POSTED: Friday, February 27, 2009

Big Isle mayor picks planning chief

HILO » Former Hawaii County Councilwoman Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd was named county planning director yesterday by Mayor Billy Kenoi.

The appointment, effective Sunday, ends three months of speculation of who would fill the post, vacant since Kenoi was sworn in Dec. 1.

Kenoi said Leithead-Todd, 56, will bring a “;balanced perspective”; to the job, preserving the Big Island's environment while contributing to building a “;thriving economy.”;

From the outset, Kenoi planned for Leithead-Todd to play a “;critical role”; in his administration, he said, but he initially envisioned her taking a fluid role, moving from one situation to another requiring close attention.

“;She could have fit in anywhere in the administration,”; he said.

Leithead-Todd, a lawyer, comes from a family that has lived in Hawaii for six generations, Kenoi said.

After receiving her law degree from the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law in 1986, she was a deputy county attorney in 1987-1993 and a councilwoman in 2003-2007. She has six children, including three foster children.


Venus and moon to unite in the sky

Venus and the crescent moon will ride together as they set tonight.

The planet is at maximum brightness - about 20 times brighter than Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, according to NASA. Seen through a telescope, Venus will also appear as a crescent because, like the moon, it has phases as it presents various sides to the sun.

Venus will set in the western sky at about 9 p.m., giving viewers about two hours to spot the conjunction, according to Mike Shanahan of the Bishop Museum.

For early risers, another cluster of planets graces the pre-dawn skies.

Jupiter, Mars and Mercury will rise just about 5:50 a.m. today and tomorrow in the east before dawn. If the sky is clear, the best viewing will be on east-facing shores like Lanai Lookout.

“;It looks like you'll have roughly a 20-minute window before the sun blocks them out,”; Shanahan said.

For the particularly sharp-eyed, the Hubble Space Telescope will drop toward the horizon like a falling star just south of Jupiter around 5:55 a.m. today, according to the Heavens Above Web site.