• County auditor case a disgrace • Illegal vacation rentals a good investment? • Time to look back at past, ahead to 2015
County auditor case a disgrace
Thank you, Tom LaVenture, for keeping our county auditor civil case against the County of Kauai before the public, “Auditor’s case back in court,” TGI Dec. 19. Unless there is a settlement, trial is now scheduled to begin on July 11 in our 5th Circuit Court.
A lot has been written about this case but for those in the public who may not be familiar with it, let’s expand on what Mr. LaVenture has said. By design, by luck or by wisdom our County Council by a unanimous vote of 7-0 in 2009 hired Ernie Pasion as our first county auditor by an amendment to our charter, mandated by a vote of the people. His qualifications for this important position were highly scrutinized and found to be impeccable. One of the finalists was even a CPA who worked for the federal government’s oversight agency — the Securities Exchange Commission.
In five years, he and his fine staff did eight outstanding audits and all but one of them was agreed to by their department heads. They understood that better and more efficient methods of operations and accountabilities were going to be utilized making it a particular win-win for saving taxpayer money. The only audit that created any controversy was the County Gasoline Usage audit. It uncovered illegal usage of a gas card by administrative personnel which triggered retaliation towards Mr. Pasion and thus this ongoing lawsuit.
Ironically this lawsuit should never have happened since Mr. Pasion did his audit by his “Yellow Book” and had no idea that any irregularities of a gas card were taking place. The audit, not Mr. Pasion, was the discovery factor and it is sad to see that an unprecedented 32 executive sessions have now taken place regarding this issue, costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars. Plus a million-dollar-plus settlement to Mr. Pasion who will probably win this case. And not only the wasted tax money but the people got an honest, dedicated, qualified person for a position that represented savings to them and yet because someone performed a dishonest act, got caught and chose vengeance over admittance this action is taking place.
The vengeance took place where Mr. Pasions’ budget was cut 32 percent by the administration and the council — all other budgets were cut on average by 3 percent — making his operation impossible to do at the level he did with his eight audits.
We desperately need qualified people involved in running our government operations, people like Ernie Pasion, and cannot afford to lose them because of wrongful and vengeful actions.
Illegal vacation rentals a good investment?
This is in response to the Dec. 20 front-page story, “Morita’s fine cut in half.” After reading the story, I wish I could have sat in on the negotiations between all parties involved, a fine act of corrupt politics.
It all leads me to think that what the Laneys did was worth the trouble they brought to themselves. The investment made to create two un-permitted vacation rentals on conservation land and then have the high-end vacation rental income for a decade or more has apparently paid off.
Just making a brief assumption. Those cottages, because of location, are more than likely high-end rentals fetching hundreds of dollars per night. Doing a little math, one can see the low end of income from the two cottages has a potential of a monthly income in excess of $11,200 which could potentially create well over a $100,000 a year and then after a use of rentals over 10 years it creates well over $1,000,000 in gross income.
I wonder if they paid TAT and excise tax on all that income? If they did and that income was recorded by the state and county then it would seem someone already knew it was operating over a decade, but chose to turn their heads because of Ms. Morita’s state position job. If anyone else had done this the fine would be triple and they would probably serve jail time, probation and community service as well.
Time to look back at past, ahead to 2015
It is that time of year, when I take inventory on all that has come to pass over 2014. Personal losses have been very sad. Politically, it isn’t pretty, literally reeks of cow poo and poison; apparently Hawaii lands are available to any bidder of the billionaire kind.
I reflect back when there were no traffic lights, a dozen plantation “camps,” kanaka workers, ohana from everywhere, blended and pleasantly co-habitating until racist mentalities kicked in to what presents today. I would give anything to return to the days, when Kauai Canoe Club, Club Jetty and Ma’s Place were on tap after a hard week of nursing school, working the third seat on the first Kauai ambulance alongside Wilkie EMT/MICT, husband JR, as well as 25 years owner Central ER/physicians exchanger.
I am reminded particularly that Jan. 18 is a special day, a day when people like myself began to wake up. Some still have a long way to go, however, recalling the gentle spirit of Kalelehua Smith, for giving us the ultimate gift in what we know is pono and onipaa.
I can’t wait for makahiki past and 2015 at our doorstep. See you all at the next DHHL meeting.