Where are the recreation directors?
The best kept secret in Kona and islandwide: The Hawaii Department of Parks and Recreation pays wages to recreation directors who aren’t even present at their assigned parks.
Few park users know that there are recreation directors paid to be present in their assigned parks Monday through Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. and Fridays from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. What you will find is that the buildings are dark and no one is around (except those who are given the key so staff can go home). You will hear the excuse they go to another facility, but somehow don’t show up. Supervisors fail to do site visits at night to curb this abuse and have been promoted from within the ranks with no interest in making waves.
The real victims are the children who need a safe place to play with recreational activities after school and evenings. Not all children have perfect home lives. The HGEA will not support union members who skip out of their scheduled duties. I think this union membership scares our elected officials into thinking nothing can be done.
There is a culture within the department’s recreation directors, who are assigned to 23 parks islandwide, of leaving work early. Knowledgeable park users, Parks and Recreation staff, honest employees and my own eyes have witnessed this culture of theft. I guesstimate that 60 to 70 percent of these islandwide parks have staff missing or going home early 12 hours weekly, costing taxpayers $960 per month, or $15,600 per month for 16 employees. I figure we pay $187,200 per year to these civil servants and over the course of 25 years it has been $4.68 million with no end in sight.
Don’t take my word for it, use your own eyes. Start with Hale Halawai, Yano Hall, Hisaoka, Waiakea Uka and the many more parks to pick from. As a rule, small out of the way parks get the brunt of the cheaters. These time thieves leave. There won’t be hours posted on the recreation doors.
I have tried the chain of command with Parks and Recreation, Mayor Bill Kenoi and previous County Council members. Nothing. Not even hours posted on the door. I don’t think anyone cares. As citizens you have eyes and smartphones. You can document what you see although this culture of theft has many partners with blind eyes. Most likely you will be ignored or deemed crazy.
Editor’s note: County park hours may differ from those stated in this letter. Hours can be found on the hawaiicounty.gov website.