At a town hall meeting in early March, Mānoa Senator Brian Taniguchi told residents he was “inclined to oppose” the confirmation of Carleton Ching because the nominee did not appear to have the necessary qualifications to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Now, days before the senate is to vote on the nomination, Sen. Taniguchi is telling residents he is undecided.
“We are here today to let Senator Taniguchi know that his constituents care deeply about this vote and that he has our support in voting down an unqualified candidate,” said Dale Kobayashi, a member of the informal Save Mānoa Valley movement, at a press conference held at the Capitol. “We don’t know what kind of deal the Senate is brokering on Mr. Ching’s behalf, but we do know how politics works in Hawaii. This confirmation definitely feels like business-as-usual.”
“Save Mānoa Valley” was formed in response to DLNR’s decision to significantly expand commercial activity in the conservation district at the back of Mānoa Valley. The new commercial venture seeks to rival the Polynesian Culture Center with nightly luau events targeting 430,000 tourists a year.
“This is our home, not some kind of vaudeville act,” said Jeremy Lam of Save Mānoa Valley and President of the Mānoa branch of The Outdoor Circle. “As taxpaying residents, we expect the DLNR to protect our conservation districts from exactly this kind of excessive commercial use.”
“Unfortunately, this is the type of profit-over-environment decision-making Carleton Ching seems inclined to make if confirmed to head DLNR,” Kobayashi added. “That is why Save Mānoa Valley is asking the Senate to oppose the confirmation of Carleton Ching.”
“We are a quiet residential community, blessed with an amazing natural area nearby. This area is most certainly not a piece of dirt!” said Hector Vanegas, an active Mānoa resident. “We do not want to see this public resource exploited for someone’s private gain, especially when it is us who will suffer the debilitating increase in tourists, big bus traffic and waste water pollution.”
“We want to DLNR to reconsider the permit given to Paradise Park and want to protect other communities in Hawaii from suffering this same burden,” he added. “Our natural beauty is not a brand to be exploited.”