Wednesday, October 26, 2011


MEET THE NEW BOSS: The Charter Commission continues its work without much public oversight except when they bring their work before the county council to ask permission to do it- a very strange obsession since the council can put charter amendments on the ballot all on their lonesome.

But it hasn't escaped our attention that Mayor Bernard Carvalho has been on a crusade to use the commission to consolidate power in the mayor's office.

Using his crony Boards and Commissions chief John Isobe as a cudgel, he has sought amendments to the charter that would take away the appointing power of the few boards and commissions that appoint their respective department directors, such as the Police, Fire, Planning and Civil Service Commissions.

But we've gotta ask why he bothers because he and his predecessors been able to evade the law so successfully for decades.

Case in point? Yesterday's thus far unreported Planning Commission (PC) vote to remove the term "Interim" from the title of now permanent Planning Director (PD) Michael Dahilig.

As many may remember when former PD Ian Costa went up in flames amidst an FBI investigation, Dahilig was whisked from the county attorney's office and dispatched to the top planning spot by Carvalho amidst much hoopla over the usurping of the commission's prerogative to appoint their own director.

Of course the same thing had happened when Costa himself was installed over a decade ago when former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka installed then acting County Engineer Costa with only a pro-forma vote by the commission.

This time however many thought the opportunity to initiate a search for a real live professional with experience might be in store, maybe even one that would be a good fit for the island's controlled growth paradigm, as demanded by voters, who approved the charter amendment to put some teeth into the general plan growth numbers in 2008.

But a search of the last six months of PC agendas shows only regular executive sessions to evaluate Dahilig and nothing whatsoever dealing with any search.

So it shouldn’t have been any surprise when this week's PC meeting agenda came out and the first item of business was the "(a)ppointment of the Planning Director pursuant to Section 14.04 of the Charter of the County of Kaua'i."

And since there had been no search, no one could be surprised when Carvalho's hand picked PD Dahilig was permanently installed in the planning department’s top job.

Well, there has never, in our memory, been a planning director actually appointed by the PC without having been hand selected by the mayor, so why start now?

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