`Ano`ai kakou… On July 30, 2015, the Trustees voted to authorize the OHA Administration’s proposal to consolidate my committee, Asset & Resource Management (ARM) and the Land and Property (LAP) Committee into a new super-committee called the Committee on Resource Management. The board needs to vote on it one more time before it becomes official but, by the time you read this, it probably already happened.
OHA’s administration feels that having three committees only wastes time and effort. But this just part of the administration’s continuous efforts to strengthen their control over Trustees. Over the past six months they have harassed Trustees by denying our travel and sponsorship requests; using vague rules that we never authorized. Is the administration elected by the beneficiaries or hired by the Trustees?
Trustees are the policy makers, but with very weak leadership at the helm of the board, our powers have been minimized. OHA’s administrators and attorneys run the show and the Trustees have been downgraded. Despite pledging to take back power, this Chairman has not kept his promise to Trustees.
Consolidating committees will only centralize power under a few Trustees that are favored by the administration. Despite early promises by this Chairman to stop this kind of shenanigans, he has failed. So you can expect business as usual.
Over ten years ago, OHA had five committees covering everything from land to the legislature. Trustees developed many successful programs, such as Aha ‘Opio and Aha Kupuna. Then Trustee Haunani Apoliona and her faction took over and consolidated the five committees into two, giving her and her successor a tighter grip on power.
This was the start of a string of disasters as OHA could not get anything meaningful done. With no Trustee Committees overseeing them, our successful programs were quietly discontinued. But it’s the loss of land that was the most devastating consequence.
In 2002, a company leaving Hawaii offered to donate to OHA 198 acres of Maili land. OHA waited too long to respond and the company sold the land, valued at $3,000,000, for $100,000. The ARM chairman at the time said he didn’t see the urgency of the deal and failed to take it up in his committee in a timely manner. It was unconscionable to let such a huge opportunity slip through the cracks. Unfortunately, history tends to repeat itself.
On August 18, 2004, Joe Wedeman offered to donate 66.4 acres of Puna land to OHA. The gift was a tremendous opportunity and could be an educational and cultural resource for students.
I immediately asked the ARM chairman to bring it to the committee for a vote and reminded him about the Maili debacle. On September 1, 2004, he asked the administrator to do a study first. Then, on September 29, 2004, they asked for three more weeks to visit the site. When I checked on December 17, 2004, it still wasn’t done.
By the time the Administration finally presented the study to ARM on February 16, 2005, Mr. Wedeman had withdrawn his offer.
We need both the LAP & ARM committees
The Trustees seem to have forgotten all of the problems above that led to the creation of the LAP Committee. Shouldn’t everyone be asking why leadership wants to combine it with ARM? They are putting power again in the hands of a few Trustees and the Administrator. Aloha Ke Akua.