`Ano`ai kakou… Happy Year of the Horse! The following are some of the issues that I will be focusing on in 2014.
During the 2012 legislative session, Senate Bill 682 proposed to add value to two parcels of our lands in Kaka’ako Makai by giving OHA the right to develop residential structures on them. This would have added significant value to our properties and provided much needed revenue for our Nation. While the bill had the support of key senators, it failed to pass. OHA now needs lay down the groundwork to pass a similar bill in the upcoming legislative session while also working towards a Master Plan for our Kakaako Makai properties.
A continuing concern are the proposed “finger piers” that will front our property at Kewalo Basin. The finger piers are threatening to seriously reduce the value of our land and take away OHA’s right to develop our own piers. However, the HCDA continues to refuse any proposals to change their plan or to make concessions.
OHA must continue to object to the current finger piers design. If HCDA goes forward with signing any lease, OHA should consider suing. Given the major contests coming up in the 2014 elections, perhaps there are other reasons for HCDA’s reluctance to work with OHA. Developers have contributed large sums of cash to gain the support of key candidates who can help them with their development plans. We should all take this into consideration before we cast our votes.
Also in 2013, the State Auditor came out with her OHA Audit (to see a copy visit: http://files.hawaii.gov/auditor/Reports/2013/13-07.pdf) that harshly criticized the trustees’ vote to authorize the purchase of the Gentry building. The action also had serious consequences for OHA’s ability to invest in community projects and has opened us to criticism by the state legislature.
In my opinion, OHA could have avoided much of the criticism if we had received better legal counsel from attorneys who have worked with OHA for a long time. I believe it is time for Trustees to seriously evaluate the quality of their advice.
Looking to the Future in 2014 with International Outreach
Last year, I joined the Board of Directors of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), which provides Native Hawaiians a great opportunity to network with American Indians and Alaska Natives and to develop programs that will help sustain and strengthen our cultural legacy.
In March 2014, AIANTA will sponsor a pavilion at the Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB) Berlin — the world’s leading travel and trade fair — in Germany. ITB provides Native and Tribal tourism departments the opportunity to showcase their cultural programs and tour packages to the multi-billion dollar European tourism market.
I am optimistic about presenting tourism from a Hawaiian perspective. Native Americans and Alaska Natives are successfully doing this and providing economic development for their tribes and also contributing to their states’ tourism dollars. ITB Berlin will give our beneficiaries the opportunity to make valuable contacts with international travel organizations, media and tour operators.
Happy New Year!
I look forward to 2014 and am optimistic about OHA’s future. I wish all of you the very best Holiday Season filled with joy and good health. May God’s Blessings be upon each of you and your families. See you next year!