Kaua`i Prosecuting Attorney Stonewalls County Council over P.O.H.A.K.U. Program

It seems appropriate that sewage is once again spilling into the ocean at Nawiliwili. After all, all that crap being generated up the hill in Lihu`e this week had to go somewhere.

People all over town were asking “do you smell that?” on Tuesday and it didn’t take an olfactorally-advanced detective to discover the source as being the Kaua`i County Council Chambers.

That was when our seven stilted servants once again turned to the budget for what, from all indications, appears to be the biggest criminal enterprise on Kaua`i these days–the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney (OPA). Those who have been under a pohaku might want to read up on OPA Godmother Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho and her P.O.H.A.K.U. program.

And another great must-read, blow-by-blow account of Tuesday’s session is available via Joan Conrow for anyone who doesn’t have the time to watch the debacle… although the latter is well worth the investment of an hour (start about an hour in) if just for the comedic value.

No one expected much in the way of discussion regarding evil mastermind Iseri’s all-purpose now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t combination misdemeanor diversion program/reelection campaign tool. She’s been busy lawyering up and taking the fifth so to no one’s surprise, with the aid of her Council(hench)man Mel Rapozo and his refuse-to-recuse sidekick Kipukai Kuali`i, her council nemesis Tim Bynum and his second JoAnn Yukimura once again failed to get any “answers” to the same kinds of questions all the other department heads had to answer in order to receive their yearly budget appropriation.

Lesser Iseri sycophants Council Chair Jay Furfaro, and Councilmembers Dickie Chang and Nadine Nakamura managed to help shut things down out and keep the relevant allegations of crimes and misdemeanors from the public’s ears and eyes, running out the clock without any repercussion to the budget… and of course the local newspaper has been too busy promoting flower shows, defunct food banks and poisonous GMO corn to notice the P.O.H.A.K.U. mess.

But while the council busied itself exploring new corners and crevices on the other side of the looking glass, it might well have been County Attorney Al Castillo who stole the show.

This week’s prize for “Most Convoluted Abuse of the Law” goes once again to the program “Legal Opinions From Al’s Ass,” the show that asks the statutory question “did he really just say that?”

This time Castillo actually told Yukimura that the council can’t appropriate “line items” in the budget- specific amounts designated for specific uses like a salary for a certain position or a piece of equipment or furniture.

Despite the fact that that’s what a line-item budget does by definition, Castillo told the assembled that to restrict department heads as to what the money can be used for would be violate “the separation of powers” and be “interfering with the administration.”

After a few “let me get this straight” questions, Yukimura simply gave up, flabbergasted by the notion that a department head like Iseri can now take all money appropriated for her department and spend it on anything her black little heart desires.

Finally things got as curiouser as they could get when Nakamura revealed that, according to the finance director, the P.O.H.A.K.U. was either “pau” or “suspended”. But attempted verification of that information apparently depended on how many times one asked the question, so the council spent the next half hour asking over and over until Iseri herself got up and told them it wasn’t really pau or suspended but rather being run internally in her office.

By that point everyone was thoroughly confused and befuddled, but it didn’t really matter because that was when Furfaro ruled the clock had officially run out, apparently because the only part of the day that matters to Furfaro was beckoning: lunch.

The next move in this monkey chess game will be played at this coming Wednesday’s council meeting when, the council will consider the following agenda item:

C 2012-170 Communication (05/17/2012) from Councilmember Yukimura, requesting Council approval of her request that the Board of Ethics conduct an investigation of whether violations of the Code of Ethics have occurred in connection with the creation and operation of the POHAKU Program and related matters.

In addition, the matter is listed for an executive session.

And speaking of wasting time, get ready to once again to vote on a charter amendment that would give these clods four-year terms.

The claim by councilmembers is that “we can’t get anything done in two years.” But the message from the voters has been “we’re not sure we want you to ‘get anything done.’ If there was a way to give you two month terms, we’d probably go for that.”

It’s not like Kaua`i voters haven’t said “no freakin’ way” way too many times to keep track of over the past few decades. Yet the council is once again apparently going to ask the electorate to approve doubling the time between elections. The last time we said “no” was in 2006 when we also passed “term limits” of eight years.

If you get a chance watch the “debate,” do so with an eye toward the unmitigated arrogance and sense of entitlement.

The assumption that these office are theirs once they are elected is palpable. Talk of “slots opening up” when the “eight-years are up” is bandied about with no sense of the fact that they have to run for re-election every two years.

The voters will no doubt reject four-year terms once again and the council will no doubt try again in a few years. If anything, we’d probably pass a charter amendment to prohibit the council from asking us more than once every 20 years.

But if you’re looking for the obvious source of the sewage spill it might be the latest “big flush” of $120,000 into the Kaua`i Marathon. Every year it’s been the same thing- for no apparent reason the taxpayers have been forced to shovel wads of cash into the event with promises that “this will be the last year.” Only it hasn’t been and apparently never will be since this year’s appropriation seems to be circling the drain with little opposition from council members.

That money could go a long way if it were to be spread wisely among the charitable non-profits that serve the island’s neediest. But instead it’s shunted directly into the coffers of hotel owners, airlines and other off-island entities, soon to be converted into campaign contributions. Supposedly a few dollars will trickle-down to local businesses and service industry employees, but no one is really quite sure how that works, and council members didn’t seem interested in asking any questions so they weren’t told too many lies.

It is an election year after all. It can only get worse.

source

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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  • Scott

    As this is an election year, it’s important to get the facts straight. Gov. Christie (R-NJ) recently condemned the War on Drugs. Per year it costs $46,000 to incarcerate an individual; $24,000 if the state diverts the person to inpatient drug treatment. As a nation we have spent over a trillion dollars since Nixon declared this war in 1972. Most recent (2010) FBI crime statistics show 82% of drug-related arrests are for possession; 18% for trafficking. Of the 82%, nearly half are for simple marijuana use.

    Some now refer to Ms. Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, Kaua’i County’s Prosecuting Attorney, as an “evil mastermind” for pursuing the POHAKU program. Is such rhetoric justified? POHAKU diverts eligible participants from the criminal justice system (some $46,000/year) to alternative programs where restitution to victims is paid and community service is applied rather than jail time (significantly less than $46,000/year).

    America convicts and incarcerates more citizens — mostly young males — than any other nation in the world. With criminal records, few find jobs. The result is the majority return to crime and end up being supported by you — jail or welfare. This is a cost yoiu pay! Your vote — which is it? $46,000 per year with minimal success or far less and better outcomes?

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  • Taxedtodeath

    We have corruption here as well with prosecutors and judges snuffing out justice and allowing the same cops to tell the same lies to get the result they want. Sometimes to let killers like Mosman go and others to convict those simply defending themselves like Metcalf.

    Lets hope the voters make make some changes in Hawaii county…..Vote for Paul Dolan.

    The other two have been eye deep in the corruption and are part of the problem not the solution. We need new leadership not more of these recycled lifelong old boyz hacks.

    Vote for Dominic Yagong for mayor, he fired Shikuma and Nakamoto when he caught them in their corruption, lets give the broom of the mayors office and let clean house.

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  • BuddahBelly

    Wow, great article, sorry you guys who live on Kauai… I thought our Big Island had the most corruption in govt…

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