Stender is a liar

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: The Garden Island, October 15, 2008

Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Oswald Stender’s Saturday (“Election-year smears,” Letters, Oct. 11) letter against me just shows that he is living in complete denial about his friends Haunani Apoliona and Colette Machado and is terrified that when they lose this election, he will have to give up his Finance Committee where all of the excess spending has come from and will have to submit to a forensic audit. 

For the record:

• I have never used OHA money to take any personal trips and have never solicited invitations to take trips anywhere.

• All of my travel has been approved by the OHA administrator.

• I am the chair of the Native Hawaiian Health Task Force, which has never been dissolved by the board.

• It was Stender and Trustee Boyd Mossman who asked me to speak with the local representative of the Jack Abramoff firm. On a trip to Washington, D.C., trustees Machado, Apoliona, Dante Carpenter, John Waihee IV, myself and the administrator all interviewed three lobbyist firms. I never, at any time, insisted that OHA hire the Abramoff firm.

• Apoliona has, by far, outspent all current and past trustees with her travel expenses. On one trip to D.C. in 2007 alone, she spent nearly $9,000. She spent $56,000 from 2005-2006.

•  People who remember when Stender was with the Bishop Estate know that he created so much trouble from the inside of that institution that it finally collapsed and now the Princess’ will has been broken forever.

• As a Bishop Estate trustee, Stender formed a consortium with private investors to outbid his own board to buy a section of land from Maui Land & Pine. He even used a study done by Bishop Estate for his private use with his consortium. For this action, he should have been removed as a trustee for a breach of trust.

It is really sad to see someone so afraid of losing his power on the OHA board that he will do anything — even lie and twist the truth — to discredit his fellow trustee to maintain the status quo.

This is exactly why there needs to be changes on the OHA board. It’s time, folks, it’s time.

Calling All Volunteers! An OHA Sage Plus Update


June 2003 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  When the Native Hawaiian Health Task Force was first convened in 1999, we originally focused our efforts on four underserved and vulnerable groups – keiki, ‘opio, kūpuna, and underinsured makua.  We came up with ambitious plans, such as the creation of a Hawaiian HMO.  However, this plan was not pursued when an actuarial study found that, since Hawaiians have disproportionately poor health compared to the rest of the population in Hawaii, OHA could lose up to $20 million per year.

The Task Force then decided to refocus its efforts on the most vulnerable segment of our community, our kūpuna.  In 1996, the Pacific Health Research Institute reported that the rates of death from major chronic disease were higher for Hawaiian elderly than non-Hawaiian elderly.  They attributed this disparity to the late diagnosis and treatment of health problems.  The Task Force felt it could deal with this problem immediately and ease the suffering of our kūpuna by providing valuable information on Medicare benefits through the OHA SAGE PLUS program.  Most people do not know that Medicare pays for many preventive services such as: 

  • Mammography for breast cancer screening
  • Pap smears for cervical cancer screening
  • Colorectal cancer screening
  • Bone mass measurements for osteoporosis
  • Diabetes self-management and blood glucose monitoring
  • Flu and Pneumonia vaccinations.

These Medicare benefits can be a key to long lasting good health and can help our kūpuna determine their health risks and needs for preventive medicine.

The Task Force developed the OHA SAGE PLUS program a year ago as an outreach program to ensure our Hawaiian kūpuna receive all of the Medicaid benefits that they are entitled.  The State Executive Office on Aging (EOA) will train volunteers to conduct informational presentations to assist kūpuna in assessing their eligibility for Medicare, Medigap, Medicare+Choice, Supplemental plans, Hospice, Long-Term Care Insurance, and Advanced Healthcare Directives and other health benefits.  The application process can get bewildering for many kūpuna since Medicare rules and regulations are constantly changing.  The EOA provides volunteers with regular training updates.

The OHA volunteers will also collect vital quantitative data that will be valuable in formulating future programs and strategies to help the kūpuna population.  This data can also be used to justify grant applications for federal funds and to convince our own State legislature to fund more programs to assist kūpuna.

OHA’s staff from Hilo, Kona, Kauai, Maui, and Molokai will be undergoing the training so that they may bring this valuable service to kūpuna on the neighbor islands.  One of the goals of the program is for the training to expand to the neighbor islands.

After a lifetime of dignity, independence, and hard work, many of our proud kūpuna are too embarrassed to ask outsiders for help.  They also believe it is shameful to air one’s problems in public.  The Pacific Health Research Institute recommended greater outreach to the kūpuna community by providing information and referrals, which the program hopes to accomplish.

It is unacceptable that our kūpuna continue to be denied life saving health benefits because they lack the information to access it.  We must strive to do everything possible to help our kupuna get the information they need to improve and prolong their quality of life.

Improving the health of our kūpuna will only make the greater Hawaiian community stronger.  How can we build a nation when we cannot properly care for the most vulnerable part of our community?  Unless something is done now, their health will continue to fail and we will risk prematurely losing their wisdom at a time when we need it the most, a time when every entitlement for Hawaiians are under attack.

The next OHA SAGE PLUS training workshop is set for June 9-10, 2003 from 8:30am-4:30pm at either the State Executive Office of Aging or at OHA.  If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact OHA staff member Nancy Holt at 594-1905.

An estimated 16,000 Hawaiian kūpuna are potentially eligible for Medicare program benefits.  We are determined to recruit at least 50 volunteers.  Our kūpuna generally feel more comfortable when people their own age explain things to them, however, all who passionately believe in assisting the elderly are urged to join the program.  Mahalo nui!

Board of Trustees Finally Passes A Program For Kupuna Health!

By Rowena Akana
August 2002

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA

SAGE PLUS: A Beginning

On June 20, 2002, the OHA Board of Trustees passed a program to ensure that Kupuna will be counseled on signing up for medical benefits they may be eligible for.

The Native Hawaiian Task Force was convened in 1999. The group was charged with developing health care options for OHA to pursue and originally focused on four underserved groups–keiki, ‘opio, kupuna,and underinsured makua. After reviewing many health care options, the task force decided that OHA should, in the least, provide a service to help kupuna sign up for any medical benefits they may be eligible for. OHA will partner with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the SAGE PLUS Program, operated by the State of Hawaii Executive Office on Aging, to develop an outreach program to ensure Native Hawaiian Kupuna are getting all of the Medicare and Medicaid benefits to which they are entitled.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that at least 50% of seniors who are eligible for Medicare Savings programs and/or Medicaid are not receiviing these benefits. It has been determined that over 16,000 Native Hawaiian kupuna are potentially eligible for program benefits. We would like to reach as many of this group as we can.

SAGE PLUS is a program which trains peer volunteers to provide information to senior citizens regarding available programs and eligibility requirements for Medicare and other benefits. The program also ensures that volunteers are linked into a network of providers who assist kupuna in a variety of areas. SAGE PLUS provides the initial training (two 8-hour sessions) and monthly follow-up to peer volunteers on each island. O’ahu volunteers receive weekly follow-up meetings. These follow-up meetings are necessary to keep the volunteers up to date. The volunteers will be trained to

* Explain Medicare, Medicare supplements, Medicare choices, and Medicaid;
* Explain benefits and coverage;
* Assist in completing and submitting claim forms, and
* Assist in contacting appropriate agencies to gather information and to make appropriate referrals.

At this time, my heartfelt thanks to the Native Hawaiian Task Force members and former members for all the time and effort they put in getting a health project passed to help our kupuna:

Current members: Dr. Thomas Au (Kauka Hui); Kim Birnie (Kauka Hui); Beth Geisting (Primary Care Assoc.); Claire Hughes (DOH, OHE); Richard Jackson (Queen’s Health Systems); Na’u Kamali’i (Papa Ola Lokahi); Kirk Lange (DOH OHP); Pi’ilani Pang (HMSA Uninsured Project); Mary Rydell (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services); Hardy Spoehr (Papa Ola Lokahi); and Paul Tom (HMA, Inc.). Past members have included Dr. Charmin Akina, Dr. Naleen Andrade, Gladys Brandt, Stephen Chong, Beadie Dawson, Sam Millington, Professor Noreen Mokuau, Charles Nakoa, Richard Paglinawan, Robert Oshiro, Sister Beatrice Tom, and Dr. Benjamin Young.

On another note:

“For the Love of Country: A Discussion About Native Americans Contribution to the U.S.” will be held on July 15 and 16, hosted by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, the Alaska Federation of Natives, National Congress of American Indians, DHHL, OHA, and Senators Akaka and Inouye.

This effort is being planned to help garner support for the passage of Senate Bill 746, better known as the Akaka Bill. My next column will be devoted to this event–bringing you up close to all the events that took place in Washington, D.C. during this two-day event. Until then, a hui hou!

Hawaiian Home Loan Program; Health Task Force

By Rowena Akana
January 2002

Source Ka Wai Ola o OHA

OHA’s Home Loan Program for Hawaiian Home Lands has been successful since 1993 when OHA granted DHHL $20 million for renovations and down payments for its homesteaders. As the program’s committee chair, I hope to broaden this home loan program to include more Hawaiians, especially those not on Hawaiian Homestead lands. In order to accomplish this, OHA needs to leverage its financial resources by partnering with other lending institutions. To that end, I have been meeting with possible lenders and most recently in talks with FANNIE MAE in Washington, D.C. and in the western region in California. Talks have been fruitful and I hope that by mid-April or May, OHA will have a home loan program that all Hawaiians in the community can participate in.

Most Hawaiians do not have access to financing through the “conventional” lending system. There is a need to provide home loans to Native Hawaiians. If OHA merely lent its own monies and collected on the loans, the limited funding would not allow OHA to make very many loans. However, with FANNIE MAE and other lenders’ participation, we can leverage those monies and provide for many loans from our initial capital investment. If processed in this manner, OHA can provide for many more loans from its initial capital investment. In the end, if these agreements with the banks and FANNIE MAE are successful, OHA can provide more loans to more people and allow OHA monies to revolve.

I look forward to progressing with this loan program so more Hawaiians who do not live on homestead lands can purchase homes. My hope is to accomplish this goal. If you support this concept, drop me a line or call me at 594-1860. I will keep you informed as to its progress.

On another exciting note, the Native Hawaiian Health Task Force has been reactivated by the Programs Committee when I was chair. Health has always been one of the key issues cited by our communities as a pressing need for Hawaiians. One of the outcomes of the past task force meetings was a report which found that the most effective use of our monies would be in an outreach program to help kupuna enroll in supplemental health coverage plans. We cannot overlook the health requirements of our neediest Hawaiians – our kupuna. I will continue to work with the medical field through the task force on health issues for Hawaiians. OHA will soon be hiring a full-time health person to assume the task of assisting the Native Hawaiian Health Task Force in supplementing health coverage for the kupuna, as well as using our monies and resources to address some of the health needs of our Hawaiian communities. I will keep you posted on the activities of the Native Hawaiian Health Task Force and Hawaiian health issues.

I am grateful to the following Task Force members who so willingly gave of their time and mana’o to serve: Dr. Charmin Akina, Waimanalo Health Center; Dr. Naleen Andrade, U.H.; Gladys Brandt, Stephen Chong, St. Francis Health; Beadie Dawson, Attorney; Professor Noreen Mokuau; Charles Nakoa, QLCC; Sister Beatrice Tom; Dr. Benjamin Young, Native Hawaiian School of Medicine; Richard Jackson, Queen’s Health System; Na’u Kamali’i and Hardy Spoehr, Papa Ola Lokahi; Mary Rydell, Center for Medicaid and Medicare; Claire Hughes and Kirk Lange, Department of Health; Pi’ilani Pang, HMSA Uninsured Project; Thomas Au and Kim Birnie, Kauka Hui; and Beth Geisting, Primary Care Association.

“Save your people and bless their inheritance, O Lord be their shepherd and carry them forever.” Psalms 28:9.

Accomplishments During Chairmanship of the OHA Board of Trustees

By: Trustee Rowena Akana, Chairman
October, 2000

Source: Kai Wai Ola o OHA

With all of the battles, sword crossing, and legal maneuvering this Hawaiian agency has experienced during the last few months, it is important that we not lose sight of the positives that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has accomplished.

Our office has been instrumental in reaching the Native Hawaiian community and serving the beneficiaries of this trust, despite the hardships that this office has had to endure.

Among the accomplishments achieved during my chairmanship of the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs:

* We created a half-time Community Affairs Coordinator position for Lanai.

* Gladys Brandt became director of OHA’s Education Foundation

* We rectified errors discovered in our investment profile, creating a new income formula

* We passed a policy that required a two-thirds vote for all unbudgeted items

* We established a policy for bonds by which our fixed-income managers would not be allowed to invest in below yield investments

* We approved ll grants totaling $425,428 for projects ranging from transportation to Hawaiian immersion schools to prenatal programs for hapai Hawaiians. Just six months ago, our grants department was nine months behind schedule. Now, it is almost a full year ahead of schedule

* We authorized OHA’s continued participation in the Kukui o Molokai, Inc. water case.

* We signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the state for improvements to the Queen Kaahumanu Highway in Kailua-Kona.

* We voted to appropriate more than $500,000 for the renovation of Ke Kula Niihau o Kekaha immersion school, which will provide classrooms and a cafeteria on Kauai.

* We approved a two-year extension of the administrator’s contract and clarified his responsibilities in order to streamline operations.

* We resolved four workers compensation claims that have been pending for more than a decade.

* We awarded $10,000 to OHA’s Education Foundation for operations.

* We hired a personnel manager to align OHA with accepted employment practices.

* We appropriated more than $500,000 for a legal “dream team” to represent our interests in Rice vs. Cayetano.

* During our trips to Washington DC, we learned of a presidential health directive for Pacific Islanders and Asians. We were instrumental in inserting language into the executive order that added our people to the list of ethnic groups eligible for funds and recognition. The order defines a Pacific Islander as “the aboriginal, indigenous native people of Hawaii and other Pacific Islands within the jurisdiction of the United States.”

* We implemented an investment policy with the purpose of reviewing our trust asset allocations.

* We developed an Individual Development Account Program (IDA).

* We approved a MOA for an H-3 Interpretative Center in collaboration with state and federal governments.

* We approved funds for the Saddle Road MOA improvement project on the Big Island.

* We appropriated $120,000 for the Molokai Dialysis Treatment Center and $7,200 in transitional funds for home kidney dialysis machines.

* We also welcomed former Department of Hawaiian Homelands Director Kali Watson to our ‘ohana as a crucial player in the ceded lands negotiations.

* Preparations continue for the October Puwalu Conference. We want to educate everyone about self-determination. All Hawaiian groups will be invited. We have hired a specialist to assist with this historic event.

* OHA, the Bishop Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution are planning an exhibit in Washington highlighting the history of our people, scheduled for about the time the Supreme Court will hear Rice.

* Our steadfast commitment to our kupuna is the basis for a Native Hawaiian Health Task Force to be implemented by the end of this year.

* We launched a successful initiative in Washington DC, winning Hawaiians and the state the support of US Solicitor General Seth Waxman in Rice vs. Cayetano. He filed one of two dozen briefs urging the Supreme Court to consider constitutional OHA’s election.

* We approved amendments to S. 225, a federal bill extending the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act to Hawaiians.

* We awarded $116,996.00 in grants for Native Hawaiian projects.

* We appropriated $1.2 million to guarantee a loan supporting Hawaii County Department of Water Supply’s application for federal funds for road construction and clearing homestead lots in Kikala-Keokea.

* We approved funds for initiatives in alternative education.

* We voted to support the Dollars-to-Classroom Act.

* We amended the Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Act to widen its scope.

* We included in our money monitor’s contract a provision for a “wrapped” fee.
* We resolved our Ho’oulu Mea Kanu native plant project to the ANA for funding.

* We approved more than $574,000 to the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation to assist beneficiaries in bringing claims against the state for the breaches of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust.

It is my sincere hope that the Hawaiian community will unite during these
extraordinary times. It is important to keep focused on the positive, so that we can continue to strive forward together as a people.