What is Ige's real goal for DLNR?

Did governor Ige appoint the appallingly bad Carleton Ching to head DLNR in order to sneak in an equally unacceptable first vice chair, Kekoa Kaluhiwa?  While voters are concentrating on blocking confirmation of Ching, will Kaluhiwa sail through without any hard questions as to his qualifications and connections?

We don’t know much about Kaluhiwa except that he is a lobbyist at Kuano’o Communications and Nevada registered GeoPolicy Group and has worked on the developer side of things.

We attempted to reach Kaluhiwa to ask about his developer clients but he is keeping a low profile and not responding.

With Ching almost certain not to be confirmed, is the real goal to put in an equally bad but not as well known lobbyist for developers?

Ige Appoints Developer to Head DLNR

In an inexplicable move, Gov. Ige replaced native Hawaiian William Aila with a Castle & Cooke developer as head of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Talk about putting the fox in charge of the hen house!

Carleton Ching acts as a lobbyist for developer Castle & Cooke.  In 2005 Ching was already advocating for weakening the Land Use Commission and “streamlining” the development approval proces according to the Star-Advertiser.  This is the man to head up the organization designed to protect the land?

Kekoa Kaluhiwa who has been appointed first deputy DLNR director is also a lobbyist at Kuano’o Communications and Nevada registered GeoPolicy Group.

We attempted to reach Kaluhiwa to ask if Castle & Cooke is one of his clients but did not receive a call back by publication time.

Be that as it may, exactly how are two lobbyists qualified to head up the most important agency in protecting our natural resources?

And just how good a job will a developer do to protect the land and water from inappropriate development?

The Sierra Club sued Castle & Cook over its controversial Koa Ridge development and the court ruled the Land Use Commission’s (LUC) approval of the project was not valid.  Oh what a coincidence:  Gov. Ige wants to reduce the influence of the Land Use Commission!

Castle & Cooke was one of the Big Five and has a history of exploitive acts which damage the water and land.  Before Dole Pineapple was spun off, their operations polluted aquifers on both Oahu and Lana’i with cancer-causing DBCP, TCP and EDP.  How ironic that their lobbyist will be in charge of the Water Commission now.

These appointments will go to the state senate for confirmation.  Hopefully they’ll be soundly rejected – not only because the candidates have no experience in running the most important state environmental agency but because they are actually antithetical to DLNR’s mission.

David Ige was elected on a swell of indignation over former Governor Abercrombie’s pro-developer actions.  As one irate former supporter said, “The honeymoon is over and Ige’s true priorities are revealed in these appointments.”

UPDATE: Carleton Ching is not only a lobbyist for Castle & Cooke, which converted productive Ag lands at Koa Ridge for development, he is also on the board of the Land Use Research Foundation (LURF) which according to their website (and history) is “devoted exclusively to promoting the interests of the development community, particularly in the areas of land use laws, regulations, and public policy.”

Ching is also on the board of the Building Industry Association.  Along with the Carpenters Union and the General Contractors Labor Association  they control the lobbying group, Forward Progress.  You will recall that Forward Progress attempted a coup on neighbor island councils to remove councilmembers who favored sensible planning rules.

With Ching’s nomination, the developers have hit the trifecta! A longtime key advocate for their interests  will be put in charge of Hawaii’s public natural resources unless the senate rejects this confirmation.

One reason Abercrombie’s approval rating tumbled was his Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC) which appeared to turn state government into an enabler of development interests.  Out of the frying pan into the fire with Gov Ige! Ching’s nomination skips the PLDC and puts the developers  directly in charge!

Sierra Club endorses David Ige and Shan Tsutsui

Today the Sierra Club announced that they are endorsing David Ige and Shan Tsutsui for Governor/Lt. Governor. This is not the first time the Club has endorsed Tsutsui who was endorsed by the Sierra Club every time he ran for the legislature.

The Sierra Club praised both candidates:

. “We have confidence that Senator Ige will move Hawaii toward a more sustainable future when he is elected governor. He supports efforts to modernize Hawaii’s electrical grid and facilitate increases in rooftop solar.”

The Sierra Club has been particularly concerned about HECO’s  roadblocks in the way those wanting to install rooftop solar, so one can understand why they would endorse an engineer who understands grid issues at a deep level.  Sierra Club praised Shan Tsutui for his long record of sincere caring for residents’ quality of life:

“Shan Tsutsui has a deep understanding of what makes each island unique, and has always been there for us.  Whether it’s combating invasive species or making a more liveable community for working families, his actions come from his own heartfelt values.  He is especially good at bringing all sides together and crafting solutions that are a win for everyone.”

According to Civil Beat:

“The Sierra Club chose not to endorse a gubernatorial candidate for governor in the primary, a clear snub of Abercrombie, who some have criticized for not being sufficiently sensitive toward environmental issues and more inclined to side with developers.”

Ironically, in 2010 the Sierra Club had campaigned hard for Abercrombie against Mufi Hannemann, going so far as to create  MufisMess.com detailing Hannemann’s failings.  According to one person who campaigned for Abercrombie, speaking on condition of anonymity, “Little did we know we were trading one pay-to-play candidate for another.”

What Civil Beat did not mention is that in a fit of pique after being passed over for endorsement, Abercrombie appointed three candidates to the Land Use Commission guaranteed to send the Sierra Club ballistic:  a Realtor (formerly with A&B Properties) and two construction union officials.  Immediately after the appointments were announced a petition asking the Senate not to confirm the interim appointments was launched.

Given the wide margin of Ige’s primary win over Abercrombie (despite being outspent 10 to 1), it appears voters are fed up with Abercrombie’s abrasive politics.

Both Ige and Tsutsui are low-key, competent men with long track records of getting things done in ways that bring the community together.  Both are also “hand-on” rather than delegating work and decisions to advisors as Abercrombie did.  Both have reputations for being calm and level headed.

They’ll face Republican Duke Aiona, supported by the religious right and independent Mufi Hanneman in November.