Education Is Key to Hawaiian Federal Recognition Bill Passage

TRUSTEE ROWENA AKANA

April 2003 Ka Wai Ola Article

`Ano`ai Everyone…  In my last article, I wrote about our lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. for the Akaka Bill.  It is important to note that there are significant obstacles to overcome in order to successfully pass the recognition bill.  Not only must it make it through the Congress, it must also pass muster with President Bush and his administration.  This is why Governor Lingle’s time and effort spent in conveying the importance of the recognition bill to Attorney General John Ashcroft, Interior Secretary Gale Norton, and presidential adviser Karl Rove were critical in laying the ground work for its passage.  In the Governor’s words, “I tried to lay the foundation.”  I believe that she has done that.

It has been my experience during my many trips to Washington D.C. that it is very important to educate everyone, including all of the U.S. Senators, Congressmen, and the president’s administration, about Hawaii’s unique history and its Native people.  It is even more critical to continue the education process and maintain our current presence.  Otherwise, it becomes a case of “out of sight, out of mind.”  The opening of the new OHA office in Washington D.C. will be critical in achieving this awareness.

It is very frustrating for me to hear people on the mainland commenting only on our weather and physical beauty.  This is about all that people outside the state know about Hawaii.  Would it not be refreshing to hear people say, “I hear Hawaii has the only royal palace in the country where a King and Queen once lived?”  Emphasizing Hawaii’s unique history could bring about a NEW way to market Hawaii, at a time when many states are competing fiercely for the same dwindling tourist dollars.  The U.S. economy is slowing almost to a halt, and with the delays from security checks and the current war, the competition is only going to get worse.

Since the days of the territorial government, officials have marketed Hawaii as a place to visit.  Never has Hawaii been marketed for its living and breathing Hawaiian culture and language.  By refocusing our marketing strategy to emphasize our Hawaiian people, we could educate the millions who visit our islands and, who in turn, would take this knowledge home and share it with their friends and family.

“Everyone can and must play a role in this education process.”

Education is needed on all fronts.  In our state legislature, in our schools, in our private clubs, in our businesses, and most certainly in our media.  Let us all work together, to tell the real story of our past, which is historically accurate, to everyone we know and to all of the organizations that we belong to, and to everyone who will listen.

Let us move along together, leaving blame behind for our plight, focusing not on political agendas or parties.  After all, Hawaiian Recognition is not a Democratic or Republican issue.  It is an issue of what is right.  Mālama pono!

Hana Hou, One More Time

TRUSTEE ROWENA AKANA

March 2003 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

Most of the Trustees traveled to Washington D.C. in the last week of February to appear before the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs where the new “Akaka Bill” (S.344) was heard.  This time, however, we had the support of Governor Linda Lingle.  Having the Governor’s support is a refreshing change after the last eight years of hostility experienced by Hawaiians during the previous state administration.  The Governor gave testimony supporting the intent of the Akaka Bill, but not necessarily supporting all of its content or language.  It is important to note that Governor Lingle has kept her promise to Hawaiians by supporting our efforts for federal recognition, and has done everything that she possibly could, within the limits of the law, to restore OHA’s revenue stream.

In 2000, the very first Akaka Bill, S.81, received many hearings across the State and this allowed for a great deal of community input.  This first bill was passed by the House but was not voted on by the Senate.  An amended version introduced in 2001 also passed the committee, but no floor vote was taken. 

The 2002 version of the Akaka Bill, S.746, received no hearings, although there was an effort in the Senate to get the bill to the floor for a vote.  Unfortunately, the effort was not successful.  The Bill was very controversial because it looked nothing like the original Akaka Bill, S.81.  Most critical is that Section 7 of the original Bill, which allows for a fair process for ALL Hawaiians to be included in the recognition effort, was left out.  Other sections of equal importance which addressed land, etc., were also absent in S.746. 

The new 2003 Akaka Bill was introduced as S.344, however it is identical to S.746.  Our Congressional Delegation has promised that there will be a time for community input before the “mark up” (a process that allows for amendments to be made).  Our Congressional Delegation must understand that the Hawaiian community has made it very clear that they want to be included in the “mark up” of the new Akaka Bill.  This is a promise that must be kept. 

I believe that the new Akaka Bill has a better chance of passage in Congress this year than in years past.  Our challenge is to convince not just the Congress but also the Federal Administration that recognizing the Native people of Hawaii is the right thing to do.  All 50 states have federally recognized Native Americans.  Hawaii is the last State to ask Congress to recognize its Native people.

The passage of this year’s Akaka Bill is dependent upon all of our support.  I will keep you posted on any and all information regarding this very important measure.  A hui hou!

Farewell To A Legend: Gladys Kamakakuokalani ‘Ainoa Brandt

TRUSTEE ROWENA AKANA

February 2003 Ka Wai Ola Article

I dedicate this month’s column to pay tribute to a great lady, Gladys Kamakakuokalani ‘Ainoa Brandt.  To everyone who knew her she was “Aunty Gladys.”  I was one of those fortunate enough to know her and be a part of her life for a brief moment in time.  Her thoughts, her wit, and her great sense of humor made an important difference in my life.

In her lifetime, Aunty Gladys was raised with the children of the royal family and witnessed the end of the monarch era and Queen Lili’uokalani’s funeral.  Aunty Gladys was one of the precious few of our Kupuna who witnessed these events and lived to see the new millennium.  Most people will write about Aunty Gladys’ many achievements as an educator, but her contributions go beyond education and into the arts and public service.  She served on the boards of countless community organizations and was active in the cancer society until she passed away.  Most of all, Aunty Gladys should be noted for her inspiration, energy and tireless commitment to Hawaiian causes.

[In 1997,] at the age of 91, Aunty Gladys was appointed by Governor Ben Cayetano to finish out the term of OHA Trustee Billie Beamer.  Not only did she keep up with us, but she had the energy and productivity of board members half her age.  Her presence on our board table was felt by board members and administrative staff alike.  Aunty Gladys’ contributions to OHA included her leadership on OHA’s Education Foundation and the Kupuna Health Task Force.   She also served as OHA’s policy chair.  In 2000, she was appointed to the board once again by the Cayetano Administration as an interim Trustee and served for two months until the November elections.

Aunty Gladys was always there to do her part when called upon, especially when it came to Hawaiian issues.  I will always cherish the wonderful hours I spent with her as she shared her famous stories.  In October of 2002, I asked, “Aunty Gladys, why haven’t you ever written a book about all of your experiences?”  There was a pause, and then she said, “Others have tried to get me to do that but, if I did, I would have to tell the whole truth and name names for the book to be truthful and I think even though much time has passed, it would open old wounds and I feel it is best to let the past be the past.”  There was a sense of sadness in her voice.

On December 20, 2002, I called Aunty Gladys to wish her a happy holiday season and told her that I would be spending the holidays on the mainland.  She said, “Great, have a good time, but let me share this with you:  Recently I had dinner at a good friend’s home and they were all Republicans who proceeded to chide me about the commercial I had done for the Democratic candidate for Governor.  Well I said with a straight face to them, ‘Did you hear that there will be no nativity scene in Washington DC this year?’  And they responded, ‘Really?’  ‘Is it because of 9-11?’  No, I replied, ‘it’s because they have a whole stable of Jackasses but they can’t find three wise men!’”

This is the wonderful Gladys Brandt I will remember.  Someone who could laugh at herself.  Someone who had a wit that could match the best scholars.  Someone who loved her Hawaiian people and gave of herself without complaint or reward.  I will miss you Aunty Gladys.  I wish you God speed.

Know Your Elected Officials, Demand Accountability

By Trustee Rowena Akana
January 2003

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA

DEMANDING ACCOUNTABILITY FROM YOUR ELECTED LEADERS

Last month’s article focused on the hope that we would see significant changes on the OHA Board that would be beneficial to our beneficiaries. Well… all I can say is we all have to pray hard, very hard.

First of all, there were no changes in terms of the Chairmanship of the Board or the Financial Chairman. Let me re-cap what occurred with regard to our financial management under this present budget chair. We lost almost $100 million of trust dollars by not paying attention to business. If that was not devastating enough, in July and August of 2002, the Committee on Land accepted an offer from a developer to receive 200 acres of free land in Maili worth $2, 881,500.00. This action item was then forwarded to the Budget & Finance Committee in September where it sat with no activity for three months. As a result of this negligence, the Developer sold the land in December 2002. These kinds of mis-opportunities are beginning to be common place under this leadership team. Can we as Hawaiians in this time of crises afford to miss opportunities such as these.

In January the Board must concern itself with choosing a new Money Management Team. The Budget Chairman is pushing one candidate with great zeal. What is disconcerting is that he wants to close the door to other possible applicants. What’s up with that???  How can beneficiaries expect accountability from those who they elect?

May I offer some suggestions:

*Know the candidates, find out as much as you can about them, who they are aligned with, etc.
* What has been their contribution to the community?
* Do they work in non-profit organizations for profit?
* Are they friendly with or in business with any of the present Board members?
* Do they have any other connections to seated Board members which would constitute a conflict and cause their block voting to be NOT in the best interest of the people, or the Trust.

While this process may appear to be a lengthy one, it is important when selecting candidates for any public office. The good thing about electing officials is that the voters can remove them in the next election. What you don’t want is a process that excludes the people, such as appointing trustees rather than electing. Although the election process is not perfect it still remains the most fair and just way to select our leaders. The solution to elect responsible leadership is to be educated as best as we can be about the candidates, what they stand for and their past experience in working with the community that they hope to represent. As a voter you too have a responsibility to get involved and to demand accountability of those whom you have elected.

In 2003 our goal must be to work with the new administration on settling ceded land claims and to also pursue a recognition process. I look forward to working with all of you in the coming year.  HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE NEW YEAR!

Let Us Pray for Guidance, Perseverance and Tolerance

By Trustee Rowena Akana
December 2002

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA

Mele Kalikimaka me ka hou’oli makahiki hou to everyone, and a Big Mahalo to everyone who supported me in the November elections.

As we move forward in the new millennium with two new members on the OHA Board we look optimistically for change both in the leadership and in OHA’s direction for the future. At the writing of this article no one has been chosen for the chairmanship as yet. It is unfortunate that new members do not get to know other members of the board before they choose a chair. It has happened time and time again that while people promise anything to get the position, once they get it, nothing changes and the chair’s position becomes one of power and control.

Let me recap what has taken place in the last eight months. OHA lost the interim revenue bill at the Legislature, Act 304 was not revisited by the legislature; OHA lost almost $100 million in our investments, mostly because of inattention to business and a lack of concern by both the chairman of the board and the chairman of finance. While everyone lost money on the stock market this year, we were given many opportunities to bail out of some of our investments and reinvest in real estate and other more tangible investments. Instead, this leadership did nothing despite the urging of at least two trustees. At no time were any emergency meetings called to discuss OHA’s financial crises, nor were any meetings called to address the many legal challenges facing OHA.

The board never met to discuss any planning for the future, given the fact that we now were faced with no income and we were still funding operations and programs using our trust assets for the first time in OHA’s history.

Now, after all this, you would think that the past leadership would be ashamed to ask for the leadership again. But that is not the case. Here we go again. What is scary is it only takes five votes….four old guys and one new uninformed well meaning person who wants to make OHA look unified. After a few months, the honeymoon will be over when that new person realizes that he has been duped and the leadership is incapable of leading and they find themselves in “F” troop instead.

So, what is the answer? The answer is do not choose a leader right away. Have a committee-of-the-whole with a new chair for every meeting for three months and the person who can build consensus among the trustees will win the prize. We certainly must try something new, nothing so far has worked. Wish us luck with a new process because there must be some serious effort put into the tasks that lay ahead. Example: negotiations with the state on a ceded land settlement, interim revenue, addressing legal challenges, federal recognition and a transfer of entitlements.

“Through wisdom is a house built, and by understanding it is established and by knowledge shall the chambers be filled.” Proverbs 14:3-4

Have a great holiday season and God bless!

The Most Critical Issues Facing OHA Today

By Rowena Akana
November 22, 2002

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA

As the most senior member of the Board of Trustees serving three consecutive terms, I believe I have the historical knowledge necessary to deal with some of the most critical issues facing OHA today.

1. Loss of ceded land revenues
2. Legal challenges to our Trust
3. Federal recognition
4. Negotiations with the State on a ceded land settlement.

While there are other challenges that we must address at OHA, those listed above are the most critical. As Hawaiians, the indigenous people of our lands, what we face today is no different than what occurred over 100 years ago. We are still fighting off assaults on our culture, rights to our lands and racism. Only now, we are being called racists because we want to protect our entitlements. Times have not changed much, people are still the same and greed is still the motivation behind the move to relieve us of whatever entitlements we have left. The only thing that has changed is the sophistication used to manipulate us and the law.

The future of OHA and other Hawaiian trusts are certainly at risk. Hawaiian leaders will have to work together and use whatever resources that are necessary to protect existing Hawaiian Trusts.

It is my opinion that in these critical times for OHA and all Hawaiian trusts, it is very important to have experienced leadership to help steer our canoe.

The unresolved issues of a permanent revenue stream for OHA and the failure of the Legislature to address the Supreme Court of Hawaii’s direction to them to “fix” Act 304 by defining what ceded land revenues constitute revenue for OHA was devastating to our Public Land Trust. For the first time in OHA’s 22 year history we have had to use our principal investments to fund programs and operations.

In 1991, OHA’s trust assets totaled $11 million. In 1993, our negotiating team settled with the State, on a partial settlement of approximately $129 million for back due payments owed to OHA from ceded land revenues. In 1999, as chair of the OHA Board, our investments had grown to nearly $400 million. In today’s market OHA’s assets are worth considerably less.

As a trustee who has always believed that the needs of our people should come first, the following are some of the programs that I have initiated:

1. FANNIE MAE Loan commitment of $135 million for home loans for ALL Hawaiians. This is a partnership between the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, FANNIE MAE, Bank of Hawaii and First Hawaiian Bank to provide low interest loans to all Hawaiians for home ownership;

2. The purchase of Quality Homes/Prefabricated Housing. OHA recently bought half ownership in this manufacturing plant which can produce homes that are steel constructed for approximately $50,000 each. This home loan program now adds a new dimension to OHA’s Commitment to home ownership;

3. Hawaiian Registry Program. The Hawaiian registry will not only show proof of Hawaiian ancestry, but sports a new look as a photo I.D.;

4. $350,000 commitment to annual scholarships for higher education;

5. Kupuna Health Program identifying elderly who are not covered by existing programs.

In the next few years, because of the challenges we face, experienced leadership will play a key role in our ability to deal with these issues as they present themselves.

I am very grateful to the Hawaiian community for having believed in my devotion and ability to lead, and for their continued support throughout my years at OHA. I am asking for your support again on November 5th, Election Day.  Mahalo ia ‘oe.

How Can We Build A Nation When We Have Negative Leaders?

By Rowena Akana
November 22, 2002

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA

In the last issue of Ka Wai Ola o OHA, Trustees Apoliona and Machado combined their column to write a fictional piece on me to influence votes against me in the up-coming election. Judging from that article, I am certain you are clever enough to see through it. While I consider it to be petty and a waste of energy, I do believe you, the beneficiaries, are entitled to hear the truth. The truth is that from that article our readers should have a very good idea of what kind of trustees they have been while serving on this Board–full of negativity, criticizing the hard work and efforts of others while contributing nothing.

How can we build a nation with negative leadership?

The negotiating team that they spoke about worked very hard to try and resolve the Heely case. What we presented to the Board was an offer that we could begin serious negotiating with. Trustees Apoliona and Machado, along with three others no longer on this Board, voted to end all negotiations with the State leaving OHA’s fate to be decided by the Hawai’i Supreme court. On September 12, 2001, the Hawai’i Supreme Court ruled that Act 304 was flawed and referred the Act back to the legislature. The result of that decision has meant zero revenues for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs since July 2001.

For the first time in 22 years, OHA has no income from which to draw to provide funding for existing and new programs and operations. The trust corpus is now at a dismal $244 million with no guidance from the budget chair since February. We are now dipping into the trust to fund all programs and operations. With the stock market in a downward spiral since November 2000, and OHA losing much of the corpus in the market, it is amazing to me that just when you think things are terrible and they couldn’t get any worse, we find ourselves with a leadership that has taken absolutely no action to remedy either situation. Adding to this already grave problem is the fact that OHA along with other Hawaiian Trusts, continue to be challenged in our legal system.

I find it extremely sad and in very bad taste that Apoliona and Machado waste precious time writing negative things and tearing down the hard work of others instead of concentrating on critical issues facing OHA.

How can we build a nation with negative leadership?

I look forward to the elections in the hope that we will have new faces on the OHA Board that will bring new and positive energy to give us all hope for the future. OHA is the only Hawaiian public trust left that all Hawaiians are beneficiaries of. We must at all cost keep that in mind, and work together to overcome the ‘alamihi crab syndrome that is always present among us.

Let us keep our eyes on the prize and keep our focus. We must settle the ceded lands claims so that we will have a land base to build our nation upon. The 1.4 million acres of ceded lands that are inclusive of the DHHL, 250,000 acres, is what we must look at in totality. We must not settle only for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. To do this would mean the rest of the Hawaiian community would be left without a land base. Finally, we must have recognition for all Hawaiians, not just for a few.  Malama pono!

No Progress Since February 2002

By Rowena Akana
June 2002

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA

The Legislative session ended on May 2, 2002. OHA had some victories and some disappointments. I am happy to report that the bill fixing the legislative problems which held up our ability to give grants passed the legislature and is on the Governor’s desk for approval. With his approval, OHA will be able to release a substantial sum of monies, which had been tied up, for grants to various Hawaiian entities.

I am also happy to report that the legislature passed the bill which allows OHA trustees to join the State Retirement System. Finally, making Hawaiian elected officials equal to other state elected officials.

The disappointment came with OHA’s revenues. Although OHA put forth a bill asking for interim revenues until the ceded lands issue is resolved, and kept it alive until the very end, the legislature found that it did not have the funds to pay the interim revenue, even though this same legislature gave the Japanese Cultural Center $8 million to bail them out of their money problems.

The Hawaii Supreme Court made it very clear to the State that it is its fuduciary obligation to the Hawaiians. We must continue to ask for our fair share of the ceded lands, whether it be through interim revenue, another revenue stream formula, or some sort of settlement. It ultimately may be necessary to take the State to court to force them to pay the Hawaiians their fair share of the ceded lands.

Since the new leadership took over the OHA board in February, there has been NO discussion on how to make up lost revenues or what the strategy will be to stop the bleeding. The lack of leadership of OHA is disappointing not only to those of us who have worked hard to try and resolve these land and revenue issues, but also to beneficiaries. Where is the plan? There has been no direction from this Chair on how to proceed or to plan for the future. All programs being worked on now were from the previous leadership. So, what’s new?

The issue of tying the ceded lands resolution to the ceded land inventory surfaced this past session, again. OHA and the State already know what lands produce income. Requiring a full inventory is only a stall tactic to withhold payment to the Hawaiians. Fortunately, this bill died, but we must be ever virgilant to make sure it does not resurface or gain momentum in the next session.

On another note, I am pleased to report that our FANNIE MAE loan program is progressing and with workshops to educate our beneficiaries more Hawaiians will become homeowners. We hope to have the kick off for the loan program on May 29th with a full press conference. It is anticipated that we will be able to help many of our Hawaiian beneficiaries by leveraging our monies through FANNIE MAE. This, in conjunction with our efforts to produce reasonable manufactured housing should put many of our low to middle income Hawaiian famiies in homes. I thank Doug McWilliams of FANNIE MAE for his tireless efforts in helping our Hawaiian community, and our OHA staffer, Patti Tancayo, for all her hard work with the FANNIE MAE project.

A big Mahalo to the leadership of the state legislature for taking the time to speak to me and our Administrator about our bills. In particular, Speaker Calvin Say, Chair Dwight Takamine, Chair Eric Hamakawa, Senate President Bobby Bunda, Chair Brian Taniguchi, Chair Jonathan Chun, Rep. Joseph Souki, Senator Colleen Hanabusa, the Hawaiian Caucus and the Republican Caucus for their efforts in getting our two bills passed. However, the bigger picture is our ceded lands revenue and getting the Akaka Bill passed by Congress. For without federal recognition the suits against OHA will not be resolved.

Thank you for all of your support–those of you who have continued to be supportive in the Community.

Legislative Kokua Critical to Fix OHA’s Money Woes

By: Pat Omandam
January 22, 2002

Source: Star Bulletin

The Office lost millions of dollars in revenue from ceded lands. 

If ever the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs needed the kokua of the state Legislature, this is the year.

With no annual revenue from ceded or public trust lands and a legal opinion barring it from distributing any grants, OHA needs a legislative fix for these problems if it wants to fully help Hawaiians.

“I think that the legislators that we’ve talked to have a good sense of where everything is, and I think they’d like to resolve some of these issues,” said OHA Vice Chairwoman Rowena Akana, head of OHA’s legislative committee.

“I look to them to be fair in resolving these very critical issues,” she said. “After all, OHA has been around 20 years. It’s not as if you can swipe us up in one fell swoop.”

At the top of OHA’s legislative package is a way to address a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling Sept. 12 that struck down a state law giving OHA 20 percent of ceded-land revenues collected by the state. The court did not question using ceded-land revenue to better conditions of native Hawaiians but pointed out that particular law had a disclaimer that declared it void if it conflicted with federal law.

The justices said it conflicted with a federal law governing state airport revenue, and ruled the state Legislature must come up with a new law to pay OHA ceded-land revenues.

Akana said the loss of millions of dollars in annual revenue from the state has forced the OHA board to reassess programs and look for ways to downsize so it can preserve its $300 million native trust, the only source of income it has right now.

Despite a state budget shortfall of $330 million this fiscal year, trustees have submitted a bill asking for an interim ceded-land revenue payment of $17 million next year. State Rep. Ezra Kanoho (D, Lihue), a member of the legislative Hawaiian caucus, said Hawaiian lawmakers believe the money is warranted and will work to get it passed this legislative session.

“I think it’s recognized that OHA is due something, and it would be politically correct to come up with a figure,” he said yesterday.

“If not $17 million, particularly in this very difficult financial times, we’ll try to come up with something. What that something is, I’m not sure,” Kanoho said.

Meanwhile, OHA also seeks a waiver from the state procurement laws. A Sept. 25 opinion from the state Attorney General’s Office advised trustees not to release any further grants because those expenditures did not go through the state procurement code’s competitive bid process and therefore may be illegal.

OHA’s grant-making authority was questioned by the state Procurement Office in December 2000 and by state Auditor Marion Higa in April 2001.

As a result, OHA was forced to hold $800,000 in grants last year, which included money to Alu Like Inc. and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp.

And the wait continues.

“Literally, we can’t give out money away,” Akana said. “It’s so ridiculous.”

OHA trustees also seek legislation so they can join the state Employees’ Retirement System, something they have pushed for several years. The U.S. Supreme Court’s February 2000 decision in the Rice vs. Cayetano case ruled that OHA was a state agency, so trustees can use that to argue it should be allowed to join the ERS.

OHA’s 2002 Legislative Package

By Trustee Rowena Akana
January 18, 2002

Source Letter to Editor

On September 12, 2001, the Hawaii State Supreme Court delivered a devastating blow to the Hawaiians when they struck down Act 304, which gave OHA 20% of the ceded land revenues collected by the State to be used for Hawaiian beneficiaries.

Without a steady flow of income to sustain all of our programs, we trustees must now reassess our current programs and look at ways to down size to preserve our trust assets.

While the Supreme Court may have struck down the mechanism for payments to Hawaiians, they did declare that the state still must fulfill its constitutional obligation to the Hawaiian people. They also gave the legislature the charge of amending Act 304. Until this is completed, there will be NO payments made to OHA by the state.

OHA will ask the legislature this year for an interim revenue amount until Act 304 is resolved. Because a formula based on revenues has been so problematic for OHA and the state, we must consider, in the very near future, to settle the ceded land claims with the state. This would allow the Hawaiian people the opportunity to have a land base on which to build our nation.

The second OHA bill asks the legislature to adopt a waiver from the state procurement laws. Because of an attorney general opinion, OHA is no longer able to give money to 501 C 3 programs. OHA is unable at this time to give any grants out to anyone. This opinion has basically stopped all flow of money from OHA to any organization or group asking for funds.

The third bill addresses the need to revisit Act 304 as directed by the Supreme Court of Hawaii.

The fourth bill allows the OHA trustees the ability to join the State Retirement System. For 20 years the trustees have NOT been allowed to join the State Retirement System.

At the Federal level: the Federal piece of legislation known as the Akaka Bill is slated to be heard in the Spring of 2002 in the Congress. While there may not be total agreement on the language of this bill, it is very important that Hawaiians receive federal recognition from the United States. Without this recognition we cannot proceed to nationhood.

On another note: I am happy to announce that within the next 30 days OHA will:

1. Increase out business loan amount to $250,000.

2. Partner in building 45 housing units in Kapolei.

3. Develop a partnership with FANNIE MAE to allow ALL Hawaiians to borrow money for home mortgages for down payments and closing costs at a reduced interest rate below the prime rate.

4. We will continue to work to develop a health initiative for our kupuna.

We ask for your kokua, this legislative session, to help us resolve some very critical issues for our people. Mahalo Ke Akua