DLNR director faces fight for job
Peter Young's hearing before a Senate panel also involves 13 subpoenaed witnesses
Department of Land and Natural Resources Director Peter Young faces a contentious confirmation hearing Wednesday.
Senate Agriculture and Hawaiian Affairs Committee chairman Russell Kokubun has subpoenaed 13 witnesses for the hearing.
Eleven of the subpoenaed witnesses are current or former DLNR employees, representing the Historic Preservation, Bureau of Conveyances, and Boating divisions.
PETER T. YOUNG
Age: 55 years old
Education: Bachelor of Business Administration, University of Hawaii; real estate appraisal, brokerage and management licenses
Public service: Director, state Department of Land and Natural Resources, since 2003; deputy managing director, Hawaii County, 2000-2003
The other subpoenaed witnesses are Hilton Lui, an investigator for the State Ethics Commission, and William McCorriston, an attorney who is representing Kauai landowner James Pflueger in the Ka Loko dam breach incident.
Even before the subpoenas, Young's supporters and detractors said they expect negative testimony from fishermen displeased with recent gillnet and bottomfishing regulations, people concerned about the department's culpability in the Ka Loko dam breach, and native Hawaiians dissatisfied with DLNR's handling of burial site issues.
Young also is expected to receive praise for finally putting fishing regulations in place after years of discussions, for his leadership in helping create the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, and for his willingness to hear all sides of issues before making decisions.
Some supporters, like the Sierra Club, say Young has won them over since demands that he resign two years ago unless he took action on problems in the department.
Young did listen to environmental and Hawaiian groups' concerns and made changes -- sometimes very significant ones, Sierra Club Director Jeff Mikulina said, who added he will testify in favor of Young's reappointment.
"That's a tough department to manage," said Kokubun (D, Kalapana-Volcano). "They have so many responsibilities, and there are critics. I view my responsibility as evaluating whether the department is heading in the right direction, whether the department has accomplished what it has set out to do, and if there have been missteps along the way."
Sen. Sam Slom (R, Hawaii Kai-Diamond Head), the only Republican on the committee, noted, "You certainly have to take any criticism into consideration, and many of us take that very seriously." But complaints should taken in the context of positive reviews and the fact that "anyone can say anything about anyone they want in this state."
Young said he is "looking forward to the confirmation hearing" as a time for him to outline the department's accomplishments under his watch.
Young said he has followed the advice of former DLNR Director Bill Paty, whom he said told him, "No matter what you do, some people aren't going to like it. So do the right thing."
Gov. Linda Lingle called Young "an outstanding leader of the department." She credits him for getting her to understand the importance of preserving the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Last week, the Senate rejected Iwalani White, Lingle's nominee for the director of Public Safety, in a 16-9 vote. It was the first time the Senate rejected a Lingle Cabinet member.
Nine former employees were subpoenaed to testify in White's confirmation hearing.
Witnesses were also subpoenaed in the confirmation hearing for Glenn Kim as a Circuit Court judge.
Despite the Judiciary Committee's recommendation to reject Kim, the full Senate voted 16-9 for his confirmation.