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Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 11 primary, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.
The following came from Keali’i Makekau, a candidate for an at-large position on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees. There are 15 candidates for three positions. The others are Leina’ala Ahu Isa, William Aila, Rowena Noelani Akana, Alvin A. Akina, C. Kaui Amsterdam, Faye P. Hanohano, Brendon Kalei’aina Lee, Landen Paikai, Makana Paris, Pohai Ryan, John Waihee IV, Marcus Bruce Kalai Pa’aluhi Sr., Kali M. Puuohau and Eleanor L. Sharsh-Davis.
1. Is OHA fulfilling its mandate to serve the Hawaiian people?
No! While a few grants have gone into community projects the bulk of OHA’s mandate by the current leadership is to gain federal recognition similar to Indian tribes of America and then abolish OHA itself, transferring its assets to the new tribe. This has been going on since 2000 with things like the Akaka bill, Kau Inoa, Ha Hawaii and the recent Department of Interior’s so-called reaffirming a government to government process with the Native Hawaiian people yielding no results but affirming a overwhelming no “kue” to federal recognition.
Recent land acquisitions like Kakaako Makai, “which should yield great financial returns remain sidelined” while secret deals with the city are made behind closed doors surrounding its usage. This is the year of the Hawaiian to see all this and more; instead we have two scathing state audit reports and a stalled overdue financial internal audit along with FBI and Hawaii AG investigations into self dealing with several LLC’s.
Instead of progress we see self dealing, payouts to nonexisting entities, procurement violations of staff and sexual misconduct! The response we get is a re-election campaign?
2. What would you do to change how OHA is run?
First identify what is OHA and its role/authority via the statute! Second, amend the mission statement/strategic plan and policy handbook to reflect on what and how resources are used! Third, create an internal auditor position inside OHA that has a special authority, which will report all findings to the Board of Trustees and the State Auditor via public access. Lastly term limits for the trustees so they don’t succumb to special interest and self-dealing agendas, as the current Board has.
3. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing Native Hawaiians? What will you do about it?
Simply put, housing! People need a base of operations in which to do things and that comes from a home and Hawaiians know all two well the sad if not tragic story of not having a home in their ancestral homeland. Even though the law states and provides for it, home ownership even on homestead land remains a myth for many. The answer is merge the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and OHA’s land division into a partnership intent on resolving the houseless and homeless problem with a yearly report to the Legislature on its progress and setbacks.
4. What are your views regarding Hawaiian independence?
Due to admitted acts of insurgency, rebellion and the overthrow of the Constitutional Monarchy of the Kingdom of Hawaii, the de jure nation is under a continued impairment and is properly considered as an irregular state. It is, therefore, within the “perfect right” of the Hawaiian people to commence and complete sovereignty reinstatement procedures, and OHA should assist in that process to get people educated in this highly specialized topic.
People seeking independence must learn the language of law and the foundation of the past which is key to the future, but sadly for now the uneducated masses wait for the usurping authority to tell them what they can do or not. The reinstatement process has never been brought up, examined or afforded resources via symposiums, academic debate and community dialogue. Until such time as that happens, justice and complete respect to the law and sprit of our ancestors will not be realized.
5. Is OHA getting its fair share of ceded-land revenues from the state?
No! First a complete, independent fiscal forensic audit of all holdings and resources namely land parcels as to best use and value is needed. Also land swaps should be looked at, since not every place enjoys the same conditions to yield favorable results.
6. Why do you think Hawaiians are disproportionately represented in our prisons and jails?
What can be done about it? For some Hawaiians the Western model of living doesn’t work or relate to the value system needed to thrive in today’s world. Hawaiian charter schools have shown amazing results, thus yielding a percentage of positive results all around. Funding for programs like this and traditional rehab for inmates will help to reduce the dismal numbers and restore a vibrant community and ohana.
7. Do you support the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea?
Until key issues are resolved, no! Given the status of the rail, projects like this are doomed and determined to be costly and overpriced/over-budgeted!
8. What role should the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands play in reducing homelessness?
Build the homes they are tasked to do via partnership. OHA gives DHHL $3 million each year to help provide homes to Native Hawaiians. This should help reduce the homeless population and comply with the Hawaiian Homestead Act.
9. Do you support or oppose holding a state constitutional convention? Why or why not?
No! The plan was simple. Nai Aupuni delivers its so-called constitution to make Hawaiians a tribe of the U.S. and OHA would be abolished and its assets transferred to the new entity, all in 2018 the year of the Hawaiian! Well that and all other federal recognition attempts failed and cost the trust big time financially and is now part of the investigation into OHA spending! Just enforce the laws that are in place for starters, then we can see about any changes.
10. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
Lets face it the current leadership and its longtime supporters, “old guard trustees,” are still here because it’s a job, one they do for the political party special interests and not the people. Given the fact 2018 is an election year, promises and hopes for a better future via performance and outcome are being made yet again. But things like the financial internal audit of OHA have been purposely stalled and given the two scathing reports by the state auditor this year coinciding with the exodus of employees, it’s a wonder why the house hasn’t completely fallen.
The only hope here is change and safeguards! New people “leadership” willing to change policies and put into place positions that prevent the kind of blatant malfeasance we’ve seen over the years are needed. Add to that term limits and this agency along with its beneficiaries will succeed. But it starts and ends with you the voter! Change or stay the same?
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