proper individuals are in place and this is the challenge we face on Kauai.

Anonymous said...

Right on, Ms. Joan.
The County has hired a few good managers. Steve Hunt is one.
Most of the others are do nothings or power hungry confusionists like Mike Dahlig.
If the County can hire a good Auditor and get the existing managers to LOWER their budget, maybe we can see that this Council should anoint a County Manager.

I have been beating the drum for a long time. As individuals most of our Council members are good people. But for some reason, they produce nothing.
Da Hoos gets more done with each of his public appearances and headlines.
Why would the Lege give Kauai more TAT when we squander money?
The Manager situation will be decided by the next Council.
It depends on who seems to be the strongest Mayoral candidate. Right now the big money is on Derek Kawakami being the Mayor and Mel being his Admin.Asst. Mel gets his 100K per year and a fat pension.

The GET increase is the big tomato. It will pass and the citizens will get the shaft. Its a blame game.

And all this for 20 dollar bus rides and 50 dollar para transit rides. Gawd All Mighty.
Part of the greatness of the USA and part of living on Kauai is to holo holo. We shouldn't let JoAnn and her cronies try to force us on buses and bikes. Shucks, JoAnn lives a mere hop skip and a jump from the County building and she drives to work.
And the fact that many of our people work 2 and 3 jobs...Maybe if JoAnn had all the hills leveled or taken away and it was flat there would be some bikes....but even the new Kuamualii Puhi stretch with big bikeways .....has no bikes.
Hopefully Mel will get the drift.....most of his big supporters and friends think he is a gelding as chair. There ain't no enjoyment seeing good people leading the County down the drain...
What has been done? Nuttin' from the Mayor and nuttin' from the Council.
If the GET is passed....every one of the Council people who vote for it should be kicked out...Maybe Mel, you guys can think of all the Tutus, kids and working people this will hurt. Don't go given that "oh its only a few hundred bucks" jive. The GET will cost every man, woman, child, business and even dogs, money.

Anonymous said...

The mayor could have done more what he is elected to do. County manager is unnecessary if the mayor is doing his job, but he has done nothing but busy hiring his family and friends to high paying County jobs. We deserved what we get. Two more years of misery.

Anonymous said...

tweedle dee

Anonymous said...

The county o Kauai will probably SUE itself to raise the GET. They've done it before so what makes anyone think that they won't do it again.

Anonymous said...

here here!!!

Anonymous said...

Get rid of the damn bus system. If it cannot remotely pay for itself than it is useless.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding comments Joan.

Totally agree.

I think what the council needs to do is simply itemize and prioritize what is the most important for Kauai.

Anonymous said...

The students at KCC pay the Kauai bus $25-$30 each and every student every semester and still only a few students ride the bus. Maybe 1% like the total population on Kauai and they want all of us to front the bill.

Sill rabbit, tricks are for kids.

Anonymous said...

There are very few public transit systems in the US that even come close to paying for themselves, and even fewer on the state/county level, so if you want public transit, the "public" will be subsidizing it for as long as it's around. Costs need to be looked at in terms of other public needs and who benefits. Costs need to be seen in the context of other public needs and whether enough people benefit to justify the expense. In the case of the Kauai Bus, there are two categories of potential beneficiaries: those who ride the bus, and those who would be able to use the streets and highways with less traffic congestion if enough others shifted from cars to the bus. Neither of these groups, however, represent large sections of the population. I would really like to examine the data that suggests by scheduling more buses, and having more buses with more stops that this would increase ridership in order to defray what the bus costs per ride, both now and in the future. It is now subsidized, and will continue to be heavily subsidized in the future. One of the questions the council should be considering is: can the money be better spent on the public's behalf elsewhere in the county. Not to mention, how many automobiles would actually be taken off Kauai's main highways with the potential increase in bus service?

Anonymous said...

Hire only people with Master's degrees in manager positions and get rid of the lower positions and contract them out. That should save 50% off of the top of the budget with health insurance, unemployment insurance and union wages.

Make the people with degrees work instead of hide in an air conditioned office gossiping while driving luxury SUV's around the island, Walmart, kukuigrove, Safeway and to their homes.

What a waste!!!!

Anonymous said...

What about having an expensive bus and a cheap bus?
The expensive one would have comfortable seating and wi-fi.
The cheap one would be the same as now. Hard chairs and drunks.

Anonymous said...

I use the bus. It's great. More people should use it. Save money. No stress from driving even during "rush hour" which is a joke if you compare it with Oahu or LA or Seattle or anywhere else. A lot of the people complaining about bike and walking paths look like they could use some exercise.

Anonymous said...

Oh Boy. Dope clinics get a Kawakami as an applicacant for Kauai. We used the call Big Save, Big Burn, now maybe we will have Big Burn Buds.
The real Kauai political machine steps up. Let!s hope the process is clear and not a smoke screen.

Anonymous said...

7:57pm wow Derek just lost his bid for Mayor, thanks dad!

Anonymous said...

Old news and they've been ripping people off for generations.

The over priced nasty bentos at the corner stores/gas stations is their hustle.

Sold out to Times and made their millyuns so why not tap into the drug trade and make millyuns a year from chronics.

It's a great monopoly ploy by the good ol boys and gals club of Hawaii.

Anonymous said...

The trappings of civilization pulled out of Kalalau show how badly it's exploited.

Anonymous said...

And now Ladies and Gents-
Hawaii Life REAL ESTATE, co-Owner Justin Britt applies for a doper license.
So Hawaii Life, well known active anti-GMO groupees, real estate land-pimps, anti-Ag know-it-alls and full blown arrogant assholes want to sell dope as well.
Who says Fistees don't want no Ag?
A small island besotted with hypocrisy, greed and conniving dishonesty.
Wealthy realators to the rescue. They tell the west side Ag what to do, forget about the locals and pimp out to the rich NS land barons, its OK a little puff will do ya.
In the next couple of years...weed will be legal and the pharmacy dopers will get the legal dope stores. Hundreds of millions.
A sleepy little island getting woke up by dope dealing politically connected daddys and realators.
Good luck to the Cops and the other Justin in keeping the hop-heads out of the driver seats. This Buds for you.

Anonymous said...

A point of clarification. The news stories say that the drinking water being pumped does not have lead in it, the city pipes and home owner pipes do. Normally this is not a problem because when pipes are used constantly a film covers the lead welds. But the Flint River was polluted and extremely acidic as such things go. The city did not employ the proper filters and chemical treatments necessary to purify the water. So the acid ate away at the welds and joints. It likely not only polluted people,animals, etc., but destroyed pipage.
Wonderful. To save pennies. Because Detroit sells its water at cost. The small additional cost is due to the treatment Flint avoided.
Lucky we live Hawaii. I get a water pollutant report every month in the mail.I read it.

Anonymous said...

What a waste of time and money. The people demanding a county manager/administrator are the same ones yelling about the budget and number of employees. The manager would add another highly paid executive (assuming the council appoints someone with the education and experience to run a county) who will need travel funds and an administrative assistant. Add overhead costs (employee benefits, worker's comp insurance, etc.). Another $250k flushed down the drain.

Anonymous said...

If Council wants to get serious about cutting the operating budget, then perhaps they should start with their own. Aside from the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney's budget, which Shaylene ran sky high and Justin did nothing to bring back to reality, the second highest departmental growth in budget in recent years has been the County Council. Maybe we need a charter amendment to reduce the Council to five members and proportionally reduce their staff. Lead by example. I find it incredulous that Council members accuse the Administration of doing a poor job of controlling expenses when Council themselves cannot keep expenses in check. Mel's comments about "an all in County motor pool" ring hollow when he refuses to have Council's vehicles participate. It just seems like lately Council expects the Administration to "do as I say" not "do as I do".

Anonymous said...

How did Derek vote on the dispensary bill? Interesting development.

Anonymous said...

You've probably never heard of restructuring.

The federal government does it and also most companies do it. County and state governments are too lazy and too much family to cut loose.

A county manager that doesn't have any ties or family as a county employee can cut out all the fat county welfare recipients.

Kauai wants to see its taxes STOP increasing in creator ways year after year with the same false promises then we must change direction and implement a new strategy because what's going on now is not only unacceptable; it's also criminal.

You side line cheerleader band wagoners are lazy and impotent and that's why nobody on Kauai is held accountable. Did they catch the serial killer? Was there anyone held responsible for the county has theft? Was there anyone held responsible for the county water dept debacle held accountable? Are the consultants held responsible for faux speculations? What above the TVR's gone bad? Why is there so many so called qualified people in county government that receive over 70K-100K each and every year but who is actually performing to the standards in which the people pay for their services or lack thereof.

KPD should have their helicopter over the county bldg and arrest them for suspicion like the Kapaa bank robbers or is this all and act?

Anonymous said...

Great idea but these money and power hungry people won't ever propose this or even come close to making this happen.

Anonymous said...

It's obvious how he voted and how he didn't recuse himself but how could he have known that papi was going to put in his application. There's no way he could have read his fathers mind. But maybe there was another way. I don't know, I don't hear nothing and I don't see nothing.

Kaneshiro style: my kids need to live and have houses so why not build McMansions on AG land. Papa Kaneshiro voted for McMansions on AG land. After all he is Kauai born and raised so he looked out for the little guys who are born and raised on Kauai and farm on Kauai.

Joan Conrow said...

10:44 -- "A county manager that doesn't have any ties or family as a county employee..,". isn't going to be picked as county manager, especially by the Council.

Anonymous said...

You're definitely right about that and that's why I put that out there to identify that the whole process will be rig to get who they want to satisfy their agendas like the Mason Chock incident.

Even though I don't like Kipu, he was the next in line voted by the people and he would have saved the county a lot of money from the 2491 debacle.

It's just the way they play the game. It's like most if not all sports game are rig and only the spectators are fooled to believe that it's a legit process.

Anonymous said...

People can argue about the effectiveness of a county manager in general, but it's not realistic unless we look at the situation on Kauai. Yeah, it would be possible to have an independent search and hiring board that finds a professional willing to work for less in a very expensive and isolated community, as well as give up affordable housing, quality schools and medical care. It's a sacrifice to live here if you want the amenities of a larger, better funded community unless wealthy. Some find it worth the price, others don't.

The Council wants to control the county manager, so kiss independence good-by. The Council plans to strip power from the mayor and get its way on more things. Maybe magic will happen, and all will be well. More likely, an experienced manager is not going to put up with having his/her responsibilities 2nd guessed or outright controlled by the no-nothings on the Council.

Meanwhile, the Council that rails against the budget continues to find new things to fund, like a county manager (plus overhead and staffing) and extensive Charter changes.

Anonymous said...

That's why you need a retired general to put these sandlot juveniles in their place.

Anonymous said...

5:49 Like our Military is sooooo fiscally responsible. One "major" reason why our Federal Government has a $19 TRILLION debt. No thank you, we don't need that in our local government leadership. Nice try, ready, fire, aim...

Anonymous said...

Your ignorance is beyond comprehension but for you at least you get to go home and enjoy a hot meal and a nice shower each and every day. Oh yeah enjoy your sticks and gold as well but hey there's nobody out there that wants to take that away from you and there's no country in the world that hates the country you live in right.

19 trillion was created by your beloved Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield Republicnas and the neoliberal democrats. Trump will create more of a Hilter divide and economic collapse.

Democrats needs to go back to their core LBJ, FDR, and JFK ideologies. Historical records show that when the lower to middle class are strong then the country in strong. Those who believe that the top 1% create jobs and he'll the economy have no idea and lack knowledge of historical data.

Vote Bernie Sanders.

F a Trump and F a Clinton.

Anonymous said...

8:28 Bernie has some good perspectives, however, some really off ones. F - Bernie, old balls.

Anonymous said...

The retired general you speak of has no interest in coming out of retirement. She moved to Kauai to retire, not to save it from itself.

Anonymous said... she actually could save anything? Just because she is white and a general, you think she is the savior of all problems? That's the problem with you haoles, you are racists bigots who need to go back to the mainland. We don't need you and your stinking attitudes.

Anonymous said...

I'm not white and I was born and raised on Kauai.

You don't make it to a rank of a 2-3 star general if you don't have a proven track record. She's been going through line by line budgets, logistics, manning, mannubg, training and a lot of other little things ever since she was a O-1. Kauai should even call General Shinseki to clean up this mess.

She might not be the savior of all of Kauai's problems but I guarantee that she will solve a lot if not all of the problems that's plaguing Kauai's government.

The problem with you is that you don't even know that you're a bigot and racist yourself.

Trust me there's lot of them in all colors and ethnicities. I have experienced it all with my born skin living and working in states and jobs that you are a minority.

Kauai is my home. I was born and raised here but left for many years and came back to see what a mess the island is. I came back to live, fight and die for Kauai and her people.

My attitude is that Kauai lacks oversight and believe that no one is watching all of the corruption. I can't just sit and watch these people do what they've been doing and gotten away with; without me trying to identify and solve a lot of Kauai's problems.

You should try to find a way to make Kauai a better place and to help our government understand that there's standards, rules, and policies that they need to follow and abide by and if not we the citizens will call them out each and every time they flaunt their rackets.

Kauai's government is out of control and needs to be fixed ASAP.

Anonymous said...

We still have a chance with General Shinseki if General Hertog is not up to the mission.

What do you expect from the Airfarce? Typical behavior. Get someone from the Army or Marines and we will see them make things happen.

Anonymous said...

3:10. So why is the Federal govenment $19 billion is the hole? Because General Hertog and the rest of the 5 star generals were doing so well with their budgets? Omg you are so full of shit! Local? Yeah right! Kombuthcha shots?

Anonymous said...

$19 TRiLLION not BILLION in the hole. Great budgeting General Hertog! Welcome to Kauai, can you disappear please, nobody cares about what you could do!

Anonymous said...

It's a waste of time trying to have a conversation with ignorant fools who believe that the military spent $19 trillion dollars.

Dumb asses like you don't know the history and where and why the deficit is outrageous.

You draft dodging welfare fucks who never served this country are pieces of shit and would be long gone if crazy world leaders had their way.

You don't even know what's going on in your back yard. You frigging idiots are the people who say aw he/she is just going through life's ups and down with their meth and heroin addiction. Tomorrow is a new day and they will see the rainbow and the sunshine and wake up and start making the world better after they get out of this phase in life.

Anonymous said...

All you care about is your Kauai county welfare check and don't want that taken away huh you unqualified/undereducated feen.

Go back to your plantation slave days and ask the master could you get a drink of water for all the hard work that you've been doing sitting in an air condition office watching Netflix and then going to Walmart in the county vehicle and using the county credit card to go shopping.

$19 Trillion was all spent on the military get the fuck out of here with that BS.

If you came up with a legit argument then you could have been more believable. But wait takes too much brain cells to do huh and which you do not possess.

Anonymous said...

How funny you don't blame general shinseki. Dumb ass made everyone wear a berets. It's a badge of honor to wear that and not just given for political sake.

The VA is still fucked up and they can't and won't do anything about it because of lazy fucks like you.

Anonymous said...

8:26 general Shinseki doesn't live in Kauai skinhead! Dumbass

Anonymous said...

He was born and raised here on Kauai stupid fucking inbred.