- Associated Press - Friday, August 5, 2016

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) - The Kauai County Council has decided to spend up to $15,000 in taxpayer money on special counsel to represent the police commission should a legal battle against the mayor go to the Hawaii Supreme Court.

The council’s vote Wednesday comes after an appeals court determined in June that Mayor Bernard Carvarlho Jr. didn’t have the authority to discipline Police Chief Darryl Perry in 2012. The court ruled that the power lies with the police commission, The Garden Island reported (https://bit.ly/2aJby5q).

Carvarlho had suspended Perry for seven days based on an investigation into a personnel dispute, said county Attorney Mauna Kea Trask.

“Does the mayor have the power to take action involving a personnel dispute administratively within the department where it looks like under the charter the commission can’t act?” Trask asked.

Carvarlho can still appeal to the state high court.

Councilman Gary Hooser said the decision to determine who has authority in disciplining the police chief needs to be settled by a higher court, although the process may be costly.

“As council members, we are certainly not in the position to supervise the police chief,” Hooser said. “But we do have to deal with the actions of the police department, most of which are done in executive session and it involves sometimes writing checks for their actions.”

In approving the funds for the police commission on Wednesday, the council shot down a proposal to spend up to $30,000 for special counsel for the mayor. Carvarlho will have to rely on his private attorney and the Office of the County Attorney.

Trask said that his office would have had to represent both parties if the money did not get approved by the council.

“I don’t think this is a feud,” Trask said. “This is two high-ranking departments having a question about legality. It affects every other county commission and state board. It’s a big question. I think it deserves a Supreme Court decision.”

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Information from: The Garden Island, https://thegardenisland.com/

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