Seems the Skipper’s “little buddy” went temporarily insane and deviated from the script– prompting a dressing down for daring to do so on Wednesday’s “episode.”
It was just before lunch when the Skipper, played by Kaua`i County Council Chair Jay Furfaro, had another of his patented, blowhard, conniption fits of pomposity chiding Gilligan, played by local newspaper government reporter Léo Azambuja, for daring to write something that wasn’t pre-approved by Furfaro.
Never known for his knowledge of– or adherence to– the Sunshine Law, Furfaro has continued the tradition of his predecessor, Kaipo Asing, in abusing the law to stifle discussion he doesn’t like by arbitrarily and capriciously deciding that such discussions are not “sticking to the agenda item,” as the law requires.
The fact that the law is supposed to be liberally construed towards openness never comes into the discussion.
So in typical fashion, Furfaro decided on Wednesday that, despite the fact that it wasn’t on the agenda, he was going to discuss the appointment of long-time council “fixer,” Rick Watanabe, to the position of County Clerk. And since it wasn’t on the agenda, he announced he was using what he calls “personal privilege”– a term invented some years ago that loosely translates to “illegal but I’m going to do it anyway” — to talk about it anyway.
Saying “I’d like to congratulate ourselves,” he described a supposedly “wide search” that yielded more than 20 candidates in what he and other councilmembers praised as a process that was “historic” for its “openness,” despite the fact that none of the names of the 20– nor the 5 finalists– has been or is planned on being released, making the process, for all intents and purposes, the same as always– a backroom deal discussed exclusively in closed-door executive session.
But the real howler was when, saying he had prepared a “press release” regarding the appointment, he actually chided Azambuja for having the nerve to include information that wasn’t in his press release in the article in the paper announcing Watanabe’s appointment.
Calling it an “editorial”, Furfaro lit into “the media” saying “you should print the press release as such,” and presumably no other unapproved information along with it.
Azumbuja had the nerve to point out that, before the appointment was announced, Watanabe had said he wasn’t interested in the job.
Oh– and he went into a long explanation of the various salaries involved including not just Watanabe’s now as County Clerk, but the salary cut taken by former County Clerk Peter Nakamura, who, according to the article, is now making $29,420 less in his new job as a “senior planner” in the planning department after he was apparently fired by the council following a series of public allegations of misconduct, a harassment lawsuit and a string of executive sessions to discuss his “job performance.”
For the record Nakamura says he chose to take the new job at an almost $30,000 pay cut. Councilmembers have essentially refused to discuss the end of Nakamura’s tenure, saying it was a “personnel matter” and to do so would violate Nakamura’s privacy.
Furfaro insisted that Watanabe had “changed his mind” about the clerk job saying, “heck, even (Republican candidate for President Mitt) Romney changes his mind,” chiding the media by saying he is always available for press inquires.
Furfaro has consistently refused to answer our email queries for the past three-and-a-half years.
But, being so presumptuous and pompous as to think that the press is there to be his own personal megaphone aside, the Sunshine Law violation is not just blatant, but the apparent irony of Furfaro’s violation in cutting off councilmembers for speaking “off agenda”– as we described above– and then claiming some kind of personal privilege to do the same, is lost on only one person — Jay Furfaro.
Journalist Andy Parx has covered Kaua`i government and politics for over 30 years in print and on local TV. He currently writes a daily on-line news, commentary and analysis column at "got windmills?- The Daily Tilt."
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