Friday, November 19, 2010

(PNN) COSTA FORCED OUT AS PLANNING DIRECTOR; EXPECTED TO RESIGN TUESDAY FOLLOWING ETHICS CHARGES.

COSTA FORCED OUT AS PLANNING DIRECTOR; EXPECTED TO RESIGN TUESDAY FOLLOWING ETHICS CHARGES

(PNN) -- Long time Kaua`i County Planning Director Ian Costa is expected to resign from his post at next Tuesday’s planning commission meeting after apparently being forced out following an executive session evaluation by the commission at it’s October 26 meeting.

This comes on the heels of an Board of Ethics (BOE) October 15 finding that, according to the minutes, various planning department officials’ “actions were in violation and not permitted under the (county’s) Code (of Ethics)” after they were found to have been performing outside work on projects that were then coming before the department for approval.

Although Costa was also discovered to have been moonlighting on projects under his jurisdiction he was not one of those found to have been in violation however he was thought to be the subject of an executive session at that meeting “to consider the evaluation dismissal or discipline of an employee or officer of the county relating to a complaint filed against the employee or officer”.

Following the BOE’s actions, at it’s October 26 meeting the planning commission held an executive session “to discuss matters pertaining to the Planning Director and, if necessary, to consult with the County’s legal counsel... pertain(ing) to the evaluation of the Planning Director”.

According to next Tuesday’s planning commission agenda they will first consider a “Letter (11/16/10) from Planning Director Ian K. Costa to Chairman Raco and Members of the Planning Commission offering his resignation as Director of Planning for the Commission’s acceptance”.

In addition they will consider a “Letter from Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr., ex-officio Planning Commission (11/17/10) member, to Chairman Raco and Members recommending that the Commission consider the appointment of Michael A. Dahilig as Director of Planning to serve in the interim”.

The planning commission is responsible for hiring and firing of the planning director according to the Kauai County Charter, which recently disappeared from the county’s web site.

Dahilig is currently a deputy county attorney who has a degree in urban planning although he apparently lacks the administrative experience required for the position under county charter provisions.

Dahilig has faced ethical questions of his own with a public outcry over his and other deputy county attorneys’ “beer summit” with Councilperson Dickie Chang last summer in which they visited Chang’s home one evening, “coldpack” in hand, to successfully lobby for his vote for a bill to allow transient vacation rentals on ag land.

Costa, a licensed architect, has been the planning director since Mayor Maryanne Kusaka’s administration when he came to the post after serving as the acting county engineer.

Though the planning officals’ action were found to be in violation of the charter’s code of ethics no charges will be brought because, according to the BOE minutes, they were relying on a 1991 BOE opinion which, the county charter says, excuses them.

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