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.

Akana selected as Pacific Representative for AIANTA

`Ano`ai kakou…  On February 12, 2013, the Board of Directors for the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) approved my nomination as one of two Pacific Representatives.  This is a great opportunity for all Native Hawaiians to network with American Indians and Alaska Natives to develop and implement programs that will help our communities build for the future while sustaining and strengthening our cultural legacy.

AIANTA is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit association of Native communities and businesses that were organized in 1999 to advance tourism in territories under the controlled of Native peoples.  The association is made up of member tribes from six regions: Eastern, Plains, Midwest, Southwest, Pacific and Alaska.

AIANTA’s Mission is to define, introduce, grow and sustain American Indian and Alaska Native tourism that honors and sustains tribal traditions and values.  AIANTA serves as voice and resource for its constituents in advancing tourism, assist tribes in creating infrastructure and capacity, provide technical assistance, training and educational resources to tribes, tribal organizations and tribal members.  AIANTA also serves as the liaison between Indian Country and governmental and private entities for the development, growth, and sustenance of Indian Country tourism.

International Outreach

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, international visitors spent a record $14.3 billion in August 2012.  Each March, AIANTA sponsors an expansive American Indian Pavilion at ITB Berlin, the world’s leading travel and trade show.  This provides Tribal tourism departments the opportunity to showcase their programs and tour packages to the European tourism industry.

AIANTA booth participants have made invaluable contacts with international travel organizations, media and tour operators.  They were featured in the Brand USA Discover America Pavilion, attracting large crowds of participants and hundreds of international travel media representatives.  More than 172,032 trade professionals and consumers participated in ITB 2012.

Public Lands Outreach

Every major national park or monument in the American west has a relationship to a significant Native sacred site.  The upcoming National Parks Service centennial anniversary in 2016 affords Native peoples the opportunity to raise public consciousness on issues such as cultural resource protections, ancestral use of park lands, and participate in the benefits arising from increased visitation to the national parks during the centennial.

In 2011, AIANTA entered into a partnership with the National Park Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to insure full, uncensored tribal participation in NPS centennial interpretations, education, tourism and other programming efforts.

Annual conference

The annual American Indian Tourism Conference, co-hosted by various Native American tribes in their homelands, is designed to share knowledge, experience and best practices from both tribal and non-tribal tourism programs around the United States.  Each conference features mobile workshops, networking events and presentations from experts in the travel & tourism industry.

I see many similarities in the missions of both OHA and AIANTA.  We both serve as the voice and as a resource for our Native constituents.  We also serve as a much needed liaison between our respective Native Communities and governmental and private entities for the promotion, growth and development of economic opportunities and programs.

I look forward to working closely with AIANTA over the next few years to help our beneficiaries build for their future while sustaining and strengthening our cultural legacy.  Aloha Ke Akua.

HCDA’s plan could end up privatizing the Kewalo Basin

HCDA needs to consider all of the Stakeholders involved before signing a 50-year lease with a mainland company!

`Ano`ai kakou…  On April 11, 2012, Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the historic $200 million settlement between the State and OHA.  After many years of negotiations, OHA finally resolved all claims that were raised with the State relating to its portion of income from the public land trust from November 7, 1978 to June 30, 2012.  The State fulfilled its constitutional obligations to Native Hawaiians by providing OHA with fee simple title to lands in Kakaako makai.

However, to our surprise, on June 7, 2012, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which has jurisdiction over Kewalo Basin, had agreed to lease the 143-slip harbor in Kakaako for 50 years to California-based marina operator 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.

OHA owns the property along the Ewa side of the harbor including the former Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant area.  Late last year, OHA asked HCDA’s board to delay a final decision on the renovation and expansion plans so that we could better understand how the harbor changes would affect our property.

Now OHA is feeling heavy pressure from both the HCDA and the Governor’s office to accept the harbor improvements, which include two “finger” piers that will extend from OHA’s Fisherman’s Wharf site.  It is important to note that OHA was not aware of the HCDA’s commitment to the two finger piers prior to our signing the settlement agreement with the State.  We did not know that there were “strings attached” to the properties.

OHA is counting on the Kakaako lands to someday generate the revenue needed to support our many Native Hawaiian programs.  The properties are crucial to OHA and our future nation becoming completely self-sufficient.

The “Save Kakaako Ohana” is counting on OHA to develop our properties in a responsible and culturally sensitive way while preserving community access to the ocean.

If HCDA gets their way, OHA’s land will surely be devalued.  We need our ocean front not only for its beauty and view, but also to be able to master plan our area as a whole.  The last thing we need is a large cruise ship docked in front of our property.  It is also ridiculous that the State believes $45 million is a lot of money over 50 yearsIn 50-years, the property will be worth a hundred times that amount!

Help us stop this insane plan by showing your support for OHA to retain its rights to its waterfront.  Make your opinions known to the HCDA, your state legislators, and the governor’s office.

Legislative Update

There are several bills introduced in the 2013 legislature that are threatening to cause deep divisions within the Native Hawaiian community.  For example, HB 252 seeks to prevent Native Hawaiians who are not residents and/or Hawaii registered voters from participating in the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission’s enrollment process.  The legislature should refrain from joining the contentious debate about who is a Native Hawaiian.  That decision should be made by Native Hawaiians themselves.  Aloha Ke Akua.

Aloha, Senators Inouye and Akaka

`Ano`ai kakou…  My family and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Senator Daniel K. Inouye.  There are no adequate words to express this loss.  Our hearts and thoughts are with Sen. Inouye’s family, his countless friends, and his dedicated staff members during this difficult time.  We will always be grateful and remember Senator Inouye for his 50 years of public service as a U.S. Senator.

I am also so very grateful for Senator Daniel Akaka’s 36-years of service in Congress.  Senator Akaka’s many years of service and dedication to all the people of Hawaii is an ideal example that all future leaders should strive toward.  Mahalo nui loa for all of your hard work over the past 12-years to establish a solid foundation for all Native Hawaiians to utilize as we finally restore our native sovereignty.

Legislative Leadership Changes

Congratulations to new House Speaker Joe Souki.  A change in the Speakership is long overdue and a welcome turn of events.  I wish him and his new leadership team well in this legislative session.

The sudden passing of Senator Inouye brought about many changes in local politics, especially in the leadership of the State Senate.  Senate Vice-President Donna Mercado Kim will replace former Senate President Shan Tsutsui, who became Lt. Governor.  Newly appointed Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran has filled the void left by Lt. Governor Tsutsui.

Kewalo Basin

A great concern for OHA this year are the proposed “finger piers” that will front our property at Kewalo Basin.  After OHA signed the agreement with the State to receive the Kakaako Makai lands at Kewalo, the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) informed OHA about the finger piers that had been promised to an earlier developer who had already spent a great deal of cash on the development of the harbor.

This poses a huge problem for OHA.  Placing piers in front of our Fisherman’s Wharf property and the adjacent waterways will seriously reduces the value of our land and takes away our rights to develop our own piers.  I will keep you posted on this issue.

Kuleana Lands

Recognizing Kuleana Lands as historical lands is one of my priorities for the 2013 legislative session.  Last year, the Senate passed out a resolution protecting Kuleana Lands, but the former House Speaker killed the House version.  Not sure why.

Public Land Development Corporation

The Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC) is a state entity created by the Legislature in 2011 to develop state lands and generate revenues for the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The PLDC became a highly controversial issue in the past legislative session, but the good news is that all parties now agree the PLDC needs to be repealed or it has to be significantly amended to incorporate the changes that the public has been demanding.  Aloha Ke Akua.