Last week, during a pair of lengthy committee sessions on March 11 and 12, Senator Laura Thielen’s Committee on Water and Land voted to recommend that the full Senate reject the governor’s nomination of Carleton Ching to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The vote was 4-1-2, with Senators Thielen, Russell Ruderman, Gil Riviere and Maile Shimabukuro voting yes on the recommendation to reject, Sen. Les Ihara voting yes with reservations and Senators Sam Slom and committee vice-chair Brickwood Galuteria voting against the chair’s recommendation to reject.
The full Senate will vote on whether to adopt the committee’s recommendation or to overturn it (meaning Ching’s nomination would be accepted) at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow during the floor session. It’s expected to be a very close vote.
Public opposition to Carelton Ching’s nomination is widespread and outpaces support for the nomination by at least 9-1, but the developer community has come out in strong support of the nomination. Ching has spent most of his career as a prominent lobbyist for developer Castle & Cooke, has spent the last decade sitting on the board for pro-development lobbying organization the Land Use Research Foundation and has the support of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii. Ching’s lack of qualifications and history of pro-development lobbying is discussed in detail on episode three of Archipelago Media’s The Backchannel podcast, found here.