Senate panel OKs pick for labor post
A Senate panel has recommended confirmation of Darwin Ching, Gov. Linda Lingle's nominee to head the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.
Ching sailed through his hearing before the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee with a 4-0 vote of approval. His confirmation goes before the full Senate next week.
"I'm humbled and honored," Ching said afterward. "Hopefully, (the Senate vote) will be successful, and once that's done we need to get to work."
Ching has served on an interim basis since his appointment in July.
Virtually all of the testimony submitted to the committee on Ching's behalf was favorable, citing his experience, dedication and leadership skills.
Ching, a former attorney in the Honolulu prosecutor's office, is a private-practice attorney who focuses on criminal, personal injury, business disputes and family law. He also served as a member of the state Board of Education from 2005-06.
"As interim director, Mr. Ching expressed a willingness to foster collaborative working relationships with labor unions, businesses, the community and the state Legislature," Randy Perreira, deputy executive director of the Hawaii Governmental Employees Association, said in written testimony.
One critic testified against Ching.
Eddy Conway, a department employee, was critical of Ching and his predecessor, saying the agency suffers from delays in processing that hamper investigations, questionable decisions regarding maintenance of computer systems, retaliation against employees, and failure to properly store sensitive information.
"In any large organization there are always some people that have issues," Ching said. "To the extent they raised operational questions that we need to review, I'll do that and take the negative and turn that into a positive."
Ching succeeds Nelson Befitel, who declined a second term as director, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.