By Trustee Moses Keale
Source Ka Wai Ola O OHA
These are tough times for all of us. Last month I issued a challenge to everyone to speak loudly and clearly that we, the native sons and daughters of this land want our full entitlements. Do you remember my question last month? “Does all this really matter?” And do you remember my answer? “…the total entitlements compensation would approach $30,000,000 yearly. … if you factor in the back payments for rents for these lands the total back rent could exceed $300,000,000!”
Yes, it does make a great deal of difference! I remember all too well how OHA began 12 years ago. We, the nine trustees, were told to run an agency to better the conditions of the Hawaiian people. And they said we were entitled to do this on a budget of $225,000 of public matching funds supplemented by our entitlements income. With the expectation of the people high and the money minimal, it was a struggle to keep our heads above water. For many years there was very little change in our income stream. Between 1981 and 1989 OHA’s annual operating income from special and general funds amounted to an average of $2,066,000 per year. The most significant changes in public funding came in fiscal year 1988 when the legislature almost tripled our general funding level. This was accomplished under the guiding hands of then Administrator Kamaki Kanahele now an accomplished Trustee.
Our biggest break, though, came in 1990 when agreements were reached with the Governor’s office on the PROPER entitlement amount. This was a quantum leap in revenue amounting to more than $8,000,000 annually. Now, under these conditions, we could really function. Now, we could really implement a large portion of the master plan. We conducted public hearings to revise the functional plan and the Board met to implement new policies and procedures.
We hired a new administrator and at his request we reorganized the office. In fact, based on his recommendation, we requested that the legislature change the Hawaii Revised Statutes to allow the Administrator to employ all personnel without obtaining the approval of the Board as was the previous practice. Then, we asked him to draft and to implement a plan that would effectuate the major objectives of the master plan and would incorporate the new functional action items. This was a bold new experiment for us which reflected our ability to use the newly obtained resources.
The Trustees had done their job in obtaining the revenue stream and now it was up to administration to provide programs to impact the beneficiaries. It was our hope that you, the Hawaiian people, would finally begin to feel the impact of new programs to service your needs. Well, the experiment has been a failure! Certainly, three years is adequate time to evaluate the impact of the new products.
In reviewing all of our present initiatives, and after eliminating the ongoing projects which began prior to the reorganization (for example: The Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund, Aha Opio O OHA, Aha Kupuna, educational tutorial programs, the embryo of our self-help housing program, and our ongoing health initiatives), it seems our new programs have fallen far short of the mark. Administration proposed a revolutionary program called I Luna Ae, a 7-point initiative, designed to address concerns and provide services where services were needed. Included in this 7-point initiative were:
Operation Ea, designed to address restitution from the federal government;
Operation Ka Poe, otherwise known as the single definition mandate;
Operation Ohana, targeted to gain data on all Hawaiians to effectuate a better system for the delivery of services and benefits to every Hawaiian;
Operation Malama Mau, created to address the need to identify and protect our cultural heritage and cultural assets;
Operation Alohi, a program designed to enhance our communications system in order to keep our beneficiaries informed of our work;
Operation Hui Imi, a task force of Hawaiian Agencies created to coordinate services to lessen duplication and overlapping of strategies;
Operation Hookuleana, designed to effectuate full entitlements from the state government.
Well, after extensive review, I find that the following is true:
Operation Ea, which began with the publishing of the “Blueprint for Native Hawaiian Entitlements” and other promises of securing restitution, has produced three pieces of proposed federal legislation. One of these draft bills is seriously flawed, another is presumptuous and the third needs input from the effected beneficiary class. No formal hearings have been held on these documents and the public input process has been limited.
Operation Ka Poe, reflects serious flaws in thinking. Less than 1/2 of the Hawaiians over the age of 18 actually received ballots. Of those who received the ballots only 38% returned them. Therefore, the 19,000+ Hawaiians voting in favor of this initiative represented only 16% of the estimated 125,000 adult Hawaiians residing in the state. It was not the overwhelming voice of the Hawaiian people who spoke up for a single definition, it was only a select few.
Operation Ohana, was one of the most noteworthy programs in concept. The goal, as articulated by the administration, was to enroll 150,000 Hawaiians by 1990. It is now 1992 and the latest report indicates that less than 10,000 Hawaiians have completed the enrollment process.
Operation Malama Mau, has met many of its objectives. The Native Hawaiian Historic Preservation Council has been diligent in its work and has achieved notable progress in the area of cultural preservation and protection of sites and practices.
Operation Alohi, has finally begun to make limited inroads toward a commitment to communicate with the beneficiary. After nearly three years of failures and large expenditures of funds, the program has finally begun to move toward its target goals thanks to the efforts of the new public information officer.
Operation Hui Imi, has been operational and met with success. Coordination of program and program services among the agencies and organizations servicing Hawaiians have improved.
Operation Hookuleana, also has been successful. But this success can be directly attributable to work by the Trustees who have been in direct control of the process from the beginning. There is still much to be done and the Trustees are continuing to work directly with the Governor’s office.
Taken as a whole, I find that while we have spent large sums of moneys, expended an enormous amount of staff time, and committed a great deal of office resources toward the efforts of the I Luna Ae program, the success ratio is dismal. Of the seven initiatives, three of the most costly programs have been failures, one could not meet its targeted objective because of severe understaffing, and one was taken over by the Trustees with outside help hired to complete the task. Of the two remaining program initiatives, Operation Malama Mau’s product has been tainted because of administrative misdirection while Operation Hui Imi appears to be self-sustaining.
It is time for us to take a hard look at whether our resources are being directed in an efficient manner. The bottom line is whether you are receiving the benefits that we have mandated the office to deliver. Ultimately, it is the duty of the nine trustees to evaluate the progress and determine whether the work of this office is acceptable. Our focus should now turn toward building the best “delivery of service program” that we can muster. To this end I have always pledged my energies. To this end my efforts will be concentrated. Although we must not lose sight of gaining full entitlements for the Hawaiian people, it is time to concentrate on the delivery of these entitlements to the people. Although this may require tough and unpleasant decisions, that is the nature of position of leadership to which each of us is elected!
IMUA E NO OHANA. A INU I KA WAI AWAAWAI
A i manao kekahi e lilo i pookele i waena o oukou, e pono no e lilo ia i kauwa na oukou. Na ke Akua e malama a e alakai ia kakou apau.