HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The head of the city’s Planning and Permitting Department promised big and immediate changes after five current and former employees were charged in a bribery scheme.
The city’s Legal Department hired an investigator to learn why and how the scandal occurred and a special master will now oversee management.
Dean Uchida, the city director of planning and permitting, said he is personally meeting with all employees to change the culture that allowed corruption to take place.
“We are on high alert and take all reports seriously particularly with our staff. They’ve been made aware that they can share any information in strict confidence,” Uchida said.
“We need to cultivate an environment where staff feels safe to report improper behavior.”
The department also promised a rapid roll out of paperless and online permit applications and review.
The director said the goal is to make it harder to give special treatment or stall applications, which are tactics prosecutors said were used to solicit bribes.
So far, one inspector and a local architect have pleaded guilty.