Why Two OHA Trustees Should Not Return to OHA

By: Trustee Rowena Akana
Friday, September 26, 2008

Source: Letter sent to various newspaper editors

OHA has had no fiscal accountability under Haunani Apoliona’s chairmanship. Programs have been eliminated or outsourced while our annual budget has doubled from $24 million to $52 million. The contracts of underperforming vendors have been unlawfully extended multiple times.

Apoliona has spent millions flying first-class and hosting lavish parties on the mainland. Her sister also works for OHA and recently had nearly $50,000 on her personal charge card reimbursed by OHA.

Morale at OHA has never been lower. Ten employees were fired or quit this year. Employees are fingerprinted for I.D. cards, tracked by security cameras, and constantly reminded that they can be fired at anytime.

Apoliona’s friend, Trustee Colette Machado, misled the Board into approving a resolution supporting Molokai Ranch’s plan to donate thousands of acres of land to the community in exchange for a development of high-end homes on the ranch. Machado said the community supported this effort, which turned out to be false. Machado was also involved with the group that was to control the donated lands and she is now its chairperson. Machado’s group recently received a $100,000 OHA grant for “operating costs.”

In this election year, voters must make the necessary changes and elect people who will be accountable.

La’au Point

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Letter to the Editor, Molokai Dispatch, November 2007

I am writing to clarify a few issues that Bridget Mowat brought up in her October 25, 2007 letter to the editor.

First, Office of Hawaiian Affiars (OHA) Chairperson Haunani Apoliona should have informed those who attended OHA’s October 17, 2007 Molokai meeting that both Trustee Mossman and I were in New York on official board business dealing with the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund.  Let me assure the Molokai community that, as a statewide at-large trustee, I am deeply concerned with La’au Point and would have made every effort to attend the meeting if it were not for the scheduling conflict.  Chair Apoliona should have also made sure whether the remaining trustees could attend or not and rescheduled the meeting if she didn’t have quorum.

Second, Trustee Dante Carpenter and I personally urged Chairperson Apoliona during last year’s Molokai meeting to consider rescinding OHA’s resolution supporting Molokai Ranch’s Master Plan, which includes the development of luxury homes at La`au Point.  Chair Apoliona flatly refused.

Third, the $100,000 that was awarded to the Molokai Land Trust, which is led by Trustee Machado, is indeed a cause for concern.  I was unable to attend the September 13th committee meeting that approved the grant due to a scheduling conflict.  However, I have learned that the $100,000 grant Mowat discusses was actually given to the nonprofit Ke Aupuni Lokahi, Inc. to administer in support of the Molokai Land Trust.  It is possible that the trustees did not understand that the grant would actually benefit the Moloka’i Land Trust.  Also, I do not know whether Trustee Colette Machado clearly explained to the Trustees that she would directly benefit from the grant.  In any case, she abstained from voting for it.

Finally, Trustee Machado assured us when we first approved the resolution supporting Molokai Ranch’s Master Plan that the Molokai community fully supported it.  As the Trustee from Molokai, we believed her and supported the resolution.  In the future, I will not make the mistake of believing Trustee Machado, or any trustee regarding a project they support, without first checking the facts for myself.