Green loses 2 more cabinet members as rocky trail of confirmation votes continues

Gov. Josh Green's nominees to lead the state Planning Office and Department of Business and Economic Development failed to win approval in the state Senate.
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 5:16 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. Josh Green went two out of four Friday as several of his cabinet appointees faced confirmation votes in the state Senate.

Scott Glenn, appointed to the Office of Planning and Sustainable Development, wasn’t confirmed.

That’s despite significant support.

He was recommended for confirmation by the Energy and Environment Committee and by state Sen. Karl Rhoads, a neighbor of the Glenn family.

“He’ll make great contributions in helping the state deal with the many things that we are going to have to deal with as global warming gets worse,” Rhoads told his colleagues.

But other senators said he mishandled the closing of the state’s last coal-fueled electric plant when he was Chief Energy Officer under Gov. David Ige.

They said his decision to shut down the plant when adequate inexpensive alternatives were not yet available led to higher energy costs on Oahu.

They also said that when he was challenged about that process during confirmation, he lied to senators about it.

“Members we all make mistakes that is forgivable,” said state Sen. Glenn Wakai. “Trying to cover it up is not.”

The vote on Glenn was 12-12 ― one vote short of confirmation.

State Sen. Joy San Buenaventura, of the Big Island, was absent for the vote.

Asked to respond to accusations that he lied to senators, Glenn said: “I’d rather not. Everyone has their thoughts and I will leave it at that.”

He also expressed appreciation that leadership gave him two additional days to meet senators after opposition grew.

The governor’s nominee for Business, Economic Development and Tourism ― Chris Sadayasu ― only got eight votes. The senate Economic Development Committee had recommended the rejection after multiple missteps managing tourism during his first months in the position and over questions about his management experience.

“He is not ready to lead one of the most important departments in the state during this time of economic uncertainty,” said state Sen. Donna Kim.

Meanwhile nominations of Keith Regan as state Comptroller and Kali Watson for the Department of Hawaiian Homelands won nearly unanimous support.

Watson was nominated after Ikaika Anderson withdrew his name for the job following a Senate Committee on Hawaiian Affairs vote against his nomination.

After the vote, Watson said, “First thing I’m gonna do is get houses up. We are going to accelerate the development process.”

Leona Kalima, who was a plaintiff in a successful lawsuit against the state over the Home Lands waitlist, was there to support Watson although she promised beneficiaries “will bug him.”

“Either way up down in out we gotta move forward with housing,” Kalima said. “It’s way overdue. It’s way overdue.”

Despite the two wins, the governor expressed disappointment in a statement:

“Two good nominees were confirmed today. Two other very good people with impeccable track records and almost universal support from the community were rejected. All four should have been approved for the good of the state today.”

And there is more to come.

Confirmation hearings for state Land director and state Attorney General have not even been scheduled.