You certainly wouldn't know it from reading the account in The Garden Island, but the police chief's wife — a human resources professional — dropped a few bombshells at the County Council meeting last night.
For starters, Solette Perry revealed that the mayor had “a settlement discussion” with Chief Darryl Perry when the two met this past Monday night. But she was unable to provide details before County Attorney Al Castillo jumped in, for the third time, to advise Council Chairman Jay Furfaro to prevent her from discussing employment matters.
“I'm going to continue because Mr. Castillo is about to learn that we are not going to engage in a settlement that compromises the integrity and the honesty of the chief of police where he's asked to disregard open insubordination toward him from his two senior officers,” she said. “That's not something we can live with.”
Mrs. Perry, who said she came to testify because “the Kauai Police Department and the community of Kauai needs your help,” gave this account of events:
On Jan. 30, the chief was called into the mayor's office for what he thought would be a meeting on another issue. It was attended by the mayor, Managing Director Gary Heu and Deputy County Attorneys Justin Kollar and Marc Guyot. The chief was read a letter from the mayor that stated he had received a complaint from a employee alleging a hostile work environment at KPD, and the county had a duty to take such things seriously.
The Chief was told he was not under investigation, but at the end of the letter, it stated “that while this investigation against you is pending, we expect you to carry out your duties to the utmost of your abilities.”
Mrs. Perry said the chief tried to clarify whether he was under investigation or not, and was repeatedly assured he was not, “yet the last line in that letter was clear and unambiguous.” The chief also was told to put Assistant Chief Ale Quibilan on paid leave pending investigation, which he did.
Throughout that evening, the chief continued to feel uneasy about the lack of clarity regarding his own investigation, and felt “he was being subjected to a possible hostile work environment” where he was directed to to work and the complaintant was left at the workplace "and he was told to avoid her at any cost and not have direct contact with her."
Then Castillo jumped in to say her testimony was outside the the agenda, but Furfaro said she had the right to speak to the Executive Session that was posted on the agenda.
"Throughout this period of time, which has been approximately one month now, the chief of police has been under constant, and I'll say this word, attack, from the office of the mayor and his administration. What was not truthful and not disclosed to the public, because it is personnel information, is that the mayor of the county of Kauai suspended the chief of police for seven days. You know, I don't see that language in our charter anywhere that ives the authority of the mayor to do that. In fact, I do see specific language which provides a hearing and written statement to the chief if there are any proceedings that are coming before him in front of the police commission.”
She then went on to report that when the chief returned to work, after the police commission had unanimously voted that he should be reinstated, he directed Acting Deputy Chief Mark Begley three times to give him his gun, badge, ID and keys to his office, but Begley refused “and demonstrated grave insubordination in accordance with the standards of conduct.”
Mrs. Perry said Begley stated he was acting under the direction of the mayor.
“Now I don't see that anywhere in the charter provisions that allows the mayor to withhold the office of the chief under whose appointment was the police commission and it is the police commission that should direct the police chief.”
Castillo again came up to advise Furfaro that “this is an employment matter and it shouldn't be aired in the public.” But Furfaro again said he would allow her to speak, but would not allow the Council to ask questions.
Mrs. Perry then went on to say that Acting Chief Mike Contrades had received direction from Heu not to provide the chief with his equipment “so he could effectively perform his duties.”
She briefly addressed the settlement meeting before Castillo jumped in again, then she finished up by saying the chief would not "engage in a settlement discussion" under the terms first proposed.
At this point, Furfaro said, “This role of this council is to be a body to hear from our citizens about items that we interact with the administration and so forth. The body doesn't have any authority at this particular time as it relates to certain commission that the police department is a part of.”
Mrs. Perry closed by saying, “And the reason why I am here is to demonstrate that that authority that is in question in executive session has been far exceeded within the constraints of the charter and I'm asking this body to ... seek an investigation, a full and fair investigation, on matters concerning the Kauai Police Department and I'm asking this body to consider that there be special counsel to assist the the Police Chief and Police Commission so that they can fully effectuate their authority under this charter that they've been prevented from over and over and over.”
In looking at the comments on The Garden Island's story, I can only wonder why the paper failed to provide any substance in its report so that readers could understand that there's a very good reason why Mrs. Perry, who has the human resources expertise that the county lacks, shouldn't “stay home and bake cookies.”
If you want to see and listen for yourself, just go to the the webcast site, click on video under the Feb. 29 meeting and fast forward to the 10:26:05 mark.