In another setback for Green, senators recommend rejection of DBEDT nominee

Sadayasu has decades of experience in economic development, marketing and land management agencies.
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 6:01 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 17, 2023 at 4:40 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There was another setback for one of Gov. Josh Green’s most important appointees Thursday, while another high-profile nominee survived a lengthy confirmation hearing.

The Senate Energy, Economic Development and Tourism Committee voted to recommend disapproval of Chris Sadayasu’s appointment as director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Sadayasu has decades of experience in economic development, marketing and land management agencies.

His appointment thrust him into existing controversies over the redevelopment of Aloha Stadium and the controversy over Hawaii Tourism Authority’s contracts for tourism marketing and management.

In budget and informational hearings, Sadayasu ran into hard questions by state senators who have been deeply involved in the two issues, and was forced to retract and apologize for his actions overseeing the HTA bids.

That was front and center during Thursday’s questioning by Committee Chair Lynne Decoite.

“My biggest thing is that within the two RFPs, you talking millions of dollars,” she said. ‘We literally set this state back to start the whole process all over again.”

Sadayasu responded, “I did have a misstep and you all called me on it and I’ve moved forward on it. The HTA board members have been a great partner.”

The committee voted 4-to-1 against Sadayasu’s nomination.

The nomination now goes to the full Senate, unless Sadayasu or the governor decides to withdraw his name.

On Thursday afternoon. Green issued the following statement:

“Chris Sadayasu is a good, hard-working man with a lot of experience and knowledge including more than 20 years of State public service. He would have made a good DBEDT director. We will be talking with him about next steps.”

Last month, Green’s nominee for the Hawaiian Homes Commission, Ikaika Anderson, also received a negative vote from a Senate Committee and he decided to withdraw as a nominee.

The governor then appointed former DHHL Chair Kali Watson.

He’s the founder and CEO of a Native Hawaiian Development non-profit, and told the Hawaiian Affairs committee on Thursday that he would resign from the non-profit and avoid other potential conflicts of interest if confirmed.

He was questioned about potential conflicts and offered specific plans for accelerating home construction and lease awards, along with plans to reorganize the troubled Homelands department.

The committee voted 4-to-1 to recommend his confirmation.