Green’s controversial pick to head Land Board goes before lawmakers to make her case
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. Josh Green’s controversial pick to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources went before state senators for the first time on Thursday.
Members of the Senate Ways and Means and Water and Land committees questioned Dawn Chang about the Green Administration’s plan to invest $100 million in climate change initiatives, vacancies in the DLNR’s enforcement division and enforcement actions in its Boating Division.
Chang’s nomination is controversial because she ran a consulting company that helps developers and agencies navigate state land and cultural protections.
Some fear she will be biased to businesses that come before the land board.
“You’re already appointed, you gotta make sure you’re confirmed,” quipped state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, chair of the Ways and Means committee.
When asked about the climate change initiative, Chang said she didn’t take part in the planning process ― even though her department will administer the program.
“I wish I had more information to provide you. I will try to get more information to provided you,” she said.
Responded Dela Cruz: “You knew you were’ coming today. You guys announced it last week.”
A Green Administration official later emailed Chang further details on the plan while the hearing was going on.
“The intention is to use this package for funding to be directed toward funding impacts, building resilience in our communities by addressing sea-level rise, reducing heat island affects,” she said.
Lawmakers also grilled her about vacancies within the department’s law enforcement division.
“HPD, sheriffs, they’re 24-7. ... But DOCARE is 8-5. So if you hunt at night, there’s nobody out there,” said Dela Cruz.
“If you’re going in and taking native species, there’s nobody out there.”
The DLNR says it has 31 vacancies in its law enforcement ranks. Overall, the Land Board says it has over 200 vacancies departmentwide.
“I’m not afraid to do enforcements. If you’re violating the law, we’ll take appropriate actions,” said Chang.
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