Mayor Kenoi Announces New Cabinet Appointments

Hawaii County Logo

Mayor Billy Kenoi today announced the appointment of former state Land Use Commission Chairman Duane Kanuha as the county’s new planning director. Bobby Jean Leithead Todd, who has served as county planning director for the past four years, will assume control of the county Department of Environmental Management.

Mayor Kenoi also announced the appointment of Laverne Omori as director of the Department of Research and Development, and Hilo bank manager Donn Mende as deputy director of Research and Development.

Mayor Kenoi also named Kona-based Executive Assistant Bobby Command as the new deputy planning director. Command will assume the position now held by attorney Margaret Masunaga, who is moving from the Planning Department to practice law in the county Office of the Corporation Counsel.

Mayor Kenoi also named former Hawai‘i Community Foundation program officer Clarysse Kami Nunokawa to the position of executive assistant to the mayor.

“We are excited to be making these changes to better serve our community,” Mayor Kenoi said. “These appointments add new energy and expertise to our departments and staff, and I want to thank each of our appointees for their commitment to our community.”

Kanuha served as the county’s deputy planning director from 1976 to 1984, and was planning director from 1988 to 1990 during the administration of the late Mayor Bernard Akana. He was Hawai‘i Island commissioner on the state Land Use Commission from 2005 to 2011, and was chair of the commission from 2008 to 2009.

In 2007, Kanuha was appointed executive vice president of Kohala Investment Works LLC, a subsidiary of Surety Kohala Corporation.

The appointment of Leithead Todd as director of Department of Environmental Management (DEM) marks the second time she has led that department. Leithead Todd   previously served as DEM director in 2007 and 2008.

A graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law, Leithead Todd served as Hawai‘i County deputy corporation counsel for nine years, from 1987-1993 and from 2003-2007. She also served as the Legislative Auditor for the County, and as a member of the Hawai‘i County Council from 1996 to 2003.

Omori, the new head of Research and Development, has served as deputy director of the Department of Research and Development since 2010. Previously she worked as an economic development specialist in Research & Development; as a planner in the county Office of Aging; and as program director in the Department of Parks & Recreation.

Mende, who will serve as the new deputy director of Research and Development, is currently Hilo branch manager of Hawai‘i National Bank. A graduate of Waiakea High School, Mende previously worked in trust and investment banking in Honolulu before returning to Hilo to take a position with American Savings Bank in 2006.

Command, who is being appointed deputy planning director, has served as executive assistant to Mayor Billy Kenoi since 2008, and worked on projects such as the Ane Keohokalole Highway and the Mamalahoa Highway Bypass. Command graduated from University of Hawai‘i at Manoa with a degree in journalism, and was a longtime reporter at West Hawaii Today specializing in land use.

Nunokawa is currently a planner in the county Office of Aging, and previously served as grant manager and compliance coordinator for the $2 million Strategic Prevention Framework-State Incentive Grant to prevent underage drinking. She also served as a program officer for Hawai‘i Community Foundation, and as a planner and program specialist for the state Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities.

Mayor Billy Kenoi Declares Oct. 6, “Duty, Honor, America Tour Day”

The Duty, Honor, America Tour concluded it’s national tour today on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Duty, Honor, America Tour

Hawaii County Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd presents the proclamation that Mayor Billy Kenoi declared stating that October 6th, is Duty, Honor, America Tour Day to Support the Troops. (Photo Courtesy of Melissa D'Angelo)

Hawaii County Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd presented them with a proclamation from Mayor Billy Kenoi declaring today, Oct. 6, “Duty, Honor, America Tour Day” to support the troops and Doug Adams and his wife Deb Lewis were given a proclamation announcing it at a small party held for them at the Shipman office in Keaau this evening when they completed the final stop of their nationwide tour.

Mayor Billy Kenoi declares Oct. 6, Duty, Honor, America day to support the troops

Hawaii County Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd presents the proclamation that Mayor Billy Kenoi declared stating that October 6th, is Duty, Honor, America Tour Day to Support the Troops. (Photo Courtesy of Melissa D'Angelo)

Tonight was the end of a year long trip around the United States for Two veterans, Doug (Cyclist) and his wife Deb (CEO-Chief Everything Officer), with their little dog Daisy (Boss), who embarked the 7th of October 2010 on a year-long cycling tour of the United States to educate and inspire Americans to pay attention to what REALLY helps our veterans, military & families.

The End of the Duty of Honor Tour

Tom English shaking hands with Doug Adams as he completes the final leg of the Duty of Honor Tour (Photo Courtesy of Melissa D'Angelo)

I’ve been told by Doug’s cousin, Big Island resident Melissa D’Angelo, that  folks lined the Highway and waved flags as they made their final leg of the tour.

The end of an exciting journey (Photo Courtesy of Melissa D'Angelo)

Here is more information on the tour:

How did you pick your route for the Duty, Honor, America Tour?
Why are you embarking on this tour?
How long are you staying in each town and what opportunities are you looking for while there?
How can we get the DHA Tour to come to our town?
How can people track you each day?
How can I help the DHA Tour?
Two focus areas that are mutually supporting are…

A Big Screen TV, A Barbeque Grill, and a Pig… Sounds Like Fun!

Deputy Environmental Management Director Hunter Bishop, Executive Assistant to the Mayor Kevin Dayton

Deputy Environmental Management Director Hunter Bishop, Executive Assistant to the Mayor Kevin Dayton and I remove a huge television from a pull-off on the Puaianako Extension (Photo Courtesy of Starsha Young)

As I mentioned yesterday, today was the first Opala in Paradise clean up and it was quite successful!  About 10 folks showed up to participate in this clean up..

Kevin Dayton,  an Executive Assistant to the Mayor’s Office suggested that the first site that we tackle as a group was a corridor along the Puainako extension that he and his son often work to clean up on… but recently it’s just gotten out of control.

The first site we tackled was about 3 or 4 miles up Puainako where Kevin knew there was a big screen TV and some glass that needed to be cleared out.

I was pleased to see Hunter Bishop from the Department of Environmental Management show up on his own time using his own truck… but what was even more hilarious… was watching both Kevin Dayton and Hunter Bishop getting down and straight up nasty with a dead pig carcass that needed to be removed.

You can just look at the expression on their faces as to how stink this dead pig carcass was!

After the pig was moved to a place where it would rot away without stinking up site too much, we then were able to pick up about a half a barrel of broken glass.

We drove down Puainako a bit and at the next pull off we tackled, we found all sorts of stuff including a barbecue grill that looked like with a little fixing up… it might still be usable.

We were fortunate to have folks like Ed Miner from Kolohe Auto Repair come out and volunteer his truck and time for this project.

I was pretty amazed at some of the stuff that was just dumped on the side of the road.  Everything from a set of tires to condoms to dead animal parts.  My mom found this skull.

All together we cleaned up about four pull offs and the area right next to Puainako and Komohana Street in about two hours of time.

I’d like to thank the following folks for showing up.  From the County, Kevin Dayton, Hunter Bishop and Bobby Jean Leithead Todd.  Individuals Starsha Young, Larry and Diane Czerwonka,  Ed Miner, Kevin Dayton’s son and his friends as well as my mom Su Tucker.

Need tires? Kevin Dayton sits on a pile of four tires pulled out at the corner of Komohana and Puainako Street (Photo Courtesy of Starsha Young)

Bobby Jean Leithead Todd Spells Out Goals for Honokohau Village

County of Hawaii Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd spells out the goals for the Honokohau Village Transit Oriented Development charrette.


PlaceMakers’ Project Principal Susan Henderson provides an overview of the Honokohau Village Transit Oriented Development project.


Kona CDP Wins Planning Award

From the Mayors Office:

Margaret Masunaga, left, Bobby Jean Leithead Todd, right, and Mayor Billy Keno

Margaret Masunaga, left, Bobby Jean Leithead Todd, right, and Mayor Billy Kenoi

The Kona Community Development Plan has won the 2009 Outstanding Planning Award from the American Planning Association’s Hawai’i Chapter.

The plan took three years to complete and was officially adopted last year as the district’s guideline for future development.

The award will be presented Thursday at a luncheon of the 2009 Hawai’i Congress of Planning Officials conference, which will be held September 23-25, 2009, at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.

“Receiving this recognition from the state’s professional planners is special to us,” says Mayor Billy Kenoi, “because it affirms the County of Hawai’i’s commitment to planning for the future in collaboration with our communities.

“Special mahalo to the Kona CDP Steering Committee, who reached out to over 800 residents for input on the long range plans of how they wanted 800 miles of land in Kona to look in the future,” the mayor said.  “Planning the entire area allowed keeping South Kona more rural with the coffee farms and agriculture, expansion in the area of North Kona in the area of the West Hawaii Civic Center, construction of the Ane Keohokalole Highway (Mid-Level Road), and Honokohau Village Transit-Oriented Development (TOD).”

Mandated by the Hawai’i County General Plan, the Kona CDP was initiated by the Planning Department in 2005 in order to create a regional plan for the specific areas of North and South Kona.  The community outreach was unprecedented and innovative.  The prime private contractor prepared the Kona CDP was Wilson Okamoto Corporation, which provided planning and engineering services.  ACP Planning and Visioning led the community participation process together with the Environmental Simulation Center supporting the community mapping workshops.  Also contributing were The Conservation Fund on “green infrastructure” and David Paul Rosen & Associates on affordable housing.

Deputy Planning Director Margaret Masunaga, a Captain Cook resident, said, “The Kona CDP Steering Committee, Nancy Pisicchio and Wilson Okamoto Corporation, planned an entire area in one cohesive way and see the ‘forest for the trees.’  It is my hope that we change with a vision that moves away from gated communities with only one way in and out of a subdivision.

“I envision Kona to be a place where local residents and newcomers live together in harmony, support each other as neighbors, where we interact and participate in our Kona community, embrace our diversity, preserve our Hawaiian culture and natural resources and enjoy the island way of life.  This is what Hawai’i is all about.”

The annual Hawai’i APA awards are given to recognize individuals, communities, and organizations whose work exemplifies the planning profession’s highest goals and ideals.  The awards program serves to raise public awareness of the benefits of good planning by showcasing significant contributions that planning practitioners, professionals, and community groups make to the State of Hawaii.

For more information, call Margaret Masunaga at 987-1046.

Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd Named New Director of the County Department of Planinng

Media Release

Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi has named Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd as the new director of the county Department of Planning effective March 1, 2009.


Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd

The appointment fills one of the last key slots in the mayor’s cabinet. Kenoi was sworn in as mayor on Dec. 1.

Leithead-Todd, 56, is an attorney with extensive administrative experience and a strong background in planning. She is currently serving as acting deputy planning director.

“Ms. Leithead-Todd has the expertise and the drive to excel in this critical, demanding post,” Kenoi said. “Her family has lived on the Big Island for six generations, and her commitment to our communities, our environment, our people and our heritage make her the perfect choice.”

“She has vast experience with county operations, and is the right person to lead the Planning Department in this challenging time of change and transition,” Kenoi said.

Leithead-Todd grew up in Hilo and Volcano but has roots throughout the island as her parents also lived and worked in Kona, Kohala and Hamakua and her great-grandfather was a paniolo in Puako. She graduated from Hilo High School and from the University of Hawai’i at Hilo with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a minor in Hawaiian Studies. She attended the William S. Richardson School of Law, where she obtained her law degree in 1986.

Her private law practice has concentrated on family law, and Leithead-Todd also served as deputy corporation counsel for nine years, from 1987-1993 and from 2003-2007. Much of her time as deputy corporation counsel was spent advising and representing the county Planning Department.

Leithead-Todd also served as the Legislative Auditor for the County and as a member of the Hawai’i County Council from 1996 to 2003. She served as director of the county Department of Environmental Management in 2007 and 2008.

“I am honored and humbled to be given this opportunity to shape the future of the island where I was raised, and where I raised my family,” Leithead-Todd said. “I look forward to serving all communities that make up our beautiful island home.”

Leithead-Todd’s long history of volunteer and community service includes stints as president, vice president and treasurer of the Hilo High School PTSA; president and assistant coach of the Keaukaha Canoe Club; chair of the Hawai’i County Board of Ethics; and Vice-President of the Board of the High Technology Development Corporation.

She has six children, including three foster children.

The Planning Department provides technical advice to the Mayor, Planning Commission and County Council on all planning and land use matters. The department is also charged with the administration of the Subdivision and Zoning Codes. The major divisions of the department are: Administrative Services, Ministerial Division, Long-Range Planning Division and Planning Section.