Hook, Line, and Stinker
SUBHEAD: A bill dealing with permitted camping at Lydgate Park is mired in non-answers and inaction by all concerned. By Andy Parx on 15 September 2011 for Parx News Daily - (http://parxnewsdaily.blogspot.com/2011/09/hook-line-and-stinker.html) Image above: "No Camping" sign at Lydgate Park from Garden Island News. From (http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/article_99411c72-dabb-11e0-9a80-001cc4c002e0.html). During the last month we've used the bill (#2149) to allow camping at Lydgate Park as a kind of case study of the long-practiced and well-honed dance of the headless chickens used by the last three Kaua`i administrations- especially in the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the now spun-off Department of Parks and Recreation (DP&R)- to run out the clock on county council oversight of various and sundry mismanagement schhemes. But the manner in which DP&R Director Lenny Rapozo's final "rope-a-dope" performance yielded a split decision in favor of the bill's passage last Wednesday, gave a whole meaning to "don't ask me- I'm only in charge here." Of course Rapozo's use of "the fog" and the "I not here" method of administrative oversight could not have been accomplished without council allies willing to look the other way at the misrepresentations and outright lies as well as the lack of any semblance of competency of Rapozo and his underlings. After months of non-answers to "the eight questions" that had been repeatedly asked, in writing, of Rapozo, the bill was moved out of committee to the full council where last Wednesday despite the fact that there were amendments pending and it was no where near ready for a vote... something that has inflamed Chair Jay Furfaro's hair on many an occasion in the past. Rapozo appeared after handing in the alleged answers just that morning, claiming he never had the questions, many of which had been sent in writing months ago, until the previous Friday. And, much to Furfaro's chagrin, they hadn’t even been distributed to councilmembers yet. The old bait and switch made an appearance too. Seems the originator of "the fog" himself, perennial county appointee Ian Costa who now serves as Rapozo's deputy, had unexpectedly shown up instead of Rapozo the week before with Rapozo conveniently on the mainland, allowing Rapozo to claim he had no idea what had happened the previous week. As we've previously described, it's a classic move Costa developed during the year-long "Developers Gone Wild," grubbing and grading hearings before the council in the 90's which exposed the early misdeeds of Jimmy Pflueger preceding the deadly Ka Loko Dam break for which Pflueger is scheduled to stand trial for murder later this or next year. The session began with Council Chair Jay Furfaro waving around what a real plan would look like, taken from a Virginia Beach Virginia campground saying "can you kokua me... this is what I'm looking for Lenny." The questions dealt with almost everything imaginable from lack of a sufficient number of toilets to insufficient staffing for maintenance and security and were seemingly at least partially a result of there being no written plan to make sure the professed "work-class facility" would even be run in an organized and coherent manager. But try as he might, Furfaro could not get a commitment from Rapozo to put together such a plan by the time camping was scheduled to begin, 60 days after the passage of the bill. Finally after twenty minutes of trying to get such a commitment from Rapozo, Furfaro demonstrated the council's archetypical part in the avoidance scheme by declaring Rapozo's "no" to be a "yes." Of course the run-around can't properly function without an administration shill. The role was made for Councilmember Tim Bynum whose "don't confuse me with the facts" rhetoric, previously honed on the issue of the bike path, consisted of declaring the questions to have been answered already- whether they were or not- and calling all criticism of the not-ready-for-prime-time "plan" to be too "meticulous." This left an opening for Councilmember Mel Rapozo to perform one of his classic ape-like chest beating routines consisting of lines like "That's our job, to be meticulous... guilty as charged." But perhaps the most Kafkaesque scene in the melodrama played out over the issue of the "fishermen" who have traditionally frequented the area since, well, forever. As championed by Councilperson Kipukai Kuali`i the council went back and forth, working to make sure fishers could go to the campground and essentially camp out while fishing without really being official campers. Of course the task was impossible on its face. How do you allow people to stay overnight in the campground, in their tents, as long as they leave their fishing poles stuck in the sand with the line in the water- as described by Kuali`i, and then distinguish who is actually camping without a permit and who is simply fishing. The council has been asking Lenny Rapozo, and Costa, for the actual metes and bounds of the camping area rather than providing the cruddy little map with dotted lines that had been made part of the bill. Mel Rapozo- an ex-cop- described the absurdity of the prosecution going to court with such a map and how any good attorney could raise enough questions to make it unenforceable. The answer apparently was simply, as stated by many, that the standard was "we know who is camping and who is fishing." Oh great. The island isn't sufficiently wracked with charges of "reverse racism" by the increasing number of uptight, malahini mainlanders who can't distinguish between the word "haole" as used descriptively and the more provocative "stupid f-ing haole." Now we have an area where the line between campers and fishermen is going to be- at least in their eyes- as much a factor of the shade of their skin as anything else. County Attorney Al Castillo didn't really help by hemming and hawing and finally maintaining that it didn't matter what the law said as long as there was "sufficient notice" in the form of signage to tell the users what made a fisherman a fisherman and what made a camper a camper. As if. Finally, the answer was to be as ambiguous as possible and the council inserted language that allows "fishermen" to "fish" any place in the campgrounds where there isn't an actual designated camp site. However all this probably doesn't matter one whit because, it was revealed, the county's park rangers are never there between 10:30 p.m. and 4 a.m. leaving enforcement of the unenforceable provision an academic matter anyway. The bill passed with Kuali`i and Mel Rapozo voting against it and now it's up to the DP&R to promulgate administrative rules- which promise to be as vague as the bill- in the next two months and decide which parts of the campground to "open for camping" with no real idea of what is going to happen, in a classic Kaua`i County "ready, fire, aim" manner. But whatever happens you can bet dollars to donuts that we haven't heard the end of the seven-year saga, especially when the first "you're not fishing, you're camping- I can tell by the color of your skin" ticket is issued. .