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Senate schedules vote on Ching’s nomination

  • Nominee for chairman of the Board of Land and Natural Resources speaking Wednesday at a Senate Committee hearing

The final decision on whether Carleton Ching will lead the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources is slated for Wednesday.

The 25-member state Senate will vote during its 11:30 a.m. floor session Wednesday on Gov. David Ige’s controversial pick of Ching, a Castle & Cooke executive, to lead the state agency that oversees Hawaii’s public lands.

The session will be broadcast on ‘Olelo channel 49 on Oahu, Na Leo on Hawaii Island, Akaku on Maui and Ho’ike on Kauai, according to a release. The vote is expected to be close, with some senators expected flip-flop before the final decision. 

The move also follows a scathing report on Ching’s nomination released by the Water and Land Committee, which last week voted 5-2 to recommend rejecting Ching as the DLNR chairman.

Ching spent about a month and a half familiarizing himself with DLNR and its issues but "after all this time and meetings, the nominee did not bring forward a clear understanding of the DLNR’s core values, or provide any vision of how he would approach the challenges of resource management," the report stated.

The report further expressed concerns of the influence that Castle & Cooke, one of the state’s largest developers, might have on Ching, a longtime lobbyist. "There is no question that Castle & Cooke will have some interaction with the DLNR over the next four years," the report stated.

Committee Chairwoman Laura Thielen was unavailable for comment immediately following Tuesday’s Senate floor session.

The full Senate vote on Ching will not be whether to uphold the committee’s recommendation. Instead, it will be a separate vote simply on whether to approve Ige’s pick, apart from the committee recommendation and its report.

Ige, meanwhile, intends to meet with senators "to answer their questions and to provide information about why he made this nomination," according to a statement issued by his office this week.

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