Rejection of Young another power play against Lingle
The Senate has voted to turn down Peter Young's reappointment as land and natural resources director.
STATE senators, in warped exploitation of the confirmation process, chose to snub overwhelming public support for Peter Young
to continue as director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
In rejecting Republican Gov. Linda Lingle's nominee, Democratic senators once again pledged their allegiance not to voters, but to employee union and party leaders with entrenched ties to special interests.
Come next election, those who supported Young and his good-faith efforts in ocean-resource and land conservation should not forget how the Senate abused its power, conducting a witch hunt thinly disguised as advise-and-consent hearings.
Big Island voters in Sen. Russell Kokubun's Hilo-to-Naalehu district would do well to find a representative who would not bow to the demands of party leaders apparently protecting the interests of fishing industry allies. Leeward Oahu voters should be asking themselves if Senate President Colleen Hanabusa has the political fortitude to stand up for them.
Through the session, the Senate has made an ostensible show of diligence in examining the governor's nominees. Democrats failed to derail a Circuit Court candidate, but were successful in shutting out Iwalani White as public safety director, using disgruntled employees as their pawns to checkmate her appointment.
Democrats again called out public worker unions to slam Young and issued subpoenas to create an atmosphere that hinted at wrongdoing, particularly at the department's Bureau of Conveyances where Young had asked for an investigation.
Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, Democrats maneuvered the probe as a hit against Young even though he was not targeted.
Kokubun also curiously subpoenaed a lawyer defending a Kauai landowner who could be held liable in the Ka Loko Dam disaster last year, contending the lawyer had a perspective senators needed to hear. The lawyer, of course, pointed the finger at Young and the state, but refused to answer questions about his client's role.
Meanwhile, Hanabusa was forced to deal with questions about the propriety of her voting on Young's confirmation since she, too, represented the same landowner in another legal dispute, but with clearance from her vice president and the Ethics Commission, she cast her vote against Young.
Early on in the session, lawmakers had Young in their gunsights and might have been surprised when more than 500 groups and individuals, some of whom had called for his removal in his first years, testified in his favor. Among them were the Nature Conservancy, the Hawaiian environmental alliance KAHEA, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Sierra Club, fishing clubs, farmers, developers, marine scientists, forestry experts and businesses.
The senators heard only what they wanted to hear. The weak claim that Young had to go because he had made some of his employees unhappy was an embarrassment to other public workers who supported Young and resented being cast with the bad guys.
But rejecting Young wasn't the Senate's sole objective. Democrats are bent on maiming the governor whom they see as a squatter on their turf. Though she has not been able to increase her party's presence at the Legislature, Lingle's popularity makes her a major threat to the Democrats' power structure.