Ethics complaint filed against Kenoi, campaign manager

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Mayor Billy Kenoi and his campaign manager, who was hired in April to head the Office of Aging, are the subjects of an ethics complaint alleging political favoritism in county hiring.


Mayor Billy Kenoi and his campaign manager, who was hired in April to head the Office of Aging, are the subjects of an ethics complaint alleging political favoritism in county hiring.

The complaint, which also targets unnamed officials in the county Department of Human Resources, maintains that Office of Aging Director Kimo Alameda doesn’t have the two years supervisory experience required in the job description. The $110,000-plus position oversees a department of 12 employees.

Scheduled to be heard by the county Board of Ethics at its July 8 meeting in Hilo, the complaint was filed by Kapaau resident Lanric Hyland. Hyland wants Alameda terminated and officials involved in his hiring disciplined.

He cited the portion of the county charter specifying that no appointing authority shall appoint any person to a position that is exempt from civil service laws until satisfied by proper investigation that the person is fully qualified by experience and ability to perform the duties of that office.

Hyland previously filed ethics complaints against Kenoi and Finance Director Deanna Sako for Kenoi’s use of his county-issued purchasing card, or pCard, for personal and campaign purchases. Those complaints are pending and Kenoi’s activities are the subject of a state attorney general investigation.

“It is another example of the mayor’s arrogance that he’s above the law,” Hyland said Wednesday of his newest complaint.

Kenoi told West Hawaii Today on Wednesday that Alameda was selected “after a fair and impartial process” that included applicants being vetted by the HR Department, followed by a review and interview process by a panel selected by that department.

”We are very proud to have such a well qualified and respected individual like Dr. Alameda to have been selected to lead the Office of Aging,” Kenoi said in a text message. “I was not involved in the hiring of Dr. Alameda as the director of the Office of Aging.”

The position was advertised for 10 days and six people applied, a Kenoi spokesman said in April.

The Office of Aging, unlike departments set by the county charter, does not require County Council confirmation of its director. But most council members, when reviewing the program budget on April 23, praised Alameda for the office.

Alameda has said he didn’t think there is any problem with his former role chairing Kenoi’s successful mayoral campaigns, as that part is over. He said since Kenoi is term-limited and can’t run for mayor again, he doesn’t think there’s an issue.

Kenoi’s campaign account remains open, however, and as of Wednesday, he hadn’t submitted paperwork to close it. Under Hawaii campaign finance laws, candidates can collect money whether they’re running for a specific office or not and later use their campaign accounts for other state and local offices.

Greg Ayau, Kenoi’s campaign treasurer, said Wednesday he hasn’t completed the paperwork to close the campaign account, as he’s waiting for the last bank statement showing the bank account has been closed. It should be soon, though, he said.

Alameda has 15 years experience in the state Department of Health, and previously worked for the Department of Education.


A former program manager of the Office of Health Equity for the state Department of Health, he holds a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a doctorate in educational, psychological and cultural studies from the University of Nebraska. The Office of Health Equity is an office of one. Alameda’s previous experience as an instructor at Argosy University for ethics, child and adolescent development and multicultural counseling classes also doesn’t include supervisory experience.

The position requires at minimum a bachelor’s degree in social work, sociology, psychology, gerontology, counseling, public health or related field, according to documents obtained by West Hawaii Today. Documents show the salary range for the position is $63,228 to $110,988, but Alameda was hired at the top of the range.

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