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Friday, December 22, 2000

City & County of Honolulu

Three quit city
Cabinet; mayor to
name full slate

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

Three more top city officials have resigned, and Mayor Jeremy Harris is now expected to announce a full slate of Cabinet members for his new term sometime next week.

City Managing Director Ben Lee confirmed yesterday that Gary Yee and Roland Libby, the Department of Design and Construction's director and deputy director, respectively, have resigned as has Manny Valbuena, the deputy director for the Department of Community Service.

Yee and Libby, both architects, are expected to return to private practice. Yee has been with the city for three years, Libby since 1990. Valbuena, a banker, is expected to return to a post with the Bank of Hawaii. He joined the administration in 1996.

Two other Cabinet members already have announced their departures: Sandra McFarlane, former director of human resources, and Roy Amemiya, former budget director.

Of all five, Lee said, "They served the city well and should be very proud of their accomplishments." All left voluntarily, he said.

Harris will make an announcement on a full slate next week, Lee said, noting that the mayor's inauguration is set for Jan. 2.

Lee also said some Cabinet choices already have been made. "We're not delaying the announcement, but the mayor would like to announce all of the Cabinet members at one time," he said.

Cabinet members and others at Honolulu Hale have privately complained about the time it has taken for the appointments.

After the mayor won re-election in 1996, an official Cabinet was not announced until Jan. 4, 1997. But that year, Harris had a November runoff election against Arnold Morgado. This election, the mayor won outright in the Sept. 23 primary.

"I think we wanted to take the time to find the best people to do the jobs over the next four years," Lee said.

The city received just over 200 applications for openings that were advertised in the newspapers. That is well below the 600-plus applications that were received when Harris sought Cabinet members in 1996.

Lee said he is happy with the applications the city has received this year, but acknowledged that finding qualified applicants willing to accept appointed positions is difficult because of the demands placed on city officials and the fact that pay is often better in the private sector.

Some have suggested that Harris is making some Cabinet choices who will best be able to help him run for governor in 2002.

"That had no bearing on our selection of Cabinet members," Lee said.

City & County of Honolulu

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