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            Mayor Mufi Hannemann today announced the following changes to his cabinet.


            Laverne Higa, Chief Engineer and Director of Facility Maintenance, has asked to return to her civil service position in the Department of Design and Construction.  Hannemann said he has named her to be his liaison to the Okinawan community.  Higa was past president of the Hawaii United Okinawa Association and remains active in the group.


            Higa will be replaced by Craig Nishimura, who has been deputy director of the Department of Design and Construction since July 2006.  Prior to his appointment, which takes effect January 7, 2008, Nishimura was chief of the Division of Collection System Maintenance of the Department of Environmental Services.  Nishimura, a civil engineering graduate of the University of Hawaii, also served with the Board of Water Supply, U.S. Army Public Works, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


            Mayor Hannemann said, “Laverne has done an outstanding job in overseeing the department.  She’s had the unenviable task of catching up with many years of deferred road maintenance, as well as keeping up with the repair of aging public facilities.  Hers hasn’t been an easy task, to be sure, but she’s made a tremendous contribution to our efforts to fix our infrastructure.  I’m delighted that she will continue to assist me as my liaison with the Okinawan community, one of the most active civic and ethnic organizations on the island.


            “Craig Nishimura, meanwhile, has demonstrated the leadership we need to continue Laverne’s work.  His engineering background and knowledge of City government will ensure that we build on our momentum, and I’m glad he’s willing to accept this demanding new responsibility.  His service with the Department of Design and Construction will prove important because that agency plays an integral role in Facility Maintenance’s endeavors.”


            Russell H. Takara will replace Nishimura, effective March 1.  Takara is the senior army program manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Pacific Ocean Division.  He oversees $2 billion in projects in Hawaii, Alaska, Korea, and Japan.  Takara earned his engineering degree from the University of Hawaii in 1976 and has been with the Corps of Engineers since that date.


            Hannemann named Mark Oto, who is presently senior advisor for the Department of Community Services, to be deputy director of the Department of Budget and Finance.  Oto was most recently chief-of-staff for House Speaker Calvin Say and previously was a budget expert for the City’s Office of Council Services.


            Oto will be replaced by Ernest Martin, who directs the Office of Special Projects of the Department of Community Services.  He oversees human service and community development initiatives for socially and economically disadvantaged individuals and families, and will continue to handle those duties.  Martin earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Hawaii.  He has served in various capacities for the City since 1987, including as a planner and employment planner.


            Hannemann also switched deputies in the departments of Parks and Recreation and Enterprise Services.  Parks deputy Dana Takahara-Dias will move to the Department of Enterprise Services and Gail Haraguchi, who is presently Enterprise Services deputy, will move to Parks.


            All of the appointments, with the exception of Nishimura and Takara’s, take effect on January 16.




Bill Brennan, 527-6928
Friday, January 04, 2008

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