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Corporate lobbyist to protect Hawaii's land and natural resources?

[Updated 10:55pm 3/15/15]

3/12/15 video of the Senate Water and Land Committee where each senator explains his vote:

This is a special post for my "mainland" readers because they find some of the politics here absurd and hilarious in a really terrifying way. For instance, they find our allowing legislators to run fundraisers while the Legislature is in session to be an invitation to buy legislation. We just call it "local style."

On the other hand, they keep telling me if I don't like a particular politician we should just vote them out. Fine, but that means voting someone else in and I keep telling them THAT system is broken.

For example: We just gave the boot to Governor Abercrombie, and in a big way. It's the very first time an incumbent Governor has been ousted, and by landslide too. We didn't like a lot of things about him. We REALLY didn't like his Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC) that would turn over public lands to corporate development. So we elected David Ige.

The new governor has to appoint a cabinet, directors for the various departments. One of the most powerful is for the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). The department has control of 1.8 million acres of land that was temporarily ceded to the US by Queen Liliuokalani to keep it out of the hands of a Provisional Government that had staged an armed overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation in 1893. The overthrow itself was part of a scheme by sugar plantation corporations to enrich themselves. One of those corporations was Castle & Cooke.

Now that sugar is no longer an important crop, Castle & Cooke is a major land developer. So who does the new governor appoint to protect our natural resources from development? The lobbyist for Castle & Cooke, Carelton Ching. Haha! No really.

But before Ching's nomination is confirmed, the Senate Committee on Water and Land has to do an advise and consent on the nominee and the Committee's Chair is a former director of the DLNR. Of course, she advises against the nominee, and the committee itself votes 5 - 2 against. So that's that right? Haha again. The nomination hearings don't mean a thing because the vote goes to the full Senate anyway! Not kidding.

I'm not saying Carelton Ching is a bad guy. But not only was he a Castle & Cooke lobbyist, he was a Director of the Land Use Research Foundation (LURF) for 10 years, and they claim to be, "the only Hawaii based organization devoted exclusively to promoting the interests of the development community, particularly in the areas of land use laws, regulations, and public policy." LURF was a big promoter of the PLDC that was so unpopular it help put the former governor on the ejection seat. Clearly, Carelton Ching is not the right guy to be protecting land and natural resources.

The Governor has a campaign going to get senators to vote for his lobbyist friend.

But we have our own campaign to contact senators before the hearing (probably Wednesday 3/17) and let them know they're in the spotlight on this and they should do the right thing. If you've read this far and are from Hawaii, please call/email your senator. If you don't know who he/she is, put your address here in the Capitol's web site and it will tell you.

This is a joke. But the joke's on us. Call your senator!

15 March 2015
Makiki, Honolulu

PS I was a big supporter (and still am) of the Worldwide Occupy Movement and deOccupy Honolulu while they were encamped at the corner of Ward and Beretania. When reporting on the happenings at the encampment, I'd end with a little blurb. Maybe as fitting now as ever: "Occupy Movement asserts that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power."

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