Give OHA its fair share of ceded land revenues

`Ano`ai kakou…  In 2006, Senate Bill 2948 established the amount of interim revenue to be transferred to the OHA from the public land trust, each fiscal year beginning with fiscal year 2005-2006, at $15,100,000.

While I was not opposed to the $15,100,000 that was negotiated, I did have serious concerns about how the amounts were calculated.  I also questioned whether OHA’s negotiation team considered all of the facts and figures that were available to come up with a fair and justifiable amount.  The last discussion that I am aware of was in December 2005, when our attorney told us that the state owed a past due amount between $17-$30 million.

Despite my inquires, I have never gotten a satisfactory answer on how the final $15.1 million figure was calculated nor why this amount is lower than the $17-$30 million range that was discussed.  I did receive bits-and-pieces of information from the negotiation team from time-to-time.  However, even very important information, such as the calculations and figures compiled by OHA’s accountant in the past, had changed over the years and I questioned whether they were even considered.  There also did not appear to be a clear formula by which the negotiators calculated the amounts owed or even the future payments to be paid to OHA.

At no time was I ever privy to the formula which the negotiation team used to calculate the settlement with the Governor’s office, nor was I given any real numbers that showed exactly how the team had arrived at the numbers that they were suggesting.  Much of the specific details of the negotiations were kept a closely guarded secret.

On February 1, 2006, the State House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs had a hearing on Senate Bill 2948.  During the questions and answers period, committee members asked the State Attorney General about where the revenue would come from.  The AG replied that they were looking at receipts from the airport shops, the University of Hawaii Bookstore, U.H. parking, etc.  State Representative Ezra Kanoho asked if those sources were included in the $15.1 million and the answer was “yes.”  This was confusing since those revenues have been in dispute with the state since the Heely case.  This begged the question – Was the state now settling a part of the Heely case with this settlement?

By the time I found out that the negotiating team and the Governor’s office had come up with a deal, it was too late for me to express my other concerns.  For example:

  1. By what method was the past due amounts determined to be $17-$30 Million?
  2. Was inflation factored into the equation?
  3. Did they consider the fact that the state has been re-negotiating leases every year and, consequently, the revenue stream is now much higher? The $15.1 million figure goes way back to 1995.
  4. What about the interest that is owed to OHA on the unpaid amounts?

I have always felt that our negotiating team was too secretive about how they came up with the final $15.1 million figure.  I also haven’t heard a convincing argument that justifies the amount.  It is critical that we revisit this issue and finally convince the state to give OHA and its beneficiaries a fair share of the ceded land revenue.  As the past OHA Chair I did ask Governor Ige to reconvene the taskforce of 2016 to resolve the unpaid debt to OHA but as of this date I’ve had no response.  Aloha Ke Akua.

Protect iwi kūpuna: Sand mining in central Maui must stop!

`Ano`ai kakou…  On June 14-15, 2017, the Trustees held community and Board meetings on Maui.  Several community members who attended the meetings shared their deep concerns about iwi kūpuna being disturbed by sand dune mining in central Maui.

According the OHA’s administration, the sand dunes have “immense cultural value” and are known to contain iwi of kūpuna from numerous historic battles and from ancient burials.  The State Historic Preservation Office within the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Maui and Lāna’i Island Burial Council has primary jurisdiction over the discovery of ancestral remains and their disposition.  However, in 2009, the Maui Lanai Islands Burial Council reportedly asked for an accounting of burials affected by the sand mining, but nothing came from it.

The testifiers informed us that the recent movement of the sand for grading and mining has exposed even more burials.  In her testimony, Clare Apana asked the Trustees to support a moratorium on sand mining and to formally recognize the entire sand dune as a protected area and a known burial site.  Apana said that more than 1,000 iwi kūpuna have been disturbed in the sand dunes and more will be disturbed with every day that sand mining is allowed to go on.

A recent Star-Advertiser article by Timothy Hurley (dated July 2, 2017) reported that “sand has been mined on Maui since before World War II, but the activity increased in the 1970s as Maui’s inland dunes became the source of sand for concrete used to fuel a construction boom.  By 1985, Maui sand started being barged to Honolulu, and over a couple of decades 5.5 million tons were shipped to Oahu for use in construction, according to a 2006 report compiled for the county Department of Public Works and Environmental Management.  The report had estimated the sand could be depleted in less than 10 years.”

Even more disturbingly, the same Star-Advertiser article also stated that the sand mining on Maui has reportedly been a source of sand for the concrete used to build the pillars and guide ways of the Honolulu rail project now under construction.  My suggestion to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is that they better look into it because I’m sure it will affect ridership.  Who wants to ride a cursed train?

OHA’s 2015 iwi kūpuna policy calls for the care, management and protection of iwi kūpuna.  Many of the Trustees feel passionately about this issue and some even suggested that OHA go to court.  The consensus was clear that we have to do something now and we can’t wait any longer.

On June 29, 2017, the Board approved the following motion — The Office of Hawaiian Affairs calls upon Maui Lani Partners to cease all sand and other resource extraction and grading to allow:

  •  The Maui Department of Planning to determine if sand extraction violates the Maui Zoning Code;
  •  The Maui Department of Public Works to determine if revocation or suspension of the Phase IX grading permit is appropriate; and
  • The State Historic Preservation Department and the Maui Lānaʻi Islands Burial Council to properly investigate the discovery of burials and whether historic preservation laws and conditions have been fully complied with and enforced.

If you care about our ancestral bones say something, do something.  Call the Maui County Council.  No more shipments of sand from Maui to build rail columns!  Aloha Ke Akua.

Back to Normal: Ho Hum, Business as Usual

`Ano`ai kakou…  Nothing frustrates me more than issues falling through the cracks due to inaction by the Board.  While we are moving ahead with OHA’s Financial Audit and Management Review thanks to the leadership of Trustee Keliʻi Akina, other important issues have fallen off OHA’s radar.  For example:

  • REDUCING OHA’S SPENDING POLICY LIMIT: Reducing our spending policy limit to 4-½ percent of the Trust Fund would be a wise move in the current economy. It appears clear that the stock market will not be a place for OHA to look for great returns on our investment over the next few years.  The predictors are very gloomy; all the more reason to be cautious and prudent with spending.
  • ELIMINATING THE FISCAL RESERVE FUND: Two years ago, one of OHA’s money managers recommended that we get rid of the Fiscal Reserve slush fund. Trustees seemed supportive, but nothing has happened since.
  • PROTECTING KULEANA LANDS: OHA and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation need to form a partner as soon as possible to stop outsiders, or anyone, who try to “quiet title” Hawaiian lands. This problem is not going away.
  • PROTECTING MAUNA KEA: I believe that transferring responsibility over Mauna Kea lands to OHA would produce the best “win-win” situation for the State, the University of Hawaii and all of OHA’s Native Hawaiian beneficiaries. What better solution could there be than to put Hawaiian lands in Hawaiian hands?
  • SUNSHINE LAW: After two years of fruitless negotiations, the majority of Trustees want to go to trial rather than settle my legal complaint that the Board was not following Sunshine Law during closed-door executive sessions.
  • NATIVE HAWAIIAN CONSTITUTION: On February 26, 2016, the majority of the Na‘i Aupuni ‘Aha participants voted to adopt The Constitution of the Native Hawaiian Nation. The next step was to ratify the Constitution by taking it out to our people, but nothings has happened since.  OHA needs to follow-up on its current status.
  • OHA NEEDS TO REVISIT ITS POLICIES AND RULES: Many of our most recent rules were created to punish and control Trustees.  We just need to follow the law.  We have also tied our own hands with rules that hamper our efforts to help our beneficiaries.  We need to find a more efficient way to run our essential programs such as community grants.

The current Board leadership appears more concerned with keeping power in their hands rather than attacking tough issues.  If they don’t change their ways, all OHA will have to show in the next two years is a big, fat zero, because we are right back to where we were before I look the Chairmanship – Nowhere!  No progress with the University of Hawaii and the Thirty Meter Telescope, Kakaʻako, and other important issues.

Aloha till the next time.

No more taking of Native Lands

`Ano`ai kakou…  One issue that has been near and dear to my heart over the past few years is passing a law that would exempt Kuleana lands from property taxes.  Hawaiian families, who have been caring for their Kuleana lands for generations, were facing sky-rocketing property taxes.  They could have ended up losing everything if something wasn’t done to offer them some sort of tax relief.

After four years of countless meetings with City officials and testifying before an endless parade of committees, Kuleana Lands finally became exempt from real property taxes on Oahu in 2007 and it is now known as Revised Ordinances of Honolulu Section 8-10.32 Exemption—Kuleana land.  All of the neighbor island counties established their own Kuleana property tax exemptions soon after Oahu.  If the exemptions didn’t pass when it did, more Kuleana lands would have fallen out of Hawaiian hands.

Now Kuleana lands are under threat from rich mainlanders who want to force Hawaiian families off their land, all for the sake of their privacy.

A brief history of Kuleana Lands:  In 1848, as a result of the Mahele, all land in the Kingdom of Hawai‘i was placed in one of three categories:  Crown Lands (for the occupant of the throne); Government Lands; and Konohiki Lands (Kuleana Act, 1850).  (www.kumupono.com)

After native Hawaiian commoners were granted the opportunity to acquire their own parcels of land through the Mahele, foreigners were also granted the right to own land in 1850, provided they had sworn an oath of loyalty to the Hawaiian Monarch.  In order to receive their awards from the Land Commission, the hoa‘aina (native tenants) were required to prove that they cultivated the land for a living.  They were not permitted to acquire “wastelands” (e.g. fishponds) or lands which they cultivated “with the seeming intention of enlarging their lots.”  Once a claim was confirmed, a survey was required before the Land Commission was authorized to issue any award.

The lands awarded to the hoa‘aina became known as “Kuleana Lands.” All of the claims and awards (the Land Commission Awards or L.C.A.) were numbered, and the L.C.A. numbers remain in use today to identify the original owners of lands in Hawai‘i.  By the time of its closure on March 31, 1855, the Land Commission issued only 8,421 kuleana claims, equaling only 28,658 acres of land to the native tenants (cf. Indices of Awards 1929).

According to the Overview of Hawaiian History by Diane Lee Rhodes, many of the kuleana lands were later lost.  The list of reasons include:  (1) Native tenants mostly received lands that lacked firewood or were too rocky and unsuitable for farming.  (2) A number of kuleana were sold by dishonest land agents before the farmers could get a survey.  (3) The land commissioners delayed getting notices to landholders.  (4) Prices were out of reach for commoners.  (5) Finally, foreigners evicted legitimate kuleana owners without due process.

We must put an end to the injustices done to the caretakers of Kuleana lands for the past 150-years once and for all.  If something is not done soon, the very last Kuleana lands that have survived will finally fall out of Hawaiian hands.  Protecting what’s left of Kuleana Lands will help preserve Hawai’i’s rich history and culture.

OHA and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation will partner to stop outsiders, or anyone, who try to “quiet title” Hawaiian lands.

Bring back the Land Committee

`Ano`ai kakou…  By the time you read this article you will have voted in the Primary Election.  I hope you took my advice and voted for new people.  Let me tell you why this is important, especially in the OHA races.

About a year ago, at the urging of the current Board Chair, two committees were collapsed into one.  The Budget Committee and the Land Committee became the Committee on Resource Management chaired by Trustee Colette Machado.   The excuse was to save time and effort, but the real reason was to consolidate power.

Since that time very little, if anything, has happened in the new combined committee.  Trustees have received little or no information on our land negotiations.  For instance:

  • MAUNA KEA: On May 26, 2015, Governor David Ige announced that he asked UH, which subleases the Mauna Kea summit area from the state, to make ten changes to improve its stewardship of Mauna Kea.  One of the changes included UH voluntarily returning to the state more than 10,000 acres that are not specifically needed for astronomy.  I believe UH should turn the lands over to OHA, since all 11,300 acres of land within the Mauna Kea Science Reserve are public land trust lands classified under section 5(b) of the Admissions Act.  What better solution could there be than to put Hawaiian lands in Hawaiian hands?  OHA has now put the State and UH on notice that we are considering legal action against both.
  • KAKAAKO MAKAI: In 2012, when OHA received Kakaako lands in our settlement with the State over past-due ceded land revenues, none of us knew that the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA), which has jurisdiction over development in the area, planned to lease the harbor in Kakaako.  OHA has been negotiating with the HCDA to get them to compromise on their plans to put “finger piers” in front of our Fisherman’s Wharf property.
  • LEGISLATIVE THREATS: Earlier in the year, the legislature tried to pass a “forced land sales” bills.  If HB 1635 and HB 2173 had become law, developers could use it to forced Hawai‘i’s landowners to sell leasehold lands to their lessees.  Kamehameha Schools led the charge against the legislation since nearly 80 percent of their commercial properties are leased.  Also, our ceded lands controlled by DLNR could have been threatened and it would have also hurt the ability of Native Hawaiian organizations and trusts to fulfill their missions.

No matter what explanation is given for all of the missed opportunities that OHA has had this past year to fulfill its mission, it all comes down to leadership and the lack of it.  To top all of this off, a five to four vote is hardly a vote of confidence to hire back an OHA Administrator who many Trustees feel lacks the business and economic development experience to move OHA forward in the black column instead of the steady red.

These are the reasons OHA needs a breath of fresh air.  VOTE FOR CHANGE.  IMUA!

Are you satisfied with the status quo?

`Ano`ai kakou…  After serving on legendary boards that worked hard to build OHA and strengthen its ability to serve our beneficiaries, it frustrates me that we’ve become so stagnated in the last few years.  If you don’t agree that OHA is standing still, ask yourself this – When’s the last time you’ve seen OHA in the news?

In the past, OHA accomplished big things with less staff and less money.  OHA was frequently in the news doing important things that mattered like establishing a state-wide property tax exemption for Native Hawaiians living on Kuleana lands (an effort which I spearheaded); providing $4.4 million in grants to Hawaiian Focused Public Charter Schools; preserving 25,000 acres of Native Hawaiian rainforest known as Wao Kele o Puna on Hawaii Island; and saving the 1,875-acre Waimea Valley.

We also haven’t been getting anywhere at the state legislature.  This was one of the first years I can think of that none of the bills in the OHA legislative package passed.  This should be a cause for concern that OHA’s clout at the legislature is waning.

OHA is the only advocate at the legislature for all Native Hawaiian issues, such as water rights, gathering rights, or land rights.  Few organizations have the resources, staff and expertise to speak to legislators on our beneficiaries’ behalf.  If OHA doesn’t do something fast to reverse its shrinking clout at the legislature, caused in no small part by inconsistent decisions and our Administration making decisions for Trustees, we will be in danger of becoming inconsequential, insignificant and insolvent.

There is so much we can do to help our beneficiaries who are suffering under the lack of affordable housing, the high cost of living, lack of fresh local produce, and the continuing degradation of our fragile environment.  We just seem to lack the will to do anything.  I miss the passion and drive that previous Trustees had in years past.  Sure we got into a few scraps with each other, but we got things done and our hearts were always in the right place.  Everything we did was for the benefit of our people.

The Board of Trustees needs new energy

We must not be content with just sitting back and letting the Administration plod along without any direction.  We need to get the fire back in our bellies and go back to doing big things.  If we don’t, we will no longer be relevant to our beneficiaries and the state might decide to get rid of us by transferring all of our assets to the general fund.

So this election, seek change and elect new blood!  Don’t be satisfied with the status quo.  Elect New People!  Electing the same Trustees will not bring any meaningful change to OHA!  Aloha Ke Akua.

Help OHA reach its full potential: Look for Change

`Ano`ai kakou…  As the longest serving Trustee, it saddens me that OHA is no longer the proactive advocate for our beneficiaries that it once was.  When I was first elected to the board in 1990, OHA was at the forefront of many issues involving native rights, housing, education, and health.

Past Trustees were actively involved, spearheading major projects, and holding OHA’s Administration accountable.  Now everything seems, for want of a better term, “stagnant.”  While I’m sure the Board Chair can produce a long list of “great” things happening at OHA, to me it’s just all public relations fluff.  Make no mistake – This is not the OHA of old that used to get results.  I’m sure that every Trustee would agree that OHA could do more for our beneficiaries.  Much more.

So what’s the solution?  It’s simple: Restore the Board’s oversight over the Administration.  Right now, there are only THREE Trustees that are holding the Administration accountable:

  • The Asset & Resource Management Committee Chair, who oversees all of OHA’s fiscal, policy, economic development, land, and administrative matters;
  • The Beneficiary Advocacy & Empowerment Committee Chair, who has responsibility over federal and state legislation, on-going programs in health, housing, and education; and
  • Last, but not least, the Board Chair, who basically just acts as the liaison between the Administration and the Board instead of providing oversight and direction. In fact, the CEO has BANNED Trustees without committees from having direct contact with Administrative staff. All requests for information must go through the Chair’s office.

So basically, the rest of the Trustees have to depend on the three Trustees above for updates and reports at the board table – There are no other opportunities for us to get information.

We could easily increase the amount of Trustees providing oversight over the Administration by going back the five committee system.  Subject matters included (1) Land, (2) Policy & Planning, (3) Program Management, (4) Legislative & Government Affairs, and (5) Budget & Finance.  Bringing back these five committees would instantly double the amount of Trustees overseeing the Administration from three to six.

The increased oversight over the Administration would finally put an end to the frequent complaints by Trustees that they are not being kept in the loop or getting regular updates on important issues.

As many of my long time readers know, this is not a new proposal.  I pushed for this change last year but the current Board Chair decided to go in the opposite direction.  He actually got rid of the Land and Property committee!

OHA is simply too big for three Trustees to control the organization.  And, as a result, crucial information is able to stay hidden.  For example, under the old five committee structure, the Budget & Finance committee chair actually had the time to take our budget out to the community for comments and suggestions.  Every line litem of the budget was presented and none were hidden in “cost centers.”  Nothing could stay hidden in the budget with that much scrutiny.

So this election, seek change and elect new blood!  Ask OHA candidates what they think about how OHA is run.  Question them on their ideas to improve the office and the services we provide.  Vote wisely or we’ll continue to be stuck in the same stagnation for years to come.  Our beneficiaries deserve better!  Aloha Ke Akua.

Consolidating committees is an attempt to control power – AGAIN!

`Ano`ai kakou…  On July 30, 2015, the Trustees voted to authorize the OHA Administration’s proposal to consolidate my committee, Asset & Resource Management (ARM) and the Land and Property (LAP) Committee into a new super-committee called the Committee on Resource Management.  The board needs to vote on it one more time before it becomes official but, by the time you read this, it probably already happened.

OHA’s administration feels that having three committees only wastes time and effort.  But this just part of the administration’s continuous efforts to strengthen their control over Trustees.  Over the past six months they have harassed Trustees by denying our travel and sponsorship requests; using vague rules that we never authorized.  Is the administration elected by the beneficiaries or hired by the Trustees?

Trustees are the policy makers, but with very weak leadership at the helm of the board, our powers have been minimized.  OHA’s administrators and attorneys run the show and the Trustees have been downgraded.  Despite pledging to take back power, this Chairman has not kept his promise to Trustees.

Consolidating committees will only centralize power under a few Trustees that are favored by the administration.  Despite early promises by this Chairman to stop this kind of shenanigans, he has failed.  So you can expect business as usual.

Over ten years ago, OHA had five committees covering everything from land to the legislature.  Trustees developed many successful programs, such as Aha ‘Opio and Aha Kupuna.  Then Trustee Haunani Apoliona and her faction took over and consolidated the five committees into two, giving her and her successor a tighter grip on power.

This was the start of a string of disasters as OHA could not get anything meaningful done.  With no Trustee Committees overseeing them, our successful programs were quietly discontinued.   But it’s the loss of land that was the most devastating consequence.

Maili Land

In 2002, a company leaving Hawaii offered to donate to OHA 198 acres of Maili land.  OHA waited too long to respond and the company sold the land, valued at $3,000,000, for $100,000.  The ARM chairman at the time said he didn’t see the urgency of the deal and failed to take it up in his committee in a timely manner.  It was unconscionable to let such a huge opportunity slip through the cracks.  Unfortunately, history tends to repeat itself.

Puna Land

On August 18, 2004, Joe Wedeman offered to donate 66.4 acres of Puna land to OHA.  The gift was a tremendous opportunity and could be an educational and cultural resource for students.

I immediately asked the ARM chairman to bring it to the committee for a vote and reminded him about the Maili debacle.  On September 1, 2004, he asked the administrator to do a study first.  Then, on September 29, 2004, they asked for three more weeks to visit the site.  When I checked on December 17, 2004, it still wasn’t done.

By the time the Administration finally presented the study to ARM on February 16, 2005, Mr. Wedeman had withdrawn his offer.

We need both the LAP & ARM committees

The Trustees seem to have forgotten all of the problems above that led to the creation of the LAP Committee.  Shouldn’t everyone be asking why leadership wants to combine it with ARM?  They are putting power again in the hands of a few Trustees and the Administrator.  Aloha Ke Akua.

Governor should consider transferring Mauna Kea Lands to OHA

`Ano`ai kakou…  As many readers know, Mauna Kea is a ceded land asset belonging to both Native Hawaiians and the general public.  OHA Trustees are also mandated by state law to advocate for all Native Hawaiian and to protect and preserve sacred sites.

On May 26, 2015, Governor David Ige announced that he had asked UH, which subleases the summit area from the state, to make ten changes to improve its stewardship of Mauna Kea.  One of the ten changes included UH voluntarily returning to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) full jurisdiction of more than 10,000 acres that are not specifically needed for astronomy.

I commended Governor Ige for his commitment to make Mauna Kea whole again.  Transferring such a large portion of Mauna Kea out if UH’s hands is a wonderful idea and provides Native Hawaiians with a positive first step in revising the way Mauna Kea is safe-guarded.

However, I have recently heard through unconfirmed reports that DLNR has been resistant to taking control over the Mauna Kea lands because they lack the resources to properly manage it.

If it is true that DLNR is unable to take responsibility over the lands, I would like to suggest that the state encourage UH to turn over the lands to OHA.  It would make perfect sense since all 11,300 acres of land within the Mauna Kea Science Reserve are public land trust lands classified under section 5(b) of the Admissions Act.  The revenues from public trust lands must be dedicated to specific purposes including the betterment of Native Hawaiians.

OHA’s administration has built up its capacity to manage both commercial and preservations lands by establishing an in-house land department and a land committee at the board level.

I believe that transferring responsibility over Mauna Kea lands to OHA would produce the best “win-win” situation for the State, the University of Hawaii and all of OHA’s Native Hawaiian beneficiaries.  What better solution could there be than to put Hawaiian lands in Hawaiian hands?

ON ANOTHER NOTE…

On April 1, 2015, the Board of Trustees rescinded its support of Mauna Kea as the site of the TMT.  As a result OHA has no position as to whether or not the TMT should be located on the mountain.

Nonetheless, on July 10, 2015, OHA opposed DLNR’s proposals to use emergency rulemaking procedures to ban outdoor gear and nighttime presence in an 18,000 acre corridor leading to the summit of Mauna Kea.  OHA testified that there were a number of technical, statutory, cultural, environmental, public safety, and constitutional concerns, as well as the potential for unintended natural, cultural, and public safety concerns.

Despite OHA’s strong opposition, the BLNR passed the following rules: (1) A rule change that will allow for the BLNR Chairperson to close public hunting areas for up to 30 days; and (2) A rule closing the Mauna Kea Observatory Access Road, including one mile on either side, from 10:00 p.m. – 4:00 a.m.  Aloha Ke Akua.

UH should not be managing Mauna Kea

`Ano`ai kakou…  On May 26, 2015, Governor David Ige announced that he would “protect the rights of the builders” of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.   He also admitted that the state has failed the mountain in many ways and he wants to change the management of the summit to give more consideration to culture and natural resources. (Star Advertiser, 5/27/15)

The Governor has asked UH, which subleases the summit area from the state, to make ten changes to improve its stewardship of Mauna Kea.  His requests included making the TMT the last telescope on the mountain; getting rid of at least 25 percent of the telescopes by the time TMT is ready for operation in the 2020s; and returning more than 10,000 acres not being used for astronomy.

Governor Ige’s proposal provides us a positive first step in revising the way Mauna Kea is safe-guarded, but he needs to go much further.  The 11,300 acres of land within the Mauna Kea Science Reserve are public land trust lands classified under section 5(b) of the Admissions Act.  The revenues from public trust lands must be dedicated to specific purposes including the betterment of Native Hawaiians.

OHA receives a portion of revenues generated from the use of these public land trust lands.  The State should ensure that OHA and its beneficiaries receive adequate compensation for any future subleases.

To avoid possible fiscal impacts to the UH’s educational mission, any proposed general lease for Mauna Kea lands should require UH to charge a more appropriate rent for the sublease or use of such lands.  This would ensure that OHA beneficiaries and the State receive appropriate compensation for the use of these public land trust lands, and ensures that UH also receives adequate revenues to support its broader educational mission.

UH should be required to conduct a financial review of all public land trust revenue it receives.  This will help to identify gaps in revenue from public land trust lands, as well as clarify what revenues may be generated from specific lands, such as Mauna Kea.

The state should also require UH to develop a Master Plan that will return Mauna Kea to its original, pristine state once all of the current telescope leases expire and the lands are returned to the people of Hawaii.

Finally, UH’s authority to manage public trust lands must be reevaluated because of its continual abuse and mismanagement of our precious lands.  The state and the legislature should revisit the autonomy that they have given to the UH.  At the very least, they need to pull back some of its power.  They frequently complain about crumbling infrastructure and the need to raise tuition.  It’s should be clear to everyone that UH is not a fiscally sustainable institution, and such a desperate organization should not be in charge of Mauna Kea.

UH has failed to live up to its commitments and it is OHA’s responsibility as advocate for our beneficiaries to take whatever actions are necessary, legal or otherwise, to make things right on their behalf.

The mountain means many different things for many different people, but the bottom line is if you’ can’t manage it properly then the state should give it to someone else who can.