By: OHA TRUSTEE ROWENA AKANA
Source: April 2010 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column
There is no question that from the Territorial Government to the present, the state has consistently mismanaged our ceded lands. Politicians have leased thousands of acres to their friends for as little as a dollar a year through insider deals. A previous Governor even suspended landing fees at the airport, which sits on ceded lands, for two years to allow airlines to bring in more tourists. We all know that didn’t happen. And they wonder why they don’t have any money!
These same politicians are now forced to come up with “creative” ways to supplement their shortfalls during these tight economic times such as legalized gambling, raising taxes and, worst of all, selling ceded lands. They wouldn’t have to look far if they simply managed our ceded lands properly.
The state’s failure to manage ceded lands should not be used as an excuse to sell a resource that is so critical to the future success of our future nation. Just a year ago, state legislators agreed with us and voted to preserve ceded lands. Act 176, 2009, established that the state cannot sell any ceded lands unless they get a two-thirds majority vote in both the State House and State Senate. Now they’re going back on their word and trying to sell ceded lands. How can we trust these people?
This election year, let’s elect responsible leaders who will make the tough decisions needed to get our economy out of the toilet. We do not need more politicians to think of even more creative ways to tax us or squander our resources.
ON ANOTHER NOTE:
On February 10, 2010, OHA’s money committee decided to stop investigating whether we should keep or replace our investment managers. According to the minutes of the meeting, after considering all factors involved, all trustees present at the meeting came to a consensus that our staff would “cease all due diligence efforts at this time and retain the current investment advisors.”
The decision to postpone the evaluation of our investment managers is very shortsighted [I was not at the meeting and did not join the discussion]. It disregards the criticisms that the State Auditor had in her recent audit regarding OHA’s management of the trust. It also disregards what Trustees Lindsey, Mossman, Heen, Stender and I learned from the Mercer Investment Forum on January 28-29, 2010 in San Francisco.
The Forum stressed the need for investors to look for managers who are specialized in each field of investment. More importantly, they recommended that we evaluate whether our managers are able to handle the new requirements of “opportunistic” investing.
Trustee Stender later informed the trustees that our fiscal staff would continue to monitor the top five money managers we are considering and bring this matter back to the committee within a year.
One year is long time to wait. At the very least, our staff should report to the committee on a quarterly basis to keep us informed. In these volatile times, we do not have the luxury to “take our eyes off the ball” for such an extended length of time.
Until the next time. Aloha pumehana.