INDEX - JUSTICE
www.islandbreath.org ID# 0611-10
by Juan Wilson on 17 September 2006
The ludicrous controversy over the Chief K. C. Lum retirement letter continues. What began as the circulation of the letter with the last page cut off (apparently because of a faxing error), may have led to a raid of Lum’s home and confiscation of his computer. If this is really the reason for the action, it's too pathetic to contemplate.
Lum, of course, is running for the County Council. The very body that relieved him of his position as Chief of Police. The computer is question had Lum's election campaign information on it. This is all highly suspicious. If the Attorney General's warrant proves to be an empty political gesture it is a compelling reason to vote for K. C. Lum in the September 23rd Democratic primary and rid ourselves of Kaipo Asing for good.
Below is a copy of the Garden Island article (9/15) about the seizure, followed by a Garden Island Editorial Comment (9/17) on the issue (which ironically was printed in the paper with the end cut of - please don’t arrest us for this!).
These are followed by the entire history of the controversy, including our original posting of the letter to Lum from the County (2 & 3 page versions).
It should be noted that as questions about the source of "the conspiracy" were raised, even when allegations were made that we might be the source of the "forgery", there was never any effort by the county to contact our publication for clarification or for sources. On this issue, as on so many others, Kaipo Asing, Jay Furfaro, Jimmy Tokioka and Mel Rapozo have proved to be bunch of political windbags.
AG raids Lum’s house, seizes computer
by Lester Chang on 15 September 2006 in The Garden Island
Citing alleged altering of government documents tied to his retirement in June, seven investigators with the state Attorney General’s office seized computer equipment from the home of former police chief K.C. Lum in ‘Ele‘ele Thursday morning.
Armed with a search warrant, investigators also seized backup drives from Lum’s home on Mimo Street shortly after 9am.
Investigators also searched Lum’s 2003 Ford Explorer and 1989 Nissan truck. The also sought laptops, storage devices, cassettes, printers, modems, software and photography equipment.
The Attorney General’s office is investigating whether Lum altered a letter sent to him by the county, then sent the altered version to the Police Commission, county officials and others. Lum’s attorney contends the altered letter originated with him, that the county alerted Lum as early as June 5 it was aware of the discrepancy and that Lum sent the full version of the letter to all recipients of the altered letter the same day.
Lum said the computer equipment mostly contains information on his county council candidacy this year. In a press release from his Honolulu-based attorney’s office, Lum said the motivation was most likely political.
“I am outraged, period,” he said in a phone interview yesterday.
His attorney, Clayton Ikei, echoed those sentiments, saying the warrant has no merit and seeks to defame his client, one of 15 Kaua‘i County Council candidates. The search warrant, signed Thursday, was to be executed on or before Sept. 23, the day of Kaua‘i’s primary election.
Lum declined to comment on what impact the search might have on his chances.
The state Attorney General’s office refused to comment on any aspect of the investigation.
Government prosecutors are expected to examine the three hard drives they seized and determine whether charges will be lodged. No charges were filed when the search was conducted.
The investigation centers around a May 30 letter from the Honolulu law firm of Watanabe, Ing and Kawashima faxed to Ikei, informing him of the county’s decision to cancel Lum’s contract as chief of police.
The Honolulu firm was retained by the county to represent Mayor Bryan Baptiste, the County Council and the county in a discrimination lawsuit Lum filed in U. S. District Court while he was still police chief.
The May letter gave Lum a week to decide whether he wanted to return as a lieutenant with police department, Ikei said.
According to Ikei, his office scanned the letter, e-mailed it to Lum and mailed him a hard copy as well. While scanning, however, Ikei said two pages accidentally became overlapped and two paragraphs were omitted, making a three-page document a two-page document.
Ikei said the paragraphs did not contain “crucial information.”
The paragraphs say Lum could be reinstated as a lieutenant to avoid any gaps in his employment with the police department. Lum was instructed to see Baptiste’s executive assistant, Gary Heu, within a week if he wanted to be reinstated at lieutenant.
“This was a mistake on my partners and my firm,” Ikei said. “And it was our error, and we explained it to the investigator.”
Unaware of the error, Lum sent a two-page correspondence to the county police commission, Ikei said.
On June 5, Lum said he received an e-mail from Heu.
“He advised me that it was not the exact letter that (the county) got from their attorney,” Lum said yesterday. “That’s when I knew there was a mistake. Right then I attached (the three-page letter) and sent copies to everyone to tell them.”
Lum has since faced allegations from the County Council and others that he altered a government document by distributing the altered version of the letter.
When reached for comment late Friday, Heu said he has not seen the release from Ikei and said it was not appropriate to comment.
When a state investigator later met with Ikei and the legal assistant who scanned the letter, Ikei said the paralegal volunteered information to the investigator and explained how the error occurred.
Ikei also said the search may have been illegal because the warrant, although issued by Judge Gerald Matsunaga in the Fifth Circuit Court of Kaua‘i, called for officers of the First Circuit Court to conduct the search.
The First Circuit Court is located in Honolulu.
Lum said he is not worried about his legal position.
“I am not concerned because I know that (the investigation) is baseless,” he said, “but I am concerned at how everything can be manipulated.”
This serial drama has a final act
from The Garden Island opinion page on 17 September 2006
For one to believe that the Thursday raid on the home of K.C. Lum was warranted, one would have to believe there is more to the allegations than the silliness that ensued over a late May letter sent by a county-hired lawyer to notify Lum that cancellation of his employment contract with the county was pending.
That letter was three pages and included a section stating Lum may be able to get his old job back as a lieutenant.
Not long after, the Web site www.islandbreath.org posted the letter online but it was only two pages with the portion about the lieutenants job missing. (That two-page posting is where the apparent document tampering occurred and was evidence enough for the County Council to allege forgery in an effort to smear the reputation of the council.)
The fact that the original document in its entirety was already in the hands of the County Council and the mayor’s office and every one else who should have it, did not matter. Neither did the fact that the letter originated from an attorney hired by the county.
Mayor Bryan Baptiste in a June 3 article in The Garden Island is quoted as saying there was a lieutenant position created for Lum and that he would be eligible to apply for the chief’s job again if he so desired.
The June 15 County Council meeting occurred nearly two weeks after Baptiste made those statements to the newspaper. At that meeting Kaipo Asing, Jay Furfaro, Jimmy Tokioka and Mel Rapozo lamented the conspiracy of false information being foisted on the community by the posting of the document minus the paragraph, stating there was an open lieutenant position that Lum could apply for. Asing and his merry band were quite distraught at the blemish boiling to the surface on their untarnished reputations. “The council does everything right, and then people do something that is not right and we get blamed for it,” Asing said.
Tokioka hung his head low and sorrowfully said it was a shame that people would believe what they were reading.
The media and the community are to blame for the council’s tarnished reputation, lamented Asing. He was utterly disgusted that uninformed residents were actually speaking their minds when the only true authority on everything is the council. It was at that same meeting Asing, upset at a member of the public for asking the question about whether there are any charges against Lum, replied “We’re not here to answer questions, we’re here to take testimony.”
Not two meetings before that response, Asing said he was going to look into a possible Sunshine Law violation over some documents a member of the community had acquired. Asing, were he to file a Sunshine Law violation with Les Kondo at the Office of Information Practices, would learn that the Sunshine Law is for open meetings while the Uniform Information Practices Act addresses public records issues. He would also learn that the person who possessed those documents is a private citizen with First Amendment rights and not beholden to the Sunshine Law or UIPA. Furthermore, the law is meant to promote open meetings and open public records by governments serving the public. It is about the release of information, not a punitive measure for releasing information.
This newspaper often receives documents of the kind discussed above and while we might get a chuckle out of the idea that Asing would evoke the authority to tell us what to do with them, the public can chuckle too when Asing spreads false information about his ability to tell the public what they can and can’t do with information. Asing himself knows quite well what happens practically every time the council is hit with a records request. First, the request is ignored, requiring the person to file a request with the OIP, who then sends an opinion to the council.
Whether the council adheres to that opinion can go either way. If they don’t like the opinion they may file a lawsuit or simply ignore the OIP’s assertions. It takes time and perseverance. A former Honolulu Star Bulletin reporter recently gained access to Executive Session 26 minutes from the county council. Considering that the council’s most recent executive session is numbered ES 237, it becomes obvious how long the wait is.
The search warrant served against Lum by the Attorney General’s office allowed the seizure of Lum’s computers and personal electronic files as evidence in a possible document tampering case. Even though Lum endured a lengthy process culminating in his retirement, the powers that be are not ready to leave him alone. The posting of the letter on a Web site minus the portion that says Lum may have had a future with the police department was so damaging to the reputation of the council, Asing said on June 15, that he was going to launch an investigation. Many passed it off as grandstanding by Asing, as he projected the full three-page letter during his Powerpoint presentation. Let it be known that Thursday was the day that Asing’s claims were revealed as quite serious. What can be the motivation for accusing a man who was sent a letter from a county attorney that his employment contract was to be canceled, and then accuse the recipient of document tampering.
The final act in this serial drama is yet to be played out. The person accused of document tampering is running for office to sit on the very body that is making the accusations. It is an election year and Lum is running for County Council.
Tampering with a document in and of itself is not something to be taken lightly.
Serving a search warrant against a man for a document posted to a Web site is also something not to be taken lightly.
We hope substantial cause was needed to seize Lum’s property from his home last Thursday. For the sake of the integrity of the system, let’s hope it is for reasons other than the silliness over the two-page letter that...
SUBJECT: KAUAI ETHICS PROBLEMS
SOURCE: JUAN WILSON firstname.lastname@example.org
Tempest in a Teacup
20 June 2006 - 2:30am HST
by Juan Wilson on 20 June 2006
I have been off island since June 8th and as result missed the dust-up at the County Council over the veracity of the Chief Lum "firing" letter (contract cancellation letter) that we recently published. See June 5th article below.
It appears that Ed Coll's theory about the "missing" page three of the fax of the letter is likely. In any case, Ed has emailed me a PDF file of the full fax that indicates that the County intended to offer K. C. Lum his previous position on the police force after dumping him as Chief. This seems a minor point to me since county in fact did not follow through on that offer.
The pertinent missing page says this:
"In considering the interests of Chief Lum, Director Tresler learned that a lieutenant's position is available within the department. We understand that Chief Lum may be reinstated in that position. In order to avoid a gap in his employment record with the county, which gap might adversely effect his retirement or employment status, Director Tresler will actually cancel the contract on June 7. During this one week period, if your client in inclined to return to his prior position of lieutenant, please have him make an appointment to see Gary Heu, the Mayor's executive assistant, so they can discuss his re-employment."
This added page only further reinforces my opinion on the priorities of the gang that runs the county. They expect no one to have pride or shame. They expect feathering a nest and increasing one's own economic security as the highest priority and that offering such security to be the highest level of compassion and selflessness they can offer.
The way K C Lum has been treated is an embarrassment and is a good reason throw Bryan Baptiste and the members of the County Council out of office. The only one I plan to vote for in November is Councilmember JoAnn A. Yukimura.
Here's the link for the "three" page fax. Lum Contract Cancellation Fax
SUBJECT: KAUAI ETHICS PROBLEMS
SOURCE: ED COLL email@example.com
Simplest Explanation Is Best
15 June 2006 - 12:00pm HST
Do not presume mal-intent
by Ed Coll on 15 June 2006
The common sense principle that the simplest explanation is usually correct eludes conspiracy theorist of all stripes especially when the stripes are colored with self-serving political motivations during an election year. Such conspiratorial logic held sway at the Kauai County Council Meeting Thursday, June 15, 2005 where council members accused "someone" of tampering with a government document, and publishing it on the Internet with the intent of misleading the public in an attempt to disparage the Kauai County Council.
Puffed up with righteous indignation, there were threats of having the county attorney looking into violations of the law for tampering with a government record. The hyper-ventilated comic renderings of the council were replete with Chair Asing's computer graphic presentations detailing the supposed fraud being foisted upon a gullible public to intentionally disparage the august council members. This election time blustering replaced doing the people's business for an inordinate amount of time, while council members spun webs of conspiracy and cast aspersions on unnamed individuals while strongly hinting who they were. They fretted that the forged document was still available on an Internet site, and demanded an apology from the responsible parties.
The document in question was a fax informing Police Chief Lum of Finance Director Michael Tresler's decision to cancel his employment contract. The alleged document tampering involved removing the content of page 3 and appending the signature of the county's outside attorney at the bottom of page 2. The supposed intent of the document tampering was to conceal from the public that the county "may" reinstate Lum in a lieutenant's position.
The simple and most likely explanation, which eluded the county council, was that a mis-feed of pages 2 and 3 during a fax transmission masked all the content of page 3 except the signature. This caused the signature to appear on the bottom of page 2.
Anyone can check this for themselves by printing out the three page document, putting page 2 over page 3, and sliding page 3 down until the signature is visible at the bottom of page 2. I did this and it looks like that's what happened, but I guess this simple experiment is beyond the capacity of a council blinded by self serving political motivations.
As a man with a beard once said, “Strong men can always afford to be gentle. Only the weak are intent on "giving as good as they get." (E. Hubbard, 1851)
SUBJECT: KAUAI ETHICS PROBLEMS
SOURCE: GLENN MICKENS firstname.lastname@example.org
Sifting through the ashes
by Glenn Mickens on 5 June 2006
There are two attachments to this article received from Chief Lum.
One is the identical announcement he sent to the Police Commissioners with the exception of headings.
Retirement Annoucnment (click to read 16k PDF file)
The second is the actual letter from the county. This letter was written by the outside attorney hired by the county to defend his lawsuit.
Contract Cancellation (click to read 68k PDF file)
Trickery politics is coming into play soon unless the public will see the truth before they sanitize it.
SUBJECT: KAUAI ETHICS PROBLEMS
SOURCE: RAY CHAUN email@example.com
The Great Purge is Over
3 June 2006 - 9:30pm
Kealia Beach looking north at a more peaceful time before the earth moving began.
Now that the Great Purge is over, the principal leader of the most shameful misuse of authority and unconscionable waste of the taxpayers’ money in the
hundreds of thousands, has quietly disappeared from the scene at the Board of Ethics. Sandra Helmer, who was legitimately elected chair of the BOE in December 2004, but re-elected illegally one year later to succeeded herself (in arrogant disregard of the County Charter and abetted by the Board’s attorney
Margaret Sueoka) during the heat of the Great Purge, in order to sustain the momentum she had so effectively crafted, resigned from the BOE on May 8, with a lengthy letter to her colleagues in which she lambasted what she described as “watchdogs” for causing her to depart from the Board of Ethics
The full text of Ms Helmer’s letter is in the attachment, but a few snippets from her tome do cast some rather amusing ironies over her tenure on, of all things, the Board of Ethics:
“….I then presented a rough draft of an Ethics Handbook which we discussed and revised and the Mayor distributed to all employees…..I was honored to be the Chairperson as we all dove into the challenge of making Hawaii History by challenging volunteers and politicians to consider the ethics in their intent and decisions. ….”
“…Having the knowledge of what the Board of Ethics has accomplished and the factual investigations that we conducted, I now view these Watchdogs as yappy terriers that nip at anyone and everyone’s heels, trying to draw blood. They rarely get the facts straight. Instead, they chase their tails and spin a
tale that fits their conclusions. A very scary scene. Be assured, I am not resigning because of them or any community pressure.. …..”
Well, now! What did the “watchdogs” do? Maybe the letter below from me to the current chair of the BOE sent by certified mail on May 4, 2006? And duly certified as received on May 5, 2006.
May 4, 2006
Mr. Michael Fernandes, Chair
Kauai County Board of Ethics
4444 Rice Street, Suite 235
Lihue, HI 96766
Dear Mr. Fernandes:
Your advice is solicited in relation to certain situations in the Board of Ethics as to what county agency or agencies my colleagues and I should direct our inquiries regarding the following situations:
1. The nomination and election of Ms Sandra Helmer to
succeed herself as chair of the Board of Ethics beyond the limit of one year term, as stipulated in County Charter Article XX, Section 20.05 B as well as Article XXIII Section 23.02 G.
2. The failure of the legal counsel assigned to the Board of Ethics by the Office of the County Attorney to advise the Board of Ethics on the questionable nature of the actions alluded to in 1. above.
3. The apparent re-organization of the Board of Ethics to select a chairman and a “vice chairman” instead of a “secretary” from among its members, as stipulated in County Charter Article XX, Section 20.05 B.
Our study of the Kauai County Charter seems to indicate that the situations described above could be regarded as violations of the Code of Ethics, in which case one or more of the issues could be referred to Section 20.05 D (1); or one or more of the situations could be regarded as violations of the County Charter,
in which case Article XXIII Section 23.13 would apply.
Not being versed in the intricacies of the intent and
interpretations of the Code of Ethics and the County
Charter, we seek your advice and elucidation before
commencing any actions on our part.
Sincerely yours,Raymond L. Chuan
P.O. Box 1183, Hanalei, HI 96714
Clearly, the BOE beat me and my colleagues to the draw. While I didn’t really expect any meaningful result to come out of any “ethics complaint” against Helmer and Sueoka, I must congratulate Mr. Fernandes and his colleagues for their prompt action to render moot my letter of May 5, 2006. Such is the way our
county government operates, sad to say.
So what else is new?! Have you seen the massive earth moving going on at Kealia Beach, with silt fences (which are nothing but strips of thin plastic strung
out and anchored with little thin sticks of wood across the potential path of a mud flow) pretending to constitute what county officials call Best Management Practices? All you see as you drive by are mountains of freshly mined dirt and rocks (from where we don’t know) along the beach and on both sides of the highway bridge across Kealia Stream. Accompanied by numerous pieces of heavy equipment and lots of red cones, the scene looks pretty much like the war zone at the breach of the highway at Wailapa stream near Kilauea caused by the breaching of Ka Loko Reservoir. But for what purpose are all these activities at Kealia? You may find it hard to believe; but this massive activity, financed by part of the thirty million dollars cleverly acquired by Doug Haigh of the Public Works Department, is for a BIKE PATH !! Not the whole bike path from Ahukini to Anahola; just the stretch across Kealia Stream!!
And you wonder why there are so many pot holes on our regular highways!?