By: TRUSTEE ROWENA AKANA
Source: November 2004 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Article
`Ano`ai kakou… In late September, I received an advance copy of a letter from Chairman Haunani Apoliona’s administrative aide that is supposed to appear in this month’s newsletter. The letter attacks my October 2004 article in which I brought up questionable expenditures and decisions made by her supervisor.
For the record, as an OHA Trustee, I am required to call attention to Apoliona’s questionable actions as Chairman. According to Hawaii Revised Statues 554A-5:
“…a dissenting trustee is not liable for the consequences of an act in which the trustee joins at the direction of the majority of the trustees, if the trustee expressed a dissent in writing to any of the cotrustees…”
In my opinion, Apoliona has abused her position as Chairman. Unfortunately, Apoliona is either self-delusional or suffering from self-denial. No one is perfect, yet she continues to portray her leadership as flawless. I’ve heard about accentuating the positive, but give me a break. How many new OHA programs can she point to that has occurred in the last two years? Our existing programs are in shambles from neglect.
One really has to ask what we are doing for our beneficiaries besides lobbying for Federal Recognition. While it is important for Hawaiians to be officially recognized by the federal government, our people have other, more pressing needs in health care, housing, and education.
I made every effort to get answers to my questions and concerns through the proper channels. I have many memos to OHA’s administration and staff asking for answers on how our beneficiaries’ money is being spent. If you read the budget today, you could swear that all OHA is paying for are lawyers’ fees. The frustrating part is that Apoliona only uses double-speak and rarely gives any clear answers.
So now, it seems, the only means I have to get to the bottom of Apoliona’s shenanigans is to openly call her on it. Instead of responding to my concerns, Apoliona chooses to ignore them and, through her administrative aide, attempts to indirectly bully me into silence. But this is nothing new. Just look at a small sampling of Apoliona’s past involvement in misdeeds:
- Sending an e-mail to all OHA staff to evaluate the previous administrator in an effort to discredit and humiliate him and force him to resign;
- Forwarding confidential memos to the media to discredit fellow trustees.
- Leaking a confidential and uncertified recording of a former trustee’s conversation at a community meeting to the media in order to ruin her reputation;
- Slandering a former state department head; and
- Harassing competent and capable administrative staff until they were finally forced to leave.
As far as I’m concerned, as long as Apoliona endorses a policy that allows OHA staff members to publicly discredit any Trustee or administrative staff who disagrees with her, OHA will be plagued with internal strife that will continue to cause morale problems and dissention for both staff and trustees. Behavior such as this cannot be consider constructive or pono.
As for the issues I brought up in my last article, I am ready, willing, and able to publicly debate Apoliona anywhere and at anytime. Imua e Hawai’i nei…