(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi County Councilmembers on Tuesday for hours debated what many called the unprecedented move of requesting approval to remove an acting commissioner from a County commission.
Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth brought Communication 183 before the council Committee on Planning, asking that the council consent to the removal of Mark Van Pernis from the Leeward Planning Commission. Mayor Roth presented his allegation that Van Pernis “repeatedly mistreated commission staff, applicants, and his fellow commissioners.”
From Roth’s written communication:
At Commission meetings, Mr. Van Pernis behaves as if he is opposing counsel preforming cross examination, and even badgers’ applicants that do not answer his questions to his liking. Despite being trained in Robert’s Rules of Order, Mr. Van Pernis often disrupts meetings and ignores the direction of the Chair to maintain order. His frequent disruptions, speaking out of turn, and ignoring the direction from the Chair has resulted in the need to mute his microphone. Such behavior distracts from and compromises the important work of the Commission.
Van Pernis was supported by a handful of public testifiers, who raised concern with the mayor’s move. Many of the same testifiers took issue with Roth’s recent appointment of Zendo Kern as Hawaiʻi County Planning Director. Van Pernis has also raised concerns with Kern’s appointment to the position.
Testifying in support of the removal were past and present Leeward Planning Commissioners, who described the difficulty they have had in working with Van Pernis.
The Leeward Planning Commission is comprised of seven volunteer commissioners who are tasked with approving certain development applications with the Hawaiʻi County Planning Department.
The Council voted to postpone a vote on a motion to recommend removal of Van Pernis to its May 4th meeting, giving Van Pernis time to demonstrate an improvement in how he interacts with the public and with his fellow commissioners.
Van Pernis’ term on the commission began in February 2020. His term will end on December 31, 2024.