Nowhere on Bill Balfour’s resume does it mention that he previously served on the Water Commission. That’s not surprising because he probably doesn’t want the WTL committee to ask him about all the pro-plantation decisions he made which were subsequently found to be illegal. In one he was warned that the decision he was supporting was illegal prior to his vote but went ahead anyway.
As Evan Tector found when he researched Mr. Balfour’s decisions:
Mr. Balfour’s decisions were contrary to the public trust doctrine and other mandates under the State Water Code:
* He voted to give large water companies continued access to large amounts of water at the expense of restored stream flows and Hawaiian water rights in the Na Wai ‘Eha case in Central Maui. The Commission’s decision was appealed to the Hawai‘i Supreme Court and reversed.
* He voted against granting Hawaiian practitioners a contested case hearing over Alexander & Baldwin subsidiary East Maui Irrigation Company’s long-standing and destructive diversion of millions of gallons of water per day from East Maui streams. The Commission’s decision was appealed to the Hawai‘i Supreme Court and reversed.
* He voted to dismiss a petition to designate the Keauhou Aquifer as a Water Management Area before the petitioner, National Park Service, even had the opportunity to present its case. The petition is moving forward and information is being gathered by the Commission’s staff.
There is growing opposition to the Balfour nomination despite the public’s weariness in responding Governor Ige’s numerous bad nominations. How can one man come up with so many bad nominees?
A petition has garnered over 500 signatures and conservation organizations are beginning to wake up to the damage someone with such a poor record of following the law would do as a Water Commissioner.
But unlike the Ching nomination which was made with plenty of time for review, this last-minute appointment came during a two-day grace period to the original deadline for the governor to submit his names. As the legislative session winds down, this nomination is not getting the time and scrutiny it deserves.
The hearing is this Wednesday April 15th. Not the long lead time that the Ching nomination had. Hopefully the WTL committee will examine this nominee with the same thoroughness that they gave Ching, despite the rush and despite the unwillingness to buck a governor of their own party.
Again, Governor Ige, we have to ask: “Who is advising you on these terrible nominations? Did you learn nothing from the Ching debacle?”