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Stene: Public communications with DPW staff stymied

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By Aaron Stene | Special to Hawaii 24/7

Mayor Harry Kim ran on a platform of transparency, and restoring trust in county government. Nonetheless, his administration has taken action against me, which goes against those campaign promises. The problems started on February 6th, 2017 when the Department of Public Works director Frank DeMarco sent me an official e-mail stating that I cannot communicate with anyone in the Department of Public Works going forward. Mr. DeMarco also states all further inquiries from me have to be sent to the mayor’s office through postal mail. This e-mail was disseminated to all DPW managerial staff, and to the mayor’s secretary.

I was able to get that part rescinded, so I could go through DPW’s public information officer for any future inquiries. This somewhat addressed the issue at hand, but not completely. This directive made it impossible to provide feedback about future county highway projects. In addition, I still couldn’t communicate with front line engineers, or division heads. I’ve established relationships with these individuals that have lasted ten or more years in some cases. These individuals have always appreciated my efforts to report traffic signal and pothole issues, along with my assistance with getting various highway projects completed.

DPW Director DeMarco has painted a different picture of my efforts, which he stated in recent testimony to the Hawaii County Council Finance Committee on April 11th. He stated that I was making too many inquiries with DPW staff, which was causing issues for DPW and other county departments. This statement doesn’t make any sense whatsoever based upon the positive feedback I’ve received from public works staff over the years. This is why I believe this directive is smokescreen for the real reason why I’ve been treated this way. Mayor Kim simply doesn’t welcome, or want, feedback from from community.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

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