Consolidating committees is an attempt to control power – AGAIN!

`Ano`ai kakou…  On July 30, 2015, the Trustees voted to authorize the OHA Administration’s proposal to consolidate my committee, Asset & Resource Management (ARM) and the Land and Property (LAP) Committee into a new super-committee called the Committee on Resource Management.  The board needs to vote on it one more time before it becomes official but, by the time you read this, it probably already happened.

OHA’s administration feels that having three committees only wastes time and effort.  But this just part of the administration’s continuous efforts to strengthen their control over Trustees.  Over the past six months they have harassed Trustees by denying our travel and sponsorship requests; using vague rules that we never authorized.  Is the administration elected by the beneficiaries or hired by the Trustees?

Trustees are the policy makers, but with very weak leadership at the helm of the board, our powers have been minimized.  OHA’s administrators and attorneys run the show and the Trustees have been downgraded.  Despite pledging to take back power, this Chairman has not kept his promise to Trustees.

Consolidating committees will only centralize power under a few Trustees that are favored by the administration.  Despite early promises by this Chairman to stop this kind of shenanigans, he has failed.  So you can expect business as usual.

Over ten years ago, OHA had five committees covering everything from land to the legislature.  Trustees developed many successful programs, such as Aha ‘Opio and Aha Kupuna.  Then Trustee Haunani Apoliona and her faction took over and consolidated the five committees into two, giving her and her successor a tighter grip on power.

This was the start of a string of disasters as OHA could not get anything meaningful done.  With no Trustee Committees overseeing them, our successful programs were quietly discontinued.   But it’s the loss of land that was the most devastating consequence.

Maili Land

In 2002, a company leaving Hawaii offered to donate to OHA 198 acres of Maili land.  OHA waited too long to respond and the company sold the land, valued at $3,000,000, for $100,000.  The ARM chairman at the time said he didn’t see the urgency of the deal and failed to take it up in his committee in a timely manner.  It was unconscionable to let such a huge opportunity slip through the cracks.  Unfortunately, history tends to repeat itself.

Puna Land

On August 18, 2004, Joe Wedeman offered to donate 66.4 acres of Puna land to OHA.  The gift was a tremendous opportunity and could be an educational and cultural resource for students.

I immediately asked the ARM chairman to bring it to the committee for a vote and reminded him about the Maili debacle.  On September 1, 2004, he asked the administrator to do a study first.  Then, on September 29, 2004, they asked for three more weeks to visit the site.  When I checked on December 17, 2004, it still wasn’t done.

By the time the Administration finally presented the study to ARM on February 16, 2005, Mr. Wedeman had withdrawn his offer.

We need both the LAP & ARM committees

The Trustees seem to have forgotten all of the problems above that led to the creation of the LAP Committee.  Shouldn’t everyone be asking why leadership wants to combine it with ARM?  They are putting power again in the hands of a few Trustees and the Administrator.  Aloha Ke Akua.

Know Your Elected Officials, Demand Accountability

By Trustee Rowena Akana
January 2003

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA


Last month’s article focused on the hope that we would see significant changes on the OHA Board that would be beneficial to our beneficiaries. Well… all I can say is we all have to pray hard, very hard.

First of all, there were no changes in terms of the Chairmanship of the Board or the Financial Chairman. Let me re-cap what occurred with regard to our financial management under this present budget chair. We lost almost $100 million of trust dollars by not paying attention to business. If that was not devastating enough, in July and August of 2002, the Committee on Land accepted an offer from a developer to receive 200 acres of free land in Maili worth $2, 881,500.00. This action item was then forwarded to the Budget & Finance Committee in September where it sat with no activity for three months. As a result of this negligence, the Developer sold the land in December 2002. These kinds of mis-opportunities are beginning to be common place under this leadership team. Can we as Hawaiians in this time of crises afford to miss opportunities such as these.

In January the Board must concern itself with choosing a new Money Management Team. The Budget Chairman is pushing one candidate with great zeal. What is disconcerting is that he wants to close the door to other possible applicants. What’s up with that???  How can beneficiaries expect accountability from those who they elect?

May I offer some suggestions:

*Know the candidates, find out as much as you can about them, who they are aligned with, etc.
* What has been their contribution to the community?
* Do they work in non-profit organizations for profit?
* Are they friendly with or in business with any of the present Board members?
* Do they have any other connections to seated Board members which would constitute a conflict and cause their block voting to be NOT in the best interest of the people, or the Trust.

While this process may appear to be a lengthy one, it is important when selecting candidates for any public office. The good thing about electing officials is that the voters can remove them in the next election. What you don’t want is a process that excludes the people, such as appointing trustees rather than electing. Although the election process is not perfect it still remains the most fair and just way to select our leaders. The solution to elect responsible leadership is to be educated as best as we can be about the candidates, what they stand for and their past experience in working with the community that they hope to represent. As a voter you too have a responsibility to get involved and to demand accountability of those whom you have elected.

In 2003 our goal must be to work with the new administration on settling ceded land claims and to also pursue a recognition process. I look forward to working with all of you in the coming year.  HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE NEW YEAR!