Disorder, contempt plague Ewa Beach board meetings


POSTED: Friday, January 15, 2010

An agency is investigating violations of city rules by members of the Ewa Neighborhood Board, citing disorder and threats at a rowdy meeting last month that ended with police clearing out the room.

The Neighborhood Commission held a special meeting last week to discuss possible sanctions against the board's 11 members.

“;The big picture is the only thing that's hurting right now is our community,”; said former Ewa board Chairman Kurt Fevella, who resigned from his position last night. He is still a board member.

Oahu's neighborhood boards are advisory bodies that serve to increase citizen participation in government.

Members were each sent a letter and given 45 days to reply with the commission making a decision possibly by March, said Bryan Mink, commission spokesman.

Mink said if any members are found in violation of rules, they or the entire board can be suspended until members complete training.

The commission does not have power to suspend the board's meetings before the investigation is complete, allowing the board to hold a previously scheduled meeting last night.

At that meeting in the Ewa Beach Public and School Library, board members appeared to restrain themselves before commission members in the audience. But there were still moments of agitation, such as when the board bickered about whether it could add an item to the agenda.

Rep. Kymberly Pine, who represents the area, said the board's bickering is damaging the reputation of the community.

“;It is an embarrassment to all of us,”; she said, adding that Fevella is making up his own rules to achieve his agenda.

“;You have a chair that is misusing his position of power to benefit himself,”; she said.

According to a commission document dated Jan. 6, the board and its chairman's action prevented the board from conducting its business.

“;Disrespect between the chair and board members have fostered an atmosphere of disorder and contempt among all persons attending these meetings,”; the document said, adding the animosity among board members has escalated to potential confrontations requiring police intervention.

“;Further meetings by this board may result in harm to any person attending these meetings,”; the document said.

It cited three police reports filed after the Dec. 10 meeting.

Board member Celeste Lacuesta filed a complaint against Fevella after he allegedly yelled at her and elbowed her in the back during the meeting.

Fevella filed a complaint about “;challenges to fight”; that forced him to adjourn the meeting.

A third police report said police told everyone to leave the meeting because the “;potential for violence was too great.”;

Board member Tom Berg said the disorder has roots from months before the Dec. 10 meeting. Fevella has adjourned meetings early or refused to put items on the agenda, such as discussing the board's stance on rail, reclassification of agricultural land to urban land, and housing development, he said.

“;We've got some kind of suppression of information,”; Berg said. “;What we need is fair play.”;

Fevella, who has been a member of the board for about 10 years, said there are personal issues on the board.

“;Certain things are being miscommunicated because we have a lot of new members,”; said Fevella, who had been chairman since June.

He said some board members have tried to remove him since October.

Fevella said the problems were political. Berg works for Pine, against whom Fevella ran and lost in 2008, Fevella said.


» Video of the Dec. 10 meeting: