HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Carleton Ching, Gov. David Ige's controversial nominee to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources, went before the Senate Water and Land Committee today, amid heavy opposition.
More than 900 people submitted written and oral testimony critical of Ching's nomination, saying he's too close to developers.
"You don't want the fox guarding the hen house," said De Mont Conner of Hoomana Pono LLC.
"You have overwhelming opposition against the guy ... I ask you to listen to the people now."
Added David Kimo Frankel, chair of the Sierra Club's Hawaii Chapter:
"The nominee Carleton Ching should not serve as the chair of the DLNR. You don't hire a baseball player to serve as your football coach," he said.
Along with environmentalists and Hawaiian activists, former DLNR staffers also opposed Ching's appointment.
"His career track has been the polar opposite of the DLNR's mission," said Randy Awo, the former head of DLNR's enforcement division.
"Those people who took the opportunity to weigh in on this are clearly opposed to this decision."
But Ching said his development background will benefit DLNR's mission of protecting Hawaii's natural, historic and cultural resources.
"I am not the fox guarding the hen house. I'm the bulldog guarding the hens house," he said.
"I am mindful of Gov. Ige's desire to protect and preserve our fragile natural environment and to seek a healthy environment and responsible economic growth."
Of the 100 people who submitted favorable testimony for Ching, many came from the development sector and the Ige administration. The governor said he picked Ching over seven other candidates.
"He has my full support. I do believe he is up to the challenge. I will do everything I can to help him succeed," Ige said.