UPDATED Cheryl Kakazu Park will be the new head of the Hawaii Office of Information Practices.
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UPDATED 4/1/2011 4:18 p.m.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie has picked a new director of Hawaii’s open records agency.
Cheryl Kakazu Park will succeed ousted Office of Information Practices director Cathy Takase, the governor’s office has confirmed in a press release. Civil Beat broke the news first Friday afternoon.
Park graduated from the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law in 1981, according to the school’s registrar. Former Lt. Gov. and Republican gubernatorial candidate James “Duke” Aiona was among her classmates, a list of alumni shows.
Park worked formerly for the Honolulu law firm of Kobayashi, Watanabe, Sugita, Kawashima and Goda, but the firm told Civil Beat she had not worked there in many years. The governor’s office said Park moved to Europe in 1992 and to Nevada in 1995.
A UH alumni newsletter reported in 1997 that Park “changed careers to become a financial adviser with American Express” out of a Reno, Nev., office after moving from the Netherlands. The governor’s office said she earned a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Hawaii Manoa and also worked for Wells Fargo Insurance.
Park’s private law firm registered with the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs has been dissolved, records show. She is also listed as inactive by the State Bar of Nevada.
The Hawaii State Bar Association’s listing for Cheryl K. Kakazu identifies her “firm” as the Nevada Supreme Court and provides a Nevada court email address for her. Her license to practice law in Hawaii is inactive. Abercrombie’s office said Park was a staff attorney at the Nevada Supreme Court since 2003, and “has returned to the islands where she was born and raised.”
The Abercrombie administration has maintained that Park’s predecessor was not fired, but rather her appointment had come to an end. But Takase told Civil Beat she was “terminated.”
Takase’s firing came after she stood up to the governor and made public a letter stating that it would be illegal for him to continue withholding the list of judicial nominees to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. Abercrombie’s office says her termination and OIP’s assessment of his actions aren’t related. It has not released the list, and insists it won’t.
Takase’s dismissal is not the only time the governor has tried to micromanage the agency charged with enforcing the state’s public records and sunshine laws. A week earlier the governor stepped over the line by personally appointing a staff attorney to the office. He has the authority to appoint the director, but not staff.
Takase’s last day was to be in mid-March, but the administration’s first pick to succeed her withdrew their interest in the job. Takase’s term was extended through Monday.
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