The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors agreed in closed session yesterday to transfer the county's longtime public information director -- whom some supervisors have suspected of leaking embarrassing information to the press -- to the county personnel department.
Several supervisors have blamed Edmund L. Castillo, county spokesman since 1968, for a series of news stories that angered and embarrassed the board this year. One of those disclosures, about an illegal secret meeting the nine supervisors attended, landed the board in court. Several supervisors blamed Castillo for the leak and one said he should have taken the rap for the meeting by saying he knew about it and failed to publicize it.
Castillo said he was not the source of any leaks, but in February he and most other staff members were excluded from the board's executive sessions for the first time since he began working for the county.
County Executive J. Hamilton Lambert said yesterday that Castillo, who holds a doctorate in public administration, has been interested in transferring to a management position for some time. Lambert said Castillo will handle special projects and help implement the county's affirmative action plan in his new position. His job title and salary have not been determined.
Castillo, 58, is a retired Navy captain and Pentagon spokesman whose gray beard and authoritative voice have become fixtures on radio and television in the Washington area since he began working for the suburban Virginia county. He currently earns $45,528 managing a staff of 10 in the public information office, and one official said he would earn more in his new position.
Castillo, who lives on Capitol Hill, said he first discussed moving to a new position more than four years ago, and he said 13 years is too long to hold any one job. He also said he knew of no supervisors who were displeased with his performance.
Several supervisors who asked not to be named said in interviews that Castillo, often volunteered his opinions in executive sessions and had irritated some of them. The leaks this winter and the board skittishness about them provided the last straw, they said.
The Washington Post reported in December that the supervisors met secretly to discuss redrawing the boundaries of their districts, a sensitive political issue. A Fairfax County Circuit Court judge, ruling on a petition of prosecutor Robert F. Horan and several citizens groups, said the meeting violated Virginia's open meetings law and issued an injunction against the supervisors.
Shortly thereafter, The Post reported the board's tentative settlement of a Justice Department lawsuit charging the county with discrimination against blacks and women in hiring and promotions. Several supervisors, who said they were worried the disclosure might jeopardize the settlement, again suspected Castillo, although none confronted him.