Thursday, July 31, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 7 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Arakawa, Atta among latest Caldwell administration nominees

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

LAST UPDATED: 03:43 p.m. HST, Feb 09, 2013

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.

More From The Star-Advertiser

Caldwell fills 4 more Cabinet posts

 Print   Email   Comment | View 7 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
allie wrote:
hope they are effective!
on February 9,2013 | 02:29PM
false wrote:
on February 9,2013 | 02:30PM
Skyler wrote:
on February 9,2013 | 04:40PM
AndrewWalden wrote:
Caldwell Secretly Appoints ‘Chief of Staff’--Convicted Criminal Harry Mattson http://www.hawaiifreepress.com/ArticlesMain/tabid/56/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/8804/Caldwell-Secretly-Appoints-Chief-of-StaffConvicted-Criminal-Harry-Mattson.aspx
on February 9,2013 | 04:40PM
Skyler wrote:
So "a principal in one of Hawaii’s top private sector planning firms will guide land use policy for the city"... sounds scary to me... "Pave Paradise, put up a parking lot" kine scary.
on February 9,2013 | 04:41PM
BluesBreaker wrote:
Yes, Caldwell should have appointed someone who knows nothing about planning or land use regulation to oversee a department in which those are the primary responsibilities. Brilliant!
on February 9,2013 | 05:01PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
BluesBreaker wrote: "Yes, Caldwell should have appointed someone who knows nothing about planning or land use regulation to oversee a department in which those are the primary responsibilities."

Here's the thing Mr Bluesbreaker,
There isn't really any such thing as a "planning" company. If you go to Group 70 International's website and read their own description of themselves, you will read "Our expertise covers... development of resort communities and housing."

So once again, the fox is in charge of the hen house. In their defense, the developers certainly paid for privilege via their PRP super PAC.

A lot of us aren't comfortable putting developers in charge of city land planning any more than we were comfortable with putting a Parsons Brinckeroff executive in charge of our City roads and buses... and look how that worked out.
on February 9,2013 | 05:48PM
Breaking News
The Green Leaf
Marine debris art

Political Radar
`Toss up’

Political Radar

Political Radar
Hilton; Plaza Club

Political Radar
Direct mail