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    October 2017
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Guest Commentary – Public Works Director Decides to Retire… Management Style Didn’t Work

Frank DeMarco, the current Hawaii County Public Works director, has decided to retire.

Frank DeMarco

This action allows Mayor Kim to select a new director for this key county department. I hope he selects someone with a strong rapport with the public and won’t treat concerned citizens, such as myself, like an enemy of the state.

Mr. DeMarco has a military background, and tried to run this critical department as a military unit with a chain of command structure. His management style obviously didn’t work very well and caused a lot of unnecessary issues. I was caught in the cross hairs of one of his ill advised decisions, which restricted me from communicating with anyone in the county public works department. I was able to get this directive somewhat amended, so I could at least go through the county public works public information officer. If this effort was unsuccessful, I’d be required to submit all inquires via postal mail directly to the mayor’s office.

The Department of Public Works is a key part of county government.  They’re responsible for approving building permits, and maintaining our roadway infrastructure.  It is imperative that the new director to be transparent and have strong rapport with the public at large. Anything less would go against Mayor Kim’s campaign pledge to bring trust and integrity to county government.

Aaron Stene

Commentary – Mayor Kim’s Administration Has Made Me Very Discouraged

Mayor Harry Kim’s administration has been in office roughly six months. The way I’ve been treated over this period of time has been nothing short of abysmal, and made me very discouraged about interacting with his administration about transportation issues. It isn’t very appealing to get a phone call from the mayor directly, who proceeds to yell at you over the phone and state that you don’t have the facts straight.

I would let this go if this was my only issue with Mayor Kim,  but it is not. February 6th, 2017 is a day I’ll remember for a very long time. The new Department of Public  Works director Frank DeMarco issued a sweeping  directive against me that stated I cannot talk to anyone at DPW, and would have submit all inquiries directly to the mayor’s office in writing.

I was able to get this directive somewhat amended, so I could go through the DPW public affairs officer. This made a very difficult situation more palatable, but I still couldn’t talk to the front line engineers that I established relationships with. Some of these engineers I’ve known for 10 years or more. As of a result of this ill-advised directive, I can’t communicate with these engineers going forward.

These actions by Frank DeMarco are a stark example that he intends to ignore public feedback regarding transportation issues. Warren Lee, the previous director, welcomed feedback from the public. He went as so far to take me on a tour of the construction of the Mamalahoa Highway bypass at one point.

I’ve helped DPW advance several West Hawaii transportation projects, which has established a favorable track record with these engineers. However, Frank DeMarco stated at council meeting on April 11th that I was making too many inquiries with DPW staff, which was causing problems for DPW and other county departments. This could be farther from the truth, along with being very hurtful.

I’ve lived in here Kailua-Kona over 41 years, and have had only the community’s best interest at heart.  These issues with Mayor Kim’s administration are far and beyond the biggest challenge that I’ve faced with a government entity. We should be working together to make this a better place as I have a lot to offer, but Mayor Kim’s administration insists on treating me like an enemy of the state instead.

Aaron Stene, Kailua-Kona

Editors note – Clip taken from the DPW Homepage. http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/public-works/

Frank DeMarco Resigns as the Director of the Department of Environmental Management

Media Release:

The Director of the Department of Environmental Management, Frank DeMarco, recently submitted his resignation from this position to transfer back to the Department of Public Works, effective August 1. DeMarco, a licensed professional engineer, will return to his former position as the Floodplain Manager in the Engineering Division.

Dora Beck, current head of Environmental Management’s Wastewater Division will be temporarily assigned to the Director’s position. Beck has worked in various engineering capacities for the department since June 2003. She holds a MS degree in Civil Engineering, with emphasis in Environmental Engineering, from San Jose State University. Beck is a licensed professional engineer in California and Hawaii.

In announcing these changes, Mayor Billy Kenoi praised DeMarco for his leadership in addressing difficult situations, and for carrying out the critical work of the department. He also expressed gratitude for Beck’s willingness to step in to provide continued leadership and expertise.

According to Kenoi, “I feel fortunate to have had a man of Frank DeMarco’s background on our team. I appreciate his willingness to tackle the many challenges of the department and I respect his decision to spend more time with his family. We look forward to working with Ms. Dora Beck in her new role as acting Director of the Department of Environmental Management.”