Moving a Mountain: The Real Problem

`Ano`ai kakou…  For the past several months, there has been a tremendous focus on Mauna Kea.  OHA, as a Hawaiian agency created to better the conditions of Native Hawaiians, is tasked with administering ceded land revenues to address this mandate.

Because of this responsibility, OHA is frequently asked by the state agencies such as the University of Hawaii (UH), nonprofits, and even private entities to comment, help, or, in some cases, take legal action on issues important to Native Hawaiians.

Hawaiians are not against science

Today, Mauna Kea is an issue that has gone global with Hollywood celebrities joining the protest to stop the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) at the summit.  The Star Advertiser says OHA lacks leadership because we are not telling Hawaiians to stand down because the state needs revenue and everyone benefits from science.  They also feel we need to stand by our previous decision.  The newspaper needs to do their homework before making blanket statements.

Six years ago, the majority of the Board of Trustees accepted Mauna Kea as the sight for the TMT.  OHA also weighed in on a contested case hearing asking UH and the Mauna Kea Management planners to force them to do an Environmental Impact Statement and ensure they do what was necessary to culturally protect the site for future generations.

OHA lost the lawsuit and, when approached again last year, the Board took no action for many reasons.  The most critical being we no longer had standing to sue since we lost the first case and two Native Hawaiian workers on the Big Island testified that they needed the jobs the telescope construction would provide.

The real problem

The bigger issue here is UH and the state legislature.  The state has been a poor trustee of our ceded lands.  They are leasing our lands for only a $1 per year and it allows UH to sublease the lands for millions, perhaps billions of dollars.  Why isn’t UH making the builders of the telescope give something back to our community for the desecration of our sacred mountain?  Why isn’t UH requiring the builders to clean-up their mess and take down their telescopes that aren’t operational?

Where is all of this money going?  Is it really going to science?  Has the state ever conducted an audit of the University to verify where all of the millions generated on Mauna Kea each year are truly going?  UH is frequently complaining they are broke.  Where is the accountability?  Revenues generated on Mauna Kea are both Hawaiian and taxpayer monies and yet who really knows how the dollars are being spent?

The state and the legislature needs to revisit the autonomy that they have given to the UH and pull back that power.  UH should not have the power, in the name of science, to do anything they want with our aina.

Hawaiians are concerned about access to worship afforded to them by the PASH Law.

UH does not own the mountain and the state should make them return it to the people of Hawaii in the same pristine condition it was in when they took it from us.

Embracing Transparency: New Leadership finally comes to OHA

JANUARY 2015 KA WAI OLA COLUMN

`Ano`ai kakou…  Happy Year of the Sheep!  Big Island Trustee Robert Lindsey has been selected as our new Chairman of the Board.  Trustee Dan Ahuna is our Vice-Chair.  Trustee John Waihee IV chairs the Beneficiary Advocacy and Empowerment Committee and Trustee Hulu Lindsey chairs the Land and Property Committee.

As many of my readers know, I have worked diligently for many years to make OHA accountable to our beneficiaries and to make our decision making process more transparent.  This call for openness has made me very unpopular with the past two OHA Chairs.

After years of having my requests get absolutely nowhere, I was finally forced to file a lawsuit against OHA in September 2013 to make it more transparent.  Now that a new leadership team is in place, this lawsuit may no longer be necessary.

As the new Chairperson of the Asset & Resource Management (ARM) Committee (henceforth the “Budget & Finance” Committee), I will oversee all fiscal and budgetary matters and ensure that OHA’s trust fund is properly management.

The Budget & Finance Committee also oversees OHA’s real estate and develops policy on land use, native rights, and natural and cultural resources.  It also approves all grants and evaluates OHA programs to decide whether we should continue funding them.

Now that decision making has shifted to a new majority, I feel confident that our beneficiaries will be pleased with the upcoming changes.

EMBRACING TRANSPARENCY

If you haven’t already heard, you may now go to OHA’s website at http://www.oha.org/about/board-trustees to watch live meetings of the OHA Board of Trustees.  Be sure to tune in on the days we have our meetings.  For a meeting schedule, please call me at (808) 594-0204.

NEW LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Mahalo nui loa to Governor Neil Abercrombie for his constant support of Native Hawaiian issues, which goes all the way back to championing the Akaka bill while he was in Congress.  He can take pride in being the Governor that finally made the ceded lands settlement a reality with the transfer of Kakaako Makai to OHA.

I would also like to thank State Senators Malama Solomon and Clayton Hee, and Representative Faye Hanohano for their dedicated service to the Native Hawaiian Community while serving in the state legislature.  I wish them well in their future endeavors.

While OHA now has to work even harder to educate the new incoming legislators on unresolved Native Hawaiian issues, I have high hopes that we will have another successful session and get more things done for our beneficiaries.

Aloha Ke Akua.

State Ethics Commission Bungled Investigation

`Ano`ai kakou… On July 17, 2012, I asked the State Ethics Commission’s Executive Director to investigate whether a trustee’s vote to approve OHA’s purchase of a property being financed by Bank of Hawaii, for which she also serves as a Director on their board, was a violation of HRS §84-14 – Conflicts of interests, which states that no employee may take any official action directly affecting a business in which the employee has a substantial financial interest. This includes elected state board members, such as OHA trustees.

Despite my numerous attempts to follow-up, nothing happened for ten months. Then, on April 13, 2013, the trustee being investigated announced that she received letter from the Commission stating she did nothing wrong. I never received a response to my original complaint.

Just when I thought this was all going to be brushed under the rug, the Auditor of the State of Hawaii came out with her September 2013 Report No. 13-07 (to see a copy of the report visit the Auditor’s Website at: http://files.hawaii.gov/auditor/Reports/2013/13-07.pdf) and harshly criticized the trustees’ vote to authorize the purchase of the Gentry building.

On pages 20-21 of Report No. 13-07, the State Auditor wrote:

“Trustees’ vote in favor of Gentry acquisition violated OHA investment policy

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Native Hawaiian Trust Fund Investment Policy provides that if a trustee has a personal involvement with any direct investment transaction, or even any perceived conflict of interest, the trustee must disclose the involvement immediately and be recused from both discussions and votes on the transaction.

Contrary to this policy, we found that the board’s decision to purchase the Gentry Pacific Design Center building, a $21.4 million property in Iwilei, hinged on the vote of a trustee who is also a member of the board of directors of the bank that offered the best financing for that acquisition.”

The Auditor concluded that:

“… the trustee’s actions may damage OHA’s reputation and undermine the agency’s credibility with beneficiaries and the public.”

The action also had serious consequences for OHA operations. We were surprised to learn on April 12, 2013 that the loan we got from Bank of Hawaii was not a “secured” loan and that it had to be backed by OHA Trust dollars. OHA’s Hawaii Direct Investment Policy requires that any “recourse” in connection with a loan be counted towards the $25 million maximum allocation. As a result, we can’t make any more investments in Hawaii until the acquisition of OHA’s corporate headquarters is complete.

While I will not comment on the competency of the State Ethics Commission’s investigative staff members, it boggles my mind that after a ten month investigation, they couldn’t find anything wrong with the trustees’ vote to purchase the Gentry building.

I believe the State Ethics Commission’s mishandling of the investigation sends the wrong message to other elected officials who think they can blatantly flout Hawaii’s conflict of interest laws. It also gives the negative perception that the Commission is simply there to protect the status quo instead of aggressively assuring clean ethics in the State of Hawaii.

HCDA will not compromise with OHA on their plans for Kewalo Basin, even though OHA is a major stakeholder (HCDA PART 2)

On March 1, 2009, the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) assumed the management of the Kewalo Basin Harbor from the Department of Transportation and hired ALMAR Management, Inc. (a California-based marina operator), to oversee day to day harbor operations.

On June 7, 2012, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that HCDA agreed to lease the 143-slip harbor in Kakaako for 50 years to Almar Management Inc. and a partner doing business as KB Marina LP.  The Almar partnership would finance $22 million in repair work to replace all piers and docks and would increase boats slips from 143 to 243.

Almar anticipates the upgrades taking five years to complete and would pay HCDA about $45 million in rent over 50 years.  Is this what the State considers a fair price?  These are ceded lands and OHA beneficiaries & state stakeholders will end up losing out.  Who is benefiting from this deal?

As I mentioned in my last column, OHA received a letter from HCDA on August 6, 2013, stating HCDA will not compromise with OHA on their plans for Kewalo Basin, even though OHA is a major stakeholder.

The HCDA and their many controversial plans for Kakaako have made frequent headlines in the media lately, but most of us are in the dark about what exactly the HCDA is and who is really in charge.

WHAT IS THE HCDA?

The 1976 State Legislature created HCDA to revitalize urban areas that were underused and deteriorating.  The Kaka‘ako Community Development District covers 600 acres within Piikoi, King, and Punchbowl Streets and Ala Moana Boulevard, as well as the waterfront from Kewalo Basin to Forrest Avenue.  (Source: http://dbedt.hawaii.gov/hcda/about-hcda/)

HCDA is attached to the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) for administrative purposes and their mission is to create “vibrant” communities within Kakaako and encourage new investment by building essential public infrastructure such as roadways, utilities, and parks that are necessary for redevelopment.

WHO ARE ITS MEMBERS?

HCDA’s Kakaako Authority is composed of members from the public and private sectors.  They include:

Four “ex officio” voting members from State departments:

  1. Dean Seki, Comptroller, Accounting and General Services;
  2. Kalbert Young, Director, Budget and Finance;
  3. Richard Lim, DBEDT Director ; and
  4. Glenn Okimoto, Director, Transportation.

The Governor also appoints members from a list of names submitted by the Honolulu City Council, the Senate President and the House Speaker.

At-large member:

  1. Brian Lee, Director of Research and Communications, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Community members:

  1. Miles Kamimura, President, Pacific Property Group;
  2.  Lois Mitsunaga, CFO, Structural Engineer at Mitsunaga & Associates. INC.; and
  3. VACANT.

Cultural specialist: 

  1. VACANT.

An Executive Director serves as the CEO and is appointed by HCDA members.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE

What is sorely missing here is disclosure.

  • Do the members of the Authority, especially those from the private sector, have any conflicts of interest?

 

  • Do they represent any clients that would benefit from any development projects being considered for Kakaako or are they themselves in a position to benefit from any developments?

 

  • Are they contributing to any political campaigns in 2014?

 

  • Should HCDA have sole power over planning, zoning, and directly promoting economic development in Kakaako?

These are the questions the community should be asking this Authority.

HCDA PART 1 — HCDA is not a good neighbor

`Ano`ai kakou… In 2012, when OHA received it’s Kakaako lands in our settlement with the State over past-due ceded land revenues, OHA was not appraised that the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA), which has jurisdiction over development in the area, planned to lease the harbor in Kakaako for 50 years to a California-based marina operator and increase the boats slips to 243.

For the past year, 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.  On August 6, 2013, OHA received a letter from HCDA stating they will not make any compromises to their plans and expects OHA to be a “good neighbor” and accept their plan for our property.

Here are some of the specific concerns I have with the HCDA’s August 6, 2013 letter:

  • HCDA considers OHA a “sister agency” but they are forcing OHA to accept a plan in which we have no opportunity for providing input.  If HCDA wants OHA to be a “good neighbor” they should first recognize OHA as an equal partner in developing the harbor area in front of Fisherman’s Wharf.
  • OHA would be willing to go along with the HCDA’s Finger Pier plan if we could have at least two slips in front of our Fisherman’s Wharf property.  However, the HCDA responded that the lands of Kewalo Basin are submerged lands and the State is unable to convey fee simple interests in any of the slips.  The HCDA needs to realize that all submerged lands are “ceded” and that Native Hawaiians are a part-beneficiary under the State Constitution.  The Kakaako lands conveyed to OHA are on submerged lands – it’s all land-fill.  It appears the HCDA doesn’t have a true understanding of Native Hawaiian rights and who OHA represents.
  • The HCDA said they are concerned about the views of our community.  If this were true, they would agree with OHA’s plans to minimize the impact of large boats docking in front of our property and allow OHA to design its own culturally appropriate sense of place that would be acceptable for everyone.  When OHA conducted community meetings regarding the Kakaako land acquisition, the community was supportive in strong part due to OHA’s commitment to develop the area using Hawaiian concepts and sense of place.

NEXT STEPS

OHA must continue to object to the current finger piers design and not fall victim to HCDA’s threats.  If HCDA goes forward with signing any lease, OHA should consider suing the HCDA.

OHA should also appeal to the State legislature to revisit the powers it has given to HCDA and, if necessary, start a community-based campaign to reform the HCDA and prevent any further irresponsible development.

HCDA doesn’t appear to understand true Hawaiian values and the desires of the broader community regarding Kakaako.  All they seem interested in is making the most money they can out of Kewalo Basin – with or without OHA.

If HCDA is really concerned about getting the maximum dollars for Kakaako, they would not be leasing the whole harbor to a mainland developer for 50-years for only $45 millionThis measly figure is criminal!  The State will lose out as well as OHA beneficiaries.  So who is really benefiting from this deal?  Time to ask questions of the HCDA and the State!

Divide and conquer is mission of the “Grassroot” folk

`Ano`ai kakou… After reading Andrew Walden’s article in his Hawaii Free Press (HFP) blog, accusing OHA of investing in a geothermal “scheme,” I feel it is very important to point out that Walden can easily be grouped with the following anti-Hawaiian of conservative groups that do everything they can to divide the Hawaiian Community.

THE GRASSROOT INSTITUTE OF HAWAII

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a conservative think tank, states that their mission is to “promote individual liberty, the free market and limited accountable government,” but what they have actually done is write anti-Hawaiian letters to Congress and the Civil Rights Commission.  They have testified vigorously before Congressional hearings against the Akaka bill.  Richard O. Rowland serves as Chairman of the Board and President and co-founded the Institute with Malia Zimmerman.

MALIA ZIMMERMAN

Malia Zimmerman is the secretary of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii’s board of directors and has authored of many articles that helped to polarize the Hawaiian community.  Zimmerman was fired from Pacific Business News for “unspecified reasons” and then went on to co-found the “Hawaii Reporter.”  (Source: Sourcewatch.org)

SAM SLOM

Sam Slom is Hawaii’s only Republican State Senator and is the executive director of Small Business Hawaii.  Slom has been vocal opponent of the Akaka bill and OHA’s sovereignty efforts locally and in Washington, D.C.

Small Business Hawaii, where Senator Sam Slom (R-HI) and Richard O. Rowland are on the board of directors, has given reporting awards to the Hawaii Reporter.  (Source: Sourcewatch.org)

H. WILLIAM BURGESS

Attorney H. William Burgess, who has sued OHA on multiple occasions, has been working to cripple OHA for over a decade.  He is married to Sandra Puanani Burgess, who is also a strong opponent of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and of government programs that benefit Native Hawaiians preferentially.  Burgess led the efforts to bring two frivolous lawsuits seeking to have such programs declared unconstitutional. (Source: Wikipedia)

ALOHA FOR ALL

In 1999, H. William Burgess and his wife created the Aloha for All website, www.Aloha4all.org to spread their disingenuous message that “Aloha is for everyone” and that “every citizen of Hawaii is entitled to the equal protection of the laws whatever his or her ancestry.”  In 2003, former Honolulu Advertiser publisher Thurston Twigg-Smith, who funded the lawsuits against OHA, founded a company called “Aloha for All.” (Wikipedia)

An August 14, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser article reported that H. William Burgess was both lead attorney for Aloha for All and legal counsel for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.  Grassroot later responded that Burgess is a member but has never been their legal counsel.

KENNETH R. CONKLIN

Their group also includes Kenneth R. Conklin, a retired schoolteacher who moved to Hawaii from Boston in 1992 and currently lives in Kāneʻohe.  (SOURCE: Wikipedia)  He is a vocal opponent of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and has sued OHA in the past.

WE MUST BE MAKA‘ALA

Again, let me reiterate, the negative articles being written about OHA in the newspapers and online should be taken with a grain of salt.  We must also remember to consider the source from which it comes.

Hawaiians cannot allow these Right-Wing, Ultra-Conservative Extremists to divide us.  Please let us be “Makaala” (alert, aware, vigilant, watchful, and wide awake) and know who our true enemies are.

Cultural sensitivity and the media

`Ano`ai kakou… My office has recently received several complaints from beneficiaries outraged about a commercial using our Hawaiian language and iconic Hawaii landmarks such as Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head to promote their alcoholic beverage.

The commercial portrays a “local” couple who have set up a cooler on Waikiki Beach (in view of Diamond Head) in the middle of the day to openly consume alcohol.  The commercial ends with the phrase “E ‘imi kou wahi kahaone/Find your beach” appearing across the screen.

It is my understanding that the company’s local distributor was looking for a “fun and effective way” to promote their beer and they were trying to maintain elements of their national advertising campaign (“Find Your Beach”) while including “strong geographical cues that would suggest this commercial was a local production that was focused on reaching local audiences.”

However, after viewing the commercial, I found it to be offensive, misleading and culturally insensitive for the following reasons:

(1) DRINKING ALCOHOL ON WAIKIKI BEACH IS ILLEGAL – Everyone knows you can’t set-up a cooler on Waikiki Beach and start drinking.  Not only is it blatantly illegal, it irresponsibly gives the mistaken impression that this type of behavior is tolerated by the local community.  Let’s hope that any tourist who saw the commercial doesn’t get the wrong idea.

(2) WAIKIKI BEACH IS FOR FAMILIES – The reason why alcohol is banned from Waikiki Beach is that Waikiki is primarily promoted as a family destination and attraction.  No parent wants their child to have to watch young adults dragging huge coolers through the sand and partying drunk while half naked.  Waikiki Beach is not a spring break party destination like Cancun (and we would never want it to be).

(3) NEGATIVE STEREOTYPE – Portraying locals drinking on the beach in the middle of the day also promotes and perpetuates the negative stereotype that all “local” people (Hawaiians) do all day is get drunk on a beach.

The beer commercial is reminiscent of the controversial 2006 ad in a magazine that depicting King Kamehameha’s statue holding a glass of champagne to promote cruises to Hawai’i.  While the beer commercial is nowhere near as offensive, it nonetheless shows that there is a lack of cultural sensitivity within the media, both here and on the mainland, and that OHA must be vigilant and vocal in speaking out against them.

I highly recommend that any ad agency or marketing firm thinking about using the Hawaiian language, culture, or historical figures in their advertisement to show some basic courtesy and take the time to consult a respected Native Hawaiian Cultural Practitioner first.  At the very least, they could call OHA and we will be happy to assist them.

I have sent a letter to the beer company’s local distributor asking that they please show some consideration and courtesy to the Hawaiian Community by immediately ceasing all future broadcasts of the beer commercial.  I also asked them to remove the commercials from video websites such as YouTube.

Let your voices be heard on this subject.  If you have comments to share, please write to our editor or call the local distributor.  Aloha Ke Akua.

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely

`Ano`ai kakou…  As a senior Trustee, I have managed to live through some very difficult times within the walls of OHA over the past 23-and-a-half years.  As Trustee and staff members come and go, it never fails to amaze me about how they both come into our institution thinking that OHA began with them and they try to re-invent the wheel.  They didn’t bother to learn OHA’s history and the difficult ground we had to cover over the past 30-years to be where we are today.

SCHEMES TO STIFLE TRUSTEES

Like other political offices, when some Trustees take over the power structure here, they manage to bring their “own” people into the organization and place them in strategic places throughout our offices, like the fiscal department, the legal office, and so on.  Consequently, even when they are no longer in the “driver’s seat,” they can still control the board through these staff.  This has become a debilitating factor for OHA Trustees who want to do their best to manage the Trust since these staff members who are loyal to just a few Trustees can put up stiff opposition almost at every turn.

Now, we can’t write anything specific about what goes on within the offices of OHA.  A Trustee is prevented from printing their columns in our newspaper because OHA’s “legal eager beavers,” who want to please those who keep them employed here, will find every excuse to stifle a Trustee and prevent them from talking about things that go on here.

OHA’s leadership will also go so far as to pass a specific policy to stop certain Trustees from calling attention to something they don’t want the public to know.  The kicker is, in my opinion, those rules are made up by lawyers who work for us, but are loyal to only a few Trustees.  This strategy works against Trustees in the minority who usually do not agree with the power structure.

Another trick is to put items on the agenda in an executive session instead of open session, thereby excluding the general public from listening to the discussion.  If this isn’t enough, they further silence the Trustees by telling them that they can’t speak about what was discussed, and then they lock-up the minutes, so that even the Trustees do not have ready access to them.

Even when a super majority of six Trustees vote and approve a money appropriation, the staff members are prevented from acting on the action because they are being instructed to throw up road blocks and make excuses to slow the process or prevent it from happening at all.

For a very long time now, OHA has not been able to really function as a Trust.  It has become a political entity, where power is more important than fulfilling our mission to better the conditions of OHA beneficiaries.  You might say OHA looks more and more like the dysfunctional Congress.

Until the public elects people to the board who truly want to serve OHA’s mission and who have the best interests of the Trust and our beneficiaries in their heart, OHA will continue to function at half-speed instead of full-speed ahead.

Trustees misled on loan to purchase Gentry Building

`Ano`ai kakou…  On April 15, 2010, OHA established the “Hawaii Direct Investment Policy” (HDIP).  This allows OHA to spend the lesser of $25 million or 10% of the current value of the Trust Fund for investments in Hawaii.

This policy was created to allow OHA to purchase an office building that would serve as our corporate headquarters.  The policy also allows OHA to:  (1) Make equity investments in Hawaii-based companies, (2) Invest in lending programs for Native Hawaiians, and (3) Invest in other Hawaii real estate.

On April 12, 2013, OHA Trustees were surprised to learn that the loan we got from Bank of Hawaii was not a secured loan and that it had to be backed by Trust dollars.  OHA’s Hawaii Direct Investment Policy requires that any “recourse” in connection with a loan be counted towards the $25 million maximum allocation.  As a result, we can’t make any more investments in Hawaii until the acquisition of OHA’s corporate headquarters is complete.

Under the current financing terms with Bank of Hawaii, OHA has to put up the following collateral:

(1) GENTRY MORTGAGE – 100% liability against the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund assets for a total of $21,370,000 required collateral; and

(2) GENTRY RETROFIT LOAN – An additional $6,758,000 loan to retrofit Gentry into an office building at a “75% rate.”  Calculation: $6,758,000 loan / 75% = $9,010,667 required collateral.

Therefore, the combined collateral required for the Gentry Mortgage ($21,370,000) and the Retrofit Loan ($9,010,667) is $30,380,667.  This is -$5,380,667 over our $25 million Hawaii Direct Investment Policy limit.  After doing the math, you have to ask the question, “Who is going to benefit from this sweet deal?”  Certainly not OHA!

The Trustees were misled by OHA’s financial department officers when they repeatedly emphasized that the loan was the best deal we could hope to get.  If it was such a great deal, why do we have to back the loan with our own Trust dollars?  It would have been better to have bought the building in cash.  Why did we even need Bank of Hawaii?

SQUARE PEG IN A ROUND HOLE

It never made sense for OHA to spend $21,370,000 to purchase the 80-year-old Design Center, with some existing tenants, and spend an additional $6,758,000 to convert parts of it into a temporary office spaces to house OHA’s headquarters.  Oh, and did I mention that the number of building vacancies are a clear indication that it is even wrong for businesses to move into?

Now add to that the fact that: (1) OHA’s can’t make any more investments using the Hawaii Direct Investment Policy unless we can renegotiate our loan terms with Bank of Hawaii and completed the relocation of our offices to Gentry; and (2) OHA has until February 2014, when our current lease expires, to move into a “design center” that wasn’t meant to be an office building.  What a complete boondoggle!

We could have saved ourselves all of this aggravation and move our headquarters to the AAFES building that OHA now owns in Kakaako, paying no rent, and spending this time drawing up plans for our new property instead of spending trust money trying to make an old building fit OHA’s needs.  Aloha Ke Akua.

Legislative Update (May 2013)

`Ano`ai kakou…  The legislature is about ready to wrap things up.  Here are some important legislation affecting Native Hawaiians that are still alive:

KULEANA LANDS

OHA submitted House and Senate concurrent resolutions to recognize kuleana lands as historical lands and urge the counties to support efforts to promote continued ancestral ownership of kuleana lands.

The House version (HCR5) passed out of its first committee hearing and is waiting to be heard in the House Finance committee.  The Senate version (SCR1) has not been scheduled for a hearing yet.  Both need to be heard before an April 12th deadline.  Last year, Senator Malama Solomon introduced this resolution as a personal favor to me.  This year, her Senate committee has killed the resolution by declining to schedule a hearing for it.  One has to wonder why someone who supported the resolution last year would now refuse to hear it.

OHA BUDGET

On March 8th, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means asked OHA to comment on the cuts to our budget bill (HB 222) by the House Finance Committee.  We let them know that we understand today’s economic situation doesn’t make it easy to decide how to the fund every State agencies.  Therefore, we didn’t oppose the proposed decreases at this time but we did urge the committee to restore OHA’s original request.

Some of the more serious decreases include cutting $268,860 over two years for educational enrichment programs.  This will probably mean that 269 less Native Hawaiian students will be receiving educational services.  Health improvement programs were cut $1,100,000, which may mean 960 less Native Hawaiians receiving Health obesity services and 1,030 less pregnant Native Hawaiian women receiving prenatal services.

HB 222 passed the Senate Ways and Means committee with amendments on April 1st, and all of the funds that were cut were restored.  The House now has to decide if they agree or disagree with the Senate amendments.

OHA PRIMARY

SB 3 proposes to establish a nonpartisan primary and general elections for OHA Trustees beginning with the 2014 elections.  On March 27th, OHA Trustees took a position opposing this measure.  On March 28th, the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill with technical amendments.  The Senate now has to decide if they agree or disagree with the House amendments.

NATIVE HAWAIIAN ROLL COMMISSION

HB 252 would require the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, in cooperation with OHA, to submit annual reports to the Governor and the Legislature on the status of the preparation of a roll, expenditures, and any other concerns or recommendations.  It amends the definition of “qualified Native Hawaiian” to include individuals who meet the ancestry requirements of Kamehameha Schools and OHA.  It also repeals the directive in Act 195 to amend the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.  Senate Committee Chairs Clayton Hee and Brickwood Galuteria amended the bill by:

(1) Deleting the requirement that the Native Hawaiian Roll remain confidential;

(2) Clarifying that all individuals already registered with the State as verified Hawaiians or Native Hawaiians through OHA are included in the Native Hawaiian Roll and extending to those individuals all rights and recognitions conferred upon other members of the roll;

(3) Inserting language to promote renewable energy in Hawaii; and

(4) Inserting an effective date of July 1, 2013;

Aloha Ke Akua.