Auditor’s report: OHA needs an outside consultant to watch over money mangers

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA, July 2005

‘Ano’ai kakou… On January 16, 2003 the Board of Trustees voted to hire two investment companies, Goldman Sachs and Frank Russell, to handle all of OHA’s investment decisions. I abstained from the vote because I felt that it would be dangerous for the Board of Trustees to give up their direct oversight over the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund.

I had further doubts after I read the contracts OHA’s administration signed with Goldman & Russell. Our past contracts specifically stated that OHA, its trustees, and employees would be protected from all actions, suits, claims, damages, and expenses that arise out of a contractor’s errors, omissions, or acts. As you may recall, I wrote in my August 2003 article that since the contracts OHA signed with Goldman and Russell had no such language, OHA trustees are liable for any mistakes that they make, even though we don’t have any direct control over investment decisions.

In March of 2003, OHA hired R.V. Khuns & Associates, Inc. to come up with recommendations for OHA’s Investment Policy. One of their recommendations was that the Board should hire a separate and independent consultant to monitor both Goldman and Russell. I strongly fought for this when it was discussed at the Board table. Unfortunately, the budget committee rejected the idea.

While the budget committee may have disagreed with R.V. Khuns & Associates’ recommendation, State Auditor Marion Higa supported the idea of an independent consultant in her April 2005 audit of OHA. Here are a few of her findings:

(1) OHA has failed to create an independent function to oversee investment advisors. According to the auditor, basic things such as performance reporting, ensuring compliance with guidelines, and risk management were not being done because OHA doesn’t know how. The auditor wrote that OHA doesn’t have enough knowledge, experience, and expertise when it comes to overseeing investments. She stressed that OHA needs to hire someone (either in-house or an outside consultant) with experience in institutional investment oversight to make up for this deficiency.

(2) OHA’s lack of a standard report format has resulted in inconsistent reporting by the advisors. The auditor wrote that OHA did not create a standard format for Goldman and Russell to report how they were investing our money. The auditor said that this was because OHA did not know what information it needed to properly evaluate them. The auditor also pointed out that it was fundamentally flawed to depend on Goldman and Russell to decide what should be reported. Goldman and Russell are just as liable as OHA trustees for any losses (that come from not following OHA’s investment policy) so why would they report any violations to OHA? To solve this problem, the auditor recommended that OHA consider hiring outside experts to design the performance reports.

(3) Investment advisor compliance with certain guidelines cannot be verified. According to the auditor, OHA can barely make sure that Goldman and Russell are following OHA’s investment policy because we aren’t getting enough information from them. OHA doesn’t even have the computer software needed to screen important information. The auditor recommended that, for OHA’s protection, both Goldman and Russell should be required to sign a disclosure statement, on a regular basis, saying that they are following OHA’s investment policy. I believe her recommendation is added confirmation that the contracts our administration signed with Goldman and Russell did not contain proper safeguards for OHA.

I hope this proves, once and for all, that OHA needs an independent consultant to watch over our two investment managers.

Imua Hawaii Nei…

Auditor’s report: OHA’s money-managers come at a high cost

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA, June 2005

‘Ano’ai kakou… On January 16, 2003 the Board  hired Goldman Sachs and Frank Russell to serve as OHA’s two financial managers. Each company was given half of OHA’s Native Hawaiian Trust Fund, which at the time amounted to $125,000,000.

In my March 2004 article, I wrote that while both companies made about the same amount of money for us, there was a glaring difference in what they charged us for their services. Frank Russell charged OHA $64,663 for their first quarter of service in 2003, while Goldman Sachs charged us $74,998 – a difference of $10,335. In the second quarter, Frank Russell charged us $200,712 for their services, while Goldman Sachs charged us $244,255 – a difference of $43,543.

While some people may argue that the $53,543 more Goldman Sachs charged OHA (for the 1st & 2nd Quarters) was not a significant amount, I argued that we could have helped many needy beneficiaries with that money.

Not long after my article was published, Goldman Sachs reviewed their fee schedule, and gave OHA an annual savings of $50,000. I can’t say for certain whether my complaints had any impact on their decision, but I was pleased that Goldman Sachs quickly matched Frank Russell’s lower fees.

While OHA’s leadership at the time may have disagreed with me about how high the fees were, I finally felt some vindication when State Auditor Marion Higa came out with her April 2005 audit of OHA. Not surprisingly, she backed up what I had been saying all along. Here are a few findings from her audit:

1. Frank Russell averaged 0.57 percent in fees, in total, for all traditional assets managed, excluding real estate. Goldman Sachs averaged 0.74 percent of the assets it managed, excluding real estate and hedge funds.

2. The average investment management fee paid by all reporting funds (1,032 reporting funds in 2002) was 0.274 percent in 2002. Smaller funds (such as the Native Hawaiian trust fund) with assets below $500 million had higher average fees of 0.351 percent. OHA pays an average fee for investment management and oversight for the trust fund of 0.65 percent.

3. The “manager-of-managers” strategy employed by OHA has led to higher fees than fees incurred by its peers. In addition, OHA’s use of investment advisors to select investment managers, perform due diligence, and monitor the investment managers, has the effect of increasing the total fee, since the total fee represents more than just investment management fees. In other words, we paid less fees under our old financial management plan.

4. If OHA’s passive assets were in line with its peer median, fees would be reduced by 11 basis points, saving OHA more than $300,000 annually.

5. OHA has begun to review the investment management fees being paid, realizing that Goldman Sachs represents a premium cost for its services.

The auditor recommended that OHA continue to evaluate the returns it receives, net of the fees paid, and explore alternative means of investing portions of its portfolio – all of which I will continue to do on behalf of our beneficiaries.

The auditor also noted that OHA should recognize the inherent conflict of interest within the existing manager-of-managers structure and conduct its own evaluation of whether their investments fulfill OHA’s fiduciary duties and achieve prudent investor standards. Due to space constraints, I will have to take this issue up in another month’s column. Stay tuned.

Imua Hawaii Nei…

OHA needs a Land Konohiki

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA, April 2005

‘Ano’ai kakou… On August 19, 2004, The Honolulu Advertiser ran an article titled “OHA gets offer of free Puna land.” Six months later, the offer was withdrawn because OHA took too long to finalize the deal. Sound familiar? It should.

The same thing happened in late-2002 when a mainland company named PH Industries offered to donate 198 acres of land in Maili to OHA, 80 to 90 acres of which were developable. The company was leaving Hawaii and wanted to donate its land. OHA waited too long to respond and the company sold it to someone else for almost nothing. Trustee Oswald Stender, the budget chair at the time, said he did not see the urgency of the deal and failed to take it up in his committee in a timely manner.

There were so many possibilities for the Maili property. It was cleared of environmental hazards and zoned for agriculture and conservation use. At the very least, OHA could have sold it to a developer. The land was valued at $3,000,000 and it was sold for a measly $100,000. It was unconscionable to let such a huge opportunity slip through the cracks. Unfortunately, history tends to repeat itself.

On August 18, 2004, Joe Wedeman made an offer to donate 66.4 acres of Puna land to OHA on behalf of his wife, Harriet, who had inherited the land from her mother. About 35 acres contained no archaeological sites and could be developed. Trustee Boyd Mossman said the gift was a “tremendous opportunity” and could be an educational and cultural resource for students.

Trustee Carpenter and I immediately sent a memo to Trustee Stender after the offer was made, and asked him to bring it to the Board of Trustees for a vote as soon as possible. Trustee Carpenter wrote that “time is of the essence.” I specifically reminded Trustee Stender about the Maili debacle.

On September 1, 2004, Trustee Stender responded that he asked the OHA Administrator and his staff to ensure that a “due diligence” study is done before the issue could be presented to his committee. On September 29, 2004, the Administration reported to the Board that the consultants they hired, MN Capital Partners, LLC, needed three-weeks since they needed to visit the site.

Ten-weeks later, on December 17, 2004, my staff checked with the ARM committee to see whether the due diligence study was done or not. It was not. The Administration finally presented the due diligence study to the Board of Trustees on February 16, 2005. Unfortunately, it was too late. Mr. Wedeman had already sent a fax to OHA two days earlier, withdrawing the offer (the entire fax was just one sentence).

All this could have been avoided if OHA followed a May 2002 recommendation from the Land Committee’s (back when OHA had five subject-matter committees) to create an OHA Land Division to be headed by a “Land Konohiki,” an expert specializing in land acquisition, management, and investment and ceded land claims. The Land Konohiki could quickly look at and consider private lands for acquisition or even partner with other Hawaiian agencies to acquire land.

The first step in the Land Konohiki plan was to hire a land consultant to review prior land studies and make recommendations to the Board. The plan was passed by the Board on October 30, 2002.

Unfortunately, despite my numerous inquiries, nothing was done about the issue for months. On April 4, 2003, the Administration reported that they were still looking for a consultant. The Administration’s slow pace can only be blamed on the lack of direct Trustee oversight. When the current leadership took over in late-2002, they got rid of the Land Committee and there was no one to keep their feet to the fire.

It is sad to think of all the lost possibilities. If we had a Land Konohiki in place, our beneficiaries would now be in control of 264.4 acres of land. It is a supreme irony that OHA spends millions to lobby for federal recognition and yet continues to refuse free land. What good is a sovereign nation without a homeland?

Building a consensus with Board members eliminates mistrust

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA, December 2004

‘Ano’ai kakou… OHA’s spending policy was recently changed and now all of the Ceded Land revenues we get from the state will go straight into our operating budget. In other words, instead of depositing our income into a savings account, we’ll be putting it straight into our checking account to spend. OHA’s budget chairman wanted to find a way to get OHA to spend more money, so he called a committee meeting on August 18, 2004 and had high-powered experts do a presentation to the Board. These experts argued that the OHA’s spending policy favored future beneficiaries over current beneficiaries by allowing Ceded Land revenues to grow in the Trust. They explained that we were unfairly saving the money for future beneficiaries and not spending enough on today’s beneficiaries.

The presentation worked and on September 15, 2004, the Board passed a new spending policy. Now the $9,446,922 in Ceded Land revenues OHA will get from the state in 2005 will be spent and not saved. Theoretically, OHA should now be able to fund many new programs and help many more beneficiaries with that money.

Unfortunately, not all of the money is going directly to our beneficiaries. It appears leadership will use some of the $9.45 million to cover massive budget short-falls, which mostly included lawyers’ fees and costs relating to our lobbyist for the federal recognition campaign.

As you can imagine, the Trustees had many questions about what exactly the $9.45 million was going to be spent on. These questions finally forced the budget chair to hold a workshop on October 12th & 13th. Even after the two-day workshop, not all of the Trustees were convinced that the $9.45 million was being spent for its intended purpose – helping our beneficiaries. Despite our concerns, the revised Budget finally passed with the minimum required six-votes on November 1, 2004.

Budget workshops should be made mandatory to avoid problems like this in the future. Past budget committee chairs always held workshops before bringing a new budget to the Board. Workshops would give Trustees the time needed to have their questions answered in detail before they had to vote in committee. Right now, all of OHA’s committee chairs distribute materials for their meetings just a few days in advance. This hardly gives Trustees enough time to meet with administrative staff and ask questions, much less receive the answers we need to make prudent decisions.

The current regime could have shown true leadership if they had spent the time necessary to justify their proposal to spend the $9.45 million instead of hiring an attorney and high powered presenters to make their case and rush it through for a vote. Building a consensus with Board members eliminates mistrust and in the end, everyone is more comfortable with the decision they made, decisions based on current information and not hype artists.

I pray that the New Year will bring constructive and meaningful change, despite the fact that the Board remains unchanged after the November election. It is my hope that we will no longer need to engage in political gymnastics to get things done. We shouldn’t have to duel with leadership in order to make sure we are working in the best interest of our beneficiaries.

If leadership can work towards building a consensus and abandons its “win-at-all-cost” mentality, I feel that a more positive and productive Board will emerge. Perhaps my sentiments can best be summed up by St. Paul, who in a letter to Timothy wrote:

“We know the law is good if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but those who are lawless, the ungodly, the immoral, liars… and whatever else that is contrary to sound teaching.”
– Timothy, 1st Verse

Have a happy and safe holidays and God bless!

Which is it? Build the Trust for the New Nation or Spend it All?

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA, June 2004

‘Ano’ai kakou… I hate to admit it, but the current leadership of OHA has me a bit confused. I’m sure you have heard Chairman Apoliona say on many occasions that OHA is a “temporary” organization that will someday be dissolved and its assets transferred over to the new Hawaiian Nation. So her position is clear – OHA is temporary and its money will go to fund the new Hawaiian nation.

Here’s where everything turns as clear as mud. In April Trustee Stender, the chair of her money committee, informed the Trustees that he has asked for a legal opinion that will allow OHA to spend more of the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund. OHA currently has a spending limit that prevents any group of Trustees from spending the Trust like drunken sailors.

I’m sure that handing out a check to every one of the hundreds of organizations that are asking for grants would certainly make OHA very popular, but what about the long-term health of the Trust? We have carefully rebuilt the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund to over $300 million. I would hate to see it evaporate again in a shortsighted spending spree.

And as for how the Trust funds are spent, let’s not forget that four years ago OHA conducted a survey that clearly stated the beneficiaries wanted the Trustees to focus on four priorities – (1) Return of the land; (2) Education; (3) Housing; and (4) Health. The Board has not taken any action to change our focus on these areas and Trustee Stender should keep that in mind before making any decisions on his own.

I also question why the present administration can’t just follow established procedures and take the matter up in an open Board meeting. Unilateral decisions made by the Chairman and the Budget Chair must stop! All that’s needed to change the spending limit is six votes. If OHA’s leadership is too afraid to take the matter up in public at an open Board meeting, maybe that should tell you something.

I wrote several letters to the law firm that is drafting the legal opinion for Stender and shared my strong concerns about breaking the Board’s spending limit. They responded that Trustee Stender has every right to request such an opinion. I wasn’t surprised by their reply since they want to get paid for it. What is shocking is that the spending policy is not the only thing they are looking at. Trustee Stender also wants to know whether it’s even appropriate to build the Trust at all!

To even question whether we should grow the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund is just ludicrous. People like Thurston Twigg-Smith would like nothing better than to see the Trust disappear. And it’s not just the anti-OHA people either. Even our “friends” in state government are trying to cut the money coming into OHA. Governor Cayetano already cut OHA’s airport revenues and if the current state legislature had its way, OHA would probably get a lot less than it does now.

So which path will OHA’s leadership take? Will it be Chairman Apoliona’s “temporary” OHA that will turn over its assets to a new Hawaiian Nation or Trustee Stender’s OHA, which spends freely and shrink the Trust? I hope they realize that it will be difficult to do both.

My prediction is that Chairman Apoliona will flip-flop on her position and go along with Trustee Stender, unless of course, she gets enough calls telling her to do otherwise. I encourage all of you who share my concerns to call her and ask where she’s leading us.

I will continue to fight, by every means necessary, any attempt to allow the shortsightedness of OHA’s current leadership to endanger the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund or shortchange the coming Hawaiian Nation.

Imua Hawaii Nei…

Reaching out to Hawaiians on the mainland

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA, April 2004

‘Ano’ai kakou… On March 6-7, 2004, OHA sponsored a successful Hawaiian governance event in Las Vegas. The affair featured OHA’s Hawaiian Registry Program; workshops on Hawaiian culture, genealogy, and history; and a “Kau Inoa” registration drive. Kau Inoa is a separate program from OHA, and is the first step in identifying indigenous Hawaiians who want to be a part of the formation of a Hawaiian governing entity.

We have now established many valuable contacts within Nevada’s Hawaiian community, estimated to be 80,000 strong, and have made an important contribution to our goal of registering 100,000 Hawaiians nationwide.

This event would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the following OHA staff and volunteers:

* Administrator Clyde Namu’o who strongly supported the event from the beginning. I commend the Administrator for the latitude he afforded staff to explore new territories and gain new skills. His consistent positive attitude and encouragement of staff made the event a true pleasure.

* Public Information Officer Manu Boyd, who conducted workshops on hula, ka’ao, genealogy, and Hawaiian history. His command of the Hawaiian language and his musical talent are an invaluable resource to OHA.

* Luci Meyer, who conducted workshops on mo’oku’auhau (genealogy). I was impressed by the quality, depth, and insight of her presentations.

* Staff members Jennifer Chiwa, Lani Hoomana, Ruby McDonald, Gladys Rodenhurst, and Francine Murray.

* Las Vegas Volunteers Jeannie Wong, Ransen & Lehua Borges, Ladd Haleloa, Bruce Willingham, Lucille Calario, Lorna Andrade, and Paul Meyer.

* Special thanks to the Makaha Sons, Moon, John and Jerome who performed in concert and virtually assured a huge turnout.

This experience has left me very encouraged about coordinating future events and activities. I also appreciate Trustees Waihe’e, Dela Cruz, and Apoliona for making the trip and sharing their mana’o.

On another note regarding the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund…

Trustee Mossman wrote in his article last month that he did not believe OHA has ever been in a better financial position and that it was all thanks to Trustee Stender. Before we begin to sing the praises of someone, perhaps we should first put things in their proper context.

OHA’s portfolio was over $400 million in 2000 and then took a nosedive in the following year to $250 million. Who was the chair of the Budget & Finance committee for most of that time? You guessed it, Trustee Stender. I pleaded with Trustee Stender for months to stop the bleeding, but nothing happened. OHA’s Chief Financial Officer finally came up with the idea of hiring “managers-of-managers” to do our investing. This was finalized by February 2003, but and by then, the damage to the Trust had long since been done.

The new managers-of-managers, Goldman Sachs and Frank Russell, make all of our day-to-day investment decisions and choose which money managers to hire. The Board’s role now is to simply set the investment policy and listen to quarterly report presentations.

There is no doubt that the growth of the Trust has more to do with our two manager-of-managers than any particular Trustee. The problem now is that OHA is forced to pay higher fees for Goldman Sach’s services even though they have consistently underperformed the Frank Russell Group.

While the total Native Hawaiian Trust Fund is still far shy of the $400 million OHA once enjoyed in its heyday, at least it is growing again.

Imua Hawaii Nei…

OHA paying more for the same service

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA, March 2004

`Ano`ai kakou… On January 16, 2003 the Board hired Goldman Sachs & Company and Frank Russell Company to serve as OHA’s two “Manager-of-Managers.” Each financial manager was given half (50% percent) of OHA’s Native Hawaiian Trust Fund, which amounted to $125,000,000.

Before we voted to hire the two companies, I asked Trustee Stender whether we should give the two money managers a one-year limit. Trustee Stender thought that one-year would do and the Board approved hiring both companies for a one year period after their contracts were executed.

Both contracts were signed on February 13, 2003 and it is now time to evaluate their performances and decide whether to keep them and/or make some changes.

Instead of boring you with pages of financial comparisons such as “Market Valuation versus Strategic Benchmark” or explaining what a “hedge fund” is, I’ll get straight to the bottom line: 1) How much money did OHA’s two financial managers make, and 2) How much did it cost OHA for their services.

According to a memo dated January 22, 2004 from OHA’s Treasury department, Frank Russell Company “continues to slightly outperform[s] Goldman Sachs Company in total portfolio market value. At the end of November, the difference was over seven hundred thousand dollars (0.51%).”

A recent memo dated February 10, 2004 states that Goldman Sachs managed to increase their original $125,000,000 to $160,500,000 by December 31, 2003. During the same period, Frank Russell Company managed to do slightly better with $161,000,000 – a difference of $500,000.

Both companies did well during the nine-month period and they increased OHA’s portfolio by over $35,000,000 each. Our Native Hawaiian Trust Fund now stands at a combined grand total of $321,500,000 (as of December 31, 2003). There is now hope that we can once again reach the $400,000,000+ levels we had back in 2001.

While both companies made about the same amount of money for us, there was a glaring difference in what they charged us for their financial services. For example, according to the same 1/22/04 memo mentioned earlier, Frank Russell Company charged OHA $64,663 for their first quarter of service in 2003, while Goldman Sachs Company charged us $74,998 – a difference of $10,335. In the second quarter, Frank Russell charged us $200,712 for their services, while Goldman Sachs charged us $244,255 – a difference of $43,543. In the third quarter, Frank Russell charged us $217,087. Third quarter fees from Goldman Sachs were not available in the memo.

While some people may argue that the $53,543 more Goldman Sachs charged OHA (for the 1st & 2nd Quarters) is not a significant amount, I would argue that we could have helped many needy beneficiaries with that money. We could have given 53 Hawaiian families a $1,000 grant and still had money left over.

When you look at the bottom line, based on their performance as of December 31, 2003, Frank Russell Company made $500,000 more for OHA than Goldman Sachs and charged us $53,878 less for their services. Frank Russell did a better job and charged us less for it.

Unless something drastic happens from January 1, 2004 to February 13, 2004, I’ll be arguing to have Frank Russell Company manage OHA’s entire Native Hawaiian Trust Fund. It only makes sense. Why pay more for less? I would, however, consider keeping Goldman Sachs onboard if they lowered their fees.

If you feel as strongly as I do about protecting the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund into perpetuity, I urge you to call the other eight Trustees and share your mana’o. Let them know how you feel about defending an important resource for our Hawaiian people.

Imua Hawaii Nei…

We Still Don’t Need the Whale Sanctuary

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

June 16, 1997

Governor Cayetano’s recent decision to enter into an agreement with the federal government permitting the creation of the federal Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Sanctuary was a big disappointment. This past May, the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs voted unanimously to oppose the sanctuary. We shared the doubts that prompted Mayor Linda Lingle and other leaders to urge Governor Cayetano to veto the plan, and we also had reasons of our own.

Our Board has a duty to protect the public trust’s resources derived from public lands, including the submerged lands, the water surface, the water column, the seabed and all flora, fauna and minerals they contain. The legislation then before the governor, and in its present state, guaranteed us no protection with respect to the federal government’s use and control of these resources. As fiduciaries, we could not assume that the federal government would always exercise its authority over the sanctuary are in a manner consistent with the best interests of the Hawaiian trust. The Governor knew this, but unfortunately paid no attention to local concerns. Now OHA is saddled with “co-stewardship,” as the federal government’s Environmental Impact Statement calls its shared dominion over the submerged ceded lands comprising the sanctuary. OHA, of course, had enough problems dealing with one “steward,” let alone two.

My own opposition to the sanctuary goes beyond issues involving ceded lands, sovereignty and Hawaiian rights. I’m concerned with the potential for destruction. Like many modern scientists, the Hawaiians of the pre-contact ahupua’a knew that interference with nature’s delicate balance could wreck havoc with the environment. So traditionally they managed the entire eco-system rather than a single species. The wisdom of their ancient practices has been conf1rmed again and again. Recently, for example, I spoke to Colin Kippen, a Native Hawaiian judge for the Squamash Tribe in Oregon, about what happens when a single species reproduces to dominate its environment. Judge Kippen has listened to tribe members complain of the damage caused by an over-population of whales in sanctuary waters. He has seen where whale fecal matter has contaminated and destroyed clam beds and other sources of revenue Pacific Northwest fishermen, including Native Americans, used to depend on. The animals are so crowded that, tragically, they are beaching themselves in desperation.

In a press release, Governor Cayetano defended his decision to bring this disastrous situation to Hawaiian waters by, among other modifications, claiming to limit the sanctuary’s boundaries to half of what was originally proposed. Just how the limits will work is unclear given legal protections in place already. As an endangered species, the humpback whale cannot be approached within 300 feet in its habitat. Existing law does not confine that habitat to the 600 miles designated by Cayetano. Rather, the habitat moves with each whale which therefore enjoys a de facto floating sanctuary with or without the recently signed agreement between the state and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. To date, there have been no complaints that either boaters or fishermen have violated this space.

Why then was this unnecessary State-Federal partnership forced on us? The only justification seems to be the $800,000 to one million dollars for research and study projects. The Governor claims this chump change will, somehow, provide the State with an economic boost!

The Governor made the wrong call on the sanctuary by listening to the wrong people-green nazis, out-of-state marine biologists and animal rights extremist–rather than the Hawaiians who have worked, protected and loved these waters for generations. We need to remember this disregard for public opinion and to look for a change in 1998.

Pearl Harbor’s Nuclear Waste

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Star Bulletin Viewpoint, October 15, 1993

And Pearl Harbor joins the undistinguished list of sites where the U.S. government will be “temporarily storing” radioactive nuclear waste.

Apparently the government and ecology of Idaho have tired from almost half a century of temporary storage duties.

No wonder.

This spent nuclear fuel–from Navy vessels, Energy Department reactors and assorted private power plants–has a half-life of perhaps 25,000 years.

For the past 40 years, spent nuclear fuel generated by Navy warships has been shipped by rail to a sprawling Department of Energy (DOE) complex in eastern Idaho. The complex reprocessed the spent fuel into a solid form so it could be stored permanently.

The problem is the DOE has no plan in place for the removal or disposal of the solidified waste. Idaho became the Navyís de facto dumping ground, until Idaho sued the DOE.

Now the DOE must find alternatives. It thinks Pear Harbor could be one of them.

Unless you say otherwise.

Pearl Harbor is the least suitable shipyard to receive and process spent nuclear fuel. The harbor spills into the waters surrounding the islandís most popular tourist destination, Waikiki. The waters sustain a fragile ecosystem that sustains the diets of most Hawaiians. The harbor itself abuts the eleventh largest population center in the U.S.

The Pearl Harbor shipyard already holds two large casks of high-level radioactive waste in a fenced area between dry-docks 2 and 3, according to a monthly environmental newsletter.

Pearl Harbor’s share of unclassified radioactive solid waste, not counting this reactor waste, came to 2,792 cubic feet. Before 1970, these wastes were dumped at sea. Now the waste is not dumped, intentionally.

“In 1983, an ‘inadvertent release’ of radioactive water occurred at Pearl Harbor, apparently while the submarine USS Sargo was being serviced at the shipyard,” according to Environment Hawai’i.

As of 1991, about 18 submarines have been based at Pearl Harbor. When the Navy stopped dumping their waste, the waste didn’t go away. It just piled up.

This is why the government is looking for a permanent site to store it.

Under the agreement with the state of Idaho and the Department of Energy, the Navy will prepare an environmental assessment–to be released in June 1994–for its storage of high-level radioactive waste at Pearl Harbor.

We should consider whether the price of national security is worth the costs of accepting nuclear waste. Protection by a nuclear propelled fleet now seems less important than protection from that fleet. Defunct Russian submarine vessels now imperil the health of shipyard communities with ill-maintained reactor cores and storage facilities.

The U.S. Navy maintains its safety record is the best in the world; that if Hawai’i doesn’t want high-paying jobs, some other state would be more than happy to take the work; that national security permits no alternatives. While these claims hold merit, close scrutiny strips them of their reassuring tones.

The U.S. Navy maintains U.S. and Hawaiian soil is relatively safe from Russian-sized ecological disasters. But they are happening, if on a more limited, less visible scale. In all likelihood, the vast desert plains near Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Hanford, Washington, will never be available for human use. The aquifer underlying the Idaho facility is already tainted with radioactivity. Communities miles away from Hanford learned from local newspapers how levels of several radioactive elements skyrocketed in their aquifer stores.

Efforts to clean up these and a score of other nuclear waste dumps across America will siphon billions of dollars from the federal budget for decades.

“My state knows better than any other what a folly the federal government has perpetrated with its failure to comply with environmental laws and properly handle nuclear waste,î Idaho gov. Cecil Andrus told a U.S. Senate committee recently. ìIdahoans have always been told that the storage of millions of cubic yards of nuclear waste at the INEL would be ëtemporary storage,í it means a nuclear half-life of perhaps 25,000 years.î

With all of Hawaiiís economic woes, the last thing our economy needs is an accident waiting to happen.

A permanent or even temporary storage site for spent nuclear fuel is just that sort of accident.

Tell the government how you feel about storing spent nuclear fuel here. Write Rob S. Rothman, ER & WM EIS Project Manager, U.S. Department of Energy, Idaho Operations Office, P.O. Box 1625, Idaho Falls, Idaho 83415-1570.

OHA’s Rowena Akana Testifies Against Acquisition of Ka’iwi Shoreline

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA, July 10, 1991

On July 1, 1991, OHA Trustee Rowena Akana, Vice Chairwoman of the OHA Board of Trustees testified against acquisition of Ka’iwi Shoreline Park by the federal government. Trustee Akana spoke at a hearing in Honolulu conducted by Senator Akaka before the U. S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Public Lands and National Parks and Forests. The official position of OHA and Trustee Akana was stated and included the following testimony:

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs recognizes that the Ka’iwi area has a unique and recreational value to the people of the State and should be preserved as open space. But, OHA believes the best interests of Hawaii and the Hawaiian people will not be served by allowing the federal government to acquire the property in question. OHA believes that preservation can best be handled at a local level where the concerns and considerations of both the Hawaiian community and the general community are better understood.

The basis of OHA’s opposition is two-fold: First, much of the property included in the park proposal is owned by the Bishop Estate. For those unfamiliar with Hawaii, the Bishop Estate is a private trust estate established by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last descendant of the line of Kamehameha. The sole purpose of this trust is to educate native Hawaiian children. We cannot overemphasize the importance of Kamehameha Schools in their educational goals to the Hawaiian community. Bishop Trust is one of the remaining legacies of a proud Hawaiian nation. We are especially concerned with the involuntary taking of Bishop Estate land by any entity.

Secondly, Hawaii has a long and often bitter history with the federal government over Hawaiian land. With the active and illegal involvement of the United States, the Hawaiian nation was overthrown and more than 1.8 million acres of Hawaiian land were seized without the consent of, or compensation to, the native Hawaiian people. They continue to seek the return of the Hawaiian lands to the Hawaiian people, but their land claims against the federal government have not yet been addressed. Under such circumstances, the acquisition of more land by the federal government cannot be justified.

Immediately upon acquiring the public trust lands which were meant to be held for the benefit of the Hawaiian people, the federal government began manipulating their use. With the sugar industry in mind, the federal government created the Hawaiian Homes Trust in 1920 and set aside certain lands for native Hawaiian homesteads and agricultural purposes. This planned community was kept to the most marginal lands, while planters were allowed the most productive agricultural lands for sugar and pineapple. Subsequently, even the marginal lands were taken for federal non-trust purposes.

Lualualei Naval Ammunition Depot on Oahu is built on more than 1,000 acres of Hawaiian Homes Trust lands. The buffer zone around the Pacific Missile Range facility is Hawaiian Homes Trust land also. Large segments of private and public lands have been appropriated by the federal government with a promise of return when the stated need is over. Most often, that promise has been broken by the federal government. Kahoolawe, Waikane Valley and Bellows Field were taken in response to the urgencies of World War II. More than 50 years later, none of that land has been returned to its owners.

Although we are grateful to Senator Akaka in 1990 for establishing the Kahoolawe Conveyance Commission, we are hopeful that at least that part of our concerns will be resolved with the Commission’s work and with the Senator’s continued assistance, the days of a much more adequate and responsible federal response will be upon us soon. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for Waikane Valley and Bellows Field. Instead of returning Waianae, the federal government is condemning the privately owned land and suggesting the State buy back trust lands.

The Hawaiian people have spent a full century trying to overcome the consequences of the federal stewardship of our land and resources. Recently, there has been a growing understanding in our community of the Hawaiian history and its effect upon the lives of the Hawaiian people. There is little doubt that Senator Akaka, as a native Hawaiian, understands and shares our concerns and is just as eager to try to correct the injustices that have occurred.

OHA’s official position is that the Ka’iwi area should not be turned over to the federal government under the National Parks and Forests, and that it should remain under state control.

As Hawaiians continue to forge their plans for the future, they believe that it is best to manage their own resources. They can only truly be accountable for their future when they have control over that future.