Daily Archives: March 29, 2023

OPPOSITION to Dawn Chang for Chairperson, Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) GM 516

Consultant Dawn Chang’s nomination Hearing is on Friday March 31, 2023 1:00 pm

Testimonies can be submitted here. You need an email to register. Testimonies can be a simply OPPOSE or SUPPORT.

This is a written testimony from Deborah Ward from Mountain View, Hawaii Island OPPOSING Dawn Chang. Deborah has been in the environmental movement to preserve and protect Hawaii’s resources for decades. She has been a member of the Hawaii island group of Sierra club since 1984 in Excom positions since then. She served on the OMKM ENVIRONMENT committee for 23 years. Deborah is a retired faculty for UH DEPT of natural resources and environmental management, with an MS in Horticulture. She is currently farming ten acres in Mountain View.

” I am writing to urge you to not to confirm the nomination of Ms.Dawn Chang as Chair of the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR).

The basis for my opposition to this appointment is that Ms. Chang’s approach to the pressing issues of our time has been too narrowly focused on meeting the needs of her corporate and organizational clients when the focus needs to be on protecting the public trust.

The context for my concerns is the kuleana of the BLNR. While I am sure that you are aware of that responsibility, a reminder is in order given the importance of the appointment being considered. The Department of Land and Natural Resources, headed by an executive Board of Land and Natural Resources, is responsible for managing, administering, and exercising control over public lands, water resources, ocean waters, navigable streams, coastal areas (except commercial harbors), minerals, and all interests therein.

The department’s jurisdiction encompasses nearly 1.3 million acres of State lands, beaches, and coastal waters as well as 750 miles of coastline (the fourth longest in the country). It includes state parks; historical sites; forests and forest reserves; aquatic life and its sanctuaries; public fishing areas; boating, ocean recreation, and coastal programs; wildlife and its sanctuaries; game management areas; public hunting areas; and natural area reserves.A summary of that kuleana is protecting the public trust.

Given this tremendous responsibility, the selection of a Chair should be guided by the highest principles. There is ample evidence that the selection of Ms. Chang does not demonstrate an adherence to that fundamental requirement.

The candidate should have demonstrated unquestionable integrity, a profound understanding of Hawaiian history and, a deep respect for the traditional Hawaiian civilization.

While Ms. Chang’s work has been involved in a wide range of relevant areas, an examination of her record in those involvements discloses a bias that disqualifies her from holding the BLNR position. Ms. Chang’s career is repeatedly characterized by decisions that ignore the mandates of history in order to facilitate the colonial mindset of facilitating economic exploitation, rather than acting as a protector of Hawai’i’s future. Her long list of corporate clients is the visible manifestation of her true professional commitments.

Her company belongs in the company of businesses that prepare environmental assessments and environmental impact statements which give developers the cover of a document that says what the developer needs to justify the project at issue.

There are other questions about the fitness of Ms. Chang. Some of her actions appear to be unethical, such as advising clients on how to avoid taking legally required actions.

For example, she advised Kawaiahaʻo Church that its proposal to construct a multi-purpose center did not require an archeological inventory survey, which the law clearly required. Ms. Chang’s advice was to ignore the legal requirement to avoid increasing the project cost.Her advice resulted in lengthy litigation and the illegal disturbing of hundreds of burials.

One of the major issues BLNR must address is the future of Mauna Kea. On that issue, Ms. Chang was responsible for preparing a woefully inadequate comprehensive master plan. Her plan was missing provisions for natural and cultural management, decommissioning, and public access. BLNR determined that the plan was deficient. The delay in approving the missing critical pieces of the plan led to delays in the CDUA for the TMT construction. The BLNR had to step in to require compliance with the law lacking in Ms. Chang’s plan.

DLNR is currently plagued by weak leadership, with multiple conflicts between offices and divisions, many due to conflicting mandates. The chronic understaffing and underfunding leads to ineffectiveness and institutional frustration. The loss of institutional knowledge has led to a serious degradation of our cultural heritage.

Ms. Chang does not demonstrate the skills to address these issues, and could serve to exacerbate the problems. Ms Chang is not the right person to be confirmed as Chair. I ask you to oppose her appointment.”