Letters for Saturday — March 11, 2006

• This is justice?

• Unconscionable extravagance

• Clarifications needed

• Big losers

This is justice?

To all the owners of gentle animals on Kaua’i. Today was the day for sentencing the lady whose pitbull attacked and severely injured our Golden Retriever on Jan. 7, 2006.

“Beaux” survived and is fine now. After the story of this vicious attack appeared in The Garden Island, we received numerous letters and phone calls about how lucky we were not to be injured.

The lady who owns this dog pleaded “no contest” to the leash law, was given a fine of $50 plus ordered to pay my veterinary expenses of $67.95 by the judge.

I know the prosecution was well-informed of the details of the attack in which onlookers assisted, the name and address of a witness of previous attacks by the same animal and the fact that I dragged the attacker back to his abode and tied him as good as I could to a tree with the chain he was dragging which was actually a lamp fixture chain and therefore easy to break.

I know our dog will never be attacked again on Kaehulua Road — but please watch your children and watch your animals. The law did not do enough to prevent a future attack.

Sorry, lady, that dog is not fit to live on Kaua’i.

  • Fred Deckwitz

Unconscionable extravagance

The Garden Island is to be congratulated for lifting the lid of Kauai County’s Pandora’s Box of extravagant spending on hiring outside lawyers! Following the lead of TGI my colleagues and I expanded the scope of this prying open of the Pandora’s Box a little further. As the readers could well imagine, the tale gets more startling as we go. Here’s a preliminary report on just the spending of the County Attorney’s Office for the hiring of Outside Counsel:

The County Attorney’s Office came into the Fiscal Year 2005-2006 (which started on July1, 2005) with a carry-over of unspent money from the preceding fiscal year of $411,000. To this sum the CA Office added a budgeted amount of $800,000 for the Fiscal Year 2006-2007 (which starts on July1, 2006), for a starting purse (as of the time the FY 2006-2007 was approved) of $1,211,000.

As of the date of this writing (March 9, 2006) more appropriations had been added, bringing the total as of this date to $1,570,000. At the March 8, 2006 meeting of the County Council, the agenda showed three more requests from the County Attorney’s Office for $100,000 each, making a total of $1,870,000. At the rate these appropriation requests pour into the Council for approval week after week, we can safely predict that our County Attorney Lani Nakazawa will start the next Fiscal Year with easily TWO MILLION DOLLARS, just for hiring outside lawyers!!

Of course, the Public Works Department and its Building and Solid Waste Divisions; the Planning Department and sundry lesser offices in this County Government , all spend equally impressive sums for hiring “Consultants”, so one wonders why we are spending millions hiring thousands of county workers to do “what?” It seems the situation cries out for an AUDIT, as mandated by the County Charter — “Section 3.12. AUDIT At least once every two years and at any other time as may be deemed necessary, the council shall cause an independent audit of all county funds and accounts to be made by a certified public accountant or firm of certified public accountants. ………”

As far as I can determine, this county has never complied with this mandate of the Charter. Something to ponder as we approach November when we will be voting in Council members, the Mayor and various Charter Amendments.

  • Raymond L. Chuan

Clarifications needed

The editorial appearing in TGI Forum on March 9, “Outside counsel costly for county” is rightly concerned when the county budgets huge amounts of taxpayer money to pay private lawyers to litigate cases that are apparently beyond the capabilities of the County Attorney’s office. While bringing to the public’s attention this troublesome trend is warmly supported, the editorial — evidently written after discussions with County Attorney Lani Nakazawa — contains several erroneous statements.

First, the editorial inaccurately states that the money is needed “to defend the county.” While some of the cases mentioned arise from missteps by the county, the Ohana case is different because the county is prosecuting the case — not defending it. When the county is sued it has no choice but to defend the lawsuit and such costs are necessarily borne by the taxpayers. But it is another matter when the public must pick up the tab as officials hire private lawyers to attack the county’s own law, especially when it was over-whelmingly approved by the voters.

Second, the Ohana case is, as stated, in the appeal stage, but all the filing is completed and the parties are now awaiting the decision by the Supreme Court. So, it is odd that the county, having already budgeted $135,000, now claims it needs a further $100,000 for its Honolulu law firm to work on an appeal that is for all practical purposes complete. As there are no factual issues in the case, it is most unlikely that upon reversal there would be a new trial as Nakazawa suggests.

Third, county officials cannot honestly say they “did not foresee the appeal” when the citizens group stated from the very beginning its intent to protest the County suing itself to the Supreme Court, if necessary. As you pointed out the Ohana charter amendment was approved by a nearly two to one margin, and it defies belief that county officials would be surprised when voters did not sit back and allow the officials abuse the legal process to try to get in court what they could not at the ballot box.

Finally, county officials seek a blank check. They are vague about the amount they want us to pay. Ohana is not the only case and we must become aware of the disturbing propensity our officials have to make the public pay for private attorneys to pursue law-suits against the interests of our citizens. We should all be concerned about this growing burden for our taxpayers which is understood to be in excess of one million dollars in the current fiscal year.

  • Walter Lewis

Big losers

The Bush administration wanted to eat their cake and have it still. Since 9/11, they have been agitating the racist underside of the American people in order to build support for their aggressive war making in the Middle East. Now that sickening ploy has come back to bite them with the collapse of the Dubai port deal. Still, the big losers are those Americans who are now a little more overtly racist than they were before the Administration’s strategy began.

  • Will Fulton

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