LIHUE — Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. has nominated two-year Kauai resident Allan Parachini for the county Charter Review Commission.
He will be interviewed today by the Kauai County Council, which must confirm mayoral nominations before they are appointed to staggered three-year terms.
“The Charter Review Commission sounds like a very, very interesting experience,” Parachini said. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to it.”
Some residents, however, have raised attention to a controversy that occurred while he was living in Los Angeles and question whether the newcomer is the best person for the job.
Parachini moved to Kauai in 2012 and operates a custom furniture business, Allan Parachini Custom Furniture, in Kilauea. From 2002 to 2010, he worked as a public information director for the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Prior to that, he was employed as a consultant, vice president of the California Community Foundation of Los Angeles, director of public affairs for the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California, and a journalist for both the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Sun Times, according to his application.
Parachini said that, before moving to Kauai, he never had a job that would have allowed him to become involved in public service.
“Becoming involved in shaping the evolution of our charter is a very exciting (opportunity),” he said.
Tinkering with the Kauai County Charter — the county’s governing document — is not something that should be taken lightly, he said. And if done at all, it must be done carefully.
In a letter to the editor published in today’s paper, Kilauea resident Felicia Cowden calls Parachini’s history “brilliant and contentious.”
“A simple Google search on his name brings forward an impressive list of articles that concern his participation with the reporting of celebrity news as it pertains to the courts,” she wrote.
In 2010, Parachini was fired from his job as spokesman for the Los Angeles County Superior Court based on what he said were false accusations that he leaked information to the celebrity gossip site TMZ.com, according to a Nov. 19 article in the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s fair game, it’s out there,” Parachini said of his past.
He told TGI the accusations were “completely baseless.”
“It died very quickly,” he said.
Parachini said the reality is that his open-as-possible approach to handling public information did not settle well with court administrators.
“Parachini said that in recent months, he repeatedly clashed with court administrators who wanted to prevent or delay the release of employee salary information, judicial spending reports and a contract that he believed were public information,” the LA Times reported on the issue.
County spokeswoman Beth Tokioka wrote in an email that Parachini has been an active participant in proceedings before the commission this year, and in doing so, “demonstrated an interest in these matters before being nominated.”
Earlier this year, the commission considered changing the number of signatures required to petition for a charter amendment from 5 percent to 20 percent of registered voters.
At that time, both in public testimony and in a guest commentary published in The Garden Island, Parachini opined that the charter, as written, invites abuse, a perfect example being a Kauai Rising initiative aimed at regulating the island’s GMO industry.
He argued the group’s initiative was an ordinance masked as a charter amendment because of the smaller number of signatures required to put the latter to a vote.
Parachini said he stands by previous comments that it should be challenging to change the charter, and he expects the same issues of signature requirements and language to be revisited in the coming years.
“If that occurs, I look forward to a very vigorous discussion,” he said.
Stance on 2491
In addition to concerns about the controversy in LA, Parachini said he is aware there is speculation that he has an association with the seed companies on the island.
While it is true that he has been an outspoken opponent of county Ordinance 960 (formerly Bill 2491) related to pesticides and genetically modified crops, Parachini said he is not associated with the companies in any way.
“I can say there aren’t any relationships — there haven’t been any — and I’m prepared to enter this position as a very objective, impartial guy,” he said.
Cowden, who ran unsuccessfully for County Council this year, disagrees.
She said he has shown strong alignment with the companies seeking to suppress public participation in the democratic process.
She said Parachini is “a regular provocateur” on news feeds and Facebook accounts to those who want more oversight over the seed companies. Of all the qualified people on the island who the mayor could have chosen, she finds Parachini a surprising choice.
“The County Council will discredit itself as being fair and balanced if it endorses this individual who represents a clear bias to constrain and limit the citizen movements against the pesticides being used on the island,” she wrote in her letter.
Tokioka said Parachini has shown himself to be an independent thinker and is not a member of any business or community group on the island. He has been willing to educate himself on matters of local concern and articulate his opinions in open forums, including TGI.
“It’s always a challenge to find people willing to serve in these voluntary positions, and to maintain a diverse membership on each of our various boards and commissions,” Tokioka wrote. “If you look at the makeup of the Charter Review Commission, it is currently served by mostly longtime or lifetime residents of Kauai. The mayor feels that Mr. Parachini can offer a fresh, articulate and well-researched voice to the CRC.”
Parachini said he is ready and willing to serve. Above all, Parachini believes he can offer a broad array of experiences and a knowledge of how government works.
“I think I bring something to the game,” he said.
Today’s council meeting begins at 8:25 a.m. in the Historic County Building Council Chambers. In addition to Parachini, the council will conduct interviews with two applicants for the county’s Board of Review.