OHA must televise its meetings


Source: July 2008 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  Just like the resistance to conducting a forensic audit on OHA by certain trustees, efforts to broadcast our meetings on television are also facing the similar resistance.  The question is why? 

A forensic audit would be a useful tool to help us manage our assets better, as well as look at the things that we are doing right.  Similarly, broadcasting OHA meetings would be a great communication tool for our beneficiaries to learn about the programs we fund, how we are spending their Native Hawaiian Trust dollars.  More importantly, they can find out about the many, many other functions that OHA is also currently involved in such as land, water, and historic preservation issues (including litigation) on all islands.  We can also go more in-depth about the federal and state legislation that we support or object to.

Trustees at our May 22nd Committee on Beneficiaries, Advocacy & Empowerment (BAE) meeting were not supportive of a resolution (HCR 345), recently passed by the legislature, which asks that OHA be more accountable to our beneficiaries by televising our general meetings – similar to what the state legislature and city council already do on OLELO Community television.

One trustee insisted that, “If we had to do it, I would opt for the most inexpensive way.”  Another asked, “Who would watch us anyway?  There aren’t any numbers or demographics even on our radio show during our morning drive into work.”  I feel this is really a good question.  Why don’t we know who many people are listening to the show, especially since the show’s contract has just been renewed?  One trustee even said that “the legislature’s reso is just that!  It’s not law and we don’t have to do it if we don’t want to.”

Our deputy administrator’s comments were that he would have a recommendation to the board by September – Four months from our meeting!  Recognizing that it would only be a recommendation, it appears that there would NOT be a recording of an OHA meeting until the end of the year.  Why are these trustees worried about what the beneficiaries and the general public would see?  It should be obvious given the fact that it is an election year and Trustees Apoliona, Cataluna, Lindsey, and Machado are running for re-lection in the November 4th general election.

There are many positive points of broadcasting our meetings:

  • Broadcasting on OLELO would cost almost NO money since there are as many as fifty OHA staff members that are certified to handle OLELO video equipment and OLELO would run the show on their Native Hawaiian cable channel for free. 
  • OHA already produces regular programs and discussions on OLELO.
  • Most OHA meetings take place during work hours in the middle of the work week.  We should give our beneficiaries the option of viewing our meetings after they get home from work or on the weekends.
  • As for viewership, OHA deals with many hot-button issues that would resonate with the community and draw hundreds, if not thousands of viewers.
  • OHA’s mandate is so enormous that a one hour radio show couldn’t possibly address or explain exactly what we do here.  A television show would do more for OHA than any other paid advertising that OHA has ever done.
  • More and more people are turning on their televisions or their computers to view the news.  Unfortunately, less people are reading newspapers, like our Ka Wai Ola, these days.

All that said, broadcasting the OHA meetings would be a very good way to improve OHA’s image in the community.