Gov. David Ige has proven himself a wily politician with his nomination of The Nature Conservancy's Suzanne Case to lead the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Because the pick has effectively driven a wedge between environmentalists and Native Hawaiians — the only coalition that would be likely to challenge him on anything. And local hunters and fishers are piling on, too, along with animal rights advocates.
While the “greens” love Suzanne and TNC's brand of upscale environmentalism, kanaka and hunters aren't so keen on TNC's zero-tolerance of game animals, which it exterminates as invasive species, sometimes through the use of snares that PETA has proclaimed inhumane.
Sharp lines are being drawn — even as Kauai Councilman Gary Hooser sent out an email effusing over Case's nomination, which he credited to an “intense grass-roots effort supported by a strong alliance of organizations representing diverse yet common interests” that prompted Ige to ditch Carleton Ching and appoint Case instead.
Civil Beat also bought into the hype that Ige had experienced a “come to Jesus” moment and miraculously seen the light, turning on a dime to replace a developers' lobbyist with the head of a major conservation organization. Its unquestioning editorial enthused:
“This Time, Ige Nails It. In his second attempt at picking a new Department of Land and Natural Resources chief, the governor taps an experienced conservation lawyer with deep local roots.”
Even Sen. Laura Thielen, whose own legacy at DLNR was the failed “recreational renaissance” that called for the widespread privatization and commercialization of state parks — including a hotel at Kokee and admission booths — pronounced that Case passed muster. (Btw, how did Thielen ever become the darling of greens? Have they completely forgotten her tenure at DLNR?)
Meanwhile, Molokai activist Walter Ritte and others who denounced Ching — and supported Hooser on anti-GMO and anti-pesticide causes — are now blasting Case. They don't like TNC's disdain for game animals, its support for marine protected areas and its penchant for fencing off land and eradicating all the non-native mammals within.
They've launched a Move-On petition that proclaims “Protect our Hunting, Fishing, Diving & Surviving!” and calls for Suzanne Case's removal. With some 550 signatures at last check, it states:
We the residents of Hawaii depend on the animals that we're given to King Kamehameha so we the people could be self sustainable. Allowing Nature Conservancy Director Suzanne Case to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources will be a total disaster to our race and our culture. With Suzanne Case being the Chairperson of DLNR there will be no animals to harvest because of fences and eradication. People of Hawaii, one day the ships will stop coming and the only thing that we will have to eat is the animals in the forest, fish that swim in the sea, and the produce that that our farmers produce!!! Remove Nature Conservancy Director Suzanne Case NOW before its to late!
In posting the petition link on his Facebook page, Ritte wrote:
This lady is bad news for all traditional and subsistence practitioners. Sign the petition.
In signing the petition, Terrance EK Castillo of Kekaha wrote:
They already took away the KINGDOM, most of our LANDS, our major WEST SIDE FISHING AREA, What's next? Get that #$%^&@ Suzanne Case out of there. Take down the fences that are already up. #%@$^&* @!$%^*&
Robert Duerr from Hilo expressed similar sentiments:
The case against the TNC and Case? Eradication, aerial killings, citizen kapu fences are not a game management plan.
Gosh. Looks like the unraveling of Hooser's “strong alliance of organizations representing diverse yet common interests.”
Not to mention that one of Case's first chores, should she be confirmed, is dealing with the frankly unresolvable conflict over the Thirty Meter Telescope, which is on conservation land that DLNR has leased to the University of Hawaii.
Talk about an extremely hot seat. Can you spell lose-lose? Can you say hamstrung from the get-go?
And as Case gets savaged, and ultimately marginalized in the fray, Ige emerges smelling like a rose, having given some folks, at least, exactly what they wanted.