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Tony Tooke appointed Chief, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

August 23, 2017: Tony Tooke has been appointed as the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced on Monday, August 21, 2017. Tooke succeeds Tom Tidwell, who announced on Friday, August 18, 2017, that he plans to retire on Sept. 1, 2017, after forty years in the federal government. Tidwell rose from a Firefighter to a District Ranger to a Forest Supervisor to Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, leading more than 30,000 employees working in all fifty states and Puerto Rico. Tooke has worked for the Forest Service since the age of eighteen, and he is currently the Regional Forester for the Southern Region. Tooke has also held positions in Region 8 and at the Washington Office (WO). In his current post, Tooke is responsible for 3,100 employees, an annual budget exceeding $400 million, fourteen national forests, and two managed areas, which encompass more than 13.3 million acres in thirteen states and Puerto Rico. His previous position in Washington, D.C. was as the Associate Deputy Chief for the National Forest System; with oversight of Lands and Realty, Minerals and Geology, Ecosystem Management Coordination, Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers, the National Partnership Office, and Business Administration and Support Services. As the Associate Deputy Chief, Tooke was the Forest Service Executive Lead for Environmental Justice; Farm Bill implementation; and implementation of the Inventory, Monitoring, and Assessment Improvement Strategy. Another priority included implementation of a new planning rule for the National Forest System. Also, at the WO, Tooke worked as the Director for Ecosystem Management Coordination, the Deputy Director for Economic Recovery, and as the Assistant Director for Forest Management. Before 2006, Tooke was the Deputy Forest Supervisor for the National Forests in Florida. He also held District Ranger appointments at the Talladega National Forest in Alabama; at the Oconee National Forest in Georgia; and at the DeSoto National Forest in Mississippi. His other field appointments were Timber Management Assistant, Other Resource Assistant, Silviculturist, and Forester at six Ranger Districts in Mississippi and Kentucky. Tooke grew up on a two-hundred-acre farm in Detroit, Alabama. He received his bachelor’s degree in forestry from Mississippi State University. He was in the Forest Service’s inaugural class of the Senior Leadership Program, and he has completed the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program.

Andrew Kurata appointed Acting Captive Insurance Administrator, Hawaii Commerce and Consumer Affairs Department


August 23, 2017: Officials at the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) have appointed Andrew Kurata as the Acting Captive Insurance Administrator at the department’s Insurance Division. Kurata, who has worked for the department since 2011, succeeds Sanford Saito, who is scheduled to "transition to the private sector," according to a department statement. “The Captive Insurance Branch’s team of experienced, dedicated staff has and will continue to provide a stable, committed and business-friendly environment which makes Hawaii one of the premiere domiciles in the world,” Hawaii Insurance Commissioner Gorden Ito said in a statement. “We also want to thank Sanford Saito for his leadership and wish him well with his future endeavors.” In 2016, Hawaii’s captive insurers wrote more than $6.22 billion in premium volume, invested nearly $1.05 billion in assets and generated around $23 million in economic benefits to Hawaii, DCCA officials said. “To date, the total number of captives in Hawaii have grown to 223, with 20 new captives admitted in 2017. We hope by the end of the year, we break the record of the most newly admitted captives in a single year in Hawaii,” Ito said.

Imperial County, Calif., County Executive Officer Ralph Cordova to retire soon


August 23, 2017: Ralph Cordova, Jr., has announced that he plans to retire soon as the Imperial County, Calif., County Executive Officer. Cordova has held the post for the last nine years. He has worked for Imperial County for twenty-five years. Besides County Executive Officer, Cordova has held the posts of County Counsel and Assistant District Attorney. “I am grateful to the Board of Supervisors, the department heads, county employees, community members and all those involved in local government that have worked with me for the betterment of the County residents all these years,” Cordova said in a press release. “I am enormously proud of what the County has accomplished over the last nine years and see nothing but good things in the County’s future.” Cordova plans to continue to work in an advisory position to the county. “The next phase of my professional career will be to go into the private practice of law representing individuals and corporations,” Cordova said. “I was born and raised in Imperial County and will be a lifelong resident. I look forward to continuing to work with the cities and the County to give back to the community.”

Espanola, N.M., Police Chief Matthew Vigil scheduled to retire Sept. 1


August 23, 2017: Matthew Vigil plans to retire as the Espanola, N.M., Police Chief on Sept. 1, 2017, in the wake of Vigil’s recent grand jury indictment on criminal charges stemming from domestic incidents. Sally Baxter, Espanola’s Human Resources Director, confirmed on Monday, August 21, 2017, that Vigil, 41, is scheduled to retire on Sept. 1, 2017. Baxter did not release any details about Vigil’s retirement. Vigil did not return a phone message from The New Mexican seeking comment. Vigil, a Taos resident who was hired as the Police Chief in May, 2017, after Española’s former Chief, Richard Gallegos, retired, was placed on administrative leave by Espanola Mayor Alice Lucero after a Taos County grand jury returned the indictments on Thursday, August 17, 2017. Vigil previously worked as a State Police Officer from 1997 to 2011 in the same Eighth Judicial District where his case is being heard, which includes the counties of Taos, Colfax and Union. His wife works as a Clerk in the same Courthouse where three Judges work who have recused themselves from Vigil’s case. Vigil resigned from the State Police in 2011 after he was arrested on a suspicion of drunken driving, but he was not convicted on that charge. He later worked at the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office. In 2014, he lost in a crowded Democratic primary race for Taos County Sheriff. Vigil is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday, August 28,2 017, on two counts of child abuse, two counts of bribery of a witness, one count of interference with communications and one count of battery against a household member.

NOAA Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment is disbanded at the Commerce Department


August 23, 2017: Trump administration officials have decided to disband the fifteen-Member Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, which includes academic officials, local officials and corporate representatives and is based at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce. The charter for the Advisory Committee ends on Sunday, August 27, 2017. On Friday, August 18, 2017, NOAA Acting Administrator Ben Friedman informed the Committee’s Chairman that NOAA would not renew the panel. The National Climate Assessment is supposed to be issued every four years but has come out only three times since passage of the 1990 law calling for such analysis. The Committee was established to help translate findings from the National Climate Assessment into concrete guidance for government and private-sector officials. Its Members have been writing a report to inform federal officials about the data sets and approaches that would best be included. The Committee’s Chairman is Richard Moss, an adjunct professor in the University of Maryland’s Department of Geographical Sciences. NOAA Communications Director Julie Roberts said in an e-mail message sent on Saturday, August 19, 2017, that “this action does not impact the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which remains a key priority.” The Committee was established in 2015, but its Members were not appointed until the summer of 2016. The Committee convened its first meeting in the fall of 2016. Moss said that Members of the group intend to keep working on their report, which is due out in the spring of 2018.

Christopher Bourne appointed Senior Policy Adviser to HUD Secretary


August 23, 2017: Christopher Bourne has been appointed as a Senior Policy Adviser to Ben Carson, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Bourne is a retired U.S. Marine Corps Colonel. He worked as a policy director for Carson’s unsuccessful presidential campaign. Carson is a former doctor who was appointed as the HUD Secretary by President Trump.

Lynne Patton appointed HUD Regional Administrator, New York and New Jersey


August 23, 2017: Lynne Patton has been appointed as the Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Patton has worked as an event planner and wedding planner for President Trump and his family. Patton has helped organize HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s trips to meet with HUD officials. The New York and New Jersey region has the largest concentration of subsidized housing in the United States, including the huge Starrett City complex in the Brooklyn area of New York City and which is co-owned by President Trump. Current New York Mayor Bill de Blasio once held the post of HUD Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey.