Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Letter To The Editor: Lacking An Outside Audit ... Doubt About County Personnel Management Remains
I am disappointed that Council voted 4-2 against commissioning an independent audit of the County's personnel policies. This follows some high profile, successful lawsuits against the county and the loss of former acting Police Chief Randy Foster, who was fired, as I understand, due to his handling of a potentially catastrophic personnel situation. I counted Randy as a friend as well as a Chief, so like Councilor James Chrobocinski, I am somewhat conflicted. That said, I think this was the wrong decision.
County spokespeople can attempt to assuage our concerns about county management with lawyer-vetted argle bargle, to wit, a lawsuit payout does not equal admitted culpability. The public is not so naive; the numbers in these payouts speak for themselves. So too, does public confidence in County governance wane when high profile people in sensitive positions, such as the police chief, leave under a cloud of the county's own making, leading us to wonder whether the county is in good hands.
Admittedly, not all personnel actions can be made public and there is much we don't know. As a former member of a union board of directors (University of Hawaii Professional Assembly), I realize that you cannot sky-write all personnel actions. Thus, an independent audit that preserved confidentiality when appropriate would have been a suitable substitute to both evaluate our personnel policies and let the public know that we are striving to make county governance as good as it could be. That 4-2 vote ensures neither will be obvious.
The votes of Councilors Girrens, Reiss, Izraelevitz and Henderson disappoint. I hope they write letters to this paper explaining their vote. Or, perhaps, raise this issue again with a less opaque outcome.