Support Senate’s OHA Settlement Bill

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Letter-to-the-Editor, Star-Bulletin, April 19, 2009

I strongly support Senate Bill 995, which attempts to resolve claims and disputes relating to the portion of income and proceeds from the lands of the public land trust for use by OHA between Nov. 7, 1978, and July 1, 2009.

This bill proposes to convey Mauna Kea to OHA, along with several other parcels of land. The bill would allow OHA and the state to reach a “global settlement” of the past and future obligations of the state to native Hawaiians.

The committee felt that the proposal made by Gov. Ben Cayetano back in March 31, 1999, is a sensible and appropriate approach toward a “global settlement” and that it should be re-offered to OHA.

It should be noted that a global settlement does not include natural resources, water and gathering rights or any other rights.

The Senate’s “global settlement” offer includes monetary payment to OHA of $251 million; conveyance of public lands from the state to OHA equal to 20 percent of the 1.8 million acres of ceded lands already inventoried, and the suspension of the $15.1 million in annual payments to OHA effective a date to be agreed upon in good faith.

In my view, SB 995 provides a great opportunity for all native Hawaiians to finally have the resources to build a strong nation.

Too Little, Too Late

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Letter sent to Star Bulletin Editor on February 8, 2008

I am writing to correct the errors that were made by the Chairperson of the Office of Hawaiian Affiars and other trustees in their Feb. 7th letter. 

First, the letter twists the facts by stating that I rejected former Governor Cayetano’s offer in 1999 while I was serving as the Chairperson of OHA. 

What really happened is that the full board voted to reject Cayetano’s first offer, which was much less than the $251 million he later offered, for the past due amounts owed to OHA from 1980.

OHA and the state were also discussing a prospective offer of 20% or 365,000 acres of ceded lands, if OHA would settle on all land claims against the state in the future.  This offer would not have included any ocean resources, or any other resource, that the Hawaiian people would be entitled to.

OHA was not able to consider Cayetano’s second offer because five trustees, who include currently serving trustees Haunani Apoliona and Colette Machado, voted to end all negotiations.  OHA’s attorney at the time, James E. Duffy, Jr., now a Hawaii Supreme Court Justice, repeatedly advised the trustees to continue the negotiations, but they rejected his advice.

The $251 million that Cayetano offered in 1999 would be worth more than double today if it were properly invested and the 365,000 acres of ceded lands would have meant economic self-sufficiency and a better negotiating position for the Akaka bill.

I believe that Apoliona and Machado wanted to end negotiations because they did not want any credit to go to our negotiating team, which was made up of myself and former trustees Clayton Hee and Mililani Trask.

Apoliona and Machado thought they could negotiate their own deal, one that would serve as their legacy, but nine years later all they could come up with is a watered-down version of our previous deal that we now see before the legislature.  Their short-sightedness caused OHA to pay dearly a year later when the U.S. Supreme Court came down with the Rice decision.

Later, the Hawaii Supreme Court threw out Act 304 and suggested that the remedy must now be sought at the legislature.  I believe this decision was made by the court because OHA walked away from the negotiating table after the Hawaii Supreme Court had asked OHA and the state to negotiate a settlement.

Also, in light of the Hawaii Supreme Court’s recent injunction preventing the state from any future sale or transfer of ceded lands until the claims of Native Hawaiians have been resolved, OHA should really consider whether a better settlement can be negotiated than the one we now have before the legislature.

I encourage anyone who would like to dispute my statements to speak directly to Governor Cayetano, his chief negotiator Sam Callejo, Senator Clayton Hee, or Hawaii Supreme Court Justice James Duffy.  I also have signed documents from the 1999 negotiations to back up what I have written.

Cayetano offered better ceded land deal

By: Trustee Rowena Akana
Monday, February 4, 2008

Source: Honolulu Star Bulletin

I am writing to confirm former Gov. Ben Cayetano’s statement in the Star-Bulletin’s Jan. 22 article that his ceded lands settlement offer to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, while he was in office, was a better deal for native Hawaiians than the proposal now before the Legislature. I was the chairwoman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in 1999 when he offered OHA $251 million plus 20 percent of the ceded lands, which is estimated at 365,000 acres.

Following OHA’s victory in the Heely court case, the state of Hawaii appealed to the Hawaii Supreme Court, which then ordered the state and OHA to negotiate a settlement.

After only a few months, Haunani Apoliona, Colette Machado, Frenchy DeSoto, Louis Hao and Mililani Trask voted to halt the negotiations because they didn’t understand that the $251 million was for the past due revenues to OHA and the 20 percent of the ceded lands was to settle future claims.

While it would have been a final settlement, imagine how great that would have been for our people if we had received the 20 percent of all of the ceded lands back then. Not only that, Gov. Cayetano was willing to consider many of the lands that OHA wanted. Our intention was to take the offer out into the community for input, but we never had the chance because of the shortsightedness of those trustees. As a result of OHA walking away from the table, the Supreme Court ruled the Heely act void, and told OHA to go back to the Legislature for a remedy.

Which is it? Build the Trust for the New Nation or Spend it All?

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA, June 2004

‘Ano’ai kakou… I hate to admit it, but the current leadership of OHA has me a bit confused. I’m sure you have heard Chairman Apoliona say on many occasions that OHA is a “temporary” organization that will someday be dissolved and its assets transferred over to the new Hawaiian Nation. So her position is clear – OHA is temporary and its money will go to fund the new Hawaiian nation.

Here’s where everything turns as clear as mud. In April Trustee Stender, the chair of her money committee, informed the Trustees that he has asked for a legal opinion that will allow OHA to spend more of the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund. OHA currently has a spending limit that prevents any group of Trustees from spending the Trust like drunken sailors.

I’m sure that handing out a check to every one of the hundreds of organizations that are asking for grants would certainly make OHA very popular, but what about the long-term health of the Trust? We have carefully rebuilt the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund to over $300 million. I would hate to see it evaporate again in a shortsighted spending spree.

And as for how the Trust funds are spent, let’s not forget that four years ago OHA conducted a survey that clearly stated the beneficiaries wanted the Trustees to focus on four priorities – (1) Return of the land; (2) Education; (3) Housing; and (4) Health. The Board has not taken any action to change our focus on these areas and Trustee Stender should keep that in mind before making any decisions on his own.

I also question why the present administration can’t just follow established procedures and take the matter up in an open Board meeting. Unilateral decisions made by the Chairman and the Budget Chair must stop! All that’s needed to change the spending limit is six votes. If OHA’s leadership is too afraid to take the matter up in public at an open Board meeting, maybe that should tell you something.

I wrote several letters to the law firm that is drafting the legal opinion for Stender and shared my strong concerns about breaking the Board’s spending limit. They responded that Trustee Stender has every right to request such an opinion. I wasn’t surprised by their reply since they want to get paid for it. What is shocking is that the spending policy is not the only thing they are looking at. Trustee Stender also wants to know whether it’s even appropriate to build the Trust at all!

To even question whether we should grow the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund is just ludicrous. People like Thurston Twigg-Smith would like nothing better than to see the Trust disappear. And it’s not just the anti-OHA people either. Even our “friends” in state government are trying to cut the money coming into OHA. Governor Cayetano already cut OHA’s airport revenues and if the current state legislature had its way, OHA would probably get a lot less than it does now.

So which path will OHA’s leadership take? Will it be Chairman Apoliona’s “temporary” OHA that will turn over its assets to a new Hawaiian Nation or Trustee Stender’s OHA, which spends freely and shrink the Trust? I hope they realize that it will be difficult to do both.

My prediction is that Chairman Apoliona will flip-flop on her position and go along with Trustee Stender, unless of course, she gets enough calls telling her to do otherwise. I encourage all of you who share my concerns to call her and ask where she’s leading us.

I will continue to fight, by every means necessary, any attempt to allow the shortsightedness of OHA’s current leadership to endanger the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund or shortchange the coming Hawaiian Nation.

Imua Hawaii Nei…


By: Trustee Rowena Akana
December 11, 1998

In his inaugural speech on December 7th, Governor Cayetano made a pledge to the Hawaiian community, “…And I pledge here and now that I will leave no stone unturned in settling the state’s differences with OHA over ceded lands. Before the end of my term we will reach a settlement which is fair and just to all, Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian.”

In the short time that I have been the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, I’ve made it clear that one of my priorities is to seek what is fair for our people. We’ve waited much too long for the State and Federal governments to lend credibility to their words. I am hopeful that the governor’s words are not empty words to be added to the pile of rhetoric dating back to the annexation in 1898, when 1.8 million acres of government and crown lands were taken. A Joint Resolution of Annexation provided that money from the ceded lands would be used solely for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands. Since that time we have waited for them to make these words credible. Hawaiians can no longer afford to wait for the governments to keep their words. It should be clear to everyone by now that unless we make things happen, waiting cannot be one of our options.

The Organic Act which established Hawaii as a U.S. Territory, also provided that ceded lands would be used for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands.

As we work toward achieving fairness from the State in negotiations on the Heely rulings, we must be equal partners in these negotiations.

Some suggest that compromise is the key. I whole-heartedly agree. OHA and its beneficiaries have compromised. That’s why we receive only 20 percent of proprietary revenues instead of 100 percent. That’s why the state forced Act 329 upon the Hawaiians. An Act which capped OHA’s revenue at $15 million for two years, while the state worked out its fiscal problems. The cap expires on June 30, 1999. The State is not any closer to any real negotiating numbers than they were two years ago. How serious do you suppose they are in negotiating a settlement with OHA? Some public comments made by the Governor are troubling. He said he was very comfortable with the $15 million cap. Also troubling is the fact that Calvin Say, (the new speaker of the house) had decided not to name a Hawaiian Affairs Committee because, he said it wasn’t important enough! The biggest issue facing the legislature is the ceded land claims! Calvin Say has put Hawaiian Affairs in the hands of the Judiciary Chair (Ed Case, Rep. Manoa). This is the committee that will hear Hawaiian bills and have the ability to change the laws of the land. They want to make sure that they create a bill that will statutorily stand up to muster. So in one fell swoop, they can destroy OHA and the 20% revenue share of cash entitlements. This maneuver is so blatant that the house leadership is confident that they can wipe us out.

I am happy to see that the Governor is publicly moving his position from not being able to afford what OHA is claiming to be its rightful share of revenues from ceded lands to a position of settling our differences.

In advocating for Hawaiian ceded lands and entitlements, OHA must put its best team together to represent us. People who are akamai and experienced. Recently, the Board of Trustees approved a team consisting of myself and Trustees Clayton Hee and Mililani Trask as primary team members.

We trustees must have you alongside us as we journey to our eventual and rightful end: Justice. From now on, it will take all Hawaiians to stave off the attack.

Privatization: Good Deal or Sellout?

By: Trustee Rowena Akana
March 6, 1998

Another Opportunity for the People…. To Lose!!

Governor Ben Cayetano is calling for privatization of the State Historic Preservation Division. His suggestion calls for the firing of Historic Preservation Division staff, and reassigning their work to archaeologists who would be hired by developers to review their work. What a sweetheart deal this is…for the developers and consultants. It will save the State money primarily because the State is removing itself from most of the process, but it sells out their responsibility to monitor and prevent actions that are culturally and environmentally insensitive. These suggestions to “pass the buck” by the Governor, Legislators, and Joe Souki have once again placed the general public and the Hawaiian people in the loser column.

Allowing developers to hire their own hand-picked archeologists is tantamount to saying that all developers are not only honest and honorable, but culturally sensitive to the historic importance of our Aina. Does H-3 ring any alarm bells for you? We have a history of developers trying to brush aside any considerations for the history and culture of these islands.

“Letting developers hire archaeologists to review their projects is like ‘letting the Mafia police the Mafia,'” said Patrick Kirch of the University of California, Berkeley, in a recent Honolulu Advertiser article. Giving this kind of power to developers could lead to abuses that would allow high rise condos and shopping centers to be built on sacred refuges or burial grounds which are so important to Hawaii’s history. This form of privatization has some serious drawbacks, but the greatest concern is that it will diminish the quality of historic preservation work in Hawaii and allow greater destruction of Hawaiian sites and burials for the sake of development. The opportunity for the developer to skew the review in their favor is great since he is the employer of both the consultant doing the study, and the consultant reviewing it for adequacy.

The State has previously shown its tendency to avoid its statutory responsibilities in the handling of the burials program within the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). For the past two years OHA has funded two positions, including all the fringe benefits, for the burials program although the statutes mandate positions for this program, and the Legislature provides funding for it. Why is OHA funding positions for which the State has responsibility? Perhaps it’s another form of privatizing. Again, the State is passing the buck. There have been attempts to permanently move this program to OHA, but by doing so the program would lose its purpose because OHA has no enforcement powers. Moving this program to OHA would be detrimental to its existence unless the Governor and Legislature work to grant OHA enforcement powers, as required by statute.

In November 1997, I criticized the effort by the Governor and DLNR to privatize small boat harbors. In the article, I pointed out that WestRec Marinas lobbied the Governor and Michael Wilson, hoping to get a consulting agreement with DLNR to manage small boat harbors for the State. My concern then was for the people. What would happen to the local fishermen and the submerged lands in the harbor when boat harbors became privatized?

My concern is still that of the people of this state, and of the Aina. Whether the Governor privatizes the State Historic Preservation Division or the management of small boat harbors more public input is needed before being seriously considered.

Over the last two years I have watched what appears to be a very sinister move on the part of the administration and certain legislators to create commissions and divisions of the State government to divide and parcel out sections of ceded land so as to remove them from the main corpus of ceded lands. We only have to look at the bills being introduced into the Legislature to see this. Upon statehood in 1959, the State Constitution named two beneficiaries of Hawaiian lands: the Native Hawaiians and the general public. Therefore, it is my view that the general public should be as concerned as the Hawaiian people are that the State government does not breach its fiduciary responsibility as trustees to the public land trust. In the 1998 general elections we must tell these legislators that they can no longer mismanage our tax dollars and then cover their tracks with the use of ceded land.

Makua: Target State Not Military

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Kai Wai Ola o OHA, August 1997

Last month, the U.S. Marines had planned an amphibious landing at Makua Beach. The five-day exercise was to begin with an amphibious assault on the beach, followed by live-fire training in the valley. The community was outraged, and rightly so. The Wai’anae Coast Neighborhood Board, Hui Malama o Makua, Pastor Kaleo Patterson (organizer of the demonstrations leading up to the day of the scheduled landing) and the Hawai’i Ecumenical Coalition rose to protest the intrusion of the military onto sacred land at Makua. The protest caused Governor Cayetano to meet with Admiral Prueher (commander-in-chief, Pacific Command), and a meeting with representatives of the community ensued. The military changed its plans and landed at Bellows Air Force Station instead. While Frenchy DeSoto proclaimed this a major victory, this was anything but a victory. All it did was postpone the inevitable.

The military has not ruled out future training activities in the area which is held sacred by Hawaiians. Using live ammunition, and firing into a beautiful sacred valley in the middle of thriving communities is insane. Would the military try this in other states for 65 years? Let’s see if other communities in America will allow them to do this.

The people of Hawai’i must become more involved in what our state officials are doing on our behalf.

One could argue all day about being ready for war, but let’s be realistic. If there is a third world war, no one would be fighting in hand-to-hand combat. The fight would be a nuclear one and none of us would have to worry about Makua Valley, or anywhere else.

In 1964, the state leased Makua to the Army for $1 for 65 years until the year 2029. The lease allows the military to use the beach for maneuvers, but in doing so, it infringes on the community’s public access rights.

During 1ast year’s legislative session, the governor and the legislature decried the poor condition of state finances and how departments and programs would have to tighten down to run more efficiently with less money. But while they are selling the sob story of “no money,” they, at the same time, give away prime lands at $1 for 65 years, denying us -the constituency and beneficiaries – our fair share of revenues: 20 percent – OHA beneficiaries; 80 percent – general public beneficiaries. This debacle allows potentially millions of state dollars to be lost.

The protest at Makua raises questions, not only about access, but about state accountability in meeting its responsibilities to the public trust.

* Shouldn’t there be a review of state land leases? Because of the state’s rationale for low lease rent, an impartial third party should do the review.

* For how much of our valuable ceded lands are we not receiving proper compensation? When potential revenue is allowed to slip away, we get short-changed in education, human services, health and other benefits.

* Why weren’t access requirements considered in the lease of Makua? The state must let the military know that it cannot lease valuable land for bombings, live ammunition firing and training. Although the governor met with Admiral Prueher to change the landing site, this wasn’t resolved when the lease was given in 1964. The target of protest should be the administration, not necessarily the military, because the state can revoke the lease at any time.

* The state doesn’t own lands; it is the trustee for these lands. Shouldn’t it be more accountable for their management of these lands?

It’s time we (the public) demand that the state take its responsibilities seriously as trustee of our public trust. We have allowed them to mismanage our lands for too long! Should we be considering hiring private counsel to investigate the state for their mismanagement of our public land trust?

We Still Don’t Need the Whale Sanctuary

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

June 16, 1997

Governor Cayetano’s recent decision to enter into an agreement with the federal government permitting the creation of the federal Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Sanctuary was a big disappointment. This past May, the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs voted unanimously to oppose the sanctuary. We shared the doubts that prompted Mayor Linda Lingle and other leaders to urge Governor Cayetano to veto the plan, and we also had reasons of our own.

Our Board has a duty to protect the public trust’s resources derived from public lands, including the submerged lands, the water surface, the water column, the seabed and all flora, fauna and minerals they contain. The legislation then before the governor, and in its present state, guaranteed us no protection with respect to the federal government’s use and control of these resources. As fiduciaries, we could not assume that the federal government would always exercise its authority over the sanctuary are in a manner consistent with the best interests of the Hawaiian trust. The Governor knew this, but unfortunately paid no attention to local concerns. Now OHA is saddled with “co-stewardship,” as the federal government’s Environmental Impact Statement calls its shared dominion over the submerged ceded lands comprising the sanctuary. OHA, of course, had enough problems dealing with one “steward,” let alone two.

My own opposition to the sanctuary goes beyond issues involving ceded lands, sovereignty and Hawaiian rights. I’m concerned with the potential for destruction. Like many modern scientists, the Hawaiians of the pre-contact ahupua’a knew that interference with nature’s delicate balance could wreck havoc with the environment. So traditionally they managed the entire eco-system rather than a single species. The wisdom of their ancient practices has been conf1rmed again and again. Recently, for example, I spoke to Colin Kippen, a Native Hawaiian judge for the Squamash Tribe in Oregon, about what happens when a single species reproduces to dominate its environment. Judge Kippen has listened to tribe members complain of the damage caused by an over-population of whales in sanctuary waters. He has seen where whale fecal matter has contaminated and destroyed clam beds and other sources of revenue Pacific Northwest fishermen, including Native Americans, used to depend on. The animals are so crowded that, tragically, they are beaching themselves in desperation.

In a press release, Governor Cayetano defended his decision to bring this disastrous situation to Hawaiian waters by, among other modifications, claiming to limit the sanctuary’s boundaries to half of what was originally proposed. Just how the limits will work is unclear given legal protections in place already. As an endangered species, the humpback whale cannot be approached within 300 feet in its habitat. Existing law does not confine that habitat to the 600 miles designated by Cayetano. Rather, the habitat moves with each whale which therefore enjoys a de facto floating sanctuary with or without the recently signed agreement between the state and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. To date, there have been no complaints that either boaters or fishermen have violated this space.

Why then was this unnecessary State-Federal partnership forced on us? The only justification seems to be the $800,000 to one million dollars for research and study projects. The Governor claims this chump change will, somehow, provide the State with an economic boost!

The Governor made the wrong call on the sanctuary by listening to the wrong people-green nazis, out-of-state marine biologists and animal rights extremist–rather than the Hawaiians who have worked, protected and loved these waters for generations. We need to remember this disregard for public opinion and to look for a change in 1998.

Hawaiians Are Not the Enemy of the General Public

By Trustee Rowena Akana
February 8, 1997

A chaotic assault on Native Hawaiian entitlements got underway during the first week of the 1997 legislature. First, we heard the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs take a swat at OHA’s submission for general funds, our only source of assistance for Hawaiians who do not meet the legislatively imposed fifty-percent blood quantum. Then we saw the House judiciary committee Chair Terrence Tom bully out of committee a Constitutional Convention, structured to give our legislators summer jobs gutting Native Hawaiian entitlements in 1998. On top of that, there is a measure afoot to repeal the statute that allows us access to justice and lets us sue the State when it fails to comply with its trust obligation to Hawaiians.

Clearly, many of our lawmakers have bought into the Governor’s public relations blitz targeting Hawaiians as Public Enemy Number One. While the same old cronyism and mismanagement–woes he vowed to fix–continue, the Governor is trying to shift the blame for the State’s cloudy fiscal future to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Some very smart people are following his camera when they should be focusing elsewhere.

So that we are all on the same page, I’ll set out the numbers again. The State gets 80 percent of ceded land revenues, or the lion’s share of land leases and rents. Until OHA took the State to court and won a determination to the contrary, the State was assured of ALL of the “sovereign” income from the big-ticket tenants such as the airport, Duty Free Shops, the University of Hawaii, etc. In addition, it collects revenues via the highest income tax in the United States, the most inequitable and pervasive general excise tax and other sources of funding extracted from its citizens, including Hawaiians. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs gets 20 percent of the income from ceded land leases and rents. Period. While Circuit Court Judge Dan Heely determined that OHA should be getting a percentage of “sovereign” income too, OHA has never received any. In an attempt to make sure we never do, the State is appealing Judge Heely’s decision. Currently Cayetano & Co. are floating the rumor that a hired gun from the Mainland will replace their consistently losing team from the Attorney General’s Office. In case this suit is, once again, decided on the merits, there is a bill in the hopper, drafted last year and brought back from the dead by Representatives Calvin Say and Nathan Suzuki, the Governor’s bag men in the House, excluding “sovereign” income from the ceded lands formula.

All this leads to the conclusion that the State is following the federal example in reneging on its treaties with Native people. Sadly, it has successfully stirred up public resentment so that the betrayal appears justified. A recent Honolulu Star Bulletin article called for OHA’s revenue percentage to be reduced, and I would not be surprised to see a bill proposing such a reduction this session. The State has not told the public that the 20 percent figure represents a compromise by OHA, the legislature, and the Governor, ratified by the voters in 1978. What would prevent the State from claiming a new, lower figure is still too much? Clearly, Hawaiians cannot have any confidence in the State even when it commits its word to law.

And there is an even bigger shibai going on, one affecting Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike. Whether the legislature chews up Hawaiian entitlements piecemeal during this session or swallows them whole during a Constitutional Convention, the financial bottom line will not change. Considering the entire State budget, the annual sum owed OHA based on 20 percent is very small, hovering around one percent. Paying it in full and on time should not bankrupt a fiscally responsible State. On the other hand, eliminating the payment won’t be the solution to poor management. The real bottom line here is that no one should trust the State’s representations when it comes to Hawaiian entitlements. The non-Hawaiian public should realize that Hawaiians are sharing 80 percent of our trust with them. To take more from us than we are already giving would be unconscionable.

Hands Off Ceded Land Revenues

By Trustee Rowena Akana
February 10, 1996

Source Star Bulletin Viewpoint

A wide variety of legal principles and historical events cloud the state’s title as trustee of Hawaiian ceded lands. Even if, purely for the sake of argument, the state were to hold clear title to these lands, countless examples showing a breach of trust responsibilities can be found. These issues, pending court cases, and the future status of ceded lands in a Hawaiian sovereign entity, have yet to be settled. Until then, the state has no right to add another chapter to the long, sad history of Hawaiian land alienation.

Gov. Ben Cayetano has made it clear that he considers Hawaiian entitlements a burden on the state treasury. While ceded land revenues are a mere drop in the bucket in the overall state budget, these revenues are certainly not his to touch in any event. Hawaiians have a right to these revenues, as affirmed and reaffirmed by a variety of laws and legal instruments.

Although it is often stated that we receive 20 percent of state income from ceded lands, our agreement with the state actually gives us much less. Imagine not one but two pools of ceded land revenues — sovereign income and proprietary income. Sovereign income includes the big ticket items like airport landing fees, Duty Free Shop income, income generated by the University of Hawaii, etc. The state holds onto all of this income; the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and its native Hawaiian beneficiaries don’t get a cent of it.

The second pool, proprietary income, involves a considerably smaller amount of money, drawn from land leases and rents of ceded lands. It is this pool from which OHA draws its 20 percent to service the needs of native Hawaiians, as required by the 1959 Admission Act.

It represents not 20 percent of our Hawaiian entitlements but 10 percent (or less) of these two revenue sources.

The state assumed fiduciary obligation upon being admitted as a state in 1959 and Section 5(f) of the Admission Act stipulated that proceeds from the sale or other disposition of ceded lands would be held by the state as a public trust for the support of betterment of the conditions of native Hawaiians, public schools, agriculture, parks, recreational areas and other lands for public use, and capital improvement projects.

In 1995, Rep. Calvin Say introduced a bill that would have diverted the ceded land revenues of OHA to state capital improvement projects. This would have crippled OHA’s ability to deliver crucial services to the Hawaiian community.

It also would have amounted to double dipping by the state, which already gets 20 percent (the same amount OHA receives) specifically for capital improvement projects. To add insult to injury, Hawaiians already pay their fair share of taxes to pay for such building programs!

Fortunately OHA’s trustees and Hawaiian organizations mobilized quickly and gained the support necessary to kill Say’s bill. Hawaiian entitlements are too vital for us to wait until another crisis situation spurs us to action. Now that the state legislative session is under way, it is in the interest of Hawaiians and Hawaii’s general public not to allow our legislators to take away what little funds OHA and Hawaiians receive.

Say and House Speaker Joe Souki have helped drive our state into the present fiscal fiasco. They try to deflect blame away from themselves with a lot of smoke and hot air. They don’t address the real issues; they invent new ones. They pit Hawaiians against non-Hawaiians by creating an atmosphere of distrust based upon unwarranted fears.

Hawaiians aren’t the only ones at risk here. Every tax-paying citizen of Hawaii will be directly affected by the decisions of lawmakers in 1996. Already there’s talk of increasing our general excise tax. Already there’s talk again of taking away OHA’s funding to pay for capital improvements. Can we allow the state to continue mismanaging our ceded land funds and our hard-earned tax dollars? I think not.

We must protect what little we have, before we all end up like the state — dead broke.