Web of Lies in Neighborhood Dispute


What do City Council candidate Rich Turbin and supermodel Kathy Ireland have in common? The same group of Oahu residents claims they’re both breaking the law. And that’s just the beginning.

It's a dispute that began long before Rich Turbin announced he wanted to represent District 4. But with something to lose – an election in less than two weeks – Turbin says it's time to set the record straight. That's what his naysayers say they want, too.

Neighborhood activists on Oahu insist they have proof that Turbin rents his Kahala and Haleiwa properties illegally, and Turbin is so upset by their claims that he's filed a police report. He says they're attempting to ruin his reputation and keep him out of office.

The police say there's nothing to investigate.

“He filed what we call a miscellaneous pub,” said Honolulu Police Officer Kawika Hallums. “It’s just for documentation purposes because there was no law suffered. He was just worried about a smear campaign.”

Turbin says advocates for stricter enforcement of rules limiting vacation rentals have been targeting him since he encouraged then-Councilmember Charles Djou to introduce a bill in 2008 to offer more short-term permits. Now that he wants Djou's old job, those advocates are afraid he'll resurrect a version of Djou's bill. But Turbin says that's a red herring.

“To put it nicely, false rumors are being spread,” Turbin said. “There’s really nothing more to say.”

But with a complex trail of documented claims on either side, there's a lot more that's being said. While Turbin and his wife, Rai Saint Chu, say they're being set up by foes who want to make it look like they've violated the law, an incriminating paper trail has residents in some of Oahu's poshest neighborhoods crying foul. City compliance officials say Turbin's rental record is clean.

Suspicions and frustrations are running high. Each side claims the other is lying, with documentation to show for it. Discerning the truth in this bizarre grassroots fight appears as complicated as the story itself.

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