`Ano`ai kakou… By the time you read this article you will have voted in the Primary Election. I hope you took my advice and voted for new people. Let me tell you why this is important, especially in the OHA races.
About a year ago, at the urging of the current Board Chair, two committees were collapsed into one. The Budget Committee and the Land Committee became the Committee on Resource Management chaired by Trustee Colette Machado. The excuse was to save time and effort, but the real reason was to consolidate power.
Since that time very little, if anything, has happened in the new combined committee. Trustees have received little or no information on our land negotiations. For instance:
- MAUNA KEA: On May 26, 2015, Governor David Ige announced that he asked UH, which subleases the Mauna Kea summit area from the state, to make ten changes to improve its stewardship of Mauna Kea. One of the changes included UH voluntarily returning to the state more than 10,000 acres that are not specifically needed for astronomy. I believe UH should turn the lands over to OHA, since all 11,300 acres of land within the Mauna Kea Science Reserve are public land trust lands classified under section 5(b) of the Admissions Act. What better solution could there be than to put Hawaiian lands in Hawaiian hands? OHA has now put the State and UH on notice that we are considering legal action against both.
- KAKAAKO MAKAI: In 2012, when OHA received Kakaako lands in our settlement with the State over past-due ceded land revenues, none of us knew that the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA), which has jurisdiction over development in the area, planned to lease the harbor in Kakaako. OHA has been negotiating with the HCDA to get them to compromise on their plans to put “finger piers” in front of our Fisherman’s Wharf property.
- LEGISLATIVE THREATS: Earlier in the year, the legislature tried to pass a “forced land sales” bills. If HB 1635 and HB 2173 had become law, developers could use it to forced Hawai‘i’s landowners to sell leasehold lands to their lessees. Kamehameha Schools led the charge against the legislation since nearly 80 percent of their commercial properties are leased. Also, our ceded lands controlled by DLNR could have been threatened and it would have also hurt the ability of Native Hawaiian organizations and trusts to fulfill their missions.
No matter what explanation is given for all of the missed opportunities that OHA has had this past year to fulfill its mission, it all comes down to leadership and the lack of it. To top all of this off, a five to four vote is hardly a vote of confidence to hire back an OHA Administrator who many Trustees feel lacks the business and economic development experience to move OHA forward in the black column instead of the steady red.
These are the reasons OHA needs a breath of fresh air. VOTE FOR CHANGE. IMUA!