Arakawa, Atta among latest Caldwell administration nominees
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Arakawa, Atta among latest Caldwell administration nominees


A one-time top city civil attorney is returning to his former job while a principal in one of Hawaii’s top private sector planning firms will guide land use policy for the city, according to a short list of cabinet picks released by Mayor Kirk Caldwell today.

David Arakawa, who led the city’s legal team as corporation counsel under former Mayor Jeremy Harris from 1997 to 2005, has been asked by Caldwell to return to the job.

George Atta, a principal for Group 70 International, has been nominated to be director of the Department of Planning and Permitting.

Two other appointments were announced today. Former Longs Drugs executive Gerald Saito has been tapped to be director of the Department of Enterprise Services while former city parks official Toni Robinson is being asked to come out of retirement to lead the Department of Parks and Recreation.

All four nominations are subject to confirmation by the City Council.

With those four nominations out of the way, Caldwell still has yet to select the key position of director of budget and fiscal services and information technology director. Also yet to be filled is the chief medical examiner’s post, which has been vacant for more than a year.

Caldwell was elected on Nov. 6 and inaugurated Jan. 2. The cabinet is being filled with the help of a nonprofit transition committee being funded by private donors. Former Caldwell campaign aide Harry Mattson is being paid $40,000 for a four-month contract to lead the process.

“I have assembled a great, diverse team of people who live here and truly care about this city,” Caldwell said in a release. “I am thankful for their leadership as we work together for the people of Oahu.”

Arakawa, the son of prominent Waipahu businessman Goro Arakawa, has been executive director of the Land Use Research Foundation since 2007. Before being appointed by Harris, he was a private attorney. He ran unsuccessfully to be city prosecutor in 1996. He is also a former deputy prosecutor.

Atta oversees urban design plans, environmental documents and various land use applications as a principal for Group 70. A fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners and LEED AP certified, Atta has more than 30 years experience in urban and regional planning.

Saito was in charge of Hawaii’s Longs Drugs stores from 1995 through 2006, when it was sold. As senior vice president for the Hawaii region, Saito was in charge of the Longs’ 2,500 employees. Most recently, Saito has been a sales and marketing consultant. The Department of Enterprise Services oversees city money-making operations including the Blaisdell Center and Honolulu Zoo.

Robinson’s career in the parks department spanned 36 years. Among her jobs were assistant administrator, district manager, complex manager and recreation director. She was the department’s manager of the year in 2005. After her retirement, she volunteered to help implement online camping permits and make other improvements at Hanauma Bay.

Cabinet appointments made earlier included Ember Shinn, managing director; Georgette Deemer, deputy managing director; Michael Formby, transportation services director; Lori Kahikina, environmental services director; Sheri Kajiwara, customer services director; Carolee Kubo, human services director; Pamela Witty Oakland, community services director; Mark Knapp Rigg, emergency services director; Ross Sasamura, facility maintenance director; Chris Takashige, design and construction director; and Jesse Broder Van Dyke, communications director.

Directors for the Board of Water Supply, Emergency Management, Police and Fire departments are not appointed by the mayor. Nor is the director of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

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