Editorial | Our View Waste no time in voting down DLNR nominee By Star-Advertiser staff March 14, 2015 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. The marathon public and decision-making grilling sessions that Carleton Ching endured at the state Capitol provided a window into the democratic process that is rarely seen in Hawaii. It wasn’t always easy to watch the controversial nominee to head the state Department of Land and Natural Resources confronted by some tough questioning by the Senate Committee on Water and Land. Some committee members who opposed the nomination seemed very uncomfortable about poking at the former Castle & Cooke Inc. lobbyist and development advocate, who did bring an earnest demeanor to the process. What Ching didn’t bring, however, was any clear understanding of the agency’s core mission or vision for how he would approach challenges of resource management. Neither was there any real sign that he had enough interest in the issues to bone up on the administrative processes he would be shepherding. And for this reason, the committee came to the correct conclusion in its 5-2 vote to recommend against Ching’s confirmation for the job. The full Senate should concur with that recommendation and reject the nomination when it comes up for a floor vote. And that should happen soon: There’s been enough time for arm-twisting and vote-whipping between the start of the session and now, the session’s halfway point. Ample testimony was presented over the day-and-a-half allowance for the Senate’s advice and consent, so it’s time for an informed decision to be made promptly. It was a rare chance to see the Democratic leadership of the Senate in a position to turn thumbs- down on a key appointment by a new governor of their own party — one who only last fall moved up from their own ranks to the executive office, no less. The long speeches delivered along with the vote proved that the senators felt compelled to justify their verdicts. Gov. David Ige surely knew, or should have expected, that a grueling test of endurance was coming. Environmental groups came out four-square against Ching’s nomination the moment it was announced. In one voice, they expressed the unassailable position that — while Ching may have skills that befit a manager, garnered throughout his business career — the nominee’s resume showed scant evidence of interest or experience in natural resource management. Rather than address this beforehand, the governor insisted that Ching would make the case for himself in the hearing process. He did not. And it didn’t help him that state Sen. Laura Thielen, who chaired the committee, had once held the DLNR job Ching now seeks. She pressed him on hypotheticals he well could face, and in many instances his answer was that he’d seek some kind of balance, that he would ensure compliance with the law and that he’d be informed by the recommendation of staff. As Thielen rightly pointed out, DLNR actions are driven by compliance but also by policy and administrative interpretation — all of which Ching would have influence in shaping. Staff would be waiting for direction from him, too. The governor, who sat nearby, at one point rose while Thielen was asking about what message Ching might bring to a coming conservation conference. Ige said he didn’t find such hypotheticals relevant. But absent such questions, Ching was not illuminating his own philosophy about the underlying mission of the DLNR. The point is that, while DLNR should be charged with managing resources efficiently to best serve the public, a businesslike approach is helpful but insufficient. What seemed lacking here was the grasp of the primacy of some Native Hawaiian and other public claims to resources, rights that have been upheld in court. Instead, Ching stressed the need to preserve what he called Hawaii’s "brand," a term that reflected a rather corporate mindset about the mission. A lot of the fault for this disastrous spectacle lies at the feet of the governor, who should have put up a qualified candidate with the capacity for the job. And if senators are wavering about taking a difficult vote, they must now show they have the capacity to handle their own job, and just do it. Previous Story Legislators grumble on rail costs but roll over too easily Next Story Does ‘Asian penalty’ block college entry?