‘Squeaky wheels’ are right about county manager

Mr. Allan Parachini’s Guest Viewpoint (TGI, June 5) is so factually incorrect it demands a response. Council candidate Matt Bernabe has never once supported a county manager. Factually, there is tremendous public support for either a professional county manager or a total overhaul of how the administration operates.

Mr. Parachini claimed Mr. Bernabe is vocal supporter of a county manager. Mr. Bernabe has been an unrepentant critic of creating a county manager and has never publicly supported a manager system. Mr. Bernabe has supported a complete overhaul of how the administration functions — starting with ending the current patronage practice of requiring any four-year college degree and any prior experience in managing anything to be hired as a department or division head.

TGI Editor Bill Buley touts Mr. Parachini as a journalist and PR executive. Journalism, by definition, is the opposite of public relations. Journalism provides facts and requires that the reader develop an opinion. PR — a marketing term used in sales of products or ideas — influences people to believe what they did not previously believe. In matters of politics, public relations is propaganda — convincing the public to believe what is not factually correct.

Mr. Parachini’s derogatory comments regarding our “nitpickers” — his “gadflies and squeaky wheels” — are factually incorrect and thus propaganda. Mr. Parachini apparently failed to ask the council for an accounting of the hundreds of communications they received regarding waste, fraud and abuse of taxes and what it will take to create an efficient and merit-based county enterprise.

Mr. Parachini makes the factually incorrect propaganda claim that the “nitpickers” have no public support, and he implies that the massive financial waste, fraud and abuse of millions of our tax dollars commented on by council members, identified in audits and during public testimony isn’t occurring.

Kauai taxpayers have paid and still pay higher property taxes on our homes than any other county, while we have the lowest property tax rates for resorts and visitor industry operations.

Kauai is the only county to fail to collect adequate taxes during development approval to provide for the increased expenses of roads, police, fire, sewage, trash, etc., generated for the profit margins of the visitor industry. We are the only county which allowed and encourages developers to avoid the expenses of zoning changes and sub-division through condominium regime.

Kauai has wasted tens of millions of dollars over the last 20 years seeking a new solid waste site, failing to create a recycling facility, on the expensively failed metal recycling facility in Puhi, and the many millions we wasted on taxes sufficient to maintain our now Third World quality roads. This mayor has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars failing to reform our dysfunctional human resource system while paying out many more millions in settlement, court and internal/external legal expenses.

This council and administration approved pay raises for our county managers and employees. By voting not to support a minimum wage increase, they apparently believe that the private sector should pay their employees far less in wages and benefits than county employees paid by our taxes. Should public taxes subsidize poverty wage tourism jobs while providing millions in tourism marketing subsidies?

Why has the county spent millions providing the state with free rescue service, primarily for no TAT tourists, from state parks? The fire chief, his two assistant chiefs, our procurement officer, finance officer, the council and the mayor all testified publicly at the council before the helicopter was purchased that they had a functioning cost control plan.

They didn’t even have a plan to collect the names of the people rescued. They also told us that a no-bid helicopter purchase and no-bid pilot hiring (when the world and national economy were collapsing in the 2008-10 recession) would save us money. We purchased the helicopter from the company where our hired — without a bidding process — pilot had been previously employed. The day after the pilot was arrested on drug charges we were told in the press by KFD, KPD and the administration that it was all a big mistake.

Hiring a pilot apparently addicted to steroids and then convicted of attempting to illegally import steroids was a big mistake, but not the one the county identified. The bigger mistake is believing that well-intended amateurs can successfully perform in senior management positions without any relevant educational training or relevant prior senior management experience.

Mr. Parachini couldn’t be more wrong in his commentary. The public demand for increasing operational efficiency, reducing the expense of county operations through hiring better educated and experienced managers, and ending all the waste, fraud and abuse which occurs on a daily basis is not a few “squeaky wheel” voices at council meetings, but is in fact an endless stream of new public testifiers, an endless stream of phone calls and e-mails to the council, and endless letters to this editor.

Mr. Parachini owes council candidate Mr. Bernabe a public apology for egregiously misstating his position on a county manager. A review of the last six months of letters to this editor and council testimony demonstrates Mr. Parachini also owes the nitpickers (squeaky wheels) an apology for misstating their level of public support.

Mr. Parachini, to his credit, did write an excellent piece of propaganda.

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Lonnie Sykos is a Kapaa resident.

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