`Ano`ai kakou… Happy Year of the Monkey! I began 2015 on a high note as the new Chairperson of the Asset & Resource Management (ARM) Committee and oversaw OHA’s budget, fiscal operations and Trust Fund.
From January to July, the ARM Committee was incredibly productive. We had a total eleven (11) ARM meetings; two (2) joint meetings with the Beneficiary Advocacy and Empowerment Committee; and passed a total of seven (7) ARM Action Items, which included authorizing funds to help support our kupuna at Lunalilo Home.
Despite my ARM committee’s high output, on July 30, 2015, the Trustees voted to consolidate the ARM committee with the Land and Property (LAP) Committee to form a new super-committee called the Committee on Resource Management (RM).
OHA leadership believed that consolidating the committees would lead to greater efficiency in the Board of Trustees, but I was not supportive of the consolidation because the RM committee is simply too broad in scope. I am still hopeful that the Trustees can go back to our previous system of five committees. It worked so well to engage the Trustees and allowed us to deal with issues proactively.
I will continue to push for more fiscal responsibility within OHA on issues such as:
- Changing our spending policy limit to 4 ½ percent of the Trust Fund given the state of the current economy;
- Conducting a full forensic audit of how every penny is spent at OHA; and
- Making sure the Administration keeps its promise to get rid of the “Fiscal Reserve” slush fund.
If you haven’t already heard, you may now go to OHA’s website at http://www.oha.org/about/board-trustees to watch live meetings of the OHA Board of Trustees. Be sure to tune in on the days we have our meetings. For a meeting schedule, please call me at (808) 594-0204.
NEW LEGISLATIVE SESSION
OHA is currently working on plans to develop its Kaka‘ako Makai properties with a truly Hawaiian sense of place that allows for open space and ease of community access to the waterfront.
For the upcoming legislative session, I will be focusing on legislation that will allow OHA to use its Kakaako properties provide our beneficiaries and the community as a whole with affordable housing.
OHA should be allowed to increase its building height limit in order to allow for more middle income condos. Everyone agrees that Hawaii’s homeless problem is caused in large part due to the lack of truly affordable housing. Luxury high rises that only millionaire mainlanders can afford are sprouting up all around the Kakaako area. OHA is one of the few entities that can develop affordable living spaces in the area that specifically targets local buyers.
The lack of affordable housing is not just a Native Hawaiian issues, it’s an issue that affects us all. This is why we will be counting on the support of the broader community to get this legislation passed. I have high hopes that, working together, we will all have a successful session.
Hau’oli Makahiki Hou and God bless.