County pub­lic works di­rec­tor re­signs

The Tribune (SLO) - - Front Page - BY MATT FOUN­TAIN

Just over a year into his new job, San Luis Obispo County’s pub­lic works di­rec­tor has re­signed af­ter staff raised con­cerns about his “ac­tions and lead­er­ship style,” the county’s head ad­min­is­tra­tor said Tues­day.

Daniel “Colt” Esen­wein re­signed May 5 af­ter spend­ing 17 days on paid ad­min­is­tra­tive leave, county CAO Wade Hor­ton con­firmed Tues­day. Esen­wein, whose to­tal com­pen­sa­tion topped $285,000, re­ceived $12,027 while on leave, Hor­ton said.

Hor­ton de­clined to elab­o­rate on the com­plaints against Esen­wein other than to say that the county launched an internal in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter “con­cerns” were raised by staff, and Esen­wein re­signed shortly af­ter.

“Our com­mu­nity ex­pects pub­lic ser­vant lead­ers to model pro­fes­sion­al­ism and treat others with re­spect,” Hor­ton wrote in an email Tues­day. “We are ded­i­cated to work­ing to­gether as a team to move for­ward and con­tinue our good work for the peo­ple of San Luis Obispo County.”

Esen­wein was hired in April 2018 with a $180,980-a-year con­tract; his most re­cent to­tal an­nual com­pen­sa­tion in­clud­ing ben­e­fits came to about $285,140, ac­cord­ing to Hor­ton. As di­rec­tor of pub­lic works, Esen­wein over­saw about 280 full-time em­ploy­ees.

The county is pro­cess­ing a re­quest by The Tri­bune for Esen­wein’s res­ig­na­tion let­ter as well as any writ­ten com­plaints made against him.

Be­fore com­ing to San Luis Obispo County, Esen­wein was for­merly the as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of pub­lic works in Santa Cruz County and had served as deputy di­rec­tor of pub­lic works for Stanis­laus County.

He served in the Navy from 1990 to

1994, holds a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in en­vi­ron­men­tal engineering from Cal Poly, and is a reg­is­tered pro­fes­sional civil en­gi­neer.

Esen­wein took over pub­lic works af­ter for­mer di­rec­tor Hor­ton was pro­moted to chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer in Novem­ber 2017.

At the time of the hire, then-chair­man of the county Board of Su­per­vi­sors John Peschong said in a writ­ten state­ment that Esen­wein had “a rep­u­ta­tion as an in­no­va­tor who takes ac­tion to make projects work,” and who “un­der­stands the need to build coali­tions of sup­port and bal­ance com­pet­ing in­ter­ests.”

Hor­ton said he has cho­sen not to move for­ward im­me­di­ately with the re­cruit­ment process for a new di­rec­tor. One of the depart­ment’s three deputy di­rec­tors, John Dio­dati, is cur­rently act­ing as in­terim di­rec­tor.

Daniel Esen­wein

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