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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                         
ctober 26, 2007

Release No. M-110-07





            Mayor Mufi Hannemann today announced his appointment of Melvin S. Kaku as director of the Department of Emergency Management, effective December 1, 2007.  Kaku is now director of the Department of Transportation Services.


            Mayor Hannemann said, “I’m very pleased that Mel Kaku has accepted this well-deserved appointment.  He has developed considerable experience in civil emergency management as a colonel with the U.S. Army Reserve and will offer his expertise to strengthening our operations.


            “Mel has done a great job in ensuring the progress of our multimodal transportation system begun by his predecessor, Ed Hirata.  He has been overseeing the development of Honolulu’s fixed guideway program and the introduction of the commuter ferry, which began service in September.  I know he’ll bring that same can-do approach and wherewithal to his new responsibilities.


            “We’ve made significant progress in elevating the civil defense office to a cabinet-level department, updating our emergency plan, establishing emergency telecommunications protocols, and developing more effective working relationships between our city and state first-responders.  Mel will build on that solid foundation, and I look forward to having him contribute to a strong City agency that will respond to natural and man-made disasters, as well as the other threats posed by a changing global environment.”


            Hannemann commended Peter Hirai, who has been serving in an acting capacity.  He said, “Peter has done an excellent job, and he will continue to support our efforts as second-in-command.  I know he and Mel will collaborate to apply the best practices available to serving the people of this county.”


            The emergency management director’s position is in the civil service.


            Before becoming transportation director, Kaku was the director of the Environmental Planning Division of the Pacific Division of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, based at Pearl Harbor.  In this capacity, he was planning head of Pearl Harbor’s emergency response team, overseeing preparations for environmental incidents.  As an Army Reserve officer, Kaku supervises the emergency preparedness unit for the commanding general, and is directly involved in planning for military involvement in responding to natural disasters and civil emergencies.


            The Hilo native is a civil engineering graduate of the University of Hawaii.


            Kaku’s departure will create a vacancy at the Department of Transportation Services.  Mayor Hannemann will immediately begin evaluating well-qualified candidates to fill that directorship.




Bill Brennan, 527-6928

Friday, October 26, 2007

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