‘Ano‘ai kakou. As you may have heard through the media, this has been a turbulent few months for OHA. It is heartbreaking that OHA cannot be focused on what our beneficiaries are demanding – assistance with housing, education, and health.
Change is never easy, but I want to state for the record that all of the initiatives I fought for in the past two months were for one purpose only: To protect the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund, now and into the future, for our beneficiaries. If my first initiatives were passed by the Board, our beneficiaries would have seen immediate change for the better. We were so close.
By a majority vote of the Board we wanted to negotiate a buyout of the CEO/Administrator/Ka Pouhana’s contract. We felt that OHA could do so much more for our beneficiaries if we could change the course of where the Administration was headed. A buyout would have been the least painful way to bring about that change. The CEO would receive a negotiated sum of money and his reputation would be intact since we wouldn’t have to air any “dirty laundry” in the public. But as everyone who read the newspaper or watched the evening news lately knows, it didn’t work out that way.
On a positive note, Trustee Keli‘i Akina’s proposal to conduct a more comprehensive audit of OHA, which will look into things that the three mandated OHA audits don’t cover, looks like it will become a reality. On February 8th, the Resource Management Committee formed an Advisory Committee to make recommendations to the Board on the scope of a proposed financial audit and management review. Our beneficiaries should be proud because this is only coming about because you demanded it. I look forward to the audit and finally answer the one question I’ve been asking nonstop for the last decade: Where is all the money really going?
On February 9th, the Board elected Colette Machado as the new Chair of the Board of Trustees. While she has been part of a faction that has no love for my demands for fiscal accountability, I know that she will do her best to be fair. I will definitely to my part to help her move OHA in the right direction again so that the Board can make a real impact in the lives of our beneficiaries.
However, I was disappointed to see that Trustee Machado was able to let former Trustee Haunani Apoliona use her column space in the February Ka Wai Ola as her soapbox to attack me, while my original February article was banned by the CEO because he felt it was too critical of the Administration and the Trustees that support him. I’ll let you, the readers, be the judge of whether that is favoritism or not.
Trustee Hulu Lindsey remains Chair of the Resource Management Committee, so we can expect the new leadership structure to honor our beneficiaries’ call more transparency at OHA.
OHA must be an agency that treats our beneficiaries equally and it’s now up to the new leadership to make sure there is an even playing field at OHA. Most of the OHA Staff just want to do their jobs and I ask that the general public withhold their judgment during this time of change. Rome wasn’t built in a day and we cannot change OHA in a few months.
Mahalo nui loa and God bless you all.