The Kama’aina Pumping Scandal Remains Scandalous

Hawai`i County SealBy Curtis Narimatsu and Pseudonym Golakers

Kama’aina Pumping Service, owned by County of Hawaii Public Works Automotive Division Head, Randy Riley, was chosen by the county under a questionable procurement contract in 1996 to provide maintenance and cleaning of dry wells and curb gutters on the Big Island.

The previous vendor of this contract was Eckard Brandes, Inc., which Riley worked for as their Big Island account representative. Allegedly Riley resigned from Eckard Brandes, started Kama’aina Pumping Service, and was awarded the contract soon thereafter. The contract was allegedly awarded to Kama’aina from Stanley Nakasone, County of Hawaii, Highways Division Division Head.  As the division chief, Nakasone would influence or determine who gets the contract for maintenance and cleaning of dry wells and curb gutters on the Big Island.

Eckard Brandes sued Riley for using proprietary company knowledge and stealing the contract in 1997. Eckard Brandes and Riley reached an out-of-court settlement.

The procurement contract was for approximately $110,000 a month, and lasted for a period of 13 years, from 1996 until 2009.

When the contract was written under a new bid specification in 2009, the County stated that the vendor bidding the contract would have to be a company based on the Big Island and had to have maintained over 200 to 300 dry wells and curb gutters over a three year period. That is when Jeff Iwasaki-Higbee, the President of Eckhard Brandeis wrote an open letter to the media and county officials alleging there was collusion on the contract between Nakasone and Riley. He also alleged the new supplemental work order issue would guarantee Kama’aina Pumping the continued county procurement contract because all other bidders would be eliminated by Kama’aina… meaning more expense to the tax payer.

Eckard Brandes President’s letter was about to be followed up by a story in one of our local dailies when Mayor Billy Kenoi’s Executive Assistant Kevin Dayton put out a press release killing the story, yanking the procurement contract, and then having the open bidding process including companies from outside this island.

The county finally awarded the contract to the same vendor but at a savings of $50,000 a month to the tax payer.

How can Kamaina Pumping Service charge $50,000 less a month when the cost of expenses and doing business has gone up over a 13-year period?

If the contract can be done at $50,000 a month cheaper now, why could it not have been done cheaper over the last 13 years which would have saved the tax payers $7,000,000. That would be $7 million of savings to our county.

The Kama’aina Pumping conflict of interest case trumps by millions of dollars Dozergate and Stan Nakasone’s alleged breach of contract vs. HMP, Inc in plundering the public treasury, to name its outdone nefaria.

In the chain of command: attorney and Public Works Deputy Director Brandon Gonzalez is the legal front for Warren Lee’s beleaguered DPW.

Warren Lee has major grief over dealing with alleged culprit Stan Nakasone, but Lee’s inertia exacerbates the alleged corruption within the Department of Public Works: Nakasone’s alleged honeypot sweetening of DPW’s Randell Riley’s Kamaaina Pumping operations.

Gonzalez’ former outfit,  the County Corporation Counsel, is again a regressive player allegedly covering up graft.

Mayor Kenoi, of course, abdicates his responsibility to address alleged graft and corruption within his own Department of Public Works, all the while spinning voodoo economics to smoke over constituents about our dire budget deficit problem.

So the same, Mayor Kenoi fails to constrain runaway work order plunder.

BTW, Mayor Kenoi needs to answer why police came calling at 2:24 a.m!

This is a very interesting story and the closing chapter still has not been written.