Gilligan’s Garden Island (Where’s The Professor When We Need Him?)

When an illusionist plies his trade his best friend is the old diversion or the misdirection, where the eyes of onlookers are forced to observe a moving object while the prestidigitator “disappears” the object of obfuscation.

Of course it’s a lot easier if you only have to deceive a single fool to make the magic happen.

But when that fool is designated to tell the whole town what an amazing trick he just saw it’s easier yet to assure that everyone is bamboozled.

Gilligan's Garden Island

So when our “Little Buddy” down at the local newspaper, Léo Azambuja, saw how, as he reported, “(t)hree days waiting for an answer became five months and $28,000 snowballed into $338,500 for an upcoming stretch of the county’s multi-use path in Kapa`a”,  he made sure he dutifully reported only what “The Skipper” showed him — a bungling administration boondoggle.

It wouldn’t be hard to believe what Chair Jay Furfaro wanted our Gilligan to report — that the council, through no fault of their own, was lied to when the usual dullards at the Department of Public Works and their equally clueless allies at the Department of Parks and Recreation misinformed them about the cost of a short stretch of the already ridiculously expensive “bike… er, multi-use path.”

But even in an editorial — apparently run by Gilligan who, as first mate, had the run of the ship while Editor Nathan Eagle was away for a week– excoriating the administration for the cost overrun, there was no indication that the truth of the matter was that the council, as they have done over and over on the project, actually approved the “blank check” before they knew the amount or full extent of the work being proposed.

And that little scene has been repeated over and over with the bike path, as well as other projects.

Here’s the usual script. The administration comes to the council with a “communication for approval” asking to be given the green light to proceed on, let’s say, a portion of the path. The council asks them to come up and give specifics as to, not just cost but sometimes, the actual route the path is supposed to take as well as a dozen other specifics.

The administration representative- sometimes the county engineer, sometimes the head of the building division, sometimes the administrative assistant- sits there and when he’s asked for answers, he doesn’t really have them but says someone else will come next week to answer them.

And the council, even though they’ve been stood up and lied to ad nausium in the past, goes ahead and, instead of deferring the matter until they are satisfied, approves the administration’s request to proceed.

Sometimes of course they remember to send a new communication “asking the administration to be present to answer questions” as to whatever information they didn’t get. But usually after getting the runaround for weeks on end they give up and the matter slips off into council oblivion.

But then, sometimes a year later if we’re lucky (more usually it’s never), there is such a glaring problem that someone on the council gets pissed off enough to call the administration back in to explain why, as for example in this case, $28K had become $338.5K.

The council of course is then “outraged” to find that they were flim-flammed. But the most important fact — that the project could not have proceeded without their original approval without sufficient information — is buried in their indignation.

That may just be why Furfaro was elected chair — he is the master of the misdirected outrage, puffing out his chest and holding everyone and their uncle (actually when it comes to public works and parks and rec, in many cases they ARE each others’ uncles) responsible… except of course the councilmembers who were so diligent in uncovering the latest pig in a poke they had approved.

So join us here next week my friend, you’re sure to get a smile, from seven elected stumblebums here on Council’s Isle.