comscore Kenoi urges stick-to-itiveness but doesn’t broach theft case | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News

Kenoi urges stick-to-itiveness but doesn’t broach theft case

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / 2014

    Billy Kenoi spoke to high school students Friday about the importance of getting up again after falling down.

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 — exposes 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 Morikawa, president of ClimbHI, said Kenoi’s legal problems were not a concern and that the decision to speak at the event was left up to him, West Hawaii Today reported Saturday.

“The program is bigger than all of us, and it is bigger than any individual,” Morikawa 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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  • The moral thing for Kenoi to have done would have been to decline the speaking engagement. The honorable thing he should have done in the past would have been to admit his guilt and resign from office. Unfortunately, especially these days, high officials and politicians seem to lack morals and honor. What an example to set for the upcoming generation.

    • The message he is giving this influential audience is to not take responsibility for your actions, and put your faith either in loopholes, or a sympathetic judge and jury. He also is an example of how not to lead by example.

    • The mayor of Hawaii County has NO shame or morals or ethics! He had SO much going for him and he BLEW IT!! It’s disgusting to hear that his minions are spewing that he has NOT been proven guilty; he’s the best mayor Hawaii Island has ever had; he’s done great things for the community and island? It’s unbelievable! Corruption runs rampant throughout the state. It’s downright nauseating!!

    • It bears repeating to say that Hawaii has become the home of the shameless! And Hawaii seems to foster it! By now he would’ve been made to resign, as also the VCAA at UH! Only in Hawaii can you get away! Lucky you lve Hawaii. Hang loose, shaka sign and on your way!

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