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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 1, 2010

Bill would let county mayors hire, fire personnel directors

Advertiser Staff

LIHU'E A state Senate bill would give the three Neighbor Island mayors the power to hire and fire the head of their respective counties' departments of personnel services, the Garden Island newspaper reported.

At present, under the Kaua'i County Charter, the seven members of the Civil Service Commission collectively have the power to hire and fire the director of the county Department of Personnel Services, currently Malcolm Fernandez.

Gary Heu, administrative assistant to Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., said Carvalho and the state Council of Mayors requested Senate Bill 2178.

"It is a 'home rule' measure that provides the Neighbor Island counties with the authority to decide, via their charter(s), how the personnel director is hired," he said.

"Although the personnel director is a county administrative position, the hiring and removal process is presently governed by the state rather than the counties."

This appears contradictory to the plain words of the Kaua'i County Charter, which states that the DPS director is hired and may be fired by the Civil Service Commission.

But John Isobe, administrator of the county Office of Boards and Commissions, said Heu is correct, that state law referring to a "merit appeals board" with authority for hiring and firing the personnel services department head in the counties of Hawai'i, Maui and Kaua'i is defined also in state law as the civil service commission.