By: TRUSTEE ROWENA AKANA
Source: October 2004 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Article
`Ano`ai kakou… Here are a few things our beneficiaries should know before voting in the November election:
OHA resources used for campaign purposes.
Last year, OHA produced hundreds of compact disks featuring OHA Chairman Haunani Apoliona’s rendition of the Na Wai Oiwi Olino chant. It was then distributed as part of the Federal Recognition campaign. No other Trustee ended up on the CD. Wouldn’t it have been great if we all recorded the chant together in a show of unity? But then it would have been useless to Apoliona as a campaign tool.
OHA also paid for a political poll that helped Apoliona’s re-election campaign. In July of 2003, OHA hired Ward Research to conduct a telephone survey of Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians and how they felt about 11 Hawaiian “leaders.” Again, like the CD, Apoliona was the only (current) Trustee included in the list.
Thanks to the survey, Chairman Apoliona learned: 1). Her approval rating among Hawaiians was 57% and is greater than her potential rivals Clayton Hee (47%) and Mililani Trask (46%); 2). Among non-Hawaiians, her approval rating was 29% and significantly lower than Clayton Hee (39%); 3). Over 50% of non-Hawaiians surveyed never heard of her; and 4). Mililani Trask’s approval rating had improved from 42% overall in the year 2000 to 46% in the year 2003, making Trask a greater political threat in an election.
The list of Hawaiian leaders polled also included what are obviously some of Apoliona’s friends. She probably wanted to see whether they would be viable political candidates, just like former UH President Evan Dobelle who used UH funds to conduct a survey on his chances for elected office. Since Apoliona’s administrative aide worked with Ward Research on the poll, one can only guess who gave them the names for the list.
Favoritism over professionalism.
Last year, OHA invited the Hawaiian community to attend presentations on Federal Recognition. Again, Apoliona’s aide (among others) was asked to sign the invitation letter. Her aide, as well as others who signed the letter, missed 95% of the meetings they invited the community to attend.
Apoliona’s aide appears again in a soon to be released OHA video as the narrator. Since this video is being produced by a noted local filmmaker, one has to question why a trustee’s aide was chosen over a recognized professional.
I wrote in my June article that Trustee Stender was trying to get around OHA’s spending limit. Well I was right. Stender hired a lawyer (without approval of the Board, violating OHA by-laws) who proposed that OHA reclassify its ceded land revenues as “income.” This means that the $9.5 million a year we now received from ceded lands will no longer go straight into the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund to be saved. OHA will now spend all of the ceded land money it gets each year from the state.
Stender claims that the Trust Fund will continue to grow through investments. Let’s pray there isn’t another crash in the stock market. We lost about $100 million when the internet stock “bubble” burst a few years ago.
All of OHA’s assets will be turned over to the Hawaiian nation once it is formed. Our Trust Fund has about $323 million as of mid-August. Kamehameha Schools spends that much in just one year. The nation can’t possibly survive on so little. So why would Apoliona support Stender’s attempts to weaken the Trust Fund? It’s simple; it’s a vote that has kept her in the chairmanship.
We need trustees with integrity whose only motivation is to build a strong nation. We need honest people who have courage, work hard, and don’t mind having their accomplishments go unnoticed. In other words, the self-serving need not apply.
Remember, the General Election is on November 2nd so mark your calendars. Be maka ala and Imua!