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!

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