/ SPECIAL TO THE STAR-BULLETIN
Gov. Linda Lingle spoke at a press conference yesterday on the Legislature's rejection of Peter Young to continue heading the Department of Land and Natural Resources. CLICK FOR LARGE
Young backers say Senate ignored wishes of public
Environmentalists and native Hawaiians who supported Peter Young said they were dismayed that he won't lead the state Department of Land and Natural Resources for four more years, but they hope his legacies will continue.
"The public support for Young was palpable throughout the state, island by island," said Stephanie Fried, senior scientist with Environmental Defense. Young leaves "a fine record" protecting the state's resources and making the department open and accessible, she said.
"Peter was a tremendous leader for the protection of our natural resources in Hawaii. It's a great loss," said Suzanne Case, state executive director of The Nature Conservancy. "He had lots of initiative and foresight. He was a problem-solver, and we certainly hope his initiatives will continue."
Jeff Mikulina, the Sierra Club's state director, called Young "someone who's made some tough decisions for the environment" and on whose watch "major conservation improvements have occurred."
Mikulina said senators' concerns about Young's performance reflected ongoing problems in some of the sprawling department's 11 divisions. While it's the Senate's job to "take responsibility" for Cabinet members' performance, Mikulina said, "We think in some areas they might have lost the forest for the trees."
Marti Townsend, of KAHEA-The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, said "the public support was overwhelming, and the Senate turned its back on that. That sends a message to the public that politics are more important than protecting the environment."
Clyde Namu'o, state Office of Hawaiian Affairs administrator, said: "It's very regrettable that Peter was not confirmed for a second term. Though we observed a number of missteps early in his first term, these were corrected, and he worked well with the Hawaiian community."