Councilman calls for release of fire chief’s performance evaluations

Top stories from across Hawaii and around the world, as seen on the 6 p.m. news broadcast from Hawaii News Now.
Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 at 8:40 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves' annual evaluations have not been submitted to the City Council in five years, according to Councilman Tommy Waters.

Waters, head of the Public Safety Committee, sent a letter to the Honolulu Fire Commission earlier this month requesting the evaluations from calendar years 2016 to 2020.

He cited a charter requirement that says the annual performance review is supposed to be submitted to the mayor and council, and noted the last evaluation the council received was in April 2015.

Neves became fire chief in 2013 and in the early years, he was proud of the marks he was getting from the fire commission, said Bobby Lee of the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association.

“The first two, three years he put out press releases on how good his evaluations were and then all of a sudden that stopped and when we tried to go further we were getting blocked,” Lee said.

He said the lack of transparency makes him question the contents of the evaluations.

And he added that performance reviews are critical because the decision making skills of Honolulu’s fire chief affects the entire department and impacts overall public safety.

In response to Hawaii News Now’s request for a copy of the evaluation, Captain Jeff Roache, HFD’s public information officer provided the following statement, “The Fire Chief utilizes this evaluation to gauge his performance and make improvements where necessary.  The Fire Chief will not be providing a copy of the evaluation.”

Roache instead offered a list of Neves' accomplishments, which included community programs for safety awareness and construction of facilities.

Hawaii News Now also reached out to the Fire Commission to find out why the performance reviews were not turned over to the council, we have not heard back.

Waters said he has been tasked with doing reports on the commissions and those evaluations are needed. “We’re going through to review the usefulness of the commissions and I’m supposed to do a report on whether or not the fire commission is doing their job," he said.

He pointed out in the letter that the council could impose fines or penalties if the charter is violated.

Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard does release her annual performance reviews.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.