Mahalo nui to all

December 2014 Ka Wai Ola Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  Let me begin by expressing my warmest Mahalo to all those who supported me in the General Election.  Your kokua has allowed me to return to OHA to serve you for another four-year term.  A very special Mahalo nui to Ke Akua for his divine guidance and love that he has bestowed upon me and my family.

I would like to offer my warmest Aloha to Trustee Oswald Stender who is retiring from OHA after 14-years of service to our beneficiaries.  I would also like to congratulate newly elected OHA Trustee Lei Ahu Isa and welcome her to the Board of Trustees.  I look forward to working with her to fulfill OHA’s mission to better the conditions of Native Hawaiians.

Campaigning can be a grueling process, but now the real work shall begin.  The time has come for all us to come together in spirit and put some meaningful effort into re-establishing the political relationship between Native Hawaiians and the Federal government to re-organize our Native Hawaiian Governing Entity.  Once done, we will be able to protect all of our Hawaiian trust assets from the constant threat of lawsuits.  This is why I have always supported state and federal recognition.

As I traveled around the state, I spoke to many people who were confused about the process towards nationhood.  I can only conclude that OHA has not done enough to educate the public.  This situation has to change.  Trustees are going to have to speak up about the many positive results that Hawaiian Nationhood would bring for both Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians.  I assure all of you that, after listening to your mana’o, I will do everything that is humanly possible to address your concerns.

What is also needed is your participation.  You must challenge EACH Trustee to be accountable to you.  It is unfortunate that you cannot assume that Trustees will do this on their own.  Like any organization, from time to time, especially when one faction has been in power for too long like it has been at OHA, “the people” need to become actively involved.  Otherwise we will risk having to deal with complacency and the abuse of power.

What we face today as Hawaiians is no different than what has occurred over the past 100 years.  We are still fighting off assaults on our culture, the deterioration of our rights to our lands, and attacks from racist organizations.

Let us begin to work together for the cause of recognition.  Let us begin to agree on the things that we can agree to and set aside the things we differ on and move forward together for the future generations of Hawaiians yet to come.

As we close out the year of 2014, I would like to wish each of you a very safe and happy holiday season, and may the Lord in his grace bless each of you and your families and take you safely into 2015.  Have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

Aloha pumehana.

Aloha, Trustee Donald Cataluna

It is with great trepidation that I bid a fond Aloha to my friend and fellow trustee Donald Cataluna, who has been a strong voice for his beneficiaries on the islands of Kauai and Niihau for many years.

Don is known for his passion for protecting native rights and his deep compassion for our beneficiaries in need.  He is credited with stopping NASA from constructing a massive building alongside their telescopes on sacred Mauna Kea and saving the Salt Ponds in Lihue as well as many other projects.

Don has been a true leader whose main focus has been to protect our trust assets while working tirelessly in our beneficiaries’ best interest.

I will miss him.

OHA Election

My congratulations go out to Dan Ahuna, our newly elected Trustee for the islands of Kauai and Niihau and to Maui Trustee Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey, Hawaii Island Trustee Robert K. Lindsey Jr., and Molokai & Lanai Trustee Colette Machado, on their re-election.  I look forward to working with all of them over the next two years to better the conditions of Native Hawaiians.

OHA’s “money pit” now at $28,128,000.00 and growing

When the Board of Trustees authorized the purchase of the Gentry Pacific Design Center this past summer for $21,370,000.00, I was one of several Trustees with serious concerns about the purchase.  There were just too many “unknowns” about the property and I personally felt very uncomfortable with the purchase.  For example:

  • The Gentry Pacific Design Center is 80-years-old and its electrical system is outdated;
  •  The enormous cost and resulting disruption of relocating OHA staff to the Design Center; and
  • The cost of changing the Design Center into an office building.

As I feared the costs associated with the Gentry Pacific Design Center, which is now referred to as the “Corporate Office Building” or “COB” are skyrocketing to nearly $30 million.

On November 1, 2012, the Board of Trustees authorized nearly $7,000,000 in expenditures:

(1) Up to $663,000.00 in essential costs relating to:

  • Tenant Improvement Allowances – $400,000/year for up to 20,000 of the leasable square footage which will be leased or renewed through June 30, 2013; and
  • Immediate Due Diligence Projects – $263,000, including the replacement of a 23-year-old fire alarm system ($100,000)

(2) Up to $6,095,000.00 in design and construction and non-OHA tenant relocation costs relating to OHA’s relocation to COB; and

(3) “Secondary Repairs” – It should be noted that OHA still has to pay for repairs totaling an estimated $404,000 beginning in year three, mainly to repaint the building exterior ($110,000) and to replace the single-ply roofing membrane ($250,000).

As I have said before, it makes absolutely no sense that OHA is spending a great deal of money to purchase and renovate an 80-year-old Design Center full of existing tenants instead of using the $28,128,000 to build a brand new state-of-the-art office building on land we already own.

My preferred location for a new OHA Headquarters is on the Kakaako Makai settlement properties that we recently received from the State.  The Kakaako waterfront is an excellent place for economic development and a permanent home for OHA’s headquarters.

Is anyone listening?  If you are interested in why OHA would spend all this money on an old building that was not for sale, please call (594-1857) or write to Trustee Oswald Stender.

Have a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!