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Kenoi offers message of perseverance to students

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL/CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Billy Kenoi

KAILUA-KONA » Embattled Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi has left high school students with a message of perseverance following an event aimed at teaching Hawaii’s youth about leadership.

Kenoi, who is facing two counts of felony theft and other charges, gave the keynote speech during the fifth annual LEI program on Friday. LEI — which stands for leadership, exploration and inspiration — seeks to expose high school students to potential careers in the local tourism industry. The event is hosted by ClimbHI in partnership with Hawaii County and the Big Island Visitors Bureau and is sponsored by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Julie Morikowa, the president of ClimbHI, said Kenoi’s legal issues were not a concern and that the decision to speak at the event was left up to him, West Hawaii Today reported.

“The program is bigger than all of us, and it is bigger than any individual,” Morikowa said. “This really would not be possible without the county. There really was not a consideration on what he has done in his past.”

A Hilo grand jury indicted Kenoi in March on charges of theft, tampering with a government record and making a false statement under oath. The charges stem from the alleged misuse of his county-issued purchasing card from 2011 to 2015. Kenoi has said through his attorney he will not step down from his mayoral post and will fight the charges.

While he did not address his legal troubles during the 30-minute speech, Kenoi did encourage the group of about 40 students to fight through their own challenges.

“Sometimes you fall down, sometimes you get hurt,” Kenoi said. “You cannot cry. You just got to get up. You got to dust yourself off. You got to keep going. Then you are going to trip again. It is OK. Just get up again, dust yourself off and keep going.”

Several students who attended the forum said they enjoyed Kenoi’s speech.

“I thought it was really touching,” said Dawstin Hoopai, a student at Kohala High School. “Even though he is in trouble, what he said is true. You can’t take him wrong for what he said.”

Anona Napoleola, a junior at Honakaa High School, said “listening to Billy Kenoi talk about dreams was my favorite part.”

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  • Poor Billy, he thinks theft, embezzlement, and fraud (not to mention how this tiki bar nonsense must have hurt his wife and family) is simply, “falling down”.

    Additionally, Julie Morikowa’s discernment is obviously broken.

    And they think that they have a message to give children. She should rename the program (no doubt funded with taxpayer grant money) WallowLow, not ClimbHI.

    • Exactly.. ‘falling down’ is so far removed from breaking the law that any parent, or student for that matter, who believes this clown definitely needs to have their head examined… seriously.

      • One of the most important attributes of leadership, is responsibility. There is no mention whatsoever (at least in what was printed)of taking responsibility for your actions. Sure we all make mistakes and bad choices at one time or another in our lives; but it is what you do after those bumps in the road, and how you handle them that determines whether or not you are a leader, and what type of leader you are.

      • You just can’t escape coming to the conclusion that Big Island is home to a sad bunch of local yokels who still support their lying, cheating and thieving bad boy mayor. It’s like they all from West Virgina hillbilly country all married to their cousins. They cannot distinguish between right and wrong. Eat it up Billy you the Hillbilly Hero.

        • Is it right or wrong to claim West Virginia has a “hillbilly country” where everyone is “married to their cousins”?

        • Well said. Many of the so-called concerned citizens are hypocrits who never did anything wrong and yet many of these same people are terrified that the IRS could possibly knock at their door and audit their taxes that they just filed.

      • To all you Saints, you people need to stop hating. Everyone will make thousands of mistake in their life time. Some mistakes was probably worst than others. Through this process, hopefully it made you bigger and better person than you were. Nothing is without blemish. For all you haters, I want you to share with me and others one person who has not made a mistake in their lifetime. Billy Kenoi’s expression comes from a very special place and that place is love. The youth of today is our future leaders. They need to understand that defeat does not equal giving up in life, but is part of the lifelong learning process that attributes to our personal growth and development as an individual. We all face our own selfish demons. Unfortunately, Mayor Kenoi is facing his. I can only wish the brother God Speed in getting through this legal issues. He must press forward with humility and resolve. Personally, I think this matter is an administrative vs. criminal matter. There are people out there that have political motive to end Mayor Kenoi’s political career. These haters are no different than the people who are illustrated in the Salem Witch Trials. I have worked and heard of many Federal Employees who have experienced similar circumstances with misuse of their Government Issued Credit Cards, issued for travel purpose, and had sanctions that ranged from paying back their outstanding balance – to suspension depending how egregious their acts were (e.g. employee went out buying household flat screen television Vs. using their Govt. Issued Credit Cards to pay for their meals and entertainment while in travel status, etc.). All this shows is that the mayor is human and just as culpable as anyone else.

        • With all due respect, a “mistake” is when you do something that wasn’t intended. Billy, being an attorney, more so than others KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING.

        • Ignorance doesn’t make it right to commit a mistake. Before any government employee signs for their Pcard, they must read and understand the purpose and use of the card, especially when it specifically states that it must not be used for “personal” use. The definition of he word “Misuse” is totally different from the word “Mistake.” Com-on man, you’re trying too hard to defend a man that knew right from wrong by misusing and abusing the purpose of the Pcard. And besides that, we’re not haters, we’re stating facts and when someone commits a felony, it’s not a mistake. The mayor is human and must pay the price as other humans have done.

        • Big difference between making a mistake and knowingly doing something illegal. HUGE difference. Not a real good choice for someone to talk to kids.

        • Oh geez. I spent three decades in C&C and State service. It never once occurred to me that it was ok to “bend” the rules, that ethics were for other people, that nobody would notice. If I had been dishonest, I would have noticed and I would not have been able to accept it. You talk about haters. Well, I hate dishonesty, unethical behavior, illegal behavior, and hubris. I taught my children the same.

          I am not without “blemish” as a person but I am so in my career in public service. Guess what? It wasn’t that hard. I just did what was right, proper, and of service to my community. It was no big thing.

          When I went into administration, I had one great lecture. It was from the head of the Budget Branch. He said “I’m going to talk to you for an hour but you only need to remember one thing. Remember: It’s not your money.” I remembered and I spent my career trying to use the resources entrusted to me in the best interests of our state, our community, my neighbors, and their children.

        • Well said. Many of the so-called concerned citizens are hypocrits who never did anything wrong and yet many of these same people are terrified that the IRS could possibly knock at their door and audit their taxes that they just filed.

      • It’s amazing. I returned to Hawaii in 1973 and we use just roll with the Political-Punches; because, in the old days, “The Good Old Boys” had respect for Hawaii and it’s customs and traditions and one another. And, for the most part, Politicians didn’t sellout THE LOCALS. NOW, it’s a completely different story–absolutely NO RESPECT. It’s become a competition as to who can be the most nefarious. It’s become a VERY SICK SOCIETY… VERY SAD…

      • Why nothing he is accused of is about marijuana he stole money and decided to try to hide it and when he was finally caught he started claiming that he made all the payments again, he should be dressed in an expensive suit surrounded by security making speeches daily he is acting exactly like politicians have acted time and time again the fact that you are going to throw marijuana into this due to your views against it or i honestly dont know why you would even mention that it has nothing to do with his mistakes

  • I was thinking what is this guy giving inspirational speeches, and I realized that he has the ability to get people to keep trying and achieving their goals. I commend him for this endeavor, would never buy a used car from him though!

        • I imagine Hitler, Manson, and Madoff would have interesting messages too – so listen to the message and don’t focus on the psychopath speaking. Yep, brilliant suggestion.

        • Love the way all these perfect people are the first ones to cast stones. Seems like no one here ever did anything wrong.

        • Are you for real? As an elected official and holding the highest office in the County of the island of Hawaii, he should have been holding up high moral, ethical and social standards and he fell short of being the perfect example and as a result, why should anyone be listening to a hypocrite. Listen to me but don’t do as I’ve done. Typical politician, always BSing his way through murky waters and mud. Only the gullible and uneducated would take it all in from a person that talks a good story.

  • This guy Kenoi supposedly steals $200,000 from the taxpayers and spends it on a KB, surfboard, fancy food, drinks and lodging then pays it all back but gets arrested. But then you got Caldwell who essentially steals billions from the taxpayers for rail and to make sure all his fat campaign donors get fatter but gets to run for re-election. The irony in life.

    • What’s wrong with the judicial system? He should be put on administrative leave while the investigation is ongoing. Once a convicted felon, he should be exempt from having the right to vote or hold any government job.

        • I imagine Hitler, Manson, and Madoff would have interesting messages too – so listen to the message and don’t focus on the psychopath speaking. Yep, brilliant suggestion.

        • You must be a relative or a good friend of Kenoi unless the Kool-aid you’re drinking is messing with your mind.

        • No, don’t know him. Just believe he is not all bad! If he can help one person in a positive manner, its a win!

    • proof positive that CRIME PAYS IN HAWAII and if you get caught just tell the kids to roll with it and go for bigger targets like Ft Knox or maybe ????? the bad part is Oahu RAIL HAS MUCH MORE HIDDEN CRIME FROM LOCAL POLITICIANS AND CITY OFICIALS. Watch as the Feds investigate Oahu and make the Mayor and City Council Jail time hero’s as well. Only in the 3rd world countries like Hawaii does crime pay a dividend of being able to teach the children how to steal.

  • Well the students just got a talk on how to cheat the City and County or the State of Hawaii, County of Hawaii. Good job Billy, what a leader!
    Here is his speech: Children and Student of the county of Hawaii, please learn how to take advantage of any given situation, and don’t forget, when you work for the County or State use your P-card as you would your own credit card. Don’t forget the taxpayers will pay your bill. I hope that you take my message of leadership to heart. Thank you Billy Kenoi.
    This guy is a joke.

  • The primary criterion for a speaker is to be a role model for students – someone with character and integrity. Kenoi fails in these aspects. For Morikowa to overlook these necessary qualifications demonstrates her poor judgment. The lesson learned? Don’t donate to ClimbHI.

  • This is just pathetic. Billy Kenoi is much like Hillary Clinton. People that children or adults should not look up to. Both don’t know what the meaning of integrity is.

  • This is exactly why the Nei is know around the world as a backwater, little 8th world banana boat republic. How could anyone with any intelligence let a disgraced, law breaking, obtuse bureaucrat give gave the keynote speech during the fifth annual LEI program. What were they thinking? Were they thinking?

  • It’s just sick and disgusting how we allow public officials accused or allegedly accused of a criminal offense to lecture students on leadership etc. What a farce!! People like Morikawa is no better in her stance to condone Kenoi and allow him to lecture students on leadership. And one wonders why people are just sick of voting in elections as we continue to have the same old politicians who run for office knowing they will be re-elected by their adoring public. Kenoi is the FACE OF POLITICAL CORRUPTION. Nothing more and nothing less.

    • Majority of these officials on the big island are in cahoots with each other. None of the judges are willing to preside over his case and none of the council members or state (big island) senators and representatives has made any negative remarks about his unethical practices.

      • I’d be more concerned if any of the judges were willing to preside over his case. Although sometimes called the Big Island, Hawaii Island has a relatively small population, and it would surprise me if any of the judges in question did not have some type of contact with Mayor Kenoi that would suggest at the very least the appearance of a conflict of interest. The judges did the right thing.

        • It seems that you’re trying very hard to defend the mayor but that’s OK because you have every right to your opinion. Judges are respected for the position they occupy and the people has full confidence in them for being elected or appointed. Each judge of the United States shall take the following “oath” or affirmation before performing the duties of his/her office: “I………………., do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as……………under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.” If any judge performed in accordance to the oath they swore, and uphold the law, the sentencing and who will be sentence should be impartial, especially if found guilty by jurors.

        • If I were a judge I would remove myself knowing that Billy is ‘guilty’ of ‘paper trail’ P-Card illegal charges. If that’s not evidence then the system is corrupt.

  • Kenoi lost a big teachable moment. He could have brought his legal troubles to the forefront and actually made it central to his message. He could have talked directly about his ongoing legal problems and how those mistakes should not have been made. Yes, persevere, but persevere to never do those kinds of mistakes again – especially where the trust and lives of so many people are dependent on him in a position of authority and power. Admit wrongdoing and grow from that. We all make mistakes. It’s when we deny them and don’t evolve from them that is disheartening.

  • “Julie Morikowa, the president of ClimbHI, said Kenoi’s legal issues were not a concern”

    Lol. Lucky u live Hawaii. If that’s not enuff to avoid “ClimbHI”, what is? ClimbHI — where thieves represent the summit of achievement for Hawai’i keiki.

  • Ms. Morikawa lacks the leadership and stewardship in her role as president of ClimbHi. Mr. Kenoi was indicted for a very good reason and to allow him to speak to young, impressionable youths is very poor judgement. The problem is that Mr. Kenoi is an attorney by education which makes the crimes he is accused of even more galling. If he had any moral/ethical backbone, he should have resigned from office rather than take up time and money to go to court.

  • I do not equate leadership, exploration, and inspiration with Billy Kenoi. What a joke this program must be if Kenoi was the keynote speaker.

  • Julie Morikowa, the president of ClimbHI, said Kenoi’s legal issues were not a concern….

    Julie, you’re not the right person that should lead ClimbHI. You’re advocating that Billy is a ‘Role Model’ in spite of his felony convictions ?

    “Sometimes you fall down, sometimes you get hurt,” Kenoi said. “You cannot cry. You just got to get up. You got to dust yourself off. You got to keep going. Then you are going to trip again. It is OK. Just get up again, dust yourself off and keep going.”

    Here in modern civilization we are governed by laws & rules that we must conform to otherwise suffer the consequences. In Billy’s case it’s ‘Laws were made to be broken’.

  • You know you have made it big in Hawaii when 1) You get your picture in MidWeek magazine and 2) You get Hawaii taxpayers to pay for your Club Evergreen tab.

  • He is a terrible example for our children to emulate. He’d be fired from Mc Donald’s or anywhere else for doing the same thing. What is it with politicians?

  • Sad, on the entire Big Island, Julie Morikowa could not find a better example of leadership than Billy. Even more sad is that she probably cannot figure out why people are upset. Sad.

  • (Disgust… pick yourself up, find a new hostess bar and a source of funding and just keep trying to attain your dream. With all of the truly inspiring people we have to address the youth of our state, is this the best we could do?)

  • I can’t believe that anyone would even put him before students as an example! That is Hawaii for sure! The land of adultery, indifidelity, extra marital affairs! This is the message UH and HPU are sending too! Shame! Auwe!

  • Seems that the mayor should be the last person to talk about leadership especially when he abused his authority and violated the public trust as an elected official…….

  • “Falling down” would generally connote being set back by circumstances beyond your control. Spending public money at hostess bars isn’t “falling down”.

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