City fires one worker, disciplines others in roads division - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

City fires one supervisor, plans to discipline other workers in troubled roads division

Patrick Costa Patrick Costa
1334 Keolu Drive 1334 Keolu Drive
Another division of road maintenance supervisor is being investigated for allegations of illegal dumping. Another division of road maintenance supervisor is being investigated for allegations of illegal dumping.
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The city has fired one supervisor and is trying to suspend two other employees for several incidents of misconduct in its troubled roads division at the Department of Facility Maintenance.

City Traffic Signs Supervisor Patrick Costa was fired last week by the city, a source said. Costa has been on leave and under investigation for consistently leaving his office at the city's Halawa Yard and spending much of the work day at his home along Keolu Drive. 

Costa, a 24-year city employee, oversees about two dozen staffers who install and maintain signs and handle lane striping along city roadways. 

Enter his address, 1334 Keolu Drive, into Google Maps and you'll find a picture from June 2011 of his white city truck sitting in his garage during the day. Sources said that's not a vehicle he was authorized to take home. 

Costa still faces a criminal theft investigation.

Meanwhile, the city is trying to impose 30-day suspensions on two other roads division employees who work out of Halawa after a bizarre incident involving alcohol and a dead pig, a source said.  The two men filed union grievances in the case, so the city has not carried out the suspensions yet, a source said.

The two workers are accused of entering the Halawa Base yard without authorization after work the night of July 31.

The men, a storm drain cleaning crew leader and a heavy truck driver, went pig hunting in the mountains near their Halawa work place after hours, sources said.

They returned to the city yard where they drank alcoholic beverages and decided they needed to bury a pig around 8:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night they had killed because it had spoiled, a source said.  

One of the men used one of the yard's hydraulic backhoes to bury the pig, a source said.

When a security guard confronted the men, they claimed they had permission to be in the yard after hours, a source said.

Another division of road maintenance supervisor is being investigated for allegations of illegal dumping, the third case of a supervisor in trouble in the same division in less than two years.

That case, under investigation by the City Ethics Commission, involves allegations of wrongdoing at the Department of Facility Maintenance's Sand Island yard, near the Sand Island sewage plant. 

Sam Kalahiki, a supervisor on temporary assignment, is on unpaid leave and under investigation in the case, according to a city spokeswoman.

Kalahiki is the focus of an ethics probe after someone reported he allowed a private company where his friend or relative works to dump several loads of construction waste at the Sand Island city yard, instead of paying to dispose of it at a landfill, sources said. 

According to city records, Kalahiki, a 20-year city employee who's a heavy truck driver, is paid roughly $41,000 a year. 

In another case, former city street sweeping supervisor Manuel Castro was sentenced to a year behind bars in January 2011.

Castro was also ordered to pay back the $20,000 in overtime he collected in a scheme in which he collected kickbacks from city street sweepers whose bogus overtime he approved. 

All three supervisors accused of wrongdoing work in the road division which is headquartered in the city's Halawa yard. City officials said they can't comment on these cases because they are personnel matters.  

City employees said a culture of corruption has been allowed to flourish in this division for years, with favoritism and nepotism to blame for some of the problems. 

Since one-third of the jobs in the department are vacant, employees said there's plenty of overtime that's sometimes doled out unfairly or unethically. 

Managers in the city's road division are either ignoring the problems are too clueless and inept to do step in and do anything about them, employees said. 

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